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


Technical Flaws in OOXML and Technical Flaws in ISO (When Subjected to Sheer Abuse)

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, Europe, GNU/Linux, IBM, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 1:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Uncomfortable Reality

The reaction — or clarification rather — in Tim Bray’s blog last night was interesting. He was not thrilled by what he called “cherry-picking” of words (e.g. "unadulterated bullsh*t"), so he prepended a copyrights-oriented disclaimer to his latest post which is fairly well-balanced.

“Harsh reality put bluntly can make the viewer (or listener, or reader) wish to look away; it doesn’t make any less real.”In his previous popular post he seems to have complained about me specifically and Sam Hiser made some similar accusations. Since when is it inappropriate to quote a person with link to the context? And since when is the highlighting of proven misconduct an iffy business that hurts one’s credibility?

Harsh reality put bluntly can make the viewer (or listener, or reader) wish to look away; it doesn’t make any less real. Some people continue to stare embarrassed at corruption, but one should truly be bold enough to face it because only this way it can be addressed. And no, we don’t live in a perfect world, but the least one can do is help improve it by identifying causes for harm and demanding change. The BRM was just as bad [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] as was anticipated [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

In any event, shortly after the good announcement about Linux (not Ballnux, e.g. Novell) PCs arriving at Europe with ODF 'built in', IBMers proceed to discussing the technical deficiencies of OOXML, as opposed to the OOXML BRM and much of the OOXML-related misconduct.

OOXML Still Broken

Rob Weir posted a couple of good items that are worth keeping in mind. The first one makes another indirect approach toward the issue of legacy formats. As mentioned yesterday, binary Office format specifications render OOXML pretty much unnecessary, rationalising more than ever the need for Microsoft to embrace ODF and migrate its legacy in that unified direction. The company claims to have just done the same with IE8 and Web standards (promises, promises), so why not document formats?

Faithful representation of Microsoft Office 97-2008. I’ve learned it is rarely polite to ask a man what he means by “faithful”, but let me make an exception here. We have now the binary Office format specifications, not part of the standard, but posted by Microsoft. And we have OOXML specification. In what way does the OOXML “represent faithfully” the “existing corpus” of legacy documents?

Does OOXML tell you how to translate a binary document into OOXML? No. Does it tell you how to map the features of legacy documents in OOXML? No. Does it give an implementor any guidance whatsoever on how to “represent faithfully” legacy documents? No. So it is both odd and unsatisfactory that primary goal of the OOXML standard is so tenuously supported by its text.

Now, certainly, someone using the binary formats specifications, and using the OOXML specification, could string them together and attempt a translation, but the results will not be consistent or satisfactory. It is the Carolino Effect. Knowing the two endpoints is not the same as knowing how to correctly map between them. A faithful mapping requires knowledge not only of the two vocabularies, but also the interactions.

The second item from Weir alludes to the BRM, but only in the sense that it mentions a concern raised there (and unsurprisingly disregarded due to lack of time). It’s about macros, which Microsoft never liked talking about all that much. Microsoft hopes that nobody will spot and scrutinise for the weaknesses which only Microsoft has in mind, hoping to divert attention away from the parts most sensitive to unrebuttable criticism.

Finally, note that this lack of information on how to locate macros within a document makes it impossible for anyone to programmatically combine or divide OOXML documents which may contain macros. For example, imagine a 2-page spreadsheet, with a macro on sheet one only. How can it be split into two one-page documents, if there is no defined way to locate the script associated with page one? This is the type of automated composition and document manipulation that OOXML should be enabling. Similarly, how can one combine two single documents containing macros into one document, if there are no defined rules for locating and naming macros? Many basic types of applications,such as merging slide shows, etc., will break in the presence of macros.

The above topic was of interest to several NB’s in Geneva, but could not be discussed for lack of time at the BRM.

The Fast Track to the Wastebasket

Microsoft may have taken a wild gamble by choosing an inappropriate route to ISO-isation. As a result of this, under great pressure, Microsoft needed to resort to breaking the law (more on this in a moment). Here is Groklaw’s interpretation of Malaysia’s press release, which we mentioned yesterday.

Malaysia Standards Says Most of Their Technical Concerns Unresolved at BRM; Fast Track Inappropriate

They were there. And they contradict the stories being put out by those in charge and by Microsoft. They did *not* have the opportunity to have their concerns addressed totally. Malaysia voted to disapprove the undiscussed bulk dispositions, although they had earlier voted to approve some dispositions that were discussed.

When All Else Fails, Break the Law

The OOXML scandal in India — one which we covered here before [1, 2, 3] — is finally receiving some press coverage. While the 'mainstream press' turns somewhat of a blind eye, Linux.com does a story.

Microsoft is encouraging its business partners to promote its Office Open XML specification (OOXML) to the Indian Bureau of Standards (BIS) and Ministry of IT. This move has incensed supporters of the rival OpenDocument Format (ODF) who fear that the “soft” Indian state may not be able to stand up to Microsoft pressure tactics.

It is encouraging to see that all these known and proven incidents get documented. Hopefully, the EU is watching this carefully and taking it into account (or Microsoft's accounting).

“If you flee the rules, you will be caught. And it will cost you dearly.”

Neelie Kroes (about Microsoft), February 27th, 2008

Neelie Kroes

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New

  1. Luxembourg Can Become a Hub of Patent Trolls If the EPO Carries on With Its 'Reforms', Even Without the UPC

    With or without the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is the wet dream of patent trolls and their legal representatives, the EPO's terrible policies have landed a lot of low-quality patents on the hands of patent trolls (many of which operate through city-states that exist for tax evasion -- a fiscal environment ripe for shells)

  2. The Patent 'Printing Machine' of the EPO Will Spawn Many Lawsuits and Extortions (Threats of Lawsuits), in Effect Taxing Europe

    The money-obsessed, money-printing patent office, where the assembly line mentality has been adopted and patent-printing management is in charge, is devaluing or diluting the pool of European Patents, more so with restrictions (monetary barriers) to challenging bad patents

  3. Links 17/3/2018: Varnish 6, Wine 3.4

    Links for the day

  4. Deleted EPO Tweets and Promotion of Software Patents Amid Complaints About Abuse and Demise of Patent Quality

    Another ordinary day at the EPO with repressions of workforce, promotion of patents that aren't even allowed, and Team UPC failing to get its act together

  5. Guest Post: Suspected “Whitewashing” Operations by Željko Topić in Croatia

    Articles about EPO Vice-President Željko Topić are disappearing and sources indicate that it’s a result of yet more SLAPP from him

  6. Monumental Effort to Highlight Decline in Quality of European Patents (a Quarter of Examiners Sign Petition in Spite of Fear), Yet Barely Any Press Coverage

    he media in Europe continues to be largely apathetic towards the EPO crisis, instead relaying a bunch of press releases and doctored figures from the EPO; only blogs that closely follow EPO scandals bothered mentioning the new petition

  7. Careful Not to Conflate UPC Critics With AfD or Anti-EU Elements

    The tyrannical Unified Patent Court (UPC) is being spun as something that only fascists would oppose after the right-wing, anti-EU politicians in Germany express strong opposition to it

  8. Links 15/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.6 RC, Microsoft Openwashing

    Links for the day

  9. PTAB Continues to Increase Capacity Ahead of Oil States; Patent Maximalists Utterly Upset

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) sees the number of filings up to an almost all-time high and efforts to undermine PTAB are failing pretty badly -- a trend which will be further cemented quite soon when the US Supreme Court (quite likely) backs the processes of PTAB

  10. Patent Maximalists Are Still Trying to Create a Patent Bubble in India

    Litigation maximalists and patent zealots continue to taunt India, looking for an opportunity to sue over just about anything including abstract ideas because that's what they derive income from

  11. EPO Staff Has Just Warned the National Delegates That EPO's Decline (in Terms of Patent Quality and Staff Welfare) Would Be Beneficial to Patent Trolls

    The staff of the EPO increasingly recognises the grave dangers of low-quality patents -- an issue we've written about (also in relation to the EPO) for many years

  12. The EPO is a Mess Under Battistelli and Stakeholders Including Law Firms Will Suffer, Not Just EP Holders

    As one last 'gift' from Battistelli, appeals are becoming a lot more expensive -- the very opposite of what he does to applications, in effect ensuring a sharp increase in wrongly-granted patents

  13. The EPO Under Battistelli Has Become Like China Under Xi and CPC

    The EPO is trying very hard to silence not only the union but also staff representatives; it's evidently worried that the lies told by Team Battistelli will be refuted and morale be affected by reality

