Back in August we argued that Microsoft had gotten itself a puppet state. It is able to buy support for OOXML from other companies. In other case, it uses blackmailing technique (e.g. patent terrorism) to get that support. We backed this assertion with a reference from Wikipedia.
Earlier today, the No OOXML site echoed this assessment and presented the same type of analysis. It shows that indeed, Novell is a puppet.
Wikipedia: “A puppet is a representational object manipulated by a puppeteer. It is usually but not always a depiction of a human character and is used in (a) play or a presentation. The puppet undergoes a process of transformation through being animated, and is normally manipulated by one, or sometimes more than one, puppeteer. Some puppets can be moved electronically.” Does Novell qualify as an OOXML puppet?
It does indeed. Novell has a good track record of doing things that please Microsoft. It is a Microsoft puppet in more than one way.
When Novell released a redacted version of the SEC filing (just before the holidays), Shane and I analysed it [1, 2, 3, 4] and saw what it meant to office suites, among other things. Here are some relevant bits from the filing:
(a) *** will exercise its *** to *** by no later than *** that (i) the *** OpenOffice (version 2 or later) *** does or will *** Office Open XML format (“Open XML”), and (ii) it will make a *** *** If *** does not *** it will *** within the same time frame that *** in the *** on a*** to *** Open XML. *** will provide its *** to*** at least *** in advance of *** The *** will be *** not to be *** will provide *** in the *** will *** of such *** the Term, including through *** in the *** is defined in the Business Collaboration Agreement. (b) Novell Product Support for Office Open XML. No later than *** after the Translator Project makes generally available a version of its translator for word processing, and thereafter throughout the Term, Novell will (unless commercially impracticable) make prominently available *** for word processing documents. The *** can be made prominently available to a user of *** via an easily available download or by distributing the *** with each copy of a *** . No later than *** after the Translator Project releases a final version of its translator for spreadsheets, Novell will use commercially reasonable efforts to include in the *** support for spreadsheet documents. No later than *** after the Translator Project releases a final version of its translator for presentations, Novell will use commercially reasonable efforts to include in the *** support for presentation documents. Once released, Novell will continue to make the *** commercially available for the Term. If, during the Term, the Translator Project releases an updated version of its translator to reflect a new version of the relevant ODF or Open XML specification, then no later than *** following such release, Novell will use commercially reasonable efforts to make prominently available a corresponding update to *** . (c) Spreadsheet Translator Prototype. If the Translator Project announces that it will begin development of an open source Open XML-ODF Translator for spreadsheet documents (“Spreadsheet Translator”), within fifteen (15) days after that announcement Novell will review the terms applicable to contributions and determine at its discretion whether it is appropriate to submit its existing prototype of a Spreadsheet Translator to the Translator Project on the same terms that apply to other contributors to the Translator Project. Novell will also participate in the Translator Project by periodically testing subsequent versions of the Spreadsheet Translator and providing other feedback. (d) Microsoft-Facilitated Translator Development. Microsoft will use commercially reasonable efforts to encourage development of Open XML-ODF Translators for spreadsheet and presentation documents. Novell will participate with Microsoft in such efforts at a commercially reasonable level. In addition, subject to Novell’s foregoing commitment to participate, Microsoft will manage an open source software project (which may be the Translator Project) to develop each such Translator, similar to the manner in which it currently manages the Translator Project, commencing when and continuing for such period as Microsoft reasonably deems appropriate. The translators resulting from any such project(s) will be made available under an open source license, similar to that currently being used in the Translator Project.
As you can see, Microsoft set the rules for Novell. Microsoft offered Novell a huge cash infusion and it wanted something in return. In essence, Microsoft used money to make Novell its marionette. Novell (and GNOME) could truly take a lesson from KDE, which has truly remained idealogical and pragmatic.
Three cheers for the developers and management of the K Desktop Environment. They have taken a principled stand on the divisive issue of OOXML, the Microsoft Office Open XML document format. And for this the KDE folk deserve a round of applause.
The next post will show why Novell was willing to become such a puppet for OOXML and Microsoft (possibly taking GNOME along with it). Novell is having financial trouble. To make matters worse, Microsoft potentially wishes to own more of UNIX, essentially inheriting SCO’s role as anti-Linux litigator and stealing property from a very weak Novell. █