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Novell is Still a Pawn in Microsoft’s Web Hijack Plan

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 1:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Here we go again.

Another press release and another quick article. The press release comes from Redmond, unsurprisingly, and the article completely fails to realise the plans behind XAML (or Silverlight). Just as Novell began implementing OOXML (for Microsoft’s pleasure and bragging rights for ISO), Novell also is now helping Microsoft develop something which would force all Linux users to embrace a Mono-fied (.NET) Linux desktop or else be barred from certain Web sites.

You can learn more about it in previous writings on this topic.

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  1. Sam said,

    September 5, 2007 at 3:01 am


    Slightly OT – but what would be the alternative RIA framework you would use then, assuming your RIA involves video (ruling out AJAX on its own)?

    Flash really isn’t much better, just that Adobe is better at not infuriating the open-source community.

    Java maybe?

    The open-source community doesn’t seem to have much of a track record in the RIA area. Rather than creating their own and heading off proprietary attempts, they’re catching up by recreating existing frameworks instead, like Moonlight and gnash, frameworks that are controlled by proprietary companies.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 3:10 am


    It’s fairly well established that frameworks can be built through reuse of free and open standards, such as Ogg Vorbis. The move towards a binary Web (never mind all those attempts at “open source” slant) completely beats its purpose.

    Take ODF as an example that is both timely and relevant. ODF is independent. It is not associated with a vendor and many different vendors have it implemented. Complex things such as SVG graphics can be constructed using documented descriptions whose evolution (as a standard) is controlled by a consortium, not a company’s desire to toss in features x, y, and z.

    Customers love standards. Companies do not necessarily like standards. Shareholders love lock-in.

  3. Stephen said,

    September 5, 2007 at 3:34 am


    Novell don’t help Microsoft with .NET. Novell, sponsoring Mono, write a cross-platform .NET alternative that allows application developers to use whichever platform they wish. Where’s the Mono code in .NET that backs up your assertion?

    Also, Novell produce a “translator” for OOXML, and not to further MS Office, but rather to continue to allow OpenOffice to work with MS Office. In otherwords it continues the great work done on file format support that’s existed since StarOffice was a small German company pre-Sun. Or more simply – NOTHING HAS CHANGED! And what about Sun’s support for OOXML (again!)?

  4. Sam said,

    September 5, 2007 at 3:50 am


    Yes I know the bits are there, but the framework is not. If I were to build an RIA, I don’t want to assemble all the bits together and get my visitors to download my viewer before they can use my RIA.

    I don’t like what Microsoft is doing, but realistically, where is the open-source effort to build such a framework?

    There needs to be more openoffice-like efforts to counter the proprietary products, otherwise the open-source vs. proprietary battle is futile – let’s say you won, so what, what alternative can I use instead?

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 4:15 am



    It’s chicken-and-egg again in many of the scenarios that you describe. OOXML got an initial boost from Novell et al (other Linux companies followed suit), which got this whole ‘translator’ project started. Don’t you remember that Microsoft had an open source project for ODF support in Microsoft Office? Novell has helped Microsoft move the goalposts and change direction/strategy.

    As for Novell/Mono, it lends to Microsoft’s argument that Silverlight is (only make belief) cross platform. Developers will be fooled. Never mind DRM nastiness and other platform-tied things…


    I agree with you and I think there ought to be a project that augments Web functionality further. HTML 5 is on the way, but I’m not sure that making big jumps in the hands (and destiny) of one company is safe for the Web. One wrong step and voila! You end up with an inaccessible graveyard of information on the Web. Remember IPIX? How about many other proprietary blobs? Therein also lies the danger of OOXML, whose destiny depends on one single company (Oh! And Ecma, whose credibility was lost a long time ago).

