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ECMA’s and Microsoft’s Mistake in Geneva

Posted in Deception, ECMA, Europe, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 10:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Article authored by Russell Ossendryver

ISOMicrosoft’s position is hardening as the ISO vote on OOXML (DIS 29500) in Geneva approaches at the end of this month. We know more clearly now how Microsoft and its proxy group, ECMA, will position Microsoft’s OOXML specification in advance of the vote. In short, Microsoft is betting that its influence with National Bodies will allow it to push through a specification which elevates its own interests over that of truly competitive, open international standards. In the end, it will be Microsoft’s own inflexibility that will be its undoing, and that undoing means knocking the OOXML out of approval for ISO status.

“ECMA, a RIAA-like industry group dedicated to advancing its members’ interests…”ECMA, a RIAA-like industry group dedicated to advancing its members’ interests, published its responses to comments of the ISO National Bodies in response to Microsoft’s Office Open XML application for ISO standardization. The ECMA proposals will be discussed at a Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) in Geneva after which the National Bodies may reconsider their original vote.

Download the PDF

ECMA makes an apparently false statement several times throughout its response: “Although no reference implementation or interoperability test suite is available at this time, a growing number of implementations of ECMA-376 are becoming available.”

That statement is not true. What ECMA does not say is that no one has implemented ECMA-376 OOXML in full or even close to it. In fact most ECMA referenced implementations are just using filters, converters or a file viewer. And as we know, Office 2007 is writing its own custom XML. Office 2007 lacks a “Save As OOXML (ECMA 376)” write that would make it possible to conform, verify and validate applications relying on the specifications.

So there is still no present implementation of what may or may not become an international and/or U.S. national standard.

It is strange indeed that the OOXML format submitted to ECMA and ISO is not implemented even in MS Office 2007: Nor does it appear that OOXML can ever be implemented in Office 2007 or future versions, at least not in the proposed ECMA form as it exists today. And that’s the only form under evaluation for the time.

Since OOXML appears impossible to either implement or interoperate with, and this situation has persisted since day one of the specification, it is possible to conclude that Microsoft does not intend to implement OOXML itself as an open standard nor to make it available to competitors for purposes of interoperability.

Microsoft Office 2007 also appears too brittle to handle the required changes proposed by ECMA; and a lot of the national standards bodies’ comments call for changes that Microsoft would not nor could ever implement. It is expected it won’t try. For example, subdocument types in Microsoft Word such as footnotes, endnotes, tables, and frames that must span page breaks have apparently long been largely off-limits to Microsoft developers for repair of serious bugs.

Technically, it would be seem much easier for Microsoft to implement ODF than to even begin to try to standardize the diverse file formats in Office 2007 or to conform later versions of Microsoft Office with OOXML.

Microsoft will make you chase OOXML forever: Not even one complete OOXML has been implemented and they making developers and consumers chase up to six versions already:

1) OOXML 1.0 (i.e. ECMA 376 today)
2) MS-OOXML 2007 (i.e. OOXML 1.0 + all undocumented bits -unimplemented features)
3) OOXML 1.0 Second Edition (whatever is the outcome of Feb’s BRM)
4) MS-OOXML 2007 Service Pack X (Whatever parts of OOXML 1.0 Second Edition implemented by MS Office)
5) Office 2009 Beta 1 (MS-OOXML 2007 + undocumented extensions)
6) Office 2009 (????)

OOXML can never be Interoperable or Implemented: A decision to push the OOXML specification as an ISO standard would launch the beginning of a true Digital Divide between countries, institutions, businesses and regular folks who adopt open standards. This doesn’t include those individuals and businesses who have opted to use vendor-controlled formats and are now locked into those choices. Think of a “black hole” for your data. In other words, it would become a new interoperability nightmare between office suites.

One of the many reasons OOXML cannot interoperate with third parties is that Microsoft is still hiding the migration tables that make it possible for them to create OOXML files from binary files. Those tables simply are not provided in the specifications, despite the stated goal that Microsoft is doing so openly. As a result, only Microsoft can reliably migrate binary formats to the new formats, which provides them with a competitive advantage (everybody else is excluded).

BSI (British Standards Institution) – “The compelling need exists for an open document-format standard that is capable of creating and preserving the billions of documents that have been created in the preexisting binary formats…” This does not mean that the standard has to be a new XML representation of the preexisting binary formats. There is already an open document-format standard that is capable of preserving the documents, and that already has widespread use and for some time its evolution has “enjoyed the checks and balances afforded by an open standards process.”

BSI (British Standards Institution) – “The OOXML could qualify if there is a need for another open document-format standard alongside existing established standards, and how the new standard would interoperate with established standards. OOXML has not yet been proven to be interoperable nor implemented, as no conforming consumers and producers have yet been created. Another claim which cannot be made is implementation of an application that produces and consumes conformant OOXML. Both interoperability and implementation are seemingly impossible.”

Using products from a single supplier that cannot be implemented by another party impedes innovation, competition and choice, which will increase costs through decreased competition and decreased flexibility.

The XML proposed in OOXML is not a general purpose language for Office documents: That’s the real irony. The whole point of XML is to create formats which can produce data which can be freely interchange between applications out there. That includes even those applications which don’t exist quite yet, but will soon. Therefore that an XML-based format should be designed in such a way as to contradict the fundamental purpose of XML should be heavy in clues about what’s going on. But, here is the problem: there is no such clue because OOXML is custom fit for Microsoft’s products only and ties consumers into the MS environment.

National Boards must also understand that OOXML is a different format. They must realize that using it implies the purchase of new software, in some cases the purchase of new hardware. In all cases, it involves the conversion of files to the new format, which only Microsoft can accomplish.

Office Open XML is not 6000 pages long: The complexity, extraordinary length, technical omissions and single-vendor dependencies combine to make alternative implementation legally and practically impossible. Add the additional 2300 pages in bug fixes and an annex part, then you add on the un-documented bits, stuff related to old binary codes to ensure “BACKWARD COMPATIBILTY LOCK-IN,” you have probably 100,000 pages once you include substantial semantics lacking in the current proposal.

One of the reasons people use XML in the real world is because this programming contains agreed-upon syntax and semantics. It’s implicit that, without an open XML design where everything is documented, Microsoft’s implementation is excluding others from reliably rendering documents like Office 2007 without using Office 2007.

The Closed Development Cycle of OOXML: Ecma International (”Ecma”) Technical Committee 45 (”TC45″), which maintains OOXML, works in an opaque manner. There are no public mails lists, voting, balloting and appeals policies not published. OOXML is a format that was pre-developed within Microsoft’s development group and Microsoft retains the right to veto any changes that are proposed in TC45. Further, the meeting activities of TC45, the committee’s work-in-progress, documents and e-mail are not public. It is also difficult to participate in the development of OOXML, membership requirements are high and limiting and generally only available by invitation through one of the corporate members. And all public comments are suppressed. Read More on Achieving Openness – ODF vs OOXML by Sam Hiser.

The development of Microsoft Office is also done in secrecy so we do not know what will be the default file format of Office 14 (Office 2009)? Will it be identical to that described in Ecma-376? We don’t know, because Microsoft does not provide a clear roadmap. This lack of direction provides Microsoft with a huge competitive advantage.

Language and Linguistics Problems in OOXML: Microsoft also did a bad job in creating a document format for the whole world, which is an important requirement for an ISO standard. Considerations for users in Israel and many Muslim countries were excluded in the specification of OOXML. The weekend continues being only Saturday and Sunday which effects Iraq, Algeria, Sudan, Bahrain, Qatar, Bangladesh, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates:

a) There is no way to represent minority languages (does not use ISO 639)
b) There are still a lot of borderlines images that match only with US culture and doesn’t provide alternatives for other cultures.
c) It is not possible to make numerations in Greek, Tamil, Armenian, Ethiopian, etc. Only in Arabic numbers (occidental set) and Latin.
d) Doesn’t use W3C XLS: FO, a language for transforming XML documents and an XML vocabulary for specifying formatting semantics
e) Microsoft does not support, is the RFC 3987 specification, which defines UTF-8 capable Internet addresses. Consequently, OOXML does not support the use of Chinese characters within a Web address.

Office 2007 OOXML Spreedsheets is a closed binary format: Some of the binary blobs of .XLS are moved over .XLSX(M) as is, they are not XML which is in contradiction with what the standard is for in the first place. As for XML parts themselves, you can’t add your own XML within Microsoft spreadsheet’s XML (placeholders, markers,…). since it automatically corrupts the file. It undermines the reason why people use XML , and the regular XML tooling in particular (XSLT, tagging, templating, and so on). Read More at OOXML is Defective by Design by Stephane Rodriguez.

