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02.20.08

SCO and Microsoft: Where Things Stand

Posted in Courtroom, Finance, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell, SCO at 7:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SCO

Linux.com has just summarised the recent affairs that we covered here about SCO’s latest cash injection [1, 2]. I’m fortunate enough to have received a mention among titans like PJ and Jim Zemlin.

Datamation’s Roy Schestowitz notes that for a company with such a troubled and checkered past, it’s a mystery why anyone would want to come forward and help rescue it from certain death. “Why would anyone invest in SCO?” he asks. “More importantly, why now?”

Groklaw’s Jones may have an answer. She suggests a connection between the new investors and Microsoft’s Bill Gates.

In the end, though, all the hype may be just that — hype. Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, says all the theories and conjecture are just navel-gazing. In fact, he says the whole story is nothing more than “a speculator picking the bones of a defunct company. The facts of the SCO case haven’t changed; the Linux industry is stronger than ever.”

For those who have not seen the latest update from Groklaw, here is the bit to keep an eye on and make a mental note of.

Update: It seems Bill Gates has a friend in this picture. The two announced another deal last year, according to this IHT article, “Four Seasons Hotels agrees to bid from Gates and Alwaleed”:

Gates and Alwaleed have collaborated for at least two years. After attending a dinner at Gates’s home in Bellevue, Washington, in early 2004, Alwaleed agreed to explore ways to assist Microsoft’s expansion in Saudi Arabia.

So, there’s Waldo.

We shall see what else Groklaw can come up with. That’s where the SCO gurus are.

From Binary to XML: So Much Hype, So Little Difference

Posted in Deception, ECMA, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft (and its business partners) wishes to reject or ignore all arguments that the “XML” in OOXML demonstrates a truly abysmal use and implementation of the principles and raison d’être of XML. See our notes on the choice of the name "Open XML" and ECMA's refusal to make amendments which prevent confusion.

“Microsoft (via its proxy, ECMA) wishes people to believe that OOXML is no longer application- and platform-dependent…”Microsoft (via its proxy, ECMA) wishes people to believe that OOXML is no longer application- and platform-dependent and that OOXML is interoperable. Not quite so! Not so fast! So say a couple of new articles, one of which comes from the former manager of Microsoft’s Excel and the other from an XML expert.

Remind yourself of what was said yesterday and the day before that about the incompleteness of Microsoft’s Office binary format and also about their purpose. Now, consider the words of Joel Sposky, who knows Microsoft’s technology quite intimately because he worked as a senior there before going more solo.

They [binary Office formats] were not designed with interoperability in mind. The assumption, and a fairly reasonable one at the time, was that the Word file format only had to be read and written by Word. That means that whenever a programmer on the Word team had to make a decision about how to change the file format, the only thing they cared about was (a) what was fast and (b) what took the fewest lines of code in the Word code base.

[...]

They have to reflect all the complexity of the applications. Every checkbox, every formatting option, and every feature in Microsoft Office has to be represented in file formats somewhere. That checkbox in Word’s paragraph menu called “Keep With Next” that causes a paragraph to be moved to the next page if necessary so that it’s on the same page as the paragraph after it? That has to be in the file format.

So, things have changed, says Microsoft. We are expected to believe that both problems have been resolved, right? Look what the following new article says about OOXML:

If Microsoft wants OOXML to be taken seriously as a proposal for a document standard, only one option is on the table. Rather than try to develop a specification with every possible feature of any version of Microsoft Office, every flag or quirk that some document might use, focus on building a smaller, leaner, interchange format which provides core functionality in a fully-described and implementable fashion. Don’t expose implementation quirks, such as Excel® calculation chains, to people who just want to copy a spreadsheet’s data and formulas. Don’t expose, or even refer to, the details of the VML library, or the DrawingML library, or anything like that; instead, provide a brand new, open, and completely specified, description of the data.

When I wrote the Standards & Specs piece on XML some time back, I made an offhand reference to the notion of an XML format containing “<bytes>ff ff 00 03 [. . .]</bytes>”. When I wrote it, I thought I was joking. I guess I wasn’t.

This case can be left to rest and this concludes another good proof that not much has changed after so much hype and propaganda from Microsoft's direction. OOXML inherits the same deficiencies as those old binary files. But it has a nice name. Open. XML. It’s only make believe. And a whole lot of money!

OOXML data vacuum

Quick Mention: The 3 Novells That Failed and the One Successful Legacy

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, NetWare, Novell, Office Suites at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can’t get a fifth chance amid inevitable recession

Mister Var Guy Joe spoke to Novell’s newly-appointed Global Channel Sales VP, who replaced a guy that had quit the company a few months ago (among others). He actually makes an excellent observation by dividing up Novell’s lifetime into separate ‘eras’, each of which saw a different level of success.

During its prime in the early 1990s — call it Novell 1.0 — the company had a robust channel organization and 60 percent server market share. Software, hardware and VAR partners eagerly displayed the “Yes” logo as a sign of their commitment and support to Novell NetWare. Then came Novell 2.0 — the mid-1990s, which was highlighted by several failed software acquisitions like Unix Systems Labs and WordPerfect. Novell 3.0, according to The VAR Guy, involved a flawed consulting push built around 2001’s Cambridge Technology Partners acquisition.

Novell rests on its laurels (or savings) from 1.0 days, but it appears like the company runs out of money more quickly than it wishes you to believe (cooking the books also). Interestingly enough, the same goes for Microsoft, which is on a similar boat where it fails to reinvent itself. Maybe those two companies make a good pair after all. They could share a tombstone and lower their expenses this way.

Novell and Microsoft piss on GNU/Linux codebase

Links 20/02/2008: Many GNU/Linux Releases, H-P Rumours About New GNU/Linux Sub-notebook

Posted in News Roundup at 4:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 20/02/2008: ATI’s 6.8.0, KDE 3.5.9, Zebuntu, Cray+Linux, LSB 3.2

Posted in News Roundup at 12:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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