- The Microsoft-Yahoo merger: Yes, privacy is an antitrust concern [PDF]
- [Nokia] Greetings from OSiM USA
- Exponential Storage: Security Through Openness
- Open Source developer to bankroll ‘Pinoy’ startups
- Remember to FLOSS Daily
A ‘Micro’ kick in the ‘Soft’ crotch
Thanks to a Microsoft partner [1, 2, 3] called Novell, the plan to have a semi-cooked, always-behind, patent-sensitive .NET implementation for GNU/Linux is under way. As expected, it’s far from satisfactory. Unless you are Microsoft, you are a second fiddle at Microsoft lawyers' mercy. Have a look at some early thoughts about MonoDevelop:
MonoDevelop an open-sourced IDE for creating software using Mono has gone gold. Sounds interesting! It is more stable than before, but there are some caveats:
1. The documentation is far from complete!
2. To be able to create applications graphically is darn nice, but the GTK# implementation of Windows.Form namespace requires an awkward approach: I can’t simply drop components on my form, but I have to create a layout before doing anything and I’m still waiting for a normal Visual Studio compatible layout manager.
Windows.Form raises software patent issues. This was covered before in posts about Mono [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33], so it needn’t be further discussed or repeated. It was only days ago that we last mentioned the dangers of Mono, the context being remarks from a GNOME Foundation member.
The name .NET echoes some of the framework’s aspirations to become part of the Web (or Net). The ‘host’ to prey on will have a seemingly-innocent and enlightening name: Silverlight. Where does Novell stand in that regard? Have a look at this new report:
One thing I did learn is that Moonlight is not ready and the code Miguel presented was apparently quite buggy (confirmed by comments from Miguel like “this has got a bug in it…”).
Recall again what Miguel de Icaza said about it in this very same conference. This doesn’t sound reassuring, so why did he go down this path in the first place? The duty for moneyflow seems to have been his primary motivation. It is therefore only natural to consider Novell a Microsoft accomplice in this context. We previously explained why Novell does more harm than good here.
Now, recall again the case of Microsoft sort of bribing (with an advance payment of $3,000,000) to have Silverlight in the Library of Congress Web site [1, 2, 3, 4]. Should we not learn from history here? Remember Bill Gates’ Corbis and the following incident, in case you never read about it before.
Annexing the Public Domain
In 1995 a virtually unknown company called Corbis purchased the Bettman Archives, the world’s largest private collection of historical and newspaper photographs. Corbis, a company founded in 1989 and owned by Bill Gates, is also actively negotiating with museums worldwide for exclusive licenses to electronically reproduce works of art held in their collections. Since that time, the Corbis “collection” has swelled to over 20 million images.
The apparent purpose is to provide Microsoft with access to a huge supply of exclusive cultural “content” for its web sites and multimedia CDs, and to prevent others from obtaining similar access. The rub is that Corbis now holds exclusive reproduction rights to images which are not copyrighted, but are in held in the public domain. Gates has seduced these museums, presumably with promises of future residuals, into veering from their missions as trustees of our cultural legacies, and into exploring the murkiest areas of “fair use” practices and curatorial ethics.
What if all our memories and national assets got .NET-ified and no longer accessible in a proper archival-friendly fashion? About a year ago it was said that Microsoft had given the US Government free services for data storage of medical data just so that they impose the same type of dependency (even bankruptcy protection) that Silicon Graphics once received. Don’t let Silverlight seize your data. Reject it now when it’s earlier enough and complain about Web sites that use it. █
Earlier today we published a pointer to an article that explains OOXML interoperability as an impossibility. As practical proof of this, consider the results of development work that has probably gone on for over a year.
His results reveal that conversion needs more attention from developers, esp. now that The Netherlands standardize on ODF – with more public agencies to come. The German Foreign Office migrated to Linux and Open Source solutions. The test results demonstrate that PR stunts won’t convince customers that compare the solutions available. The results also indicate that the OOXML conversion will be a non-trivial exercise for competitors. A single international standard could help to reduce the pain.
Why even discuss the unfeasibility of OOXML’s interoperability capabilities in theory when actual real-life “splats” such as the above make good demonstrations? There are more examples of this. From this month alone:
OOXML is hardly interoperable among and between different versions of Microsoft Office (and never will be). There is no chance of ever achieving decent interoperability between different applications if Microsoft’s OOXML enters the equation. Need it even be added that such interoperability is not free? █
In general, it’s all just a tad suspicious. I now find Microsoft partners like Stocholm posting on a regular basis in Linux newsgroups (most recent example here). But what is curious are not the cracking attempts, some of which were successful, but the quick response.
“Anyway, education about OOXML must carry on to combat disinformation and manufactured consent.”As soon as a site gets hacked, Microsoft Munchkins are accusing me in public of spreading malware (portraying a victim as a criminal) and trying to have my sites blacklisted. They are flooding the whole of USENET, which gets mirrored and accessed via HTTP. At times like these, I can’t help but think about Bob Sutor’s almost obsessive patching habits.
Anyway, education about OOXML must carry on to combat disinformation and manufactured consent. As a few links and articles worth reading today, consider this new technical analysis which speaks about the impossibility of OOXML interoperability.
A couple of counter examples have demonstrated that Microsoft Office document interoperability is wishful thinking at this point. The documents made available by Microsoft for direct download won’t and shouldn’t impress third-party implementers since it does not help much.
What is being shown is that in addition to missing documentation, the binary documentations sometimes conflict with the ECMA 376 documentation, itself not a full documentation of the new XML-based formats anyway.
Remember ECMA's response to such issues (hint: “I Have Never Seen a Person So Nervous and Ashamed in My Life” ).
In other good news, just days after protests from Oracle, Red Hat, Google and others, the mayor of Munich calls for abolishment of OOXML. Groklaw has a translation. Here is part of it.
Mayor of Munich opposes OOXML being made a Standard (German)
Munich’s mayor Christian Ude says in a letter to the Federal Minister for Economics and Technology, Michael Glos, he thinks there should be a clear “no” to the standardization of OOXML. The German Institute for Standardization (DIN) is currently evaluating how to vote in the ISO standardisation procedure. All the city needs, Ude indicates, is OpenDocument Format (ODF), already an ISO standard, and he believes competition is weakened by a competiting standards….
What the world needs is an industry-wide standard, not a bunch formats that are controlled and can only be implemented by one company and supported (almost properly) by just one single application on one single platform. █
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