Microsoft on OOXML: “It’s a Simple Matter of [Microsoft's] Commercial Interests!“

Posted in Asia, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 11:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ouch. Nice shot in the foot there.

Open Malaysia frequently has a gem to share. This time the blog brings us some news from a meeting where Microsoft spoke about OOXML.

He was asked “Why did Microsoft push OOXML through the “Fast Track” process instead of the standard ISO process? Wouldn’t they get less resistance than faced now?”

His response [Doug Mahugh, Microsoft] was very frank: “Office is a USD$10 billion revenue generator for the company. When ODF was made an ISO standard, Microsoft had to react quickly as certain governments have procurement policies which prefer ISO standards. Ecma and OASIS are ‘international standards’, but ISO is the international ‘Gold Standard’. Microsoft therefore had to rush this standard through. Its a simple matter of commercial interests!”

This confirms a point which was raised very recently, about procurement by governments. If you can pretend it’s open and bribe your way into an ISO badge that confirms it, then surely, it must be “open”. Governments will take the ISO’s word… never mind how it all got there.

Related and recent stories:

The OOXML Problem

Another thing, by introducing a “new fancy” document format, MS can hold a tighter grip round existing customers and get more on the false pretence that they’ve “opened up”.

Evidence of Microsoft Influencing OOXML Votes in Nordic States

“This is how a standard is bought,” Bosson wrote later. “I left the meeting in protest – pissed off.”

Microsoft Memo to Partners in Sweden Surfaces: Vote Yes for OOXML

He acknowledges that the rules might need to be changed.

On possible OOXML corruption in Uruguay (the translation reveals irregularities in the process)

Why the ‘Interoperability’ Lab is a Case Against Un-Novellised Linux

Posted in Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, SUN, Virtualisation, Xen at 9:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paula Rooney has just posted a long and detailed post which explains how Microsoft and Novell exclude Red Hat using their ‘special’ deal and arrangements. It’s no longer about GNU/Linux, but it’s about Novell Linux. From the post:

With efforts such as the interoperability lab, Microsoft is reinforcing its promise that when its hypervisor actually ships — now slated for late 2008 — Novell’s SLES-based virtual machines will sing nicely on the Windows server platform.

That’s not all. On Sept 12, Microsoft and Sun also announced an expansion of their alliance in which the two companies will ensure that Sun’s Solaris VMs runs well on Windows and Windows runs well in a virtualized state on Solaris.

But what about Red Hat’s Xen-based virtual machines?

The competitive standoff with Red Hat notwithstanding, Microsoft must realize by now that unless it extends the same level of compatibility to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and all other Linux distributions on its hypervisor that this gesture at interoperability is meaningless.

Microsoft’s alliance with XenSource once provided some measure of confidence that Red Hat would run as well on Viridian as Novell’s Linux. But Citrix’s planned acquisition of the open source XenSource calls that into question.

Citrix is one of Microsoft’s closest longtime allies in the proprietary software world and to date has not participated in the open source market. As Microsoft announced the planned release of the Viridian CTP yesterday at VMWorld, for example, it also unveiled an extended virtualization alliance with Citrix to standardize on Microsoft’s Virtual Hard Disk Format as a common run-time environment for virtualized operating systems and applications. That’s not surprising, given Microsoft’s former agreement with XenSource on VHD.

But the tightening triumverate of Microsoft, Novell and Citrix — three longtime proprietary software companies cooperating on virtualization technology — makes more than a few open source advocates and customers uneasy.

And the agreement with Sun on Wednesday — ensuring Solaris Linux runs well on Windows virtualization hypervisor — leaves Red Hat alone in the cold.

By now, you can hopefully see how Microsoft’s hijack of XenSource fits neatly into the theme of this Web site. It’s all part of a broad plan to leave Microsoft competitors in the sidelines. Novell is just a tool for getting there. Shane spotted this early on.

Corrections: Setting the Record Straight

Posted in GNOME, Mono, Site News at 8:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There are a few things stated in this site which turn out to be false. We have always insisted that we would correct mistakes, which are never made deliberately. Having exchanged some E-mails with Jeff Waugh, there are three main clarifications which need to be made:

  1. Mono was not part of the goals of GNOME since inception (I misread an article)
  2. Miguel de Icaza does not intend rebuild GNOME using Mono (a case of poor reporting by some journalists)
  3. GNOME does not have Mono dependencies at its core (a test made by a Fedora maintainer is contradicted by Jeff)

We would like to apologise for these mistakes. If you do spot anything which you know is false, please do let us know.

What Patents Does Microsoft Have?

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 7:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In these days of concern and amid many attempts to create legal uncertainty and fear, one ought ask: what type of things does Microsoft patent? Here are some of the very latest ‘innovations’, which also happen to be consumer-hostile.

New Microsoft Patents

Punishment patents are a reflection of malice.

On Tuesday, the USPTO granted Microsoft a patent for privacy policy change notification, which describes how to threaten users with the loss of their accounts and access to web sites and services should they refuse to consent to changes in a privacy policy.

