As the argument about OpenOffice.org evolves and developers, Novell is beginning to have its true colours shown. It used to put the blame on Sun Microsystems for lack of openness, but looking at the other side of the fence, it seems like Novell has its own financial agenda as a considerable part of the equation. Sun’s Simon Phipps, whose opinion I can trust, has this to say:
It’s a shame Michael [Meeks] has chosen now – a turning point in OpenOffice.org and a moment when Sun has radically improved the SCA in response to broad feedback from many communities – as a time to mount a fresh challenge to Sun that by implication also harms OpenOffice.org. And when you distill out all the details, that’s what this turns out to be even by Michael’s admission – a competitive issue, not a community one.
It therefore appears as though Novell has its own plans and alternative agenda for OpenOffice.org, which is not surprising given things we have seen. The founder of Linux Questions has just posted some words in defense of Sun.
I forget sometimes how difficult a position Sun has put themselves in after years of being schizo about Open Source. For the last couple of years they have done some truly awesome things, yet they continue to take a beating in the community. I wonder how long it is until some will think they have paid their dues.
The complex relationship between IBM, Microsoft, Novell, and Sun continues to baffle. They want to collaborate, but they compete and exchange favours and/or money at the same time. Can standards be established in this way? Which side would a standard then serve? And most importantly — how does the innocent customer fit into this picture? Companies wants money. Ordinary people want their data to be accessible and easy to interchange. They also want to have choice between platforms and applications so a proprietary/de facto status-quo is not acceptable. It raises price and reduces quality.
Send this to a friend
When a series of handshakes and exchanges of money leave the ‘little guy’ behind
Rob Weir of IBM has just posted a lengthy reply to concerns raised by Marbux and Gary Edwards (OpenDocument Foundation). There is so much to be said to not only complement but also correct Rob’s assessment, but here we shall only refer to the parts which are associated with Novell and the other relationships Microsoft has formed in order to combat ODF adoption and make ODF a second-class citizen. Rob says:
This comment manages to avoid confronting a heap of contrary facts. Microsoft supports the open source ODF Translator project on SourceForge. Sun has made their own ODF Plugin 1.1 for MS Office available for download. And Novell, along with helping with the Microsoft effort, has integrated that translator into their version of OpenOffice and has also started work on more powerful, next-generation support for OOXML. So these three companies are seeking to “limit ODF interoperability and usefulness”?
“Novell is guilty too because it accepted a lot of money to stifle — along with Microsoft — ODF adoption.”Yes, Rob, they are in sense (excluding Sun). Jump back to 2006 when ODF had tremendous attraction. Then, come to witness how Novell’s so-called endorsement (which was paid for), followed by more bought support from 3 other Linux companies (involving patent-tied extortion) changed some dynamics in the game. Come to realise that Microsoft is throwing its money all over the place to protect OOXML, which it claims is all about its financial interests. We are talking about tens of $billions here. it’s not about the consumer’s needs, but about Microsoft’s revenue.
Novell is guilty too because it accepted a lot of money to stifle — along with Microsoft — ODF adoption. The same applies to Linspire and Xandros. Let’s not even get started wiith that comment from a Novell VP about OOXML being a “superb standard.”. Never mind the fraudulent activity that fuels OOXML support… and let’s not forget how Microsoft has pressured people out of their jobs for ‘daring’ to support ODF and serve the needs of the citizens. This type of behavior possibly continues to this date.
Then, Rob says:
They sure have a clever way of disguising their intent. To the ordinary bystander, writing conversion and translation code to allow documents to be shared between OpenOffice and MS Office, would be seen as a pro-interoperability statement. But thanks to the OpenDocument Foundation’s in-depth sleuthing, we now know that the opposite is true. Not!
Microsoft was invited to properly support the international standard. Instead, it chose to ‘buy’ support for another route which leaves us in the same mess that ODF was intended to resolve. One single universal format is needed. It is needed. Until the proprietary one becomes deprecated, there is no chance whatsoever of achieving interoperability. Rob knows this. He even stressed this before. So why are so-called converters and manipulation in the ISO perceived as a route that can somehow be embraced? Time warp back to 2006… we were never supposed to be in this situation in the first place. It is exactly the same story when it comes to the Web and Samba. We wrote about this just hours ago and included examples. To an extent, the same goes for SOA and a variety of other attempted hijacks.
Although I have serious doubts as to long-term technical feasibility of some of these endeavors, they do have the advantage of showing real, running code working with real, running applications. They may not claim 100% fidelity, but this is first-generation work and will undoubtedly improve. But they have an important advantage over the Foundation’s DaVinci Plugin in that these other efforts demonstrably exist. Given a choice, I’ll always take an open source version of partial fidelity convertor, with a reasonable architecture, over one that claims 100% fidelity, but that I can’t see or touch.
Stephane could probably say a lot more about the fidelity of such converters. We could probably say a lot more about licensing and patent mess that are involved. This is by no means a solution and it was never intended to end up like this. It seems like a very half-blinded view on this issue. And that’s just exactly the vista Microsoft wished people to have on this issue. Why be so easily fooled?
In a comment, I’ve expressed some more general thoughts about Rob’s item as a whole.
Send this to a friend
The following story from May 2004 is somewhat similar to a more recent case where payments were made to Novell, which assists Microsoft’s legal case in Europe, among other places. Microsoft is accused of deliberately breaking interoperability and it pays its way out of legal action, or even prosecution. Remember Microsoft’s interoperability action against Novell (technical sabotage). Also consider the fact that Microsoft’s recent pact with Novell can be a route to passive forgiveness. Shades of robber barons.
