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Groklaw: Microsoft and Novell Poison OpenOffice.org; Watch Out, KDE

Posted in GNU/Linux, Java, KDE, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 6:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We have warned about this for ages (as far back as 2006), but some folks consider this Web site biased, so our words were not taken seriously by a few developers. Maybe it’s the right time to point out what Pamela Jones wrote some hours ago about this new article: “I told you. I told you. I told you. If you look at the go-oo.org site, you’ll see Mono and “OpenXML” being pushed. Please watch out, KDE. He says they want to share code between Gnome and KDE. Patents are still an issue, in my view. There is no new Microsoft. And I believe Microsoft plans to use their patents at some point, upon which Novell will suggest safety in their arms.”

We wrote about this article here. Novell, being a "Microsoft partner", just wants more customers, so Freedom becomes secondary. It chose not to play friendly with other GNU/Linux distributions. This observation is the raison d’etre of this Web site.


It is important to remain cautious. In the latest KDE Commit Digest, which was posted yesterday, you’ll find this:

Development Tools

Richard Dale committed changes in /trunk/KDE/kdebindings/csharp/plasma/examples:

* Added a tiger example C# applet.
It wasn’t possible to build an executable called ‘main’ as mono gave an error about it not having an extension.

Maybe some sort of special cmake macro is needed for building C# plasmoids.

Richard Dale might not understand the consequences. Is the 2004 April Fools’ Day story about Richard coming to fruition? Regardless, don’t allow Novell et al to contaminate KDE with software patents for which only they are ‘covered’ by Microsoft. Mono is only for Novell. Microsoft says so and Miguel de Icaza wants this to happen. He would want Mono widgets/Plasmoids to materialise. Remember that it’s all about the holder of the patents and they need a ‘smoking gun’ to make less deniable claims (threats). They wants to extract money and they needn’t sue because the secret extortions have already begun.

Personally, I sometimes wonder if the Vista-esque KDE menu from Novell (yes, it’s Novell’s work) is some grounds for a submarine patent from Microsoft. Many people resist that new menu. In fact, Mandriva has just decided to use the classical menu by default.


OOXML is still not safe.

The impossibility of implementing the darn thing and the fact that Microsoft will ignore ECMA OOXML only to deviate into its proprietary trajectory aside, there are legal issues.

Will Microsoft support ODF? Of course not. It will do minimal work to just put an “ODF complaint” label on its boxes (the oldest and out-of-date version of the standard), but will then steer all users towards OOXML using intimidating dialogues that shout out “data loss”. Here is how SJVN puts it in this new article from Fox News:

The headline reads, “Microsoft Bows to Pressure to Interoperate with ODF.”

Oh no, Microsoft isn’t. The Redmond crew has an entirely different agenda for “supporting” the OpenDocument Format with its own Open XML Translator.

It’s not even news, actually, according to Andrew Updegrove, a partner with Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove, and the editor of ConsortiumInfo.org.


Why, oh why, do I think that Translator’s technical-support line will often be telling users that the fault for a botched document transfer lies at ODF’s door? And somehow I think Microsoft’s technical support’s usual suggested “fix” will be to just use Microsoft’s own Open XML instead. “It’s so much better,” they’ll say to annoyed users.

In conclusion, don’t play with the monopolist by embracing OOXML. Resist it instead. Study from history. There is no “new Microsoft” and the scorpion will always pinch the frog. A couple of days ago, Andy Updegrove brought back this oldie:

So, what I have gleaned from my researches (though that is probably too strong a word) so far is that while there are some valid discussions to be had, the majority of participants are either staunchly pro-ODF, or they are working for Microsoft. I do know that, were I an end-user, I would remain ignorant – but given the mud flying around, perhaps ignorance is bliss.

It rings a bell.

“If this unethical behaviour by Microsoft was not sufficiently despicable, they did the unthinkable by involving politics in what should have been a technical evaluation of the standard by writing to the head of the Malaysian standards organization and getting its business partners to engage in a negative letter writing campaign to indicate lack of support of ODF in the Malaysian market. Every single negative letter on ODF received by the Malaysian standards organization was written either by Microsoft, or a Microsoft business partner or a Microsoft affiliated organization (Initiative for Software Choice and IASA).

A Memo to Patrick Durusau

Miscellaneous ODF News

A tool that was mentioned here before, ODF@WWW, got some coverage in Linux.com. There is also this free Java library for manipulation of ODF files.

We are pleased to announce the last beta version of the next version of our open document library.

Remember ThinkFree, which may have been pressured by Microsoft not to support ODF? Well, the good news is that it has already come to GNU/Linux.

I tried out Thinkfree about a year ago and just recently check back and it was a pleasant surprise. The website looks much more professional and the user interface for the online version is total awesome. Best off all, Thinkfree offers an offline version that sync seemlessly with the online storage. I love it. This post will not be some kind of tutorial but only my opinion about the suit. Visit my tutorial on how to install ThinkFree office suit for instruction.

Here is an older story about it. As ECT reported a couple of days ago, there are more signs of ODF coming to Apple Macs, too.

“But the Mac presence grants CIOs and others tasked with choosing the right software for their organizations the assurance and confidence that they can adopt the OpenDocument Format (our native format and the only published ISO standard file format for office documents) and have an office array that includes Macs, Linux, Solaris, Windows and so on.

“In short: OpenOffice.org and the Mac version in particular, suture the wounds inflicted by 20 years of divergence. The connecting thread is the file format and the understanding that what counts is creating, communicating, preserving files in a format that resists the fragility of monopoly and the reliance on any one company. In fact, there is a plugin that gives users the ability to read/write ODF, and with Open Office 3.0 and StarOffice 9.0, we’ll have native support of OOXML, which MS Office 2007 uses.”

Here is a new academic study on document formats inter-operability. It uses ODF and OOXML as examples.

Open standards are widely considered to have significant economic and technological benefits. This has led many governments to consider mandating open standards for document formats. Document formats are how a computer stores memos or spreadsheets. Governments are moving away from Microsoft’s proprietary DOC format to open standard document formats, such as the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Office Open XML (OOXML). The belief is that by shifting to open standards, governments will benefit from choice, competition, and the ability to seamlessly substitute different vendor implementations.

Last but not least, success stories from the FSF:

I’ve just made a couple of updates to the OpenDocument Campaign — adding some perspective on OOXML in India and an announcement from the Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) about their switch to OpenOffice.org.

Microsoft already knows about Malaysia and it appears to be responding to this 'threat' in the only way it truly understands: localised dumping.

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

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  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    August 10, 2008 at 8:40 am


    I suppose that is one reason why MS is getting people to yammer about forcing Sun to drop its lead in OpenOffice.org development.

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    August 12, 2008 at 9:30 am


    WOw… I did not realize Meeks was such an underhanded shit. I hope OOo and KDE shore up their development process to ensure that no Novell material can get injected. I guess we’ll see him and others promoting trojan horses like go-oo based on repackaged FOSS projects.

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