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

03.05.08

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. Bogus Patents Which Oughtn't Have Been Granted Make Products Deliberately Worse, Reducing Innovation and Worsening Customers' Experience

    How shallow patents — or patent applications that no patent office should be accepting — turn out to be at the core of multi-billion-dollar cases/lawsuits, with potentially a billion people impacted (their products made worse to work around such questionable patents)



  2. EPO is Like a Patent Litigation (Without Actual Trial) Office, Not a Patent Examination Office

    Examination of patent applications isn't taken seriously by an office whose entire existence was supposed to be about examination; bureaucracy at the top of this office has apparently decided that the sole goal is to create more demand (i.e. lawsuits) for the litigation 'industry'



  3. Philippe Cadre From the French National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) Wants to Join António Campinos

    Yet another example of INPI's creeping influence if not 'entryism' at the EPO and this time too patent quality isn't a priority



  4. Links 22/9/2018: Mesa 18.2.1, CLIP OS, GPL Settlement in Artifex/First National Title Insurance Company

    Links for the day



  5. Links 21/9/2018: Cockpit 178, Purism 'Dongle'

    Links for the day



  6. Criticism of Unitary Patent (UPC) Agreement Doomed the UPC and Patent Trolls' Plan -- Along With the Litigation Lobby -- for Unified 'Extortion Vector'

    The Unitary Patent or Unified Patent Court (UPC) was the trolls' weapon against potentially millions of European businesses; but those businesses have woken up to the fact that it was against their interests and European member states such as Spain and Poland now oppose it while Germany halts ratification



  7. It Wasn't Judges With Weapons in Their Office, It Was Benoît Battistelli Who Brought Firearms to the European Patent Office (EPO)

    The EPO scandals deepen in light of a very major scandal which has occupied the French media for a couple of months



  8. Links 20/9/2018: 2018 Linux Audio Miniconference and Blackboard's Openwashing

    Links for the day



  9. Links 19/9/2018: Chromebooks Get More DEBs, LLVM 7.0.0 Released

    Links for the day



  10. Links 18/9/2018: Qt 5.12 Alpha , MAAS 2.5.0 Beta, PostgreSQL CoC

    Links for the day



  11. Today's European Patent Office (EPO) Works for Large, Foreign Pharmaceutical Companies in Pursuit of Patents on Nature, Life, and Essential/Basic Drugs

    The never-ending insanity which is patents on DNA/genome/genetics and all sorts of basic things that are put together like a recipe in a restaurant; patents are no longer covering actual machinery that accomplishes unique tasks in complicated ways, typically assembled from scratch by humans; some supposed 'inventions' are merely born into existence by the natural splitting of organisms or conception (e.g. pregnancy)



  12. The EPO Has Quit Pretending That It Cares About Patent Quality, All It Cares About is Quantity of Lawsuits

    A new interview with Roberta Romano-Götsch, as well as the EPO's promotion of software patents alongside CIPA (Team UPC), is an indication that the EPO has ceased caring about quality and hardly even pretends to care anymore



  13. Qualcomm's Escalating Patent Wars Have Already Caused Massive Buybacks (Loss of Reserves) and Loss of Massive Clients

    Qualcomm's multi-continental patent battles are an effort to 'shock and awe' everyone into its protection racket; but the unintended effect seems to be a move further and further away from 'Qualcomm territories'



  14. Links 17/9/2018: Torvalds Takes a Break, SQLite 3.25.0 Released

    Links for the day



  15. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Helps Prevent Frivolous Software Patent Lawsuits

    PTAB with its quality-improving inter partes reviews (IPRs) is enraging patent maximalists; but by looking to work around it or weaken it they will simply reduce the confidence associated with US patents



  16. Abstract Patents (Things One Can Do With Pen and Paper, Sometimes an Abacus) Are a Waste of Money as Courts Disregard Them

    A quick roundup of patents and lawsuits at the heart of which there's little or no substance; 35 U.S.C. § 101 renders these moot



