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02.13.08

Microsoft’s History Against Standards Must Not Repeat Itself

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard, SUN at 8:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Number two is move Netscape out of the win32 client area.”

Paul Maritz, senior vice president Microsoft

IP-WATCH has a good article that sheds some more light on Microsoft’s tactics against its competition, even once it has fallen under the European Commission’s supervision. [via Glyn Moody]

Microsoft’s rival Sun Microsystems had complained to the Commission that the US software giant would not grant it data needed to ensure that Windows was interoperable.

“Microsoft’s defence was that the information was covered by intellectual property rights,” Hellstrom said. “This argument was never used when Sun asked for the information. It was only used in the eleventh hour. Microsoft showed one patent a day before we adopted our decision [in 2004].”

[...]

Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, a senior researcher with the United Nations University in Maastricht, Netherlands, noted that royalty-free standards are already being used in the computer industry. For example, the World Wide Web Consortium, a body dedicated to greater advancement of the Internet, promotes interoperable software.

Carlo Piana, whom we mentioned before [1, 2], is still very dissatisfied with the fact that Microsoft wants to knock out the existing international standard by replacing it with its own proprietary formats.

I will concentrate on one single, central issue, instead of starting a multi-threaded discussion. There cannot be two International Standards.

[...]

In all examples of partly overlapping International Standard (with maybe one or two exceptions), essentially they have profound differences and serve different purposes. One can think of the duality between TCP and UDP: theoretically, both can be used for most of the applications that the other is used, but they have trade-offs that make one better than others if you choose reliability over light-weight, or the reverse. Sometimes there are multiple standards for a single industry domain, like JPEG and JPEG2000. But these multiple standards reflect the evolution of technology, in this case from DCT coding to Wavelets, allowing for better representation in a specific field.

Microsoft pretends that it wants to accompany ODF, but it’s very clear that the purpose of OOXML is to marginalise ODF to the point where it becomes irrelevant. This is a very aggressive move. There is a good new comment in Slashdot which explains the importance of this and mentions the reason why Microsoft is going this far.

How ‘Firm’ Would You Stand For 20 Billion A Year?

I believe Microsoft made 5 billion in revenue from having customers worldwide locked into their proprietary office document format.

The vendor lockin from Office makes up almost half the company’s yearly revenue.

Microsoft would cease to exist as we know it if the office document lockin revenue went away to an open format.

Fight? LOL! This is the type of sh*t Microsoft execs live for.

Fake grassroots efforts.
Standards body subversion.
Paid for media shills.
Shame studies.
Mysterious compatibility problems with the competition.

All in a days work.

They want to kill an open standard have have it replaced by an application (Microsoft Office). We must not let this happen because without competition there will be digital suppression. Andy Updegrove is not keeping his hopes so high at this stage (the BRM in Geneva has already been pretty much corrupted [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), but the truth needs to be heard.

Microsoft a  bad ride

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7 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    February 13, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Gravatar

    On the matter of OOXML and ODF, Office 2003 is still common enough that I am saving in the old Office binary format for now, not ODF or OOXML, even though I am using Office 2007. I’d in the long term, treat OOXML almost the same as the binary formats in terms of interoperatiblity.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    February 13, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Gravatar

    On OOXML support in third-party office software: Useful but does not mean OOXML is really open.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 13, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Gravatar

    It does not mean that it inter-operates, either.

    Microsoft has paid some third parties to pretty much pretend that OOXML is not just Microsoft Office (for ECMA/ISO).This was done using some very fundamental examples.

    Also, over in YouTube, Microsoft spammed with video examples that are intended to give the impression that OOXML is supported by other parties. It’s viral marketing.

    Microsoft pulls far too many tricks in order to keep its cash cow relevant. Hopefully, the EU regulators are watching.

  4. Yuhong Bao said,

    February 13, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Gravatar

    >It does not mean that it inter-operates, either.
    No of course not.
    It is still useful however and if MS is powerful enough, it may become essential, despite our best efforts. Sun did it the right way with OpenOffice by taking their time on the converter and not claiming OOXML is really open.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 13, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Gravatar

    > It is still useful however and if MS is powerful
    > enough, it may become essential, despite our best efforts.

    There are the Web-based office suites which Microsoft pretends do not exist, although it quietly laughs at and fight them, e.g. the recent anti-Google study from the Burton Group (Microsoft). Interoperability then takes a different technical meaning.

    In any event, it is rather clear that the role of Microsoft Office as a native application is declining and since it’s the biggest cash cow, Microsoft must quickly find a replacement or force us back into the middle (digital) ages just as it did when it “tilted Netscape and Lotus into the death spiral.” (Microsoft terminology)

    Microsoft’s time (and money) is running out, so it hopes that OOXML, Silverlight and SharePoint can do enough damage and sustain a new wave of stubborn lock-ins.

  6. Yuhong Bao said,

    February 13, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Gravatar

    BTW, I wonder what would happen if MS did succeed in agreeing with Netscape a deal to make Netscape part of Windows 95?

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 13, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Gravatar

    Watch what happened when they acquired the product which later became FrontPage. It spewed out bad markup.

    As Microsoft recently said out in public, its business is based on the ability to control the ‘standard’. That, among many other factors, is the reason OOXML needs to be intercepted. OOXML is just a matter of business, i.e. Microsoft’s revenue.

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