That is the distortion you get if you look at a standards war through the narrow blinders of commercial interest. But if you look at the full market impact, the simple economics of it, it becomes a lot clearer. What brings greater efficiency, greater fidelity, greater innovation and lower costs? Having two incompatible document format standards? Or having a single harmonized document format standard? Fighting against economics is like fighting against gravity or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. You are going to lose in the end. The piemen of Erie, and their modern counterparts, are on the wrong side of economics, and history,
Over the next couple of weeks I plan to publish several entries on “challenges and priorities in 2008 on a range of topics, some related to work areas of interest, some related to personal ones. I’m kicking this off today with standards.
Microsoft has already had its say on the issue of standards. The following was found some time in the past.
“…we should take the lead in establishing a common approach to UI and to interoperability (of which OLE is only a part). Our efforts to date are focussed too much on our own apps, and only incidentally on the rest of the industry. We want to own these standards, so we should not participate in standards groups. Rather, we should call ‘to me’ to the industry and set a standard that works now and is for everyone’s benefit. We are large enough that this can work.”
But there are some clouds at the horizon, the patent ‘agreements’ Microsoft has forced on various Linux distributors being one of them. After Novell gave in, more companies gave in to the FUD spread by Microsoft. After Novell, both Xandros and Linspire have made deals with Microsoft regarding technical interoperability and legal protection. Fortunately, not all companies delivering Linux based solutions are giving in. Canonical, Red Hat, Mandriva and others continue to say no to Microsoft. It’s strange that even though Microsoft won’t give more information on the 235 patents that it believes Linux is violating.
Unfortunately it didn’t stay at spreading FUD, during the ISO approval process of Microsoft’s OOXML wanabee-standard, it became clear that there had been some unfair play by Microsoft. The entire chain of events is to long to list again here but you can read all about them here on masuran.org or the excellent no-ooxml website.
Regardless of all the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt Microsoft tries to spread, regardless of the bribing of ISO committee members, 2008 will be good for us. We who love freedom and openness, we who like to share information, we who love technology, we’ll have it good.
Let’s end this post on Masuran’s optimistic note. █
Bob Sutor makes a good observation. As we mentioned 3 times in the past fortnight [1, 2, 3], ECMA-OOXML is being warped in all sorts of radical ways. This pretty much makes an admission that MS-OOXML is broken beyond repair.
There were some stories in the blogosphere over the holidays saying that Microsoft was telling some national standards bodies that it was willing to deprecate portions of OOXML in order to satisfy some of the thousands of technical criticisms of OOXML in the JTC1 standards process.
It’s not uncommon to see some deprecations in versions 2.0 and higher of standards. It could mean one or more of
* “whoops, we goofed”
* “there was a problem with what we said to do”
* “we’ve come up with a better way of doing that”
* “you really don’t want to be doing that”
Evidence is emerging that Microsoft is making money, lots of it, from selling ‘certificates’ for Novell’s SUSE Linux. Microsoft gained the right to distribute the certificates a little more than a year ago under a marketing and technical alliance with Novell.
So, while Linux — free software that competes with Windows — may still be a “cancer” for Microsoft, the company has found a way to profit from it. That’s a good trick . . . perhaps Microsoft should next enter the pharmaceutical market?
Copyrights and patents are government granted monopolies. They have their origins in the feudal guild system, not the free market economics of Smith and Ricardo. In fact, at the end of the 19th century, Switzerland and the Netherlands actually eliminated patent and copyright protection, with the intent of promoting free market competition. In spite of their feudal legacy, and their obvious status as forms of protectionism, few economists ever question the merits of the patent and copyright systems.
Make a mental note of that one. We’re looking at some feudal roots. Elsewhere, in yesterday’s news, the abuse continues and patents are still being wrongly called “intellectual property”, which they are not. Patents are patents, so let’s call them what they are. Software patents are much, much worse.
Toshiba last week launched legal action against an Italian disc duplication company it maintains has infringed its intellectual property.
In Service Pack 3 for Office 2003, Microsoft disabled support for many older file formats. If you have old Word, Excel, 1-2-3, Quattro, or Corel Draw documents, watch out!
Mind the following fact, which was mentioned here quite recently:
It’s only been six months since Microsoft launched Office 2007 at retail. But as of July 1, 2007, Microsoft won’t be making the OEM version of Office 2003 to its PC partners, a k a “OEMs.”
As it would seem based on the fragments above, Microsoft is putting pressure on users of old versions of Microsoft Office. They could soon become victims of the network effect (forced upgrade). Microsoft decided to pull away Office 2003 so that it isn’t available. It then relies on innocent users who might use the default file formats in Office 2007 (a derivative of OOXML).
> Deliberately making it too cumbersome and complex for most people to ever
> work around this, i.e. leaving it technically (but not really practically
> for almost everyone) an option, for now at least gives MS an excuse, while
> still taking a big step towards getting rid of support for those old formats
> entirely, which is not all that unreasonable I suppose for formats greater
> than 10 years old.
Let’s not forget – what is being supported is *software*, ie M$ Office, not a file format.
The current iteration of Micro$oft Office should be capable of opening any and all files created by any prior release of M$ Office, and should be capable of doing so in a safe and secure manner.
If the current iteration of Micro$oft Office is incapable of safely and securely parsing any file created by any prior iteration of M$ Office then surely something is very wrong with Microsoft, and with M$ Office!!
Doesn’t ODF seem like a hugely attractive option all of a sudden? █
Update: As we were going to mention yesterday, “security reasons” were merely an excuse that serves this hidden agenda. Rob Weir confirms this now and yesterday, in a different forum, I posted the following older story as an example which is similar:
Software like Parallels Desktop for the Mac or Microsoft’s own Virtual PC for Windows allow multiple operating systems to run simultaneously. When it announced licensing rules for Vista last year, Microsoft said that only Vista Business and Vista Ultimate could run as guest operating systems. The company said virtualization presents inherent security risks and that it hoped by limiting which versions of the OS could act as virtual machines, only sophisticated users and businesses would employ the tactic.
At the time, Microsoft pretended that if you get a version of Windows with more features ‘unlocked’, then suddenly it becomes more secure. This was discussed here several times before.
”…the Gates Foundation is being (mis)used to buy media companies which then serve Gates and Microsoft.“We covered issues that are associated with the Gates Foundation several times in the past because they cannot be separated from issues that BoycottNovell investigates. This includes effects on media bias. In short, to give you just the gist of the story, the Gates Foundation is being (mis)used to buy media companies which then serve Gates and Microsoft.
We have discussed this issue privately with a person who is knowledgeable in this area and here are some insights that we wish to share publicly. Asked about the video, the person whom we spoke had the following to say:
It’s noteworthy that a couple of the comments attached to each of these videos are supposedly from different users, but the content of these comments is identical. There is also an observant comment which says that the primary reason for the “Gates Foundation” is as a tax shelter for his investments. I would add that the charitable cause and associated good press are only benefits on the side. The observant comment was rated negatively by someone and it has a rating of “-1″.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Microsoft and their ilk have made use of astro-turfers and shills since at least the ’90′s. It started with some “friendly” contacts in the press who were either hypnotised by Gates, Microsoft and their success or just looking for a piece of their advertising money. This expanded to full-blown astro-turfing during the time of the US DOJ vs. Microsoft case.
Asked about whether we should include such material in boycottnovell.com (we were not going to because it is sensitive subject), he remarks:
That’s definitely a borderline case but it’s defencible if you consider that the Gates Foundation’s conduct is a reflection of that of Microsoft. It’s even more defencible if you consider that the Gates Foundation actively helps Microsoft. Frankly, those videos are disappointing but not surprising. Both of these organisations present superficially good images but, when one digs deeper, one finds that they are both amoral and centred on acquiring ever more wealth and power for their heads.
…Further, I seem to recall that, when Gates was the richest man in the world, he said in self-defence that he planned to eventually give away his entire wealth. I wonder if the Gates Foundation is helping him to do that and his wealth is indeed decreasing.
This is merely a integral part of the game which Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are playing (the taxing shell game). It’s a win-win situation to them, but people shouldn’t be as foolish as Bill and Warren need them to be (paraphrasing Groklaw here).
The person whom we spoke to did some further work looking at this. He came up with some conclusive assessment of the Foundation’s goal and means.
A little bit of looking around found a little confirmation. I found in the Wikipedia article on the Gates Foundation that it will shut down 50 years after the death of Bill & Melinda. I’m sure that putting money into the Foundation would qualify as “giving his money away.” I await in the coming years to see Bill’s steady decline in the “richest person” rankings as he gives his money away.
But has it really happened so far? I understand that Gates is still well up in the rankings. He may still be at the top (I don’t really keep track) but, if he is no longer at the top, that may well be because Microsoft has been doing less well in recent years and he’s diversified his investments to safer, slower growth ones. If the Foundation’s endowment has grown recently, it seems to be due more to Buffett than Gates.
It’s also interesting to see in the Wikipedia article that there are some criticisms leveled at the Gates Foundation, one of which is the topic of the video you posted. It has the following to say about the LA Times article about its oil investments:
… In response, the foundation first announced a systematic review of all of its investments to determine whether it should consider divestment from some companies. Later, it revoked this pledge and said it would continue its current practices.
In a May 4 story, the Los Angeles Times again reported a conflict between the foundation investment policies and charitable goals.  In this case the issue was Darfur and PetroChina, an oil company in which Gates trustee Warren Buffett …
I didn’t see another criticism that I’ve heard, which is that his donations of computers to libraries and schools are oriented towards Windows. For example, see the following page on “getting technical support for Gates Foundation library computers”. I don’t see Macintosh or Linux systems mentioned there — only Windows systems.
…the Gates Foundation took down their public statement on this and replaced it with a significantly altered version which seems to say that investing responsibly would just be too complex for them and that they need to focus on their core mission: ‘There are dozens of factors that could be considered, almost all of which are outside the foundation’s areas of expertise. The issues involved are quite complex…
I know. You thought I was goofing off partying and drinking in the new year. Not really. I was reading some cynical documents just filed in the LANCOR v. OLPC litigation. Yes, it’s begun in a Nigerian court. LANCOR has actually done it. Heaven only knows it makes me want to drink. Guess what the Nigerian keyboard makers want from the One Laptop Per Child charitable organization trying to make the world a better place?
$20 million dollars.
I kid you not. $20 million dollars in “damages”.
For background and context see the following two articles.
The Boston Globe is reporting that LANCOR, the Nigerian-owned company that has filed suit against the One Laptop Per Child project for patent infringement, is actually helmed by a man convicted of bank fraud. He spent a year in prison.
Some would wish to put two and two together, but we prefer to just present evidence rather than reach any conclusion or openly state an asseration.
A federal judge in California ruled on Monday that wireless chip maker Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) must immediately stop selling third-generation, or 3G, WCDMA cellular chips that infringe on the Broadcom Corp (BRCM.O) patents.
Customers never rejoice at the sight of another embargo or another unnecessary castration of novel features. █