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09.05.07

OOXML Watch: More Lies, More Deception, and More Spin (It Just Won’t Stop!) (Updated)

Posted in Bill Gates, Interview, ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 3:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rebuttal where one is due

OpenDocument format (ODF) has just gotten a big boost and Bob Sutor welcomes the development by reminding us that ODF is about the future, whereas OOXML is about the past. It’s a little slogan that he used several months ago.

ODF was already doing well and now has renewed momentum. Go with it.

Meanwhile, however, the campaign that thrives in spin and deception definitely continues. It’s not just the dishonest press release.

OOXML, whose real embodiment is just Microsoft, is now being claimed to have no ‘proprietary hooks’. This is akin to ‘extensions’, but not exactly the same. Guess who is behind this message, which we rebutted several times in the past?

As Australia and various other nations prepare to vote on whether Microsoft’s Open Office XML becomes an ISO standard, the Redmond giant is attempting to downplay fears that OOXML adopters will be hooked into the company’s technology.

This is wrong for so many reasons. OOXML is incomplete. An OOXML implementation has many extensions, and they are platform dependent too. Remember:

OOXML = Microsoft Office on top of Microsoft Windows

It’s as simple as that.

Bill Gates’ take on Interoperability is easily illustrated by an old press release. Here is its interpretation and rebuttal:

Bill Gates is wrong here. Most open source software goes hand in hand with interoperability. Why? Open source software is usually written to open industry standards with the GPL. You don’t have to buy an expensive license or sign an NDA to get the specifications to be interoperable. There are no restrictions or barriers to entry, except for whats contained in the GPL. Bill’s open source statement is just more rhetoric and FUD.

Microsoft is playing catch up with the industry. The industry is tired of bug infested, high cost, security risked proprietary software (Windows and .NET platform). The XML standard is providing the interoperability, not Microsoft.

So, as the above claims seem to indicate, we may be witnessing yet more spin and lies. It has only been a day since the ISO’s decision. The lies are nothing new and it has been well documented in this site (just partially, of course). To just give a few examples:

  • Microsoft claimed that it had won a vote of approval from the world (or span it to appear that way)
  • Microsoft said that OOXML was open
  • Microsoft lied to prospective voters about the voting date and deadlines
  • Microsoft may have lied about CompTIA
  • Microsoft lied about Ecma’s role
  • Microsoft lied about Abiword’s support for OOXML
  • Microsoft lied about iWork’s support for OOXML

There are many other disturbing factors to consider here. So who are you going to believe? Microsoft? The item on proprietary hooks links to a related item where Microsoft claims that OOXML is more secure than alternatives. Brazil, however, cited OOXML’s security problems when it rejected OOXML. Will Microsoft say just about anything to defend a broken specification where some opaque binary enclosures (in-line) are to be considered?

Update: having just taken a quick look at a personal attic of references, the following two items were identified. They throw cold water at Microsoft’s claims about proprietary extensions in OOXML.

The first, “Competition Optional”, comes from Rob Weir.

In previous posts I have pointed out numerous “features” in OOXML which cannot be implemented by anyone else but Microsoft. These stem from a variety of causes, including elements lacking definition (“lineWrapLikeWord6″) to features that are tied to Windows or Office (e.g., Windows Metafiles) to items that are “merely referenced (OLE, digital ink) to items that although featured prominently in Office marketing materials, are curiously not mentioned at all in the OOXML text (scripts, macros, DRM, SharePoint, etc.). When these issues are raised, the typical response from Microsoft has been along the lines of, “Don’t worry, these features are optional. You don’t need to implement them. They are there for implementations that know what they mean. If you don’t understand them, you can ignore them.”

There is a lot more about OLE in a previous post. It contains links and snippets from antitrust exhibits. These show that this type of tactic has roots in the past. Warning: ‘smoking gun’ statements from Microsoft are contained therein.

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