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03.03.08

OOXML BRM to Be Remembered by Tim Bray’s Remarks

Posted in ECMA, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, SUN at 11:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Unadulterated bulls*t”

The father of XML was far from pleased with initial interpretation of his remarks, but they are here to stay. Just watch the press coverage:

Ars Technica: ML spec editor: OOXML ISO process is ‘unadulterated BS’

ISO conducted a Ballot Resolution Meeting on Friday in an effort to address some of the technical issues that plague Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) document format. Participants say that some very positive and meaningful changes were made to the OOXML specification, but many of the participants are frustrated with the large number of problems that didn’t receive adequate attention as a result of time constraints.

PC Pro: Nevermind the bulls**t, here’s OOXML, says Microsoft

Microsoft says it is “optimistic” that the Office Open XML specification will be made into an ISO standard, despite a national body describing the ballot resolution process as “bulls**t”.

Speaking after a week-long meeting to discuss technical issues raised following last year’s failed bid to have OOXML fast-tracked, Microsoft’s Tom Robertson said the company was hopeful of persuading sufficient national bodies to change their vote to ‘yes’.

There are more such examples that we covered here over the weekend. He was direct and blunt, maybe even impulsive, but his level of authority had him quoted on this issue quite far and wide.

There is an interesting new update from Tim Bray’s blog about mugging throughout the week of the BRM.

There were 120 delegates in Geneva for a week for the BRM, and two of them were mugged. One fellow got a fractured jaw and a woman had her purse grabbed. This is not exactly the image one has of Switzerland. Who knows, maybe it’s just a statistical fluke. Maybe ISO delegates look like soft targets. But if I were going to be in Geneva, I’d watch where I walked and be careful about being alone.

International Organization for StandardizationThe other day, Rob Weir talked about mugging as well. Under a week ago, noooxml.org spoke about robbery at the BRM, yet the choice of words is merely coincidental.

Those last two are speaking about the BRM itself and the latter speaks about a LinuxWorld article which contains this bit: “robbing national delegations of the opportunity to propose their own modifications”. Either way, it looks bad for ISO, not just for Microsoft. Will ISO spill the beans in attempt to restore a positive public image? Remember: As Microsoft conquered (hijacked) ISO, some senior OSIers fled.

Bob Sutor on the BRM: “Utter and Predictable Embarrassment”; Red Hat Also Chimes In

Posted in ECMA, Europe, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Red Hat at 11:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As a new week begins and discussion resumes, we begin to see reactions. IBM’s has Sutor posted a long response and here is a gist of the problems he highlights.

Of all the “condensed” resolutions from ECMA, approximately 82% were not discussed at all, including counter proposals for these same issues. That leaves about 18% that were either discussed and voted on or else voted on early in batch. (I’m fine with batch votes for minor typographical fixes.)

What an utter and predictable embarrassment.

Red Hat, which is affected a great deal by what’s at stake, has responded as well.

The first pitch was thrown in Geneva last week at the ISO ballot resolution meetings on OOXML. And we can safely say: strike one! There was no renouncement of the OOXML standard by Microsoft. Instead, every indication was business as usual.

[...]

I, for one, would welcome some sunshine on the process and urge that ISO make the reported audio recordings of the Geneva meetings publicly available.

It remains to be seen if ISO will spill the beans and reveal what actually happened there in the secretive meeting [1, 2].

It was a mess and a shame. ISO could use some toppling. Alex Brown’s response to Andy Updegrove already attracts some curious reactions. As pointed out the other day, Brown is being defensive.

OOXML on the trash can
Back in the trash can
where it belongs

Bill and Steve Couldn’t Buy the US Vote This Time Around

Posted in America, Bill Gates, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Steve Ballmer at 11:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

United States rejects OOXML

The many nasty events which occurred ahead of the vote in September 2007 have probably escaped people’s attention and memory span/capacity. We have not forgotten, however, how a US vote against OOXML back in August or July was turned into a “Yes” after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer had phoned high-level diplomats. We have it documented.

“…a US vote against OOXML back in August or July was turned into a “Yes” after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer had phoned high-level diplomats.”This illustrates a level of corruption that you could just about equate to the incidents of political influence in Poland and bribery in Sweden and maybe even in India (Nigeria's story aside). This is no way to make international standards which assume voters are gentlemen.

A couple of articles were published which speak about the decision to reject OOXML and also include the nation which you would expect to patriotically vote in favour.

But if the standard is adopted in its current form, “there are likely to be hundreds of defects”, said the head of the US delegation at the meeting, Frank Farance.

