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

05.23.08

Document Formats Roundup: ODF Gets the Upper Hand

Posted in Africa, Antitrust, Europe, Formats, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 11:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spread ODF

ODF Advocacy News

Pieter Hintjens has announced that on Wednesday they signed the Hague Declaration. “We signed four copies. One went to the Royal Dutch Archives, one will remain with Digistan, and we’ll sell two on eBay to raise funds for our work.” We address this issue simply because readers have asked. So… it’s done. Signed and completed. Now we must only cope with scary people, to whom Digistan seems like some satanic ritual.

Yesterday we wrote yet again about the study from New York (additionally mentioned in [1, 2]), which serves as an objective analysis suggesting that only one document format should rule them all. That format seems likely to be ODF after Microsoft’s change of heart. To explain this change of heart, consider what Slated said last night in a discussion group:

It’s pretty obvious Microsoft is making concessions in order to soften the blow of the inevitable antitrust findings, rather than it being just a hand-waving exercise.

Looks like the old schoolboy trick of admitting to the lesser crime, to divert attention away from the bigger one. Bribery and corruption are such ugly words.”

Back again to the New York study, there’s some decent coverage of it in The Inquirer.

It is an interesting turn of fate that sees US legislators recommend dismantling a vital means for Microsoft to hold its dominant world position in desktop software, yet make those same US commercial interests central to the nascent international document standard, while ensuring a powerful lobby of the ISO in the interests of US government.

Looking back a little further, you can find this formal response [PDF] from the ODF Alliance. It was quoted widely in the media.

The ODF Alliance today greeted with scepticism Microsoft’s announcement of its intention to include support for the OpenDocument Format in the first half of 2009. “The proof will be whether and when Microsoft’s promised support for ODF is on par with its support for its own format. Governments will be looking for actual results, not promises in press releases,” said Marino Marcich, managing director of the ODF Alliance.

Memories also return from OpenMalaysia which, needless to say, isn’t too impressed by Microsoft’s endless spin. Here’s one for a chuckle.

Then a few weeks ago (April 2008), we had the famous words of Malaysia’s very own Yasmin Mahmood, “The industry just wants to have the best innovation; they want to have the freedom of choice. The whole idea is not about choosing, it’s about having a choice … and that is what customers and partners want.”

Take a moment to think about this one.

OOXML Flaws

Here is yet another article which elaborates on Microsoft’s technical difficulties with its own format. How can a company — any company for that matter — struggle to implement a specification that was derived from its own implementation in the first place?

Microsoft has admitted that it won’t be adding support for the new OOXML standard in Office 2007 Service Pack 2 because of its complexity.

This says a lot about the volume of deficiencies in OOXML, does it not? We addressed such issues the other day (software bugs as a standard).

Schools

Microsoft’s nightmare scenario is becoming more of a reality already. What’s that nightmare, you ask? Consumer choice. Tenders and bids for government contracts. Should we not expect those to be the default choice and simply take them for granted? Limitation of choice has, for a long time, been on Microsoft’s side.

“Limitation of choice has, for a long time, been on Microsoft’s side.”For many years, Microsoft has relied on the fact that nothing “worked properly” unless you bought Microsoft Office. This enabled Microsoft to fix the prices, overcharge, exclude GNU/Linux (bar Wine), and persist with an iron fist attitude whenever features are requested, discounts seen as needed, or critical security patches craved for.

We mentioned the following development in a hurry (and thus very briefly) a couple of days ago. Now comes this article from the British press about the opening of doors that could soon bring Free software to more schools, or at least facilitate choice.

Officially sanctioned open source and free-to-use software could be in use across the UK education system within months after government education agency Becta issued a tender for a four-year framework agreement.

Becta is looking for up to 10 software suppliers to participate in the £80m framework that will launch in October. This will replace its software licensing framework, in place since April 2005.

The contract notice says: “We are particularly seeking suppliers which can provide a comprehensive choice of software solutions including appropriate open source and free-to-use alternatives and advise users on best-value licensing.”

Solutions should be cost-effective, but provide freedom of choice, said a Becta spokeswoman.

“We’re providing guidance on the educational elements and looking for suppliers that can provide comprehensive choice,” she said.

There are still some important questions to be answered. For example, would Microsoft charge for an Office and Windows licence covering all computers regardless of what's actually installed on them?

The following other article wrongly gives credit to Microsoft, as if the company did something because of kindness. In fact, it has done pretty much nothing other than tossing some words in blogs and a press release. We shall see how that vapourware comes along [1, 2, 3, 4], but we won’t know for sure any time soon, will we? Maybe in 2009. Maybe later. Microsoft rarely delivers anything on time and excuses are the marketing model.