  14. Links 14/3/2018: IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 119, Tails 3.6

    Links for the day

  15. Links 13/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.5.2, Tails 3.6, Firefox 59

    Links for the day

  16. Willy Minnoye (EPO) Threatened Staff With Disabilities Said to Have Been Caused by the EPO Work Pressures

    Willy Minnoye, or Battistelli's 'deputy' at the EPO until last year, turns out to have misused powers (and immunity) to essentially bully vulnerable staff

  17. IAM and IBM Want Lots of Patent Litigation in India

    Having 'championed' lobbying for litigation Armageddon in China (where IBM's practicing business units have gone), patent maximalists set their eyes on India

  18. The Patent Trolls' Lobby (IAM) Already Pressures Andrei Iancu, Inciting a USPTO Director Against PTAB

    Suspicions that Iancu might destroy the integrity of the Office for the sake of the litigation ‘industry’ may be further reaffirmed by the approach towards patent maximalists from IAM, who also participated in the shaming of his predecessor, Michelle Lee, and promoted a disgraced judge (and friend of patent trolls) for her then-vacant role

  19. Patent Trolls in the United States Increasingly Target Small Businesses Which Cannot Challenge Their Likely-Invalid Software Patents

    South by Southwest (SXSW Conference/Festivals in Austin, Texas) has a presentation about patent trolls, whose general message may be reaffirmed by recent legal actions in Texas and outside Texas

  20. EPO Staff Union Organises Protest to Complain About Inability “of the Office to Recruit the Highly Qualified Staff it Needs.”

    Having already targeted union leaders and staff representatives, the EPO may soon be going after those whom they passionately represented and the staff union (SUEPO) wants the Administrative Council to be aware

  21. Battistelli Likes to Describe His Critics as 'Nazis', Team UPC Will Attempt the Same Thing Against UPC Critics

    Demonising one's opposition or framing it as "fascist" is a classic trick; to what degree will Team UPC exploit such tactics?

  22. Session in Bavaria to Discuss the Abuses of the European Patent Office Later Today

    The EPO shambles in Munich have gotten the attention of more Bavarian politicians, more so in light of the Constitutional complaint against the UPC (now dealt with by the German FCC, which saw merit in the complaint)

  23. Links 12/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC5, KEXI 3.1, Karton 1.0, Netrunner 18.03, Debian 9.4

    Links for the day

  24. EPO Patent 'Growth' Not Achieved But Demanded/Mandated by Battistelli, by Lowering Quality of Patents/Services

    Targets at the EPO are not actually reached but are being imposed by overzealous management which dries up all the work in a hurry in order to make examiners redundant and many European Patents worthless

  25. Doubt Over Independence of Judges at the EPO Clouds Reason in Deciding Regarding Patents on Life

    With the growing prospect of a Board of Appeal (BoA) having to decide on patentability of CRISPR 'innovation' (more like explanation/discovery), questions linger or persist about judges' ability to rule as they see fit rather than what some lunatic wants

  26. Patent Academics and CAFC Make a Living Out of Patents, But Both Must Begrudgingly Learn to Accept That Patents Went Too Far

    A look at academic pundits' views on the patent system of the United States and where the Federal Circuit (a high patent court) stands on these matters after the US Supreme Court (highest possible court) lashed out at many of its decisions, especially those from the disgraced Rader years

  27. Patent Maximalists Cause a Crisis of Legitimacy for Patent Law

    The patent extremists who nowadays equate monopolies on mere ideas to "property" and "rights" gradually cause the public to lose respect for patents, more or less in the same way copyright maximalists (and copyright trolls) cause the population to seek alternatives (both legal and illegal)

  28. We Shall Soon Find Out Where Trump Appointees Such as Neil Gorsuch Stand on Patent Policies

    Staff shuffles at top-level roles will soon reveal what Donald Trump's changes mean to patent law and caselaw

  29. Trump's USPTO Changes Patent Designs, Changes Director/Deputy Director, and Anticipat 'Ranks' Patent Examiners Based on How They Deal With Section 101

    Today's USPTO isn't the same USPTO which was managed by Michelle Lee and anti-PTAB groups (proponents of software patents) have begun profiling examiners based on their stance on abstract/software patents -- a form of neo-McCarthyism

  30. Links 10/3/2018: Amarok 2.9.0, Debian 9.4, Sparky 5.3

    Links for the day


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 Channel: Come and chat with us in real time


Recent Posts