05.22.08

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What People Say About That Mythical Microsoft Service Pack

Posted in Boycott Novell at 10:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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.”

Tim Bray

By this stage, even the MSBBC has broadly commented about widespread skepticism over the announcement from Microsoft.

Just to repeat what it is we’re referring to, shortly after the farce that was an ISO process, Microsoft got what it wanted (see quote at the top) and moved on to playing defense. Yes, it made an announcement. It made a promise, but didn’t present an actual product. It has been agreed by some folks that this whole thing seems like vapourware, whose main purpose is to freeze the market and EE&E [1, 2].

Thanks to help from some readers, we’ve accumulated responses from more important figures and key ‘balconies’. Let’s go through them in turn.

Novell was happy. It has to be happy.

Microsoft’s buddies at Novell welcomed the announcement.

“Microsoft’s support for ODF in Office is a great step that enables customers to work with the document format that best meets their needs, and it enables interoperability in the marketplace,” said Roger Levy, senior vice president and general manager of open platform solutions at Novell.

“Novell is proud to be an industry leader in cross-platform document interoperability through our work in the Document Interoperability Initiative, the Interop Vendor Alliance and with our direct collaboration with Microsoft in our Interoperability Lab. We look forward to continuing this work for the benefit of customers across the IT spectrum.”

Michael Meeks (Novell):

The Microsoft announcement that they will natively support ODF is at some level encouraging. And better – MS will join the ODF TC and contribute: which could be really interesting (be careful what you wish for). Of course this may end up being really good for ODF: it all depends if the blatant psuedo-technical competitive marketing continues in the (already dysfunctional) TC context.

Simon Phipps (Sun’s open source chief):

Of course, I might also reflect on the fact they are finally doing exactly what Stephe Walli said they ought to do to kill ODF. But for now, it’s huge, warm congratulations on giving your customers the freedom to leave and the confidence to stay – and a small British mutter of “about bloody time”.

Stephane Rodriguez (OOXML crappiness guru):

First of all, Microsoft is a huge Office licensing monopoly. It’s so big it even surpasses Windows in sales. Any decline in Office licensing would be dramatic for Microsoft’s future. With that alone, you know that any announcement from Microsoft that they are willing to interoperate with other people’s software, namely applications, should be taken with a grain of salt.

Here is how, with the release of Office 2007, Microsoft intends to keep their monopoly in Office licensing :

Phase 1 – as long as there is not enough Office 2007 documents out there, make sure that customers understand that only Office 2007 can reliably migrate binary files to the new file formats. Hence the backwards compatibility claim which are part of the OOXML ISO marketing diversion (ironically inflated by critics).

[...]

Phase 2 – there is enough Office 2007 documents out there. Game over.

With that said, a few more words.

[...]

Mark Shuttleworth (of Canonical/Ubuntu) about the ISO process:

TG: Recently you publicly criticised the ISO for the way the way it handled the voting on Microsoft’s OOXML; how seriously do you think ISO’s credibility has been damaged by that episode?

MS [Mark Shuttleworth] Very seriously [for] anybody who is passionate about open standards. The ISO process has traditionally worked very well; it’s quite an academic, considered process, but it really wasn’t designed to handle a case with very, very vigorous corporate lobbying and an enormous amount of money being spent to try to get a particular outcome. And with hindsight, there were a number of very serious flaws in the process.

stegu at <NO> OOXML:

Of course, only time will tell if they will deliver on this promise, but the tone has changed dramatically, and this might actually be a good time to celebrate. We wish to welcome Microsoft to the party, even though they are very late and managed to make a fool of themselves in the process of trying to fight this outcome in every way possible.

There was also this bad article from Reuters, which yet again shows that journalists can confuse and mix open standards with open source (code). See our highlights in red below.

EU says to study Microsoft’s open-source step

[...]

Without adding any special software to Office, users will be able to open documents sent to them in the open source Open Document Format (ODF), the company said. Users will also be able to edit and save documents in that format.

The Commission has fined Microsoft 1.68 billion euros ($2.7 billion) since 2004, in large part for the company’s failure to provide proper interoperability between its dominant Windows operating system and other software.

The Times of India made a similar mistake quite recently. Microsoft capitalises on these stupidities which wrongly characterise it in trade journals as an embracer of “open source”. This is neither good nor accurate.

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