There is also this one, which was sent to us by a reader:

The U.S. voted no on Microsoft Office standard at ISO

Instead, the U.S. delegation seems to have listened to companies like Google, which said Microsoft was making a mockery of the process; to Sun, which says Microsoft has broken the ISO process; and to the Linux Foundation, which called the company’s arguments “ridiculous.”

The reader contacted us to say (in relation to the above): “Is ODF built-in support for Office2007 coming with the next office service pack? In case the ISO process fails you can bet for it!”

A post will come shortly to explain why Microsoft ought to hurry up and support ODF. It may already be doing just that, but if this is the case, Microsoft won’t admit it for another 25 or so days until the final vote.

Microsoft and Novell Try Freebies to Lure the Naive into Patent Traps

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 10:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Poor demand requires incentive programs

Novell and Microsoft, working jointly as usual, still try to devour more businesses and lock them down with software patent liabilities. They even set up a Web site to achieve this.

The demand for such sellouts appear to be very poor if the following new marketing trick is anything to go by. The companies now distribute prizes in order for people to merely register and maybe even receive some information. Here is the article from Ars Technica.

Answer 5 questions on Micro-vell, receive a 2GB USB drive”

A contender for one of the most controversial things Microsoft has done, the software giant’s pact with Novell caused many to fall of their seat when it was announced in 2006. Many were appalled or disgusted with the deal, but there was nothing that could be done to stop it.

[...]

A handful of companies is hardly enough to make the alliance worth it. Thus, the two want more information from businesses on what they need from a Windows and Linux partnership.

As you can see at the end, this whole charade is proving to be somewhat of a failure. There is some more information here.

But there is also a little something something involved for the visitors of the website. Namely, the chance to get a 2 GB free USB drive just for registering.

“REGISTER for your 2GB Moreinterop USB bracelet, pre-loaded with more information, including a video and Gartner Report (subject to availability),” is the promise from Microsoft and Novell (via Digg). Visitors also have the possibility of downloading the Creating Business Value Brochure, as well as the Building Bridges White Paper, both resources focused on the Windows-Linux interoperability.

Digg is mentioned here, but there is total lack of interest and just a couple of snide remarks. It pretty much indicates that Microsoft and Novell haven’t much to show. Mind the presence of Microsoft’s left-hand puppet, the Partner Gartner Group [1, 2, 3]. One has to wonder how much they get paid to promote this charade.

Novell and Microsoft piss on GNU/Linux codebase

Links 03/03/2008: OLPC in Thailand, Bill Gates Slams It Again, Steve Ballmer Admits Linux is #1 Threat

Posted in News Roundup at 11:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If you Can’t Deny the Truth, Run a Smear Campaign” (Updated)

Posted in Site News at 8:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Headsup on smear campaigns

Without going into the specifics of it (because I was once advised not to spend time getting distracted), I wish to warn readers that what is said about me on the Web may typically be slanderous and originate from anonymous or pseudonymous people using honeypots (compromised PCs).

“By discrediting the writer, there’s hope of robbing the message of credibility as well (lowering the degree of trust).”With the exception of the press where there is validation of identity, you are advised not to believe anything that you read about me, including articles or posts that are claimed to have come from me because there are forgers pretending to be myself (recent example here.

The reason for pointing this out is because the wave of smears have increased recently (about 30 incidents per day now). If you perform some Google searches like this one, you will soon see the motive for “shoot the messenger” strategies. By discrediting the writer, there’s hope of robbing the message of credibility as well (lowering the degree of trust). By filling the Web with slanderous remarks about a person, a pool of lies is there for one to pick up selectively.

Update: about 5 minutes ago, another DDOS attack was launched against my personal site (which is down now). It’s the second time in 2 days, but it’s probably not related to anything I do in this site. I wouldn’t think so anyway.

Myth Busting: No Money in Free Software?

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free software means free markets, higher salaries

Media and analysts control can have a tremendous positive effect for that who controls them [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Lacking a sense of ethics and given inability to feel any guilty, one can control bloggers and journalists as well. To Microsoft, “evangelism is war” (“Jihad” even). Without giving the names of publications at hand, let’s explore the FUD du jour.

“Media and analysts control can have a tremendous positive effect for that who controls them”Microsoft gave the illusion that .NET skills are highly desirable and pay a lot of money, but evidence on the surface does not seem to support this assertion. Some would say that the Windows-skilled are “a dime a dozen” and various studies showed that Microsoft programming languages continue their decline. This leads to questions about who funded the studies at hand. It also makes one wonder who published those studies and — more importantly — how [1, 2]?

Researchers/analysts and journalists often have connections and they are also joined together by pressure from PR agencies, hired by those with vested interests, strings to pull, and money to offer. Remember, to name just a couple of examples:

“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model… But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”

Microsoft, internal document

“A couple of years ago this guy called Ken Brown wrote a book saying that Linus stole Linux from me… It later came out that Microsoft had paid him to do this…”

Andrew S Tanenbaum, father on MINIX

A reader wrote to inform me of this new article. It shows how desirable Free software skills have become in the industry. He later adds: “There was some good discussion a month or two back, and about 5 or 7 years ago about how FOSS is ‘recession-proof’ and how using FOSS helps companies extra during recessions. Warning, use of the R-word will bring Bush’s group down on you. Hint of the D-word will really cause them to act quickly.”

This comes shortly after this highly-cited new article from CRN:

Report: Open Source Adoption Increases App Dev Pay

A report from New York City-based consulting company Bluewolf says IT salaries across the board will continue to rise in 2008, with application developers leading the pack with 7.6 percent salary growth. The increase brings application developers’ salaries to between $112,500 from $80,250.

Pay attention to the big jump in requirement for FOSS. Just weeks ago we saw this study from the Waughs:

Australian open source workers earn more money

IT workers who specialise in free and open source software are earning more than the national average for IT, according to the results of Australia’s first open source census.

For the investigative/curious, here is a bunch of older articles on this matter:

Linux Job Market Trends: Galloping Forward

If you’re a Linux specialist looking for the best paying area of the country, your best bet is – no surprise – Silicon Valley, where Linux pros make $96,578 (but a cup of coffee costs $11.25). Other top-paying Linux areas are Washington, D.C. ($86,882), Los Angeles ($86,618), and New York ($86,305).

2007: Where the Tech Jobs Are

…open source and Linux skills are very hot. “Linux is one of the fastest growing, if not required, then recommended skills that most of the sysadmins and operations people have,” Melland says. “If you’re a systems administrator and you don?t have Linux experience, you might want to seek that out.”

[...]

All this migration to Linux and open source means that job openings are zooming. Based on Dice statistics, Linux as a recommended skill is up 51% this year, and roughly 150% in the last two years.

Linux and Open Source: How They Affect HR Professionals

Linux jobs abound, tech job service says

Spending on open source support services in Canada to soar

The market for open source support services is going to boom over the next five years, according to a recent Gartner survey.

Earning Your Linux Diploma

The trend today is for computer professionals to move away from proprietary software products in favor of developing their industry-wide skills, Lacy added.

[...]

IT professionals looking to be Linux certified have two types of programs to consider. One certification track is vendor neutral, concentrating on core Linux programs and command line skills that apply to all Linux distributions.

Skills shortage: it’s mind over matter

The demand for SAP skills, for example, is expected to be high in 2008. Demand for skills in new areas such as open source, Linux, Web 2.0 and AJAX are almost certainly bound to be high next year too. And surprisingly, there is a growing demand for good, old-fashioned mainframe skills as the Baby Boomer generation retires and leaves a gap in supporting legacy systems.

For Linux admins, career options remain plentiful

Thanks for the advice, Brent. The future looks bright for Linux. Anything else you want to tell our readers?

Don’t worry about getting an MCSE, Linux is where it’s at right now.

Thoughts on the Linux job market

IT jobs surveyThe Foote Partners report comparing average pay for certified IT skills versus non-certified IT skills got a lot of people talking. While news that the average salary for non-certified professionals was higher in the third quarter of 2007 came as a shock to some, others were not as surprised.

Noncertified IT pros make more than those with certified skills, report shows

A new report from industry research firm Foote Partners LLC finds that the average pay for noncertified IT skills topped that for certified professionals while compensation for IT jobs increased again in the third quarter of 2007. CEO and Chief Research Officer, David Foote calls this “a significant event” that has not occurred in the industry since 2000.

Another excellent analysis to finish off with.

The Scary World of Linux Computers.

The majority of Microsoft oriented corporate IT staff I’ve worked with have a sort of reverential fear of Linux. They like to talk about it in a respectful sort of way, but they are often afraid to actually use it. Deploying a Linux server without an outside support agreement is a very scary task to users who have felt safe for years in their codependent relationship with Microsoft.

This hopefully helps busting of the myth. Be very careful what you believe, especially if it comes from major (non-academic) analysts and corporate-run media companies.

References Roundup: Microsoft’s Financial Situation

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 5:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Behind a wonderful game of embellishment

Over the many years, Microsoft has successfully created and secured a self-glorifying image [1, 2] which is hard to break. It is a PR exercise. Those who dare to try and break it will be maliciously abused, have their name smeared (cue Bill Parish), pressured to change their minds, or pressured out of their job.

Domination in one area of computing, namely desktop computers, was somehow seen as a route to infinite wealth. Never mind services, servers, hardware sales and so forth. For that there are collusions and kickbacks, but these stories are separate and they won’t be discussed further because scope here is limited.

“Large companies can find themselves paralyzed and difficult to manage, so it’s not just a question of complacency.”One must remember that market presence in a particular area does not warrant profit. It is only success in that area which brings good RoI. Large companies can find themselves paralyzed and difficult to manage, so it’s not just a question of complacency. Just ask Niall Keneddy, who left the company (Microsoft) shortly after joining because he had found a paralyzed giant where he simply could not work effectively. He occupied an area where Microsoft continues to lose vast amounts of money. It’s tomorrow’s main area which requires the company to evolve urgently (e.g. with Yahoo).

There appears to be a bit of an illusion which was propagated from one biased or misinformed analyst onto the other (the “Big Lie” or the “Big Secret”). After the departure of the previous CFO of Microsoft, we decided we ought to explore (hopefully expose) what they try to hide using the assistance of the new CFO, whose claimed figures are too good to be true (on the whole).

As Free software gained traction and provided an immortal alternatives to markets worldwide, rarely could Microsoft afford to crack down on copyright infringement. Even the monopoly still found that it had an amorphous competition, so it had no total control over price. In fact, Gates openly said that it’s easier to compete against Linux when Windows costs $0 in a nation like China. So, with many nations using Microsoft software for ‘free’ (gratis, unlicensed software), how could Microsoft keep up? Has it really been keeping up?

Let us look more closely at our past writings.

A reader has made suggestion as to how we might get even more impact from material that we have accumulated: “You’ve got great things there, but there tend to whizz off in hyperlinks to previous articles, leading to multiple
webs (sic) of information that are very hard to follow.”

“It would be great if you could write a kind of round-up article every so often, summarising all the main developments that have happened in this area,” he added. “Such articles would be much easier to digest, and have far more impact.”

Here is a summary of about half of our posts which cover this area. To make them digestible (readable without having to follow the link), a summary of references (external) and key points are provided for each.

Takeaways: Tax evasion and misconduct.

References: MSFT dividend statement/declaration, Wisconsin cracks down on tax loopholes, Gates Foundation as tax evasion tool, closure of Microsoft branches in Hungary and Ecuador for alleged misconduct, stock options practices pose questions, merger of losing units to hide losses, evidence of massive losses, Microsoft starts massive stock buybacks, company’s savings halved, vice president caught inside-trading.

Takeaways: Microsoft does not tell the truth.

References: Articles on massive Microsoft losses seemingly vanish, problems for embedded Windows, executive exodus seen, only two division are responsible for nearly all Microsoft’s profits, Jim Allchin expresses fears before abrupt departure, Soros predicts problems for the economy.

Takeaways: Figure ‘massaging’ and questions about CFO.

References: Microsoft reaches out for a loan, background about CFO.

Takeaways: Buybacks analysis of IBM (previous-generation ‘dinosaur’) and Microsoft

References: Both companies have shared the very same problem, which they can successful conceal using savings

Takeaways: Failure to evolve.

References: Microsoft clings on to dying cash cows, Yahoo as a matter of Microsoft’s long-term survival.

Takeaways: The Gates Foundation’s role as a strategic financier.

References: World banker takes over the Foundation, a look back at charity payments amid antitrust investigations, Microsoft loses $40 billion in value within days.

Takeaways: Lesser-known divisions cost Microsoft billions of dollars.

References: Many simultaneous blows and pains brought together in a parallel (yet truly independent) analysis. This includes HD DVD, Zune, XBox 360, the Web division and far beyond.

Takeaways: SEC filing for MSFT reveals fear of antitrust and legal action.

References: The US exposes high level of corruption, debt in disguise possibilities raised, a look at Microsoft SEC filings from December, Yahoo and debt, fear of Linux.

Takeaways: Microsoft’s core team decided to leave.

References: Heaps of references to Microsoft’s recent departures, mostly at the highest of levels.

There are many other isolated references that come to mind, including some recent ones which show cases of tax evasion, a highly significant drop in Microsoft’s position as a lucrative place to work in (annually updated ladder of ranks) and writings about hiring standards in the company declining (courtesy of Joel Spolsky, former Excel manager at Microsoft).

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