EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.04.08

Quick Mention: Novell Sinks 10% in One Day’s Trading

Posted in Finance, Novell at 9:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sell Novell

The news appears in several publications, TheStreet included.

The stock was recently down 71 cents, or 10%, to $6.41 — 27 times forward-12 months earnings of 24 cents a share. Novell had gained 14% on Friday, the day after the company raised full-year revenue guidance.

To be fair, it comes after a rise in the stock’s value.

Links 04/03/2008: Texas Instruments Joins the Linux Foundation, Microsoft/Yahoo Possibly Cools Off

Posted in News Roundup at 1:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ODF/OOXML: Summary of the Latest News and BRM Reports

Posted in Asia, ECMA, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 12:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reports from the BRM in Geneva continue to come [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], but there are some encouraging news from the ODF front as well. IBM, for example, is now spreading its ODF love using Symphony (“proprietary software” comes to mind) on top of GNU/Linux in Europe. Here is the report from Reuters.

International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said it was offering the PCs based on the open-source Linux operating system together with Red Hat (RHT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) software distributor VDEL of Austria and Polish distributor and services firm LX Polska in response to demand from Russian IT chiefs.

[...]

The PCs will include IBM’s Lotus Symphony software based on the Open Document Format, a rival format to Microsoft’s Office Open XML document format, which the latter is trying to get adopted as an ISO internationally approved standard.

The following article takes a more direct approach and focuses on the role of GNU/Linux in the stack.

IBM to offer Linux machines

[...]

The machines, it was announced, will come with Red Hat’s Linux distro, and will come pre-loaded with software from IBM, including its Lotus Symphony suite.

Fortunately enough (yet unsurprisingly), OOXML file are still rare (also see this), so there is hardly any inertia.

So with all this evident love for Microsoft Office 2007, why is it that 6-months later there are only 63 OOXML spreadsheet documents on the web, something like 0.3% of the number of ODF spreadsheet documents? How can there be 300 companies supporting OOXML and only have 69 OOXML presentations on the web? (This is starting to sound like when I say I support 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. I don’t do it, but I sure support it!)

OK, I know the argument about “dark matter”, that Google indexes only the tip of the iceberg, that there is a lot of data squirreled away on PC hard-drives, behind corporate fire walls, etc., stuff that Google will never see. But the same is equally true for ODF documents, right? I have tons of ODF documents on my laptop, but none of them are indexed by Google.

Over in Greece (discomforting memories spring to mind, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]), some complaints are politely made about ECMA/Microsoft’s handling of comments and irrational time constraints.

The contrast with OOXML is sharp, and this brings us to another issue of contention. The Greek workgroup on OOXML had been handed only the Ecma Responses for Greece. It was at the BRM when we found out that we should have studied all responses, not only those for Greece. It is not clear if this is an error by Ecma or by the Greek NB, but, in both cases, we did not have the time to study one thousand responses, so there would have been no difference. In fact, even the 80 responses that Greece studied, we did not study at the level of scrutiny that is required when you inspect a standard. There was no time for that. What we did was glance through, and make fast decisions based on what seems right at a quick glance.

More such complaints are made by the ODF Alliance [PDF] (as text).

…the ODF Alliance said in a statement that “despite the hard work by the many national standards bodies and ISO/IEC, the results fell far short of fixing the most important errors and omissions in OOXML. More than 80 percent of the comments from national bodies were not discussed…”

Malaysia is no exception.

Malaysian delegation at the ISO meeting in Geneva (25 – 29 Feb ’08) finds the technical issues in the draft standard OOXML unresolved satisfactorily

Malaysia’s Department of Standards (STANDARDS MALAYSIA) recently found the Draft ISO standard, ISO/IEC DIS 29500: Office Open XML (OOXML) specification for electronic document formats, had the majority of its technical issues still not addressed satisfactorily.

In an interview with Sean Daly, Vint Cerf questions a variety of things, including the closed nature of the whole process.

Cerf: We saw that walled gardens are NOT what users want. They want freedom to interact with everyone in convenient and standards-compliant ways. I do not think we will see walled gardens of the previous kind, but I do worry when global standards are adopted that are likely to be implementable by only one vendor. When global standards processes are overly influenced by proprietary interests, they cease to facilitate interoperability and competitive implementation. I do worry when standards are adopted that have potential encumbrances or that erode the openness that has been a hallmark of the Internet since its origins.

More recently, Noooxml.org concluded that the BRM has made things worse for Microsoft (but everyone has already known this, Microsoft included).

Microsoft tries to blame all negative criticism on fanaticism, covert influence from IBM and an unreasonable anti-Microsoft attitude. I would be more inclined towards regarding a blank approval without comments as a sign of corruption or gross incompetence.

Where is it most likely that you will find corruption and a lack of experience: in long standing P-members, or in small newcomers without even a proper national standards committee?

A very comprehensive list of OOXML irregularities you can still find here. It continues to be updated.

