We have already seen on numerous occasions how Novell essentially markets Microsoft's OOXML while everyone else slams it. But OOXML may be just the tip of the iceberg.
We have not mentioned Microsoft’s Silverlight in a while, but it’s a seriously ill lock-in which needs to be tackled as soon as possible. Antitrust regulators are already looking into it, but they seem to be lagging, almost falling behind the curve. Novell is a major part of this problem.
“…OOXML may be just the tip of the iceberg.”Like Microsoft Office, which Microsoft might try to make synonymous with OOXML (for marketing purpose using “open” on the one hand while dissociating and hiding the tight relationship between those two), Silverlight supports Macs and Windows PCs but not GNU/Linux. This is deliberate, so it is not a case involving technical deficiencies or impossibility. Expect the same from Microsoft's XPS.
In many ways, therefore, OOXML (not ISO OOXML, but the 'thing' which Microsoft will continue to implement further, undocumented) can be equated to XAML. It’s the same darn mess and a case against Free software. It also brings us to yesterday ‘news’ (vapourware morelike).
Microsoft has been trying to create Silverlight hype recently (self-fulfilling prophecies it would hope). It has been saying that Silverlight support would triple and it is now “teasing” people with what they call “big” deals to be announced. Reconsider the Nokia-Silverlight story and its effect on Linux.
From the news:
Microsoft teases mobile developers with ‘big’ Silverlight deals
Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s developer division, told the company’s ReMix 08 conference the goal is to run Silverlight “everywhere”.
He did not name names, but promised more deals in the months ahead.
It sees ubiquity as key to Silverlight’s success, and it is gunning for the player and its runtime to match Adobe Systems’ Flash in market- and mind-share and on PC and mobile platforms.
“Ubiquity as key,” eh? Novell to Microsoft’s rescue! Once again.
“At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it immediately.”
–Miguel de IcazaScott Guthrie has a friend (almost colleague) at Novell, whose name is Miguel de Icaza. Miguel&Novell is [sic] helping Microsoft in its fight against Adobe, which happens to be a new member of the Linux Foundation. This ought to show you just how close Microsoft and Novell have become, despite the fact that Silverlight is a case against Linux and the GPL. Remember that Flash is not another Silverlight. They are very different.
Remember again and bear in mind that Microsoft does not support Linux but pretends that it does in order for Web developers not to avoid it. At the same time, Microsoft is likely to have already assigned an OSP to Silverlight and it excludes the GPL, by design. Even Miguel saw this and protested out in the open, yet he continues to work on the very same tool which is intended to sabotage GNU/Linux. From Ars technica (yesterday):
At LugRadio Live this past weekend, Novell developer Miguel de Icaza gave a presentation on Moonlight, an open source implementation of Microsoft’s Silverlight web framework. During the presentation, he described the current status of Moonlight and showed some of the ways that it can be used to create richer applications for the Linux desktop.
The earliest work on Moonlight was done in a very short period of time by a group of highly dedicated Novell programmers and Mono community members so that it could be demonstrated to the general public at the Paris MIX 07 event. Moonlight later received Microsoft’s backing as the official Silverlight implementation for Linux.
Of course Microsoft supports a case against GNU/Linux, which is done independently from Microsoft (i.e. no expenses), always playing catchup, and putting users at legal risk (or forcing them to forge software patent deals with Microsoft). It’s the same scenario with Novell’s OOXML translators. Novell believes it’s a mutual relationship. Or is it? █
“We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”
–Jim Allchin, Platform Group Vice President, Microsoft
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Is Novell advocating Free software at all?
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Novell: Windows Vista Migration Resources
A day ago we mentioned the tactless remarks from Ron Hovsepian, whose damage can affect not only Novell, but Novell’s (and Microsoft’s) rivals as well. What on earth was he thinking? Others ask themselves the same question.
Novell CEO Disses Embrace of Desktop Linux
While acceptance and conversion to Desktop Linux may occur more slowly in the U.S. than in other parts of the world, I think it sends a negative message for the CEO of a company that produces a product to make such a statement about that product. You don’t hear the president of the Dairy Association saying that he predicts that people are going to drink less milk. Instead, you see commercials supporting milk’s advantages and positive aspects. Have you ever seen a Linux commercial?
Fortunately, Novell’s CEO is not the only one to have foolishly criticised his own products out in public. Only yesterday:
As PC users clamor for Microsoft to continue to support Windows XP, company CEO Steve Ballmer called the Vista OS “a work in progress” at an annual Seattle event on Thursday.
