Microsoft Office: A secret fan of ODF?
Last month we showed that Microsoft was willing to bend ODF's way. The company actually suggested that it was willing to accommodate the needs of government whose requirements include the use of real standards such as OpenDocument format. A month goes by and watch what we have here.
The OpenDocument Society mentions in its newsletter that Microsoft might have an “ODF standards group” within the Microsoft Office team.
If true, this is excellent news. Microsoft can finally cancel its plans for OOXML and just try to work better with the existing international standard which is ODF. Why duplicate? Why corrupt the system? Why propose a ‘standard’ that only works in a single application and a single operating system? It would be insane.
ODF is still gaining momentum with the new assignment of Patrick Durusau. [via Simon Phipps]
Durusau’s contract, sponsored by Sun Microsystems, allows him to continue a role he had during the development of ODF v 1.0 and 1.1 in OASIS, and in the submission of 1.0 to the ISO/IEC fast track process. Both the OASIS and ISO organizations have clear and well developed policies for participation which ensure all interests have input to the specification.
Come on, Microsoft. Use a real standard. You can’t fool the world with OOXML and you only make your establishment seem more corrupt than we already know it is. Not ready for ODF yet? Can’t give up the fight? The harmonisation door has already been opened for you to enter.
The only natural monopoly is that of a single universal standard that is free to implement and use. █
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When logic comes together…
The previous post explained why Microsoft’s strategy is only to drag time when it comes to its unsubstantiated, unproven claims against GNU/Linux. It is very much the opposite when it comes to OOXML, which Microsoft tried to fast-track (and subversively did). The longer it’s out there in the wild, the more scrutiny it is going to fall under. And scrutiny OOXML shall have! Here is some of the latest.
OOXML: Microsoft Windows-only, Microsoft Office-only
Microsoft is striding all over the place (even spamming YouTube) to give people the illusion that OOXML makes not just a representation of a single product from a single vendor. Actual users are not buying it (neither the argument nor Microsoft’s products) and it shows.
First of all, I will like to point out that the format of documents produced by Microsoft Office 2007 is not OOXML (Ecma 376). Microsoft Office 2007 documents contains, according to my sources, many elements not specified in Ecma 376, such as binary code, macros, OLE objects, ActiveX, DRM and SharePoint metadata.
I do not own a license for Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, and I will not buy one either. It might be possible to open documents produced by Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac with iWork ‘08, iPhone or NeoOffice, but that is irrelevant. One of the major points with interoperability, is vendor independence. If I have to buy a license for Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, Microsoft has succeeded in creating a standard so difficult — not to say impossible — to implement, that users will have to buy Microsoft’s software.
As a final statement, I would like to point out that the allegations on OOXML beeing implemented in iWork ‘08, iPhone and NeoOffice are wrong.
How about macros?
The ECMA/Microsoft’s answer is not providing anything to be sure your macro will be interpreted in the same way on all platforms (Windows, Linux, OSX, Plan9, VxWorks, etc…):
ECMA is truly becoming a disgrace because every single country appears to be complaining about unreasonable excuses and no consideration from ECMA. Rather than aspiring to produce standards, ECMA becomes just a tool for fending off critics on behalf on Microsoft, which pays ECMA’s bills.
OOXML is the Past, Not the Future
It is becoming very clear that OOXML is filled with a baggage of legacy code. There is no point denying it, but since the BRM in Geneva has already been corrupted [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), there is no point raising it, either.
I believe the backwards compatibility with the documents of a single vendor is totally unsuitable for an international standard. And it is impossible to verify if the OOXML formats represents legacy formats more faithfully than the existing ISO standard. Unfortunately the ISO process does not permit to raise this issue at the BRM. This seems to me an indication that the ISO process is broken as it does not offer room to discuss what really matters.
The Open Malaysia blog has some more new examples of this.
The “existing corpus of binary documents” is Ecma’s stock solution to most of Malaysia’s comments. Instead of cleaning things up, they give the impression that they are brushing things under the carpet and putting the burden of document fidelity on the shoulders of future developers instead of addressing it today. This is a fixable problem which can be handled by todays conversion software. Let’s put an end to the propagation of 20 year old bugs once and for all.
The last long post could be put under multiple different headings because it shows:
- That ECMA is indeed what some call “a Microsoft shill”
- OOXML is all about Microsoft Office
- OOXML contains a legacy mess, including software bugs
It is truly shame that the world’s standardisation framework can be not only fooled, but also corrupted like this. In case you did not realise this, the fight for OOXML is the fight for the continued relevance of Microsoft’s biggest cash cow amid serious Microsoft troubles. The company has not only lost a great deal of its cash reserves, but yesterday it also lost some of its most senior people, who abruptly quit the company, joining many others.
As several major publications (including the Wall Street Journal) have stated recently, Microsoft is fighting for its long-term survival. As such, unacceptable (even vile) behaviour is only to be expected from a multiple-time convicted monopolist which is currently under 3 separate antitrust investigations in the European Union. █
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A few days ago we saw Red Hat’s CEO responding to a question about Microsoft's software patent plot. He was asked a very similar question in a newer interview with Jupitermedia and his answer was similar. It is worth quoting here for the record.
Q: Are you saying then that you’d prefer an open standard to some kind of patent licensing agreement?
[Whitehurst:] A patent licensing agreement is a whole different thing than do Red Hat products interoperate well with Microsoft products. We’re happy to work on interoperability. The patent issue we’re still not sure what it is, we’ve yet to see a patent we’re supposedly violating.
We’ve asked and asked and asked and Microsoft has yet to tell us. It would be nice if they tell us at least what they are. The beauty of the open source community is that I feel very confident that is Microsoft will tell us what they [patents] are we’ll work around them pretty fast.
As you can see, he still urges Microsoft to be specific. This comes just before suspicions that Microsoft is pulling the plagiarism guns again (SCO). Expectedly, in neither case is the claimant being specific. It’s a case of fear, uncertainty and doubt where the goal it to make the uncertainty persist for many years. This has a long history. █
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When I first saw this i thought it was a hoax, but it apparently ain’t so.
Embattled Unix vendor SCO may get a new lease on life, thanks to a $100 million infusion aimed at helping it emerge from bankruptcy and pursue its controversial legal claims.
The financing comes from Stephen Norris Capital Partners (SNCP), which will take a controlling interest in SCO as part of the deal.
Why would anyone invest in such a company which has no prospects?
In the past, Microsoft used a similar type of company to attack Linux by proxy. For more information about that, start here. █
Update: SCO’s new business plan is pretty much litigation against Linux.
According to the same release, Stephen Norris, managing partner for SNCP, claims that SNCP has a business plan for SCO “that will enable the company to see SCO’s legal claims through to their full conclusion.”
It’s natural to assume that hundreds or thousands of people already try to find out the relationship (if any) between Microsoft and Stephen Norris. As shown above (once you follow the link), Microsoft used a venture capitalist, Larry Goldfarb, to inject money into SCO. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Microsoft’s cash reserves are close to running out, so the timing seems right.
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Palamida Joins Hand with GPL MUDMeister, McAfee. Why?
Palamida makes available a great service to many of us by offering a glimpse at the increasing adoption rates of GPLv3.
“Palamida must realise that McAfee is no friend of free open source software.”Several weeks ago we defended Palamida in face of accusations that it had been spreading FUD to market itself. In order to continue and defend Palamida, as well as to ensure it gives no justification for yet more such accusations, we ought to make the following observation.
Several hours ago, the following press release showed up and it suggests that Palamida is liaising with McAfee. Palamida must realise that McAfee is no friend of free open source software [1, 2, 3]. It is a classic proprietary software company that responds with disinterest at best and hostility at worst when it comes to open source. The press release also contains this bit:
“Open source is no more or no less risky than proprietary code,” said Mark Tolliver, CEO of Palamida. “But its use often goes undocumented and as such falls outside of existing application security policies. Palamida’s integration with ePO will enable joint customers to manage and secure their use of open source as part of a comprehensive security strategy.”
Again, why? It’s well understood that there is a fine balance between the need to sell services, e.g. using fear, and also the reality of reassurance and honesty. That’s not a problem. The involvement with McAfee, however, brings doubt to mind because the company is believed to be a GPL violator, not just a source of GPL FUD (c/f references at the top).
Additionally, on the very same day there is another form of Microsoft-esque GPL FUD. Have a look:
MDDL, or Market Data Definition Language, is an open industry standard XML dialect for securities market data. The announcement of the new license aims to remove possible ambiguity regarding intellectual property issues associated with using MDDL. “This confirms that MDDL is an open standard and, since it is a “non-GPL” license, it is not subject to “downstream” licensing concerns.” according to Bill Nichols, Program Director for Securities Processing Automation at FISD.
““non-GPL” license,” it says. It also mentions “intellectual property” despite the fact that this term is meaningless and it’s “open source” that this licence purports to be (making it somewhat inherently incompatible). It is beginning to seem like even a software licence with aspirations of being perceived as open source emits FUD as intense and effective as those .DOC-formatted whitepapers about the GPL, which you can download directly from microsoft.com.█
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