In a development that could make it easier for schools to use cheaper, open technologies instead of proprietary programs, Microsoft said it will make its Office 2007 software compatible with the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Assuming they deliver at all. Can’t wait for Longhorn (due by 2003)!

South Africa Revisited

Microsoft must really, really hate (or be afraid of) South Africa at the moment. The insults are very telling and the formal complaint which soon followed put some dark clouds over OOXML. Yesterday we argued that South Africa could soon find other nations joining the opposition, following its lead and its example in a way.

Norway, for instance, has just revealed, due to South Africa serving a blow to Microsoft, that it’s working to reverse its vote and the same type of action is considered or already taken in other countries whose post mortems reveal evidence of corruption too compelling to ignore. The embargo proposal is still on and Microsoft's popularity very low in Europe.

If you wish to know more about South Africa’s impact on OOXML, then have a look at the following new articles (listed in no special order).

This is from Glyn Moody:

When the ISO vote was “won” by OOXML, many spoke of challenging the result, but nobody actually took that step. Until now…

[...]

Also worth noting here is the growing stature of the South African computer community in terms of standing up for open standards and open source, which is great to see. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Microsoft’s Jason Matusow has recently attacked the South African government for its policies on computer procurement – a sure sign they’re doing something right.

Andy’s post was among the first few to highlight this development and Groklaw commented further on it:

I wonder if this is why Microsoft suddenly decided to support ODF, to avoid being shut out completely pending the appeal. Might other national bodies be considering doing the same thing? Stay tuned.

[...]

So. OOXML is not currently an official standard? I think that is what this means. It will take months, at least, I believe, to resolve this. So, to me the ODF support announcement by Microsoft yesterday suddenly makes sense. I wrote a bit about the appeal process here, if you want to review it. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it ain’t over till it’s over.

Quite a lot in these South African affairs has had to do with economics, stereotypes, and imperialism. At verge and risk of crossing over to non-technical aspects of this, consider another noteworthy comment.

South Africa has done what many other countries (presumably through corruption or laziness) have so far failed to do – call out the obvious. I guess a country like South Africa that was denied freedom for so long, truly values freedom for the same reason, while the rest of us just take it for granted.

To quote a comment from Ed landaveri (posted in our site a couple of hours ago):

   “Africa (and the whole Third World) needs Microsoft lik
   it needed colonialism.” Mr. Paul Saunders

Matusow is only reflecting his bosses a band of scared tyrants afraid of people waking up to real freedom. Matsulow have entered into history along side many idiots who spoke of racial superiority or justified genocide. The only dumbs in SA and the whole world are the ones who could swallow Matusow’s rhetoric.” he said.

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

3 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    May 24, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Gravatar

    In fact, MS is admitting defeat for OOXML by adding ODF support to Office 2007.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 24, 2008 at 1:03 am

    Gravatar

    I’m not so sure about it because while it’s a defeat, Microsoft could try to snatch a victory and turn the situation to its own advantage from inside the Committee. Remember Patrick Durusau? Watch this photo:

    http://adjb.net/index.php?entry=entry080409-221633

  3. AlexH said,

    May 24, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Gravatar

    Poor Patrick getting stick again.

    I read the ZDNet article as saying that the OOXML complexity was about having a single version of Office potentially reading two different formats, and how they would handle the upgrade, not that the changes for OOXML were so complex they had to punt them.

What Else is New


  1. Links 6/5/2015: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.7 Enters Beta, Ubuntu Summit News

    Links for the day



  2. Links 4/5/2015: Many New Releases, Ubuntu Drone

    Links for the day



  3. Misplaced Focus on Patent Trolls and Patent Lawyers' Defence of Trolls

    Observations about media coverage and reactions to the focus on patent trolls, which distracts from desperately-needed reform around patent scope



  4. PATENT Act a 'Reform' for Big Corporations, Hence Does Not Address the Core Issues, Including Patent Scope and Massive Patent Aggressors

    Big corporations, including some of the biggest patent aggressors out there, successfully lobbied for what has essentially become a bipartisan bill to eliminate the thorn in their side



  5. Openwashing of Binary Blobs That Microsoft Uses to Attack Free Software and GNU/Linux From the Inside

    Media which is either willfully ignorant or complicit has successfully, based on volume of coverage, framed Microsoft's proprietary software as openness and nicety



  6. Microsoft Kills Netscape Again, This Time Removing It From the History Books

    Microsoft's embarrassing crimes against Netscape -- the ones that put Bill Gates on trial and nearly split Microsoft -- virtually forgotten as Netscape itself is made to 'disappear'



  7. Microsoft India's Unofficial 'Branch' Infosys is Torturing the Meaning of Open Source Software

    Infosys, which is best known for its promotion of Microsoft in India, is distorting the meaning of 'Open Source' and joins a non-profit that is supposed to promote programming, not binary blobs



  8. Microsoft Windows is Dying, British Government Should Spend No More Money on It

    Time for the Establishment in the UK to abandon the out-of-support Windows XP (from 2001) and join the next generation of computing, which increasingly revolves around GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, supported by truly British companies



  9. IRC Proceedings: April 5th - May 2nd, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  10. Links 3/5/2015: Black Lab 6.5 RC2

    Links for the day



  11. Links 2/5/2015: Robolinux 7.9.1, LibreOffice Numbering

    Links for the day



  12. Links 1/5/2015: HP Ubuntu Laptops, Arch Linux 2015.05.01

    Links for the day



  13. Links 30/4/2015: Plasma 4.4 in the Making

    Links for the day



  14. Microsoft Embracing, Extending, Extinguishing the Linux-centric Arduino and Raspberry Pi, Making Them Windows Devices

    Raspberry Pi and Arduino carry water for Microsoft as part of the publicity stunts for Vista 10, the operating system which Microsoft tells investors is "marketing"



  15. Microsoft Uses Ubuntu to Demonstrate and Promote Microsoft Lock-in

    Canonical's Ubuntu is now used as the bait by which to seduce developers in the GNU/Linux world into Microsoft dependencies, surveillance, and software patents



  16. The EPO's Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, is Probably on His Way Out, Threatens to Resign

    The Napoleonic self-acclaimed 'president' of the EPO, who surrounded himself with loyal thugs and crushed all opposition to him (assuring reign by fear), reportedly threatens to fall on his sword if an independent mediator gets appointed



  17. Links 30/4/2015: Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Microsoft Copies Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  18. Windows Recipes for Disaster (Met Police and Fukushima)

    Microsoft Windows mentality and strong dependencies continue to cause immeasurable damage that costs people a lot in terms money and in terms of health



  19. ‘Visual Studio Code’: Not News, Not Free, Not Open Source

    Another publicity stunt from Microsoft, this time going under the name ‘Visual Studio Code’, which is basically proprietary lock-in



  20. Microsoft's Patent Attacks on Android Not Covered in the Corporate Media, Only Microsoft as the 'Victim'

    Omission of important developments around Microsoft's war on GNU/Linux and Free software, notably against Android and ChromeOS as of late



  21. As Core Issues Still Not Addressed, Another Protest Against EPO Management Scheduled for Tomorrow in Munich, Germany

    On Thursday (tomorrow) yet another demonstration is organised in Munich, less than a week ahead of the UPC decision (May 5th)



  22. Pharmaceutical Patents and Hedge Funds: Evil Fighting Evil

    Revisiting the subject of patents on life or life-saving processes, plus a hedge fund's extortion-type attack on such patents (for quick profit)



  23. UCLA Foolishly Grooms Microsoft's Patent Troll Nathan Myhrvold (Intellectual Ventures), Who is Busy Attacking Android and Linux These Days

    More news about Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' anti-Linux tool, who lost a battle because of last year's SCOTUS ruling and is now groomed by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)



  24. Links 28/4/2015: Plasma 5.3, Cutelyst 0.8.0

    Links for the day



  25. Links 28/4/2015: More on Debian 8 “Jessie”, Fedora 22 Beta Walkthrough

    Links for the day



  26. Microsoft is Attacking Android Like Never Before, Qisda the Latest to Sign Patent Extortion Deal

    More blackmail and propaganda against Android, courtesy of the gentler, kinder, 'new' Microsoft



  27. Caution Needed When Microsoft Copywriters Flood the Media With Microsoft Propaganda

    Media actively subverted by Microsoft-sponsored agents of deception, whose goal is to change what people think of Microsoft and its software, even if by lying (they call it 'marketing')



  28. Gartner Staff That Worked for Microsoft and the Latest Nonsense from Gartner or 'Former' Staff

    Gartner waited until 2015 to declare FOSS fit for databases; another example spotted where Gartner staff comes from Microsoft or vice versa



  29. Links 27/4/2015: Debian 9 Named, Linux 4.1 Reaches RC

    Links for the day



  30. Microsoft is Interjecting Itself Into GNU/Linux and Free Software News, Even Events and Foundations

    Microsoft's entryism strategy is proving effective as Microsoft successfully embeds itself inside the idealogical competition, subverting the competition's overall message and diluting the competition's focus on Free software


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