The following story might strike a nerve.
Microsoft agreed to pay Norway’s Opera Software $12.75 million to head off a threatened lawsuit over code that made some Web pages on MSN look bad in certain versions of Opera’s Web browser, CNET News.com has learned.
Opera disclosed the payment last week in a terse press release that omitted other details, including the name of the settling party and the nature of the dispute.
But a source indicated that the payment came from Microsoft in order to close the books on a clash over obscure interoperability problems. On at least three separate occasions, Opera has accused Microsoft of deliberately breaking interoperability between its MSN Web portal and various versions of the Opera browser–charges that the software giant has repeatedly denied.
Like OOXML, we previously highlighted evidence that Microsoft deliberately made Internet Explorer incompatible with standards. it continues to play such games with SOA, Samba, and other vital system components. It has deep roots in the past.
By breaking, sabotaging, or at least stifling interoperability, Microsoft is able to attract victims like Novell, which are tactless enough to sign undesirable deals and thereby help Microsoft,
Update: here is a more recent article that is also a good reference to have.
It is not possible to claim that browsers, networking technology or even media players exist in a healthy, viable, open and fair marketplace today. Microsoft just paid money to have those players go away: Novell, AOL (Netscape) and RealNetworks?. As well as SUN, IBM, Burst, BEOS and others.
Send this to a friend
An interesting update from Sun Microsystems has shed some light on a recent misfortunate development where Novell went its own way with OpenOffice.org. In case you have not followed this, Kohei wrote his solver code under the JCA, which is acceptable. Then he joined Novell and decided to withdraw from the project, which led to conflicts and had Michael Meeks, whom we criticised before, pretty much fork the project.
To sum up: the decision whether the “Kohei solver” or any other of the components Novell holds back will be contributed to OOo or not is a decision of Novell, not of anybody else. Alleging something different is at least a misapprehension. And for whatever Michael Meeks is fighting, if he takes the work of others as a hostage in his crusade against the JCA, he shouldn’t blame others for its suffering.
Novell is clearly not the ‘hero’ that will rescue the world from the ‘evil’ JCA, but that’s what they would have you believe. As indicated in a comment I’ve left in the cited blog item, this is not the first time Novell seeks to ‘extend’ OpenOffice.org its own way, potentially introducing components that are tied to Microsoft (time bomb/Trojan horse). Come to think of VBA macros, OOXML, Mono, and a Windows advantage for OpenOffice.org. Why? Because, according to Ron Hovsepian, Microsoft would not permit these to be used outside Windows.
Send this to a friend
A feature has just been added which enables you to receive E-mail notifications of new comments in any item found in this Web site. You can find this feature below the “comments” box. This should hopefully assist tracking of your comments. Due to experimentation with different versions of the software, some ‘oopsies’ were part of this installation process. If the site seems a little flaky or if you spot an error, please let us know.
In the mean time, here’s an interesting nugget of information that has just come to our attention. We mentioned this document the other day, but the following bits of text are very telling and quoteworthy.
On April 20, 2007, at the ABA Antitrust Section’s Spring Meeting in Washington, Commission Kroes was asked what the Commission has learned about remedies from its experience in Microsoft. After first saying that the
Commission had “never before” encountered a company that had refused to comply with its order, she said that the Commission would need to consider when “structural remedies would be more appropriate or even necessary.” For example, she said, “there could be a situation in which a dominant company has repeatedly abused its dominant position. Or where it has consistently failed to comply with a behavioural remedy despite repeated enforcement action.”11
It sounds to me as though Commissioner Kroes has now learned what Judge Jackson learned over the course of the U.S. monopolization trial. Microsoft’s unwillingness to comply with court-ordered remedies, plus its pattern
of exclusionary conduct, indicated that conduct remedies alone would not likely be effective. An effective remedy would need to change Microsoft’s economic incentives. This was the key insight of the restructuring remedy originally proposed by the Justice Department and the states, and adopted by Judge Jackson. That remedy was never imposed—new leaders took over at the Department of Justice and the parties entered into a conduct settlement. Unfortunately, Europe has repeated the U.S. history, with similar results.
The American Antitrust Institute is now aware of the issue. Remedies are hopefully on their way.
Send this to a friend
If you ever need a good summary of Microsoft-Novell’s blood-shed history, then look no further than the court exhibits from Iowa and some other documents that are stored in Groklaw. The Novell versus Microsoft antitrust case makes quite a good read. Just looking at the reaction to the first complaint you’ll find sentiments such as:
I don’t know about you, but I can’t read this document without my consumer blood pressure rising. When I read the section beginning at paragraph 92, for example, about Microsoft deliberately making Word incompatible with WordPerfect, so users would find it hard to work on documents written in WordPerfect in a Word environment, all I could think of was a night some years back, when I was working on a document in a domain name dispute to file in the ICANN dispute resolution procedure.
Sure, but hey! Microsoft and Novell are friends now. Ron Hovsepian shook hands with Steve Ballmer — a sight that Ray Noorda was not around to watch.
There buckets of filings make a nice addition to the resources and reading lists available for better understanding of the relationship between Microsoft and Novell. How did Novell end up in the arms of its fiercest of enemies, which had it betrayed just months ago? Can lessons never be learned from history?
Send this to a friend