A couple of months ago:
Holy Crap: Did Bill Gates Just Say Windows Sucks?
We asked a simple question: what Microsoft product could have used a little more polish before release? The answer astounded us. We would just like to thank Bill Gates for his honesty and his openness.
Microsoft and Novell appear to be sharing the same problem which is pessimism. It might, after all, be justified, but Novell mustn’t drag GNU/Linux as a whole into this. █
Better to keep quiet
when there is nothing
of substance to say
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Precedence strikes: “be like Novell or be sued”
To start off, it is worth mentioning that Red Hat has just canceled its plan to release a desktop product. This happened after continued procrastination involving negotiations with Microsoft on the issue of codecs. Microsoft turned this into an extortion opportunity for software patent agreements. Red Hat won’t tell you this in public, but sources close to Red Hat knew about this at the time.
That’s just the impact of spreading media on the Web which is encoded using proprietary Microsoft technology. It’s viral, so it soon becomes means for misusing and abusing power. Need we also permit OOXML and Silverlight on the Web to repeat (or enhance) problems like the ones Red Hat was experiencing? There is probably a lesson to learn here.
Let’s explore to see what else is new in Too-Small-To-Compete Land, a land of many intellectual barricades and nonessential fences.
4G was mentioned some days ago. Those without patents may be excluded from 4G due to the discriminatory assumption that patent peace should revolve around a ‘standard’ rather than no patents at all. Provided you have a rubber-stamped pile of papers, you are more or less guaranteed a ceasefire. Sounds reassuring, doesn’t it? And that’s just a necessity for communication which should become a commodity rather than a ‘luxury’. [via Andy Updegrove]
The big radio network technology players seem to have banged each others’ heads together in a pre-emptive strike against intellectual property squabbles over LTE (long term evolution, the favoured technology for 4G).
Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NEC, NextWave Wireless, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks and Sony Ericsson (not Qualcomm, although it has committed to producing LTE chips) say they’re going to spare us the usual courtroom dramas and agree a solid licencing regime for LTE before they start producing kit.
Go Get ‘Em, Boy!
The following short article is related to one that which mentioned the other day (same reference as above). It speaks about Seagate finding a business focus in frivolous lawsuits.
STEC is a small player. If it wins, other industry players will applaud its pluck. If it loses, other manufacturers of flash drives like Intel, Toshiba, and SanDisk might decide to line up dutifully to pay Seagate royalties. And since there may not be a pre-existing lawsuit, there won’t be as much bad blood.
GPLv3 Kicks In
Adoption of the new licence continues and here is one of the latest comers.
OptNgn today announced that it is offering a floating point VHDL library under the GPLv3 Open Source License.
Intellectual Monopolies Sneeze
It must be love for the GPLv3. Or an allergy rather. Watch the reaction of an industry which is disrespectful when it comes to copyleft licences. It’s about what they can exploit rather than contribute, never mind the explicit licence they ought to have read. Shades of McAfee [1, 2, 3].
In software, experts on an open source panel agreed that the latest GPL version 3 license has fueled fears among large corporations who say some of its provisions could put many of their software patents in jeopardy. Both sides agreed companies increasingly use a complex mix of proprietary and open source code that can be complex to manage.
“We worked with one company who thought they had 25 instances of open source code in their software, but it turned out they had 75,” said Beyers of HP. “This has to be managed with a lot of rigor and precision,” he added.
In one well known example, Linksys had to release as open source code valuable proprietary software used in one of its home routers because it infringed a Linux license, said Mark Gisi, a senior IP manager for Wind River. “It shifted the whole market,” he said.
“By and large a number of engineers are starting to come up to speed on open source IP issues and the legal community is starting to come up to speed on it, too, but these two groups need to work together to resolve the issues,” Gisi said.
Intellectual monopolies. Are they needed at all? As Richard Stallman put it in a 2004 talk, any non-trivial idea can be patented; a non trivial idea can be defined as non-obvious for someone with an IQ of 7. █
“Let’s face it – the average computer user has the brain of a Spider Monkey.”
Update: as further confirmation of our assertion above, consider this new blog post from SJVN:
Why there won’t be a Red Hat Consumer Linux Desktop
In the meantime, Red Hat, which now had focused on a more traditional desktop found itself stymied by multimedia problems. Red Hat wanted to supply users with legal access to WMF (Windows Media Format) codices. While Microsoft was willing to license these codices to Linux distributors, such as Linspire, Turbolinux and Xandros, Microsoft was only willing to make these deals if the Linux company was willing to sign off on a Microsoft patent agreement. Red Hat was not willing to do this.
