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01.20.08

Lobbying by OOXML Proxies and Death by OOXML Binaries

Posted in Asia, Deception, ECMA, Formats, ISO, Microsoft at 3:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Somebody, stop this train! It’s insanity.

Microsoft Proxies in Malaysia

Last week we put together a fairly comprehensive report which contains links to articles about the developments in Malaysia. There is a great deal of manipulation by Microsoft over there because the country has already chosen OpenDocument format.

Microsoft lobbying in Malaysia is far from new, but the following article sheds some light on its extent.

While the battle between proponents of ODF and OOXML rages on, Microsoft is making some headway persuading several strategic organisations in Malaysia to adopt OOXML.

OOXML is bad
Microsoft is hoping to have industry partners apply pressure to officials. This is very typical and we saw this in Croatia just a couple of days ago. It’s another class of proxy strategies, of which there are plenty. Examples also include the use of partner analysts as mouthpieces (e.g. Burton, IDC).

Digital Preservation

Since Malaysia is discussed here, it is also worth bringing back the story about a national disaster (2004 tsunami) where Microsoft's poor file formats prevented access to vital data. In other words, formats were a matter of life and death. And that’s just one example among others and there is a good video about this.

To say more about preservation, here is a one-hour presentation on this topic. Additionally, the following new paper explains preservation in the context of the Web. Here is its abstract: [via Andy Updegrove]

There are innumerable departmental, community, and personal web sites worthy of long-term preservation but proportionally fewer archivists available to properly prepare and process such sites. We propose a simple model for such everyday web sites which takes advantage of the web server itself to help prepare the site’s resources for preservation. This is accomplished by having metadata utilities analyze the resource at the time of dissemination. The web server responds to the archiving repository crawler by sending both the resource and the just-in-time generated metadata as a straight-forward XML-formatted response. We call this complex object (resource + metadata) a CRATE. In this paper we discuss modoai, the web server module we developed to support this approach, and we describe the process of harvesting preservation-ready resources using this technique.

OOXML is Binary!

ECMA, a Microsoft middleman, tries to hide this. Microsoft tries very hard never to talk about this. But we shouldn’t be naive or passive. OOXML still contains operating system-dependent binaries.

In short it means ECMA finds Open XML shall remain an incomplete specified and inconsistent format. Some elements are still (in the spec undocumented) binary. It is hard to understand why DEVMODE structures cannot be transformed to XML for consistency reasons. Ah! “High-fidelity” of course which means everything but in particular that your XML format is a projection of the binary format, also by some referred to as a “dump” of the old legacy format. Even more fidelity is guaranteed when you just take the binary. In wonder why the drafters of the format started this WordprocessingML and didn’t add support for the highest fidelity of the doc format inside the open packaging zip container.

Surely, our grandchildren will never find a way to figure out what undocumented series of zeros and ones actually mean and how they should be treated in order to retrieve important old documents. Who is ECMA kidding? If OOXML ever passes at ISO, this will be a first-class fiasco and a total mockery of international standards.

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