  6. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    September 5, 2007 at 6:06 am


    On the Novell OOXML-ODF translator, here is some straight facts :

    - Microsoft started an open-source project controlled by a contractor in France called CleverAge (this week, CleverAge was the president of France/AFNOR/ISO for ECMA 376 committee, fortunately for us AFNOR refused to allow a vote to occur). This was a reaction over the native ODF-OOXML Word converter plugin from the OpenDocument fundation (codenamed DaVinci). Sam Hiser reported the story back then on his blog.

    - This converter is developed using C#. One of the reasons why is because OOXML is not real XML, you can’t just rely on XSLT transforms to get the job done, despite the fact that any regular and properly designed XML markup would allow that. Brian Jones has been silent on the subject, oddly enough. Using C# implies that it’s Windows-only.

    - Earlier this year, the first milestone (Word conversion) reached completion and Microsoft proudly announced it. Of course, it could not manage to convert trivial Word documents, so that was dead in the water. But remember, Microsoft sponsored the open-source project with not even the intention to support it.

    - Rapidly, Microsoft needs more traction than that. It’s a little too obvious that this open-source project has no legs. Guess what, the Novell friends are there to save their ass.

    - Here is how. Remember the converter is written with C#. Remember what Miguel works on…Bingo! What he and an old contributor to OpenOffice did was bootstrap that converter so that it would load Mono instead of .NET. To the best of my knowledge (I may be wrong), you also need Novell’s special OpenOffice build for the bootstrap to work, it won’t work with a regular OpenOffice build.

    - A week or so later, Microsoft announces the Novell ODF-OOXML converter . Plenty of press releases (“traction”, “interoperability”, …) As predicted, Mr Jones does not feel the need to explain that all it was was a bootstrap of the CleverAge converter, not a native converter developer by Novell.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 6:27 am


    Yes, that’s what I suspected, Stephane. Thank you for the invaluable insight.

  8. vexorian said,

    September 5, 2007 at 8:09 am


    MONO is a new form of embrace extend and extinguish, the difference is that this time you (Microsoft) don’t even need to ‘extend’ you let the rest hang themselves.

    MONO will always be 2 years bellow .net yet it will work to advertize MS’ propietary platforms, MS wants to make Linux dependant on it and once it is the only platform it will just make .NET X.0 and make it totally royalty dependant and full of patents that prevent MONO from getting the new features, explicitly moving competition to a second class citizen that will be blamed for not implementing “standards” correctly.

    It is not something we should promote…

  9. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    September 5, 2007 at 8:26 am


    And now that I remember well, the guy who wrote the bootstrap is Michael Meeks, Novell employee, a contributor to the OpenOffice project (not entirely sure if he only contributes to the Novell branch, or to the regular OpenOffice branch as well), old contributor of Gnumeric, close friend of Miguel.

    In retrospect, we might wonder why CleverAge chose C# instead of C/C++/Java or another cross-platform language. You really have to be extremely cynical to believe a second that in summer 2006 Microsoft required CleverAge to choose .NET because they already had the Novell-OOXML strategy in mind at the time. If that were true, particularly long before Novell inked the evil pact with Microsoft, it meant that strategy was ceiled by the pact, not an opportunity that just came neat long after the pact. And of course, with Novell being a non-Microsoft company (in theory), this allows Microsoft to dismiss any anti-trust charge (“look, somebody else can implement our stuff! we are not evil”), and disband the open-source community with permanent patent threat, plus a vocal Miguel. Very clever strategy, shall I add.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 8:50 am


    And now that I remember well, the guy who wrote the bootstrap is Michael Meeks, Novell employee, a contributor to the OpenOffice project (not entirely sure if he only contributes to the Novell branch, or to the regular OpenOffice branch as well), old contributor of Gnumeric, close friend of Miguel.

    This is new to me (and it’s also highly interesting). I mentioned Meeks in the past because I could not understand why he would support OOXML. Now all the pieces of the puzzle come together,

    The remainder of what you said is an excellent summary and also what we have been trying to emphasise for months.

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