DRM patents are yet another (sure-to-fail) attempt to create a system that cannot be cracked and will not hurt innocent customers.

Microsoft has won a patent for a digital-watermarking technology that is inaudibly embedded in the audio signal and cannot be removed

Recent Microsoft Patent Applications

And everyone loves forced advertisements, right?

“The kernel meets The Colonel in a just-published Microsoft patent application for an Advertising Services Architecture, which delivers targeted advertising as ‘part of the OS.’

Not to mention how much people appreciate intrusion

The adware framework would leave almost no data untouched in its quest to sell you stuff. It would inspect “user document files, user e-mail files, user music files, downloaded podcasts, computer settings, computer status messages (e.g., a low memory status or low printer ink),” and more. How could we have been so blind as to not see the marketing value in computer status messages?

Needless to say, none of these insidious patents can actually affect Linux. Linux and Free software honour the consumer rather than utilise methods that exploit users for profits.

Harassments Attack

Another nasty new lawsuit targets a lot of the Wi-Fi sector.

NTP Inc. sued Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp. for infringing on its patents related to mobile email services, a follow-up to its high-profile litigation with BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. – Amol Sharma, WSJ.com

This could wreak havoc everywhere, except some layers’ bank accounts.

Second Quote of the Day: Locutus on Linux Being Subverted

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Quote at 6:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Watch and learn.

Linux is in great danger at the moment. That danger started when Microsoft cut their deal with Novell.


It now appears that Microsoft have started their (in)famous embrace and conqueror strategy on the Linux front.


By claiming their support for Linux they are effectively and efficiently starting their ownership campaign of the Linux platform. Unless they are stopped then Linux will go the way of Netscape. With large companies like BMW buying into the Winolux combination of WIndows, NOvell and LinUX they are helping to seal the doom of Linux as a free and open computing foundation. They are opening the door to the commercialisation of Linux where it would just become another Windows package with its own EULA and yearly licensing and support fees.

Microsoft wants to create different classes of Linux: ones that work, e.g. with Moonlight, and ones that barely do. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft wants to control and ‘tax’ those that work better. It separates Linux into tiers and wants to have different rates assigned to each. Why? How? Tax.

Novell’s Linux Deal: Exclusive, Controlled by Microsoft, Awakens Patent Monster

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Windows at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It continues to be utterly appalling and awfully disappointing to see what the Novell deal is doing to GNU/Linux. The following 3 articles should hopefully illustrate just three (among many more) reasons why only Microsoft (and sometimes Novell, at the exclusion of Linux as a whole) benefits from its Linux deals.

The first item reiterates an old point. Microsoft only works with Novell on so-called ‘interoperability’.

The 2,500-square-foot lab “will be home to a combined team of the best and brightest Microsoft and Novell engineers focused on making Windows Server and Suse Linux Enterprise from Novell,” the companies said in a statement.

“Novell is creating its own little ‘subculture’ in the world of Linux.”Mind the fact that it clearly says “Suse Linux Enterprise from Novell.” It’s not about standards. It’s about binary bridges. It’s about exclusive (and maybe mutual) patent ‘protection’. Novell is creating its own little ‘subculture’ in the world of Linux. It is a binary-enabled Linux, approved and taxed by Microsoft. Other distributors of Linux cannot have everything that Novell gets (so-called ‘protection’, Moonlight preloads, compatibility in hypervisors, protocols, and formats). The second item says more about this. It uses .NET/Mono as an example.

Miguel de Icaza means something for GNOME and for the Linux community at large. Yes, de Icaza is with Novell and he has sold his soul to Microsoft, yet…

Yet I am now having one more proof that Miguel de Icaza can’t be trusted (not more than Daniel Robbins). I can now be perfectly sure that Miguel simply loves whatever Microsoft had to “innovate”.

Cloning .NET under the name of Mono was not incidental.

Then comes the cursing, so you will need to follow the link to find out more.

Another issue that Novell helped introduce is patents and liability. Steve Ballmer said that the Novell deal proved that Linux code requires patent deals. It established precedence, according to him. Llook where we ended up. The Linux Foundation is now forced to deal with issues that were never supposed to have haunted the minds of customers in the first place

Attendance at the first summit will be restricted to members of the Linux Foundation and their legal counsel. Attendees will focus on building a legal defence structure for Linux and policies designed to support intellectual property rights within open development.

Thank you, Novell, for a sordid mess.

Mark Shuttleworth Still Dislikes Microsoft’s Linux Deals

Posted in Formats, FSF, FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Interview, Kernel, Microsoft, Open XML, Ubuntu at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Canonical and Ubuntu Founder, Mark Shuttleworth, has had an interview that contains a lot of interesting information. Here is what he said about the deals with Microsoft:

9) Do you think Microsoft’s patent deals are just an attempt to slow down Linux, or do you think there might be some genuine interest in cooperation?