There are some other reasons (or excuses), so read the entire post for a good clarification.
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“There will always be ignorance, and ignorance leads to fear. But with time, people will come to accept their silicon masters.”
A newly-appointed patent bomb gardener, better known as ISO, is unlikely to get much rest. Standards experts continue to have it harshly criticised, but they are gentle and polite. Andy Updegrove uses some sense of humour in response to ISO’s horrific FAQ [1, 2, 3, 4]. He writes:
What could make more sense? ISO has issued a brief FAQ explaining why nothing is wrong, and nothing to worry about, in light of the OOXML experience. My favorite Q&A is the last one, which, if paraphrased to air safety, would sound like this:
Q: Following eye-witness reports that the the wings of the 747 fell off just before landing in Geneva, will the FAA launch a thorough investigation?
A: No. The vast majority of flights land safely. This suggests that the safety inspection process is credible, works well and is delivering the results needed. Of course, because continual improvement is public safety is an underlying aim of standardization, the FAA will certainly be continuing to review and improve its inspection procedures.
ISO appears to be adopting the low standards of ECMA and lobbyists such as Jan "you are well paid, shut up" van den Beld. It’s sad, but those who have followed this saga for a year or even for much longer will know that it has been dirty business right from the very start. As a result of this mess, some already make the distinction between free formats and open formats. This one tells the story very briefly.
Free Formats vs. Open Formats
And you likely already know about the whole OOXML debacle. How Microsoft got so afraid of OpenDocument (ODF) that they invested millions and millions on a 6000 page pile of — let’s face it — crap. Pure, pointless crap. To beat another office format. And they bribed every ISO jurisdiction they could. To beat another office format. Because it would mean everyone would use a single format and make Microsoft’s office suite obsolete. No way, ese!
This isn’t anymore about closed vs. open formats, and you don’t need me to rub it in your face. It’s time to leave those non-free formats behind and look forward for a world of interoperability, a world of doors free to trespass in whatever way you want, and where no one will be able to take that freedom away from anyone else.
Behind the scenes, more ‘smoking guns’ against the BSI and the patent bomb-gardening ISO are being accumulated at the moment. It’s not over until the fat lady sings, as the old saying goes. Prepare for more unpleasant findings to come. Stay tuned and please do inform us of reports we have missed.█
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Tim Bray was clearly dissatisfied the last time his words were carefully selected and then used to describe the terrible state of the OOXML BRM in Geneva [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. To be more specific, it was the “cherry-picking” as he later called it that had him disappointed by articles quoting him. This probably makes him feel a little responsible if not liable and might have him perceived as foul-mouthed. But still, this whole situation was a muchly expected failure that ISO never bothered to avoid [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It could. It didn't.
A month and a half later comes another post from Tim Bray, who shares with he considers his“ISO Fantasy”. In reality, as the following shows, it was far from a fantasy.
What OOXML Is · The ISO process, brutal and corrupt as it was, has been covered to death by everyone. Its output, soon to be known as ISO/IEC 29500, differs from ECMA-376 in two ways. ¶
What Microsoft really wanted was that ISO stamp of approval to use as a marketing tool. And just like your mother told you, when they get what they want and have their way with you, they’re probably not gonna call you in the morning.
Following this detailed post, Glyn Moody takes another shot at ISO.
One of the arguments adduced in favour of making OOXML an ISO standard was that it would place control of the former in the hands of an independent ISO group, which was a much better situation than the present one.
Anyone who believes this has clearly learned nothing from Microsoft’s history of unremitting subversion of practically every independent standard it has been involved with. Microsoft will continue to develop OOXML as it wishes, taking only token notice of anything the ISO committee says. It will, however, bask in the glory of the ISO approval (assuming it stands after the various challenges currently being made to it), irrespective of the fact that its own products won’t support the standard properly.
“ISO might come to regret all of these snobby denials at the end.”Glyn does not neglect to make a mild accusation against the BSI, which is still being grilled by (or put under scrutiny) from three separate and independent directions.
It will be very interesting to see what happens up until June. ISO is still 'under probation', so to speak, and it continues to aggravate its critics. ISO might come to regret all of these snobby denials at the end. You can sweep a lot of dirt under a carpet, but when it all accumulates to form a mound, someone suspicious will come around and lift up the carpet. █
“This was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen. Their reputation, in my eyes, is in tatters. My opinion of ECMA was already very negative; this hasn’t improved it, and if ISO doesn’t figure out away to detach this toxic leech, this kind of abuse is going to happen again and again.”
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