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09.26.07

Even Microsoft Might Not Obey That Broken OOXML

Posted in ECMA, Formats, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Implementing OOXML, let alone all of the undocumented bits, is an impossible task.”What would be the point of establishing a comprehensive set of specifications and then engaging in corrupt activities if what you lobby for is not even your target? It surely begins to seem like OOXML is just a scarecrow that permits Microsoft to crow about “openness” and standardisation.

As various articles pointed out before, OOXML might be implemented by no-one. It does not seem like Microsoft will avoid subverting OOXML in its published form. It might actually apply for and add its own little ‘extensions’, making the real OOXML a moving target. It has already been pointed out that Microsoft Office 2007 does not implement OOXML, but only a derivative thereof. And here’s the new nugget of information, which comes right out of the horse’s mouth:

Now consider this from Brian Jones, a Microsoft manager who has worked on OOXML for six years. In July, Jones was asked on his blog whether Microsoft would actually commit to conform to an officially standardised OOXML. His response:

“It’s hard for Microsoft to commit to what comes out of Ecma [the European standards group that has already OK’d OOXML] in the coming years, because we don’t know what direction they will take the formats. We’ll of course stay active and propose changes based on where we want to go with Office 14. At the end of the day, though, the other Ecma members could decide to take the spec in a completely different direction. … Since it’s not guaranteed, it would be hard for us to make any sort of official statement.”

Now that’s cynical. After all this work to make OOXML a formal, independent standard — a standard created and promoted by Microsoft, remember — Microsoft won’t agree to follow it.

This is something for everyone — including Novell — to consider. Implementing OOXML, let alone all of the undocumented bits, is an impossible task. Even if this goal was ever achieved, it would most likely be pointless. Microsoft will have moved somewhere else by then, so there will be no cross-application compatibility.

As frustrating as the OOXML fiasco may be, Microsoft has similar plans when it comes to squashing PDF. We mentioned the XPS plan/plot/scheme before. It is now back to some headlines.

This working draft 1.0.1 “XML Paper Specification” submitted to Ecma TC46 by Microsoft in September 2007 is available in PDF format and XPS format.

Isn’t it ironic that PDF format is used to contain the specification of something which strives to have it destroyed? Either way, this brings back memories of the ISO, which sort of rejected votes and comments unless they were embedded in proprietary Microsoft Office formats.

In other news, OpenDocument-formatted files can now be displayed seamlessly in Mozilla Firefox. To some people, such integration was desirable.

If you are running OpenOffice.org and Firefox at the same time you can view OpenDocument and other OpenOffice.org supported file formats using the provided Mozilla plug-in.

Related articles:

Patent Systems Seem to be Going Behind Again, Not Forward

Posted in America, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The patent system is clearly broken, but various initiatives strive to address the key issues. You might recall still Peer to Patent, which is a system that is intended to squash bad patents early on in the process. Well, some criticisms of it have awoken in the United States.

The USPTO has created an exemption for the Peer to Patent system from this law, but only for those patent applicants who choose to waive their rights to block third party-submitted prior art. This has prompted fears that only uncontroversial patent applications will be put through the system and led Wong to say that the system could only work in the future if it is compulsory, and not opt-in.

Meanwhile, the UK talks about a fast-tracking route for patents and trade marks. Should we not slow down the process and allow more time for peer review? This seems moronic.

“I’m not sure how attractive that will be because the applications still have to go through the three-month advertisement period and other steps,” he said. “It’s good to have an option for a faster system, but this is not a radical plan by any means.”

Patent battles continue.

Vonage Holdings Corp.’s (VG) legal woes continue to mount after suffering a defeat at the hands of Sprint Nextel Corp. (S).

Here is another key dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court said on Tuesday that it would review a patent fight in which LG Electronics accused Quanta Computer Inc of Taiwan and others of infringing patents on microprocessor chips in its personal computers.

The case has widespread implications because it raises questions about how tough patent holders can be in restricting licenses.

Frustration with the current system will not mend it, but highlighting its many problems is a way of drawing attention. Maybe there’s still hope for a sane management of knowledge and methods — one that promotes innovation and reduces abuse, fear, taxation, and imperfect products (which are limited only by the cost of patents that their development intersects with).

Red Hat Does Well, But Why Does It Suddenly Need Licensing?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 6:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It is already quite well established that Novell failed to stop Red Hat’s momentum after it had signed deal with Microsoft. The figures which Red Hat included in last night’s report left little room for doubt. They were very encouraging.

Red Hat Inc. said Tuesday its second-quarter profit rose 59%, while sales slightly beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations.

It is still curious to find, however, that Red Hat’s desktop endeavors are facing a barrier which is due to Microsoft licensing (for codecs). This was mentioned about a month ago and it was once again mentioned in the press yesterday.

Chief Executive Matthew Szulik said in an interview that the software maker is still working to translate the software into foreign languages, make sure it is compatible with different PC hardware and work out some issues relating to licensing of some of the software in the package.

Don’t you love the fact that Red Hat buys codecs from Microsoft? Microsoft has illegally elbowed RealNetworks (prosecution in the court is there to prove this), polluted the Web with proprietary codec-encumbered content and now they use that to put a price tag on Red Hat’s desktop. Microsoft could use Linspire (and possible Xandros/Novell too) as some sort of a precedence. That’s not what we want to see. How long will it be before Microsoft says that Red Hat needs to pay for Moonlight, Mono, OpenOffice.org, Wine, and so forth? The Microsoft-Linux deals have been extremely harmful.

Microsoft’s licensing charade continues. Yesterday it was Kenwood and the press release was followed by some articles, e.g.:

…the Tokyo producer of consumer electronics and communications equipment, agreed to cross-license each other’s patents in a number of product lines. In a statement, the companies said the move expands their current relationship. With the deal, they’ll swap information and incorporate each other’s technologies in car-navigation systems and other consumer-electronics products. Kenwood will pay Microsoft a license fee. Specific terms weren’t disclosed.

Why are there no specifics? When Microsoft had similar deals with Samsung and Fuji Xerox, it only bothered to mention Linux (probably to use that as FUD). Any detailed list of patents? Of course not. It’s a partnership in the clouds. Nothing has ever been shown or proven. Nothing was tested in court. Shades of SCO.

Quote of the Day on Knowing Our OSI ‘Buddies’ Wannabes

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OSI, Quote at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There’s a great resemblance between Microsoft attempts to invade the Linux circles and its attempts to penetrate the Open Source initiative. The following new writeup reminds us just where Microsoft is coming from.

During this time, Microsoft was on the attack, worried in particular by the impact that free software was having on government computing projects, with their emphasis on cost and accountability. Within a matter of months Microsoft executives Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates, Craig Mundie and Jim Allchin all made statements about the dangers of free software.

There are some more chilling quotes.

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