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

04.03.08

Selected Reactions and EU Investigation of the OOXML Fiasco

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 2:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As further evidence of the fact that this story is not over yet, consider the following batch of reports and commentary.

What Makes it a Fiasco

“OOXML Fiasco” are actually the words used in iTWire in order to describe what has happened. Here are some of the hugely negative implications of this fiasco, which has earned Microsoft a lot more skeptics and foes.

Microsoft’s promises about changing its skin (becoming more “open”) fit this pattern very well. But after the company, using methods that can only be described as dubious, muscled through its Office Open XML document format as an ISO standard, no-one will ever be able to claim that it has changed in any way since it was set up in 1975.

It has always used tactics like this – winning is important and it doesn’t matter how one does it. There are plenty of promises at the start but then when it comes down to the knuckle-duster stage, the ugly side of Redmond manifests itself and it’s a win-at-all-costs game. After that, we get pious statements.

Further he adds, referring to Novell:

There are many people who try and make believe that Microsoft has changed – indeed, Novell chief executive Ron Hovsepian went on the record recently claiming that Novell had contributed to Microsoft being more “open.” See the first three paragraphs of this piece, Ron.

Hovsepian would do well to learn the history of the personal computer industry. My advice to all those who talk about change at Microsoft is to buy a copy of Accidental Empires, the seminal work by Robert X. Cringely, the grand-daddy of all of us tech journalists. (And Bob, remember my commission when sales take off again).

This is actually a reference to an article which we covered right here, claiming that Ron Hovsepian did not only offer endorsement to Microsoft, but also took pride in the sort of ‘protection racket’ that company was running. It came to show just how detrimental to the goals of Free software Novell had become.

The response to this at LinuxToday contains humour of desperation, akin to that which came from SJVN when the US Government turned a blind eye to Microsoft, as well as here.

Well, I for one want to be the first to say to Microsoft congratulations, and thanks!

Thanks Microsoft, for demonstrating just how far you are willing to go to get your way in the marketplace. Having determined that your format could not be approved on technical merit, you blatantly gamed the ISO system to push it through anyway. Good for you.

Now you have given the world a standard that is cumbersome, possibly broken, and very likely not really open enough to be used by any company other than its author. Congratulations!

Because now, like it or not, you will ultimately be held responsible for your actions. Entire nations are looking askance at this standard and your practices. Very soon, I believe, entire nations are going to start looking for alternatives to your brand of software lock-in, as they discover just how “good” OOXML really is.

Sarcasm may be helpful, but it’s too early to be called a victory or a defeat.

EU Acknowledges Problems

The word from the European Commission is reassuring because investigation are confirmed to be taking place.

The effort stems from a complaint lodged by anti-Microsoft lobbying group ECIS (European Commission for Interoperable Systems). The Commission said in January that it is exploring whether the Open XML file formats are sufficiently interoperable with competitors’ products.

The Wall Street Journal in February reported that the investigation had started.
In a letter seen by CNET News.com, European regulators queried the national standards body in Norway to gain details into the local standardization process. Specifically, the European Commission sought information on attempts to influence the debate or vote over the standards proposal.

In response, Standards Norway said there was heated debate but not any “inappropriate behavior that endangered our process,” according to a document seen by CNET News.com.

At the end, this could become a textbook example of sheer monopoly abuse and standardisation going terribly awry.

What It All Means to ISO, Standards

Here is a view that is pessimistic as far as standards go but optimistic with respect to Free software, which makes the standardisation problem a bit less relevant.

This shows that standardization organizations are no longer relevant in the software field. What really matters is free full documentation, free full implementation source code, and of course the absence of any patent risk. In other words, coming back to the fundamentals of what a standards is, what matters is evidence that any independent third-party can create and distribute a fully-conforming implementation. When this is the case, nobody needs an organization to certify that it is a standard.

Here is a two-line blog post about “The Future”:

Person A “It’s an ISO standard”
Person B “And that means what ?”

Elsewhere, Mark Shuttleworth vents out some anger at ISO, mainly for failing the tame the Beast of Redmond.

Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth said the approval of Microsoft’s Office Open XML is a “sad” day for ISO and the computing public.

“I think it de-values the confidence people have in the standards setting process,” Shuttleworth said in an interview just hours after the news was leaked. The International Standards Organization (ISO) did not carry out its responsibility, he claimed.

“It’s sad that the ISO was not willing to admit that its process was failing horribly,” he said, noting that Microsoft intensely lobbied many countries that traditionally have not participated in ISO and stacked technical committees with Microsoft employees, solution providers and resellers sympathetic to OOXML. “When you have a process built on trust and when that trust is abused, [ISO] should halt the process.”

What if ISO simply does not care about being abused, if simply because it was hijacked by the very same company that abused it? Indeed, as Shuttleworth points out, they had the moral and practical responsibility to halt the process, acknowledge the fiasco, and see antitrust issues unfolding before making a premature announcement that goes out of context and out of all proportions.

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. Links 26/4/2015: Debian 8, OpenMandriva Lx 3 Alpha, Mageia 5 RC

    Links for the day



  2. Links 25/4/2015: Debian LTS Plans, Turing Phone Runs Linux

    Links for the day



  3. Who Kills Yahoo? It's Microsoft, Not Yahoo!

    The media should blame Microsoft, not Marissa Mayer, for what's going on (and has been going on for 7 years) at Yahoo!