OOXML Offer No Second Need: The native and lossless support of ODF in Office 2007 would have been a fairly spectacular demonstration that the file format that Microsoft is proposing is superior to the existing ISO ODF standard. But that’s not what Microsoft chose to do, and neither the partners that joined Microsoft at ECMA.

Instead, Microsoft simply chose to proceed for economic reasons with an inferior file format that isn’t needed. For decades, third party vendors have had to reverse engineer Microsoft Office to work effectively with Microsoft Office, and OOXML will extend that problem into the future, as the crucial parts of the spec are not well-documented, despite its massive size.

From the start OOXML was inappropriate for Fast-Track processing: And now ECMA and Microsoft want to continue rushing it. They know that further review will only lead to revelations of more problems. It should be clear now that DIS 29500 needs more time in committee process to mature as a specification before consideration as an International Standard.

Furthermore, the ECMA proposed changes to DIS 29500 fail to address harmonization; naming confusions; consistency of fixes is a problem, support for legacy documents, IP Issues specifically in regards to GPL Licenses used by Open Source, Microsoft’s main competitor/antagonist; ECMA response to the date problem only has complicated matters; and many of these questions on OOXML remain unanswered.

Can we in good faith endorse a standard that is not technically sound with conflicting recommendations on technical remedies? Can we, in good conscience, give ISO approval to a specification which will benefit only one company that has subverted the standards process, which is submitting the specification only to drive sales of their office productivity suite, and which has no good faith interest in actually deploying the specification?

“The negative impact of standards for competition are mostly caused by a biased endowment with resources available for the standardization process itself. Therefore. even when the consensus rule is applied, dominant large companies are able to manipulate the outcome of the process, the specification of a standard, into a direction which leads to skewed distribution of benefits or costs in favor of their own interests.” Knut Blind

As the National Bodies contemplate their upcoming votes, it is important to remember that the true purpose of OOXML is to delay adoption of the current ISO document standard, ODF. We, the global community, should look askance at Microsoft’s bad faith ISO submission, and discourage the National Bodies from granting ISO status to this ill-conceived specification called OOXML.

Download the PDF or view original article at fanaticattack.com

Links 12/02/2008: Mobile Linux Growth, Microsoft Buys Danger, Red Hat Enters Hospital

Posted in News Roundup at 10:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Stuck in a Novell NetWare-like Dilemma

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Finance, Microsoft, NetWare, Novell, Steve Ballmer at 10:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s not just XP cannibalising Vista

In a series of posts, out of which this is the most recent one, we explore the secrets behind Microsoft’s financial situation and the hypnosis that conceals it. Past writings contain dozens of references from the well-established press and they indicate that Microsoft is far from telling the true story.

“Like Novell with Netware, Microsoft is already clinging on to legacy products and it does so at its own peril.”In comes an E-mail which talks about the Yahoo deal being a case of “Half cash, half stock”. We previously pointed out the fact that Microsoft would need a big loan just to be able to afford a Yahoo takeover. Personal wealth aside (e.g. Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates and countless others), the E-mail we received contains links to articles that were mentioned before (for example here).

SCO said it was doing well shortly before that unexpected Chapter 11 and Novell, which admittedly is cooking the books, had some financial problems too. Like Novell with Netware, Microsoft is already clinging on to legacy products and it does so at its own peril.

Microsoft could learn a lesson from a different explorer to the Americas, Hernan Cortez, whose policy was to “burn the boats.” It’s understandable that Microsoft would cling to its profitable past. That past churns out billions of dollars in profits each quarter. Who wouldn’t want that?

Microsoft needs to evolve in order to survive, to quote just one analyst about the Yahoo bid:

Microsoft’s Last Big Beat: Internet Domination or Death

What can $44.6B USD mean? Well, for Microsoft (MSFT) it may mean the cost of survival.

Even a few months ago, a very senior Microsoft executive referred to this shift to the Web as a case of “financial life or death.” To be fair, many companies suffer from an ongoing/approached recession, but that does not justify cheating and even stealing from investors. What’s truly required is transparency, honesty.

Related (older) writings:

Paul Graham’s “Microsoft is Dead”

A few days ago I suddenly realized Microsoft was dead. I was talking to a young startup founder about how Google was different from Yahoo. I said that Yahoo had been warped from the start by their fear of Microsoft. That was why they’d positioned themselves as a “media company” instead of a technology company. Then I looked at his face and realized he didn’t understand. It was as if I’d told him how much girls liked Barry Manilow in the mid 80s. Barry who?

Microsoft? He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he didn’t quite believe anyone would be frightened of them.

Will Microsoft Survive the Next 10 Years?

I am not really an expert in this but when I read all the negative headlines and articles I ask myself if Microsoft really will survive the next 10 years.

SUSE manuals
Leaving legacy behind…

The Real Story Behind the Novell/Microsoft Deal or Just a Conspiracy

Posted in Deals, Microsoft, Novell, Ron Hovsepian, Virtualisation, Xen at 9:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Novell

The following new article sheds some light on an important aspects of the Novell/Microsoft deal. It appeared earlier today in the Financial Times:

The two companies linked arms once in 2006 when Microsoft wrote Novell a check for USD 348m. The move was designed to show the company is not a monopolist, said Levitt.

Be aware that IDC is little more than a Microsoft-dependent firm [1, 2], so its words must be taken with a great degree of caution. Nevertheless, there is an element of truth therein.

A reader contacted us earlier and his message was enlightening.

Do you remember after the shady deal
a novell manager got hired by Microsoft ?
Looks suspicious, don’t you think ?
I don’t find the story anymore.
Do you have it ?

Thoughts come to mind about burial, withdrawal and manipulation of search engines or articles [1, 2] (information control), but can anyone remember the name of that manager? It predates the creation of a joint interoperability lab and it may suggest that an inside affair was involved in making the Microsoft/Novell deal happen. We already have some details about the story, which we extracted from the audiocast delivered by Dan Bricklin.

“Be aware of the fact that Microsoft had its own General Manager in charge (to an extent) of XenSource before using Citrix to virtually ‘steal’ it and put Xen in the dustbin.”We last mentioned this about a week, but we wish to find out more about Justin Steinman’s employment history. We also wish to find out which Novell employees were hired by Microsoft just before and after the deal. If Crispin Cowan worked on AppArmor while at Novell, then that’s an example which is only 3-weeks old, so it is probably of little or no relevance.

Be aware of the fact that Microsoft put its own General Manager in charge (to an extent) of XenSource before using Citrix to virtually 'steal' it and put Xen in the dustbin. Then you have the recent news about Microsoft’s plan to steal/hijack Yahoo in a hostile fashion. This is not far-fetched; it’s often strategic.

We have been looking for potential Novell/Microsoft 'insiders', so in case you know any, please speak out. Groklaw suggests that Justin Steinman might be one of the men to look into because he occupies a role in both companies and he is sometimes held responsible/accountable for a lot of this uncomfortable situation.

There might be more to this mess than a small group of people. Watch the sample of comments posted to the OpenSUSE mailing list. People are still unhappy and there is a serious issue of mistrust that Novell is trying quite hard to wash away.

Our reader, who shared quite a few insights, adds:

[I] Did not know this, [and it's] interesting and fits the systematic corruption, but what i remember went the other way round: The Novell manager got a job at Microsoft i thought as a reward for making the deal.

What the reader may or may not know about are Ron Hovsepian's bonuses which came shortly after he had signed the deal. We saw a similar pattern later on.

It’s a bit of a post mortem really, but Novell’s recent actions expose a lot. Some questions that still need to be addressed and answered are centered around employment, communication and possible exchange of money. Judging by the past, there is little or no reason for Novell and Microsoft to be friends, but what if an influenced (by the outside) leader was put in place? Look again at the XenSource and Yahoo examples.

We still have an article that is very damaging to Novell and we cannot quite publish it yet because of possible implications (it’s not safe). It will probably come out one day. We are close to finding some big answers.

Survey Indicates Microsoft/Novell Deal Did Damage to SUSE

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED, Ubuntu at 8:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For the second consecutive time, a comprehensive survey from Alfresco shows that the deal Novell signed with Microsoft harmed SUSE rather than helped it.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux started out as equals in Alfresco’s user base. No more. Ubuntu has clearly won over our customer base at SUSE’s expense. My money is on Novell’s deal with Microsoft as the culprit. Indeed, you can watch the deployments taper off in the data from the month that deal was announced.

The management at Novell will hopefully take a look at these figures. Maybe those responsible should start looking for another job after that shameful deal. We’ll touch on this in the next post.

Bad decision

What Does Samsung’s Linux Deal Mean to Android and Mono?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Patents, Samsung at 8:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yesterday [1], as well as last week, we mentioned Samsungs’s role in Linux. Reasons why this is risky were highlighted also.

In short, Samsung has opened the door to ‘taxation’ on Linux devices. Since Microsoft cannot sell Windows CE and Windows Mobile too well (these divisions lose billions of dollars) and since Microsoft does not sell hardware, it must seek alternative revenue sources. It then makes an attempt to extract revenue from its rivals, using software patents and unsubstantiated claims/threats.

Samsung appears to have not only chosen LiMo, but it is now embracing Google’s Android as well.

Samsung aims to expand its mobile offering with a new range of Android and Linux-based handsets, it has announced.

Bear the following points in mind:

  1. Recently, LiMo came under some pressure to include Mono, which is a patent/copyrights bomb [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33].
  2. When Android was unveiled, Miguel de Icaza quite immediately spoke about the possibility of putting Mono in it.
  3. When the Samsung-Microsoft cross-licensing deal mas signed, we speculated that it may have something to do with Mono, based on the langauage used in the press release.

These are all issues to be aware of.

In other Samsung news (among many others about mobile Linux), the company plans to also develop chips.

Samsung Electronics will update its mobile processor lineup with a new chip that combines a 667MHz processor core with hardware acceleration for multimedia, including 3D graphics and video, the company said.

As you can probably see, Samsung is focused on hardware, so it was both selfish and foolish of them to sign a software patent deal with Microsoft. They jeopardised people that write software rather than make hardware.

Mono is greed

OOXML Called a “Very Cynical Ploy”, Finger Pointed at ECMA and Microsoft

Posted in Australia, Deception, ECMA, Microsoft, Open XML at 8:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Everywhere you look, there is dissatisfaction and/or misconduct

Australia was mentioned quite a lot last month, especially because local journalists, who were invited to take free trips to Brainwash sessions in Redmond, later ‘contaminated’ the press, which spread to other countries [1, 2]. There is hardly any justice here and there is a lot of propaganda being orchestrated. Watch the following new report from the Australian continent.

Christie says that [OOXML] responses have often been of poor quality. “If we were to extrapolate (the) poor quality of responses we have seen to the 54 Standard NZ comments to those of all the other NBs then we can only conclude that the result is probably a worse mess than the document we reviewed last August. Of course, that is conjecture because ECMA have yet to release the revised document, despite having made assurances that they would have done by now.”


Christie said the delay to release the revised document was causing concern. “…MS (Microsoft)… simply appear to be running down the clock. They are appearing to engage positively when that seems important (in SNZ meetings, for example) but what actually comes out are endless requests for more technical clarification from experts like Matthew Cruikshank and then very poorly executed responses.”

“My personal view is that for a company with Microsoft’s seemingly endless resources this is a very cynical ploy. The way ISO and the BRM work is to focus on one single issue at a time and tick each one off as ‘resolvable’ rather than take a holistic view of the specification.

Cruickshank added: “This isn’t an issue of trust (re: promises) it’s that the ECMA/Microsoft editor continues to introduce new errors into the standard because they’re not technically minded and because their approach hasn’t involved the wider document community.”

Are Microsoft and ECMA still trying to hide their little questionable deeds [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]?

Further down it says:

On this side of the Tasman, lobbying efforts by Microsoft are going on apace. The company recently got itself invited to meetings of both the Sydney Linux User Group and the Linux Users of Victoria (one of two Melbourne-based LUGs) where, among other things, it could spruik its case.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft spread its software patents FUD in at least one of these Linux User Groups. We mentioned a damning report about it last week.

Older articles about OOXML in Australia:

1. OSIA takes issue with OOXML, lobbies Standards Australia

Opposition to the endorsement of the program comes on top of the suspected stacking by Microsoft of a variety of standards bodies in order to get OOXML approved as the ISO standard. “This was not part of OSIA’s submission and is not anything OSIA has direct knowledge of”, said Scott. “However, there are a number of people who assert that Microsoft is doing as you suggest”, he said.

2. Report from Australia – the OOXML Forum

I’d say things look grim in Australia, but it’s not too late to express yourself to Australia Standards. The public is encouraged to continue to send comments until August 21.

3. Standards Australia defends its decision to abstain from OOXML vote

Standards Australia has defended it’s decision to abstain from the ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) ballot to approve Microsoft’s Office Open XML format as an international standard, saying Australia still has a chance to approve or disapprove the vote.

More reports about OOXML in Australia (reverse chronological)

Bad Novell

Links 11/02/2008: Yahoo Bullied; Red Hat, Ubuntu and OpenOffice.org Take Market Share Chunk

Posted in Boycott Novell at 10:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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