[Mark:] That’s a complicated question because it suggests that Microsoft has one single opinion. But like any large organisation, Microsoft will have people internal to it who have a variety of different opinions. So I definitely do believe that some of the folks who are working at Microsoft on the patent deals have a genuine interest in seeing interoperability across Windows and across the free software platform. Unfortunately, I think other people at Microsoft do feel it’s a way of limiting the field of engagement between the free software world and the proprietary software world, and making sure that Microsoft effectively has a competitive advantage in that engagement.

At this stage, all of the deals that have been announced really are very advantageous to Microsoft, and create real barriers to the complete a pervasive adoption of free software. In addition to that, I do think that Microsoft attempts to have its own file formats declared a standard in very bad faith. Because they’re pretending to create a standard when in fact the only thing that comes close to implementation of that standard is the Microsoft Office application. And the real value of a standard is to have something which is agreed upon by lots of different groups and implemented by lots of different groups. And that’s just not the case with Microsoft’s file formats. More importantly, I don’t think they will allow other people to implement the standard, they’ll simply change it to suit themselves.

So, Microsoft is a large organisation and I think there are people with good ideas and with bad ideas. It’s not simple. I don’t think we can simply say that the whole organisation is being constructive or unconstructive. I think we have to look at specific initiatives. Unfortunately, their OpenXML document standard initiative is being driven with poor intention at heart.

As you can see, the patent deals have a great deal to do with OOXML. Some of our readers have failed to see the connection, but given the fact that many organisation refuse to depart from Microsoft Office because of “incompatibility”, the important of ODF is obvious. A universal format is desperately needed. Microsoft does not want such a format unless it controls, ‘extends’ it, and already has it fully implemented.

Also interesting is the following new interview with Richard Stallman. The headline says “Stallman: If you want freedom don’t follow Linus Torvalds.” As you may recall, Torvalds does not fight back against the Microsoft deals. He tries to keep quiet and uninvolved (the passive approach). See the links at the bottom of this post for further details.

The summary from the interview with Stallman is this:

The founder of the Free Software Foundation asks readers whether they will fight for freedom or be too lazy to resist.

Returning to the interview with Mark Shuttleworth, consider this question and answer:

10) While Richard Stallman is an outspoken critic of the so-called tivoisation, Linus Torvalds just doesn’t mind when Linux is used in proprietary devices. What is your stance?

[Mark:] I do think that DRM, tivoisation, or locked down hardware and software are all a real threat to continued spread of free software. And so I very much support Richard Stallman [interview] and the Free Software Foundation in bringing those issues to the front in the debate of GPLv3.

At the same time I think we have to respect the kernel community’s choice to license their software under whatever license they choose. And the kernel community has consistently taken quite an open approach to allowing people to do pretty much what they liked with the Linux kernel code. It’s not entirely true, but it’s true in many cases. The main thing to point out though is that this really is not an issue for free software. In Ubuntu we ship software under, maybe, a hundred and fifty different licenses. So adding GPLv3 as the hundred a fifty-first license is not a problem at all and Linux will continue to progress, regardless of whether the kernel team adopts v2 or v3. As for myself, I think v3 is a very good license, I think it went through a very strong public process, and I think it’s a much better license in the end than it was when it began. So I think there’s every reason for the kernel community to consider it, but if they choose not to adopt it then that’s fine too.

Interesting take. Going a weeks or months back we find other yet similar perspectives.

Mark Shuttleworth quotes (about the Linux deals):

That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game…


Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: ‘It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,’ that’s illegal. It’s racketeering. What Microsoft is doing with intellectual property is exactly the same. It’s a great company and I have great admiration for it, but this was not a well considered position.


Linus Torvalds about Microsoft FUD, the software licences, and the Linux deals

OOXML in Australia Revisited

Posted in Australia, IBM, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Standard at 3:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We have already covered (or at least commented on) OOXML stories from Australia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], but there is yet another one that arrives a week late. This new story is an interview with the chief.

Standards Australia has defended it’s decision to abstain from the ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) ballot to approve Microsoft’s Office Open XML format as an international standard, saying Australia still has a chance to approve or disapprove the vote.

As we have seen before, people at the top are probably most susceptible to foreign influence. We saw that in Switzerland, for example. LinuxWorld appears to have contacted the wrong person. He says that Microsoft did not influence the decision, but past posts of ours beg to differ, based on some concrete evidence. Of course the head of the standards body will say that everything went alright. The journalists need to ask those who needn’t defend a broken system. An attendants of the meeting in Australia said that a report deceived on IBM’s (non-existent) affiliation with CompTIA, a Microsoft lobbyist. Anonymity is sometimes required for honesty.

Speaking of IBM, there’s more good news for ODF.

IBM’s move to throw its weight behind the ODF-based OpenOffice.org is proof that rivals see a chink in the Microsoft Office armor just as many organizations, particularly governments, are evaluating open document formats.

More details will be revealed next week. On the face of it, OpenOffice.org will be better integrated with some other open source E-mail clients and collaboration software. Mozilla, anyone?

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