02.19.08

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A Hard New Squeeze to Support Standards, Not Interoperability

Posted in Antitrust, Deception, Europe, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Standard at 10:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML translation

Using patent deals such as the one with Novell, Microsoft will continue to pretend that interoperability is the way forward. It will pretend that OOXML is acceptable because its mere vassal Novell is working on some semi-cooked, dysfunctional translators (which can never work, by definition) and a copycat of Silverlight.

Not everyone is buying Microsoft’s route to so-called interoperability, which is inherently very different from open standards. In fact, Microsoft’s recent decision to have different ‘modes of operation’ in its Web browser is getting on some people’s nerves (Web designers, Web developers and browser developers in particular). Here is what Opera’s CTO just had to say:

Embrace the standards, nicely, or get out of browsers

If there was a functioning market for web browsers and operating systems, the past few weeks would have seen two announcements from Microsoft. After a firestorm of criticism from the web design community about Internet Explorer 8′s misguided mode switching proposal, Redmond would have publicly backed down. Second, Microsoft would have bowed to 90,000 users demanding that Windows XP continue to be sold.

There were no such announcements. Why? Because Microsoft, with its dominating position in the web browser and operating system markets, acts like a monopoly.

A monopoly doesn’t have to consider its customers’ wants or needs. In a functioning market, vendors must consider such things in order to compete successfully. But the market isn’t functioning.

Microsoft’s failure to respond to its customers’ outcry shows that it is time to call on established antitrust laws that allow governments to impose sanctions on a vendor that has a dominant position in a market. The purpose of these sanctions is to ensure competition and innovation and thereby create a market in which consumers are heard.

Recently, the European Commission opened several investigations into Microsoft’s dominant position. As a regulatory body, they could decide to impose sanctions and while Microsoft might ignore their frustrated customers, they would have a harder time ignoring the European Commission.

In better news, the ActiveX lock-in appears to be falling apart.

A recent string of high-profile ActiveX vulnerabilities caused the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) to advise users to disable the ubiquitous Microsoft browser plug-in technology altogether.

We wrote a little more about this recently [1, 2, 3], so repeating that news seems unnecessary. Nevertheless, ‘ActiveX 2.0′, better known as “Silverlight”, is the bigger danger and the next post will discuss the very latest news about it.

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6 Comments

  1. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    February 20, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Gravatar

    ActiveX is not going away anytime soon. Remember that Flash is an ActiveX control, and that’s what powers the 500+ video sharing sites including YouTube and Dailymotion.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 20, 2008 at 6:01 am

    Gravatar

    Surely it will not go away, but fewer developers will have incentive or reason to adopt it in other areas which marginalised Firefox and Opera, for example, in the workplace. Blame all these so-called enterprise, i.e. proprietary, Web-based software components. Even the BBC was foolish enough to use ActiveX in the iPlayer downloads section, essentially excluding even Firefox users on top of Microsoft Windows.

  3. Mark Fink said,

    February 20, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Gravatar

    Since when is Flash an ActiveX component? You’re a bloody moron.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 20, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Gravatar

    Mark, please keep polite.

    Stephane is against ActiveX, just for the record.

  5. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    February 20, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Gravatar

    Mark, very nice introduction! We know each other?

    If you remove the insult, we could have a discussion between adults. Shall we?

    To play a .swf player, Internet Explorer needs an ActiveX control, the Macromedia Flash player.

    I will demonstrate this to you right now.

    If you are using Windows, open-up a command line and type :

    regedit

    then browse HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT / ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash / CLSID

    on the right hand side you should find a serial enclosed in braces. For instance, {D27CDB6E-AE6D-11CF-96B8-444553540000}

    Now browse HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT / CLSID / {D27CDB6E-AE6D-11CF-96B8-444553540000}

    In that branch, you’ll find a number of subkeys that are used to register an ActiveX control. In other words, this demonstrates what I’m talking about. But for the sake of playing the game, let’s proceed.

    Unfold HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT / CLSID / {D27CDB6E-AE6D-11CF-96B8-444553540000} / InprocServer32,

    you should find on the right hand side a filepath of the form “C:\WINDOWS\System32\Macromed\Flash\Flash9e.ocx”

    Ok, now open-up a command line and type :

    regsvr32 -u “C:\WINDOWS\System32\Macromed\Flash\Flash9e.ocx”

    This has unregistered the ActiveX control.

    Now start Internet Explorer, head over to Youtube, for instance here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6c-umQ_hlc

    And what happens?

    The video does not show up. The ActiveX control has been disabled. So you are left with a message saying that you should download the Flash player.

    Eh..

  6. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    February 20, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Gravatar

    By the way, if you right-click on file “C:\WINDOWS\System32\Macromed\Flash\Flash9e.ocx”, the dialog box says “ActiveX control”.

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