BECTA: best PR agency Microsoft can buy
Tables and ODF
OpenDocment format (ODF) does not have a marketing force or department behind because its embodiment is a huge number of companies and institutions. It is undeniable that ODF is becoming widely recognised as an industry standard, as opposed to the Microsoft Office ‘standard’. In fact, deep beneath the news there’s a new example of ODF embrace, even on the proprietary software platform which is Mac OS X.
The upcoming Tables 1.5 will add additional formatting options as well as an OpenDocument format (ODF) exporter. Tables 1.5 will be available as a free update for all registered customers.
In order to fight against such rapid adoption of ODF, Microsoft is said to have arranged nasty deals, e.g. with ThinkFree. Paying for exclusion is not paying for exclusivity, especially where an international standard (ODF) is concerned. It’s a clear violation and mockery of corporate spirit which honours the customer’s needs and basic rights. Such selfishness harms everyone.
As far as document formats go, Novell is among the dodgy vendors. It was paid by Microsoft to support OOXML. Further to this previous post, head of the Mandriva community writes: “Our oo.o build is based on the go-oo project, which optionally adds Mono support (basically for writing plugins or macros in Mono). We enable this, and by default if you do that, it winds up with an auto-generated mono dependency in the package. In fact everything will basically still work without Mono installed – you just won’t be able to use any plugins or macros that are written in Mono unless you have Mono installed.”
Some day later in the week we will discuss in greater depth this Mono insertion by Novell. It makes Mono virtually impossible to escape and it gets more pervasive as time goes by.
The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, which seems to have become a close ally of Microsoft [1, 2, 3], has had some trouble with OOXML and Microsoft Office 2007 [1, 2, 3, 4]. The same goes for Windows Vista, but that’s a separate story about bloat and lock-in.
News aggregators have just been getting littered by BECTA’s latest ‘favour’ and kisses to Microsoft.
UK government agency BECTA said that it has made progress persuading Microsoft to change its stance on interoperability and software licensing.
The quango said that Microsoft has committed to building in support for the open document format (ODF) and this well help colleges and schools to use a wider range of software.
“Committed to building” is not support and it’s all vapourware at the moment [1, 2, 3, 4]. There are also warnings about Microsoft's (mis)treatment of the format.
There’s repeated use of this word “interoperability”, which is standards-hostile. It appears here again.
Becta Gains Ground in Interoperability for Education
The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) appears to be heading toward a reconciliation with Microsoft
watch this headline: Becta hails Microsoft progress
what is an innocent reader supposed to absorb based on such deceiving headlines? It is all just another excuse for overpriced lock-in.
The use of the word “interoperability” is criticised by Glyn Moody.
Just in case you thought things were getting a little dull in the world of UK computing compared to, say, UK finance, here comes the BECTA roller-coaster again:
Becta has been working closely with Microsoft to understand how the various issues identified in relation to interoperability in its Office 2007 product will be addressed. Becta takes the view that effective interoperability is an important component of the technology infrastructure needed to improve educational outcomes