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02.14.08

Fighting for Its Survival, Microsoft Corrupts with OOXML

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, ECMA, Finance, Formats, Fraud, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 9:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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:

  1. That ECMA is indeed what some call “a Microsoft shill”
  2. OOXML is all about Microsoft Office
  3. 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.

Related articles:

OOXML is fraud

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6 Comments

  1. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    February 15, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Gravatar

    One fresh news,

    67 bricks CTO (Inigo Surguy) appointed as principal expert for the UK representing BSI in Geneva’s BRM later this month.

    http://www.openpr.com/news/37305/67-Bricks-Chief-Technologist-appointed-Principal-UK-Expert-in-OOXML.html

    A quick Google research on Inigo Surguy shows up the following,

    http://www.xmlopen.org/ooxml-wiki/index.php/User:Inigo.surguy

    “Inigo Surguy, former employee of CSW Group who are members of the ODF Alliance, as well as being a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. My current employer is 67 Bricks, who are in the Microsoft Empower programme.”

    Which is confirmed by this :

    http://www.csw.co.uk/about/partners.asp

    Color me unimpressed. One more bribed Microsoft-sponsored business partner speaking on behalf of an entire country…

    And, of course, UK’s BSI voted NO back in September. So that makes perfect sense to appoint a Microsoft-compatible person.

  2. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    February 15, 2008 at 3:35 am

    Gravatar

    In your post, you said “That ECMA is indeed what some call “a Microsoft shill””

    In fact, no, ECMA TC45 is owned by Microsoft since they are co-chairing it. (Jean Paoli and someone else). If you don’t know what to expect from this guy, just read Tim Bray’s XML 10-year anniversary.

    Whenever you hear about Microsoft employees talk about working in tandem with ECMA TC 45 people, going at great length to refer to them as external and independent persons, you really have to make an effort not to laugh hard.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 15, 2008 at 4:15 am

    Gravatar

    Thank you, Stephane. I’ll blog your insights, spread the word and cite them as valuable reference in the future.

    BSI: Another crack in the BRM. Are Ireland and Portugal still sending Microsoft to represent them?

  4. hAl said,

    February 15, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Gravatar

    Strange the BSI is apperantly represented by a ODF alliance member.
    I wonder how many ODF alliance members will be present in Geneva, and especially how many IBM, Sun and FFII members as well.

    Also strange, Microsoft has only one vote out of 12 in the ECMA TC (as Ecma member always can have only one vote on a matter) whilst IBM and Sun together own 70% of the votes in the OASIS TC.

    Mainly strange because you are not mentioning these facts

  5. hAl said,

    February 15, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Gravatar

    [quote]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. [/quote]

    All of which does not make the files nonconforming to OOXML.
    You should note that all of these item can also be part of ODF files.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 15, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Gravatar

    But they are not.

    I know your position, hAl. I’ve seen your feedback elsewhere and the following reply was about to be sent (I don’t know if it was):


    OOXML getting ready to load up the Geneva room

    Hal is one of the key people pushing for the ISO standardization of OOXML, for Microsoft left the following comment in response to the article OOXML questions Microsoft cannot answer in Geneva:

    “You suggest these are questions about OOXML that can’t be answered by Microsoft during the BRM. But point you are totally missing is that Microsoft is not a party in the BRM meeting and as such cannot even comment on things in the BRM until after it is been completed. The BRM is a meeting between ISO members and standards group Ecma about improving the OOXML specification and not about 90% of the questions you suggest.

    Your post shows a complete lack of understanding of the standardization process. I suggest you read up on the blog of the BRM convernor Alex Brown who for instance states that non comments can be handled which regards to any (reference)implementations of OOXML as that falls outside of the scope of the BRM meeting. So any of your questions about MS office are totally inappropriate for this meeting.
    http://adjb.net/

    Hal, you are right, I have a complete lack of understanding of the standardization process and “standard” you are participating in and aggressively promoting for ISO approval. Frankly, it is egregious that the format being submitted is not even the format implemented and will never be. Yes, Microsoft cannot answer those questions on Microsoft Office, IPR, contradictions, goals/policies and other issues at the BRM as per the rules. It is only about the new cosmetic text! But what I am suggesting is that, not only can they not, they could not or would not in general. They are trying not to!

    So, under no circumstances should there be a vote at the BRM until all the issues/comments raised by all the NBs are resolved. They are entitled to it and so are the citizens of their countries. The BRM is closed to the media and the public, essentially closed just like the whole standardization process of “Office Closed XML” has been. Everything is almost done secretly. What is there to hide? Why the fear of scrutiny?

    Critical issues have not been addressed. OOXML will not be voted on based just on the synthetic changes to a pieces of paper which looks goods, but still has many problems. Only because of an effective presentation and the loading up of the room ready to vote “Yes” does it stand a chance.

    Yes, Microsoft is back to playing games and Stuffing It UP ready to ramstack the room with pigeons from the Philippines, Chile, Portugal, Venezuela, Spain And other countries with no interest in standards, never even reviewed the spec and request a vote. THEY TRY TO STEAL IT RIGHT THERE BY CONSENSUS!

    I believe most people would agree at this point that ECMA is simply acting as a proxy for MS. MS does pay their bills, doesn’t it? In Geneva the bus system works on the honor system. You buy a ticket and get on. You can also get on without a ticket. MS has gotten on the bus without one too many times. An erroneous un-reviewed spec such as the one ECMA/MS submitted (fast-track even) to ISO is then being pushed through by subversive tactics, but it still has no ticket. It’s time for an inspector to get on the bus and throw Microsoft out.

    To our readers, we ask that you please contact the National Board in your country, and request complete resolution for all issues raised by the comments to Microsoft’s OOXML ISO application. Please be sure to insist that both the technical and non-technical issues be completely resolved as a pre-condition before OOXML is granted ISO status. You can find your delegates here: http://www.noooxml.org/delegations

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