  17. “Blockchain” Hype and “FinTech”-Like Buzzwords Usher in Software Patents Everywhere, Even Where Such Patents Are Obviously Bunk

    Not only the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) embraces the "blockchain" hype; business methods and algorithms are being granted patent 'protection' (exclusivity) which would likely be disputed by the courts (if that ever reaches the courts)



  18. Qualcomm's Patent Aggression Threatens Rationality of Patent Scope in Europe and Elsewhere

    Qualcomm's dependence on patent taxes (so-called 'royalties' associated with physical devices which it doesn't even make) highlights the dangers now known; the patent thicket has grown too "thick"



  19. Months After Oil States the Patent Maximalists Are Still Desperate to Crush PTAB in the Courts, Not Just in Congress and the Office

    Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) improve patent quality and are therefore a threat to those who profit from spurious feuding and litigation; they try anything they can to turn things around



  20. IAM, Watchtroll and the EPO Still Spread the Mentality of Patent Maximalism

    The misguided idea that the objective (overall) should be to grant as many monopolies as possible (to spur a lot of litigation) isn't being challenged in echo chamber 'events', set up and sponsored by think tanks and pressure groups of the litigation 'industry'



  21. Watchtroll and Other Proponents of Patent Trolls Are Trying to Change the Law Outside the Courts in Order to Bypass Patent Justice

    35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101) voids almost every software patent — a reality that even the most zealous patent professionals have come to grips with and their way of tackling this ‘problem’ is legislative, albeit nowhere near successful (so far)



  22. Links 16/9/2018: Windows Plays 'Nice' Again, Elisa Music Player 0.3 Beta and Latte Dock 0.8.1

    Links for the day



  23. Slamming Courts and Judges Won't Help the Patent Maximalists; It Can Only Make Things Worse

    Acorda Therapeutics sees its stock price dropping 25% after finding out that its patent portfolio isn't solid, as affirmed by the Federal Circuitn(CAFC); the only way out of this mess is a pursuit of a vastly improved patent quality, thorough patent examination which then offers legal certainty



  24. Patent Trolls Are Still Active and Microsoft is Closely Connected to Many of Them

    A roundup of patent trolls' actions in the United States; Microsoft is connected to a notably high number of these



  25. Advancements in Automobile Technology Won't be Possible With Patent Maximalism

    Advancements in the development of vehicles are being discouraged by a thicket of patents as dumb (and likely invalid) as claims on algorithms and mere shapes



  26. Battistelli “Has Deeply Hurt the Whole Patent Profession, Examiners as Well as Agents” and Also the Image of France

    A French perspective regarding Battistelli's reign at the EPO, which has not really ended but manifests itself or 'metastasises' through colleagues of Battistelli (whom he chose) and another French President (whom he also chose)



  27. António Campinos Needs to Listen to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) et al to Salvage What's Left of Public Consent for the EPO

    Groups including Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Médecins du Monde (MdM) have attempted to explain to the EPO, with notoriously French-dominated leadership, that it’s a mistake to work for Gilead at the expense of the public; but António Campinos is just another patent maximalist



  28. The Max Planck Institute's Determination on UPC's (Unitary Patent) Demise is Only “Controversial” in the Eyes of Rabid Members of Team UPC

    Bristows keeps lying like Battistelli; that it calls a new paper "controversial" without providing any evidence of a controversy says a lot about Bristows LLP, both as a firm and the individuals who make up the firm (they would not be honest with their clients, either)



  29. Links 15/9/2018: Wine 3.16, Overwatch's GNU/Linux (Wine) 'Ban', New Fedora 28 Build, and Fedora 29 Beta Delay

    Links for the day



  30. Max Planck Institute Pours More Water on the Dying Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The Max Planck Institute gives another sobering reality check for Team UPC to chew on; there's still no sign of any progress whatsoever for the UPC because even Team UPC appears to have given up and moved on


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts