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. █