  4. EPO Management is Trying Hard to Appease Its Critics While Pushing Forth Unitary Patent Agenda

    The European Patent Office and European Commission promote the agenda of large multinational corporations (at the expense or European citizens) and critics are being kept at bay



  5. Real Patent Reform Will Not Come From Biggest Backers of GNU/Linux, Not Even Google

    A look at the 'new' Google, the company which is hoarding patents (2,566 last year alone) instead of fighting for reform



  6. Microsoft's Troll Intellectual Ventures Loses Software Patents

    Intellectual Ventures is bluffing with software patents, but this time around it doesn't get its way



  7. Links 24/4/2015: Ubuntu and Variants in the News, Red Hat Developer Toolset 3.1

    Links for the day



  8. Links 23/4/2015: Ubuntu 15.04 is Out, Debian 8.0 Out Very Soon

    Links for the day



  9. Links 22/4/2015: Fedora 22 Beta, Atlassian Acquires BlueJimp

    Links for the day



  10. The Dying Debate Over Patent Scope (Including Software Patents) Replaced by 'Trolls' (But Not the Biggest Ones)

    The corporate media and Web sites or people who are funded by large corporations have essentially suppressed any debate about issues in the patent granting process, thereby guarding software patents and preventing criticism of large corporations' power grab



  11. The Patents Gold Rush Continues

    The morbid obsession with monopolising mere ideas still dominates the media, even increasingly in China



  12. 9 Millionth US Patent Tells a Story of Failure and USPTO Misconduct

    The USPTO, much like FISA (notorious court for surveillance/espionage authorisation), has become a rubber-stamping operation rather than a patents examination centre, as new evidence and old evidence serve to show



  13. HBO Helps Shift Debate Over Patents to 'Trolls' (Scale), Not Scope

    More of that awkward shifting of the patent debate towards small actors who are misusing patents, not large conglomerates like Apple and Microsoft which use patents to destroy competitors, crush startups, drive up prices, and so on



  14. Software Patents Are Still Menacing to Free Software: OIN Expands Scope, HEVC Adds to MPEG-LA Burden/Tax, Google and Facebook Give in on Patents

    A look at recent news about software patents and especially Free/libre software, which is inherently incompatible with them



  15. The Latest Developments Around Microsoft's Clever Attack on Android/Linux

    Microsoft's campaign of destruction, extortion, etc. against the most widely used Linux-powered operating system is revisited in light of new reports



  16. The Microsoft 'Community' is Maligning the Free Software Community

    Dishonest generalisations and baseless deductions portray the Free/Open Source software communities as a nasty place that leads to poverty and despair



  17. Googlebombing 'Microsoft Open Source' Even When Microsoft Shuts Down Its 'Open Source' Proxy

    A massive failure by the press to cover the most basic news, which is Microsoft putting an end to a supposedly 'Open Source' effort



  18. Links 22/4/2015: Calculate Linux 14.16, SparkyLinux 4.0 RC KDE

    Links for the day



  19. Links 21/4/2015: Project Photon, Ubuntu Touch Buzz

    Links for the day



  20. Embrace, Extend, Extinguish: How Microsoft Plans to Get Rid of Linux/Android

    Microsoft's sheer abuse against Android is laying bare for everyone to see now that Microsoft has paralysed Google's legal department with potential antitrust action in Europe



  21. Yahoo's Current CEO (Mayer, Formerly of Google) is Trying to End Yahoo! Status as Microsoft Proxy

    There are signs of relinquishing Microsoft's control over Yahoo! after Marissa Mayer worked to end the company's suicidal/abusive relationship with Steve Ballmer's Microsoft



  22. Repeating Microsoft's Lies Without Any Journalistic Assessment

    Poor fact-checking by relatively large media/news sites results in Microsoft's patently false claims being repeated uncritically



  23. Links 19/4/2015: New KaOS (2015.04), Manjaro Linux 0.8.13 Pre1

    Links for the day



  24. Links 18/4/2015: ExTiX 15.2, RaspArch

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft Tired of Pretending to be Nice to Free/Open Source Software (FOSS), Microsoft 'Open' Technologies Dumped

    Microsoft dumps its proxy (misleadingly named 'Open Tech') and other attacks on Free software persist from the inside, often through so-called 'experts' whose agenda is to sell proprietary software



  26. More Translations of French Article About the EPO

    German and Dutch translations of the Le Monde article are now available



  27. Links 17/4/2015: Wipro and the Netherlands Want FOSS

    Links for the day



  28. Microsoft's Multi-Dimensional Assault on Android/Linux: Extortion, Lobbying of Regulators, and Bribes

    Microsoft's vicious war on Linux (and Android in its current incarnation) takes more sophisticated -- albeit illegal (as per the RICO Act) -- forms



  29. Microsoft's Plot to Associate Windows with 'Open Source' is Proving Effective, Despite Being Just a Big Lie

    A look at the latest headlines which can lead to a false perception that Microsoft is now in bed with 'Open Source'



  30. Microsoft Windows Remotely Crashed, Remotely Hijacked, But Still No Logo and No Branding for the Bugs

    Windows maintains its reputation as a back doors haven, but the media is still not highlighting the severity of this issue, instead focusing on accidental bugs in Free software, even very old (and already fixed) bugs


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