Here is Matt Aslett’s take on the spin from Microsoft, which leads to confusion (by design).

Lastly, the OSI talks about this issue.

But if you read this far, you’re smart enough to look behind the claims of a label and determine whether its promises can be judged true. Now is the time to stand up and say no to OOXML, saving us all generations of technical servitude, commercial disappointment, and individual shame. Support ODF, support true open standards, and enjoy the support you can get from open source.

In conclusion, in the the past week we saw victories for ODF and a major setback for OOXML. This momentum will hopefully be maintained.

Spread ODF

A Quick Look at Microsoft Latest strategy Against GNU/Linux

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Standard, Steve Ballmer at 12:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[If I ask you who is Microsoft's biggest competitor now, who would it be?] Open…Linux. I don’t want to say open source. Linux, certainly have to go with that.”

Steve Ballmer, February 28th, 2008

“Microsoft, by its own admission, thrives in extending (read: breaking) standards and ensuring only its own products work properly.”In an attempt to catch up with the latest news, one finds many headlines which come from events Microsoft attends this week. There are many statements worth quoting and analyzing. Here is a brief overview.

In recent posts which cover Opera’s complaint against Microsoft (e.g. [1, 2]) we showed that Microsoft is likely to pretend to have complied. The company must still keep the World Wide Web at least partly closed, never a commodity. Microsoft, by its own admission, thrives in extending (read: breaking) standards and ensuring only its own products work properly.

Joe Wilcox did not buy Microsoft’s latest fake gesture, but sadly enough, the rest of the press drank it straight from the water cooler (press room). No surprise here.

News Commentary. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 press release is shameless propaganda.

[...]

Microsoft claims the move is “consistent with its efforts to promote further interoperability across the Web.” The press release reads like Microsoft is taking some new, bold interoperability position with IE 8.

You can start reading about all the technical details in just about any technology site, but many journalists fell for the spin. This comes on pretty much the same day that Steve Ballmer talked about avoiding EU fines.

Microsoft’s efforts to open up on how its products work should keep it out of further legal trouble, despite a record fine levied by the European Commission last week, CEO Steve Ballmer said today.

Here it is from another source.

Microsoft’s efforts to better detail how its products work should keep it out of legal trouble, despite a record fine from the European Commission last week

The IE8 promises are broken promises, just like the Taxoperability Program which left the EU unimpressed and underwhelmed ahead of the latest fine. People just need to look beneath the press release and think laterally.

A good start for Microsoft to reach compliance would be not to bribe for ISO (which is another ongoing investigation in the EU). Microsoft’s SEC filing showed that as the company approaches debt, those fines matter a lot. Additionally, the pattern of misconduct continues to this date, which does not help the aspect of trust.

Interestingly enough, Steve Ballmer makes a surprising mention of the “R” word (retirement). Might he be joining many others?

Bill Gates is retiring from Microsoft this year and the exec he left in charge, Steve Ballmer, is ready to leave in nine years.

9 years sure seems like a long shot, but he can always hope.

The main barrier for Linux to break at the moment seems to be numerous attempts to subvert it from the inside. Software patents aside, Microsoft continues to use its money to ‘steal’ software from Linux. Zend , for example, continues its loveaffair with Microsoft. From yesterday’s news:

Microsoft and Zend have been collaborating to enable PHP applications to run on Windows. Microsoft has a feature called FastCGI intended to enable PHP to run reliably on Microsoft’s platform, said Gutmans.

Remember the WAMP-LAMP war, Linux/FOSS-as-the-ISV strategy and the Apache flings [1, 2]. Microsoft has some recovery plans which need to be fought against. Awareness is the key here.

Patents Roundup: End[ing] Software Patents and WIPO’s Above-the-law Wishes

Posted in Courtroom, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 12:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I have been absent some of the day (receiving a prize), so here are some quick catchups rather than more detailed and comprehensive posts. We shall begin with patents, software patents in particular.

FSF on End[ing] Software Patents

Mako from the FSF talks about Ending Software Patents, which is a project/movement that we mentioned a week ago (on a couple of occasions in fact).

There are several organizations who are taking on specific bad patents but ESP is unique in that it is activitely working toward the abolition of software patents in the United States. While the organization is focused on work in the US, it’s deeply important globally — much of the world’s patent law is “exported” from the US.

Akamai Again

This case of Akamai was mentioned once before and here is the sad verdict.

Limelight Networks, Inc. today announced that the jury in the case Akamai Technologies, Inc. et al. v. Limelight Networks (United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts) announced a verdict in favor of Akamai Technologies.

“We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict in this matter. We strongly believe that, like other companies that follow long-established Internet standards, we do not infringe the patent in this case. We will continue to remain a competitive choice in the marketplace as we pursue all appropriate legal avenues,” stated Phil Maynard, chief legal counsel, Limelight Networks, Inc.

The gist of it all: junk patents won. Even a company that thrives in Linux clusters resorted to this.

“Extend[ing] Beyond the Organisation’s Mandate”

Remember WIPO? It’s far from a party to be admired [1, 2]. It has new aspirations now to elevate itself above its current privileges set.

The World Customs Organisation is recommending far-reaching new rules on intellectual property rights that some say may extend beyond the organisation’s mandate.

Staff at the WCO’s Brussels headquarters are preparing what they describe as voluntary ‘model legislation’ to provide guidance on how IP rights can be upheld at border posts.

It is something to watch carefully because WIPO will resist change.

Shame on Nokia?

Nokia pulls out its gun, squeezes the trigger, and initiatives yet another seemingly spurious lawsuit. It’s probably not over yet.

Nokia has won another battle in its ongoing patent spat with Qualcomm, though neither side is claiming the war is over.

Lawyers Rejoice, Programmers Fret

Matt Asay comments on the recent controversy surrounding allegedly inflated figures. As he puts it, either way, lawyers are the only winners, whether $30.4 billion or just $11.4 billion are lost in this chaotic mess of patent lawsuits.

No matter how the number is calculated, the results are the same: needless, wasteful patent litigation that helps no one except attorneys.

Microsoft Stung

Microsoft, despite its secret and forbidden love for software patents, appears to be suffering on a regular basis as well. This one is no exception:

Both companies will dismiss all legal claims, Visto said. The case revolved around the alleged infringement by Microsoft on three of Visto’s mobile e-mail patents.

The next posts will look at some more Linux-specific developments.

Links 04/03/2008: Linux USB Drivers Go GPL, New Linux Devices/Laptops Seen

Posted in News Roundup at 1:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What If Novell Did More Harm Than Good to the Linux Kernel?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenOffice, Patents, Steve Ballmer at 1:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can you trust Microsoft’s partner right there inside your kernel?

Over a year ago we warned that Novell could 'contaminate' OpenOffice.org with Microsoft-patented algorithms or something which had been composed whilst Novell engineers had access to of Microsoft code (i.e. the visibly curse). An SCO-type allegation could be made. Remember the odd situation we find in the Mandriva-Turbolinux collaboration [1, 2, 3]. It generally leads to some uncertainty.

Mono, by the way, is far from being the exception. In fact, Novell receives patent protection for Mono while at the same time spreading it onto other GNU/Linux distributions. But that’s just the desktop environment, applications, and office suites. What about the kernel, which Microsoft vainly claims (without any evidence) infringes on its software patents? This issue was already raised by one of the readers in Linux Today (Steve Stites for a fact).

Scott Mace wrote to present his own views. which readers may wish to comment on.


Re: Novell contributions to Linux kernel, post-11/06

Roy,

Have you looked into which contributions Novell has made to the Linux kernel since the November 2006 interop deal with Microsoft? I’m curious to know several things about them:

  • Has Novell contributed any less or any more to the kernel than prior to November 2006?
  • Have any of these contributions appeared to have benefitted from Microsoft’s contributions?
  • Have the Linux kernel maintainers declined any Novell contributions due to patent concerns?

This would be a meaty topic for your Boycott Novell community to dig into. Feel free to quote from this email if you wish.

Thanks!


As an additional tidbit, consider this audio session from December. Matt Asay says that Novell does not contribute much to the kernel.

“[If I ask you who is Microsoft's biggest competitor now, who would it be?] Open…Linux. I don’t want to say open source. Linux, certainly have to go with that.”

Steve Ballmer, February 28th, 2008

The Perfect Time for Microsoft to Drop OOXML

Posted in ECMA, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 12:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Documentation for Microsoft legacy formats is out there, ODF is the one universal ISO standard

Steve Ballmer on ODFEarlier on today, a reader rightly pointed out that Microsoft ought to support ODF at this stage. Yes, now more than ever before. The matter of fact is that Microsoft may already be doing this, but if any of the BRM attendants finds out, it will have a terrible effect. It can demolish OOXML, at least as a standard, as opposed to some arbitrary format du jour from Office 2007.

Bob Sutor makes an interesting new argument. Microsoft claims to have opened up its legacy formats (never mind the endless licensing traps it contains). It did so in order to harbour OOXML and defend its chances at the BRM.

Now that the BRM has fallen apart, the whole thing can be used against Microsoft and render OOXML utterly obsolete.

These formats being available now rather removes the “OOXML as documentation of Microsoft legacy formats” argument for the need for OOXML. Of course, they could have been made widely available before, but weren’t, for some reason.

I utterly reject the need for OOXML as a standard because it is a description of the Microsoft Office 2007 formats. OOXML was released from ECMA within a month or so of Office 2007, so claiming any sort of “legacy” for Office 2007 is ridiculous.

Microsoft ought to simply embrace the international standard (ODF) and rely on availability of documentation covering legacy formats, for those wishing to convert old documents to ODF. It’s very simple really. No need for multiple competing formats, either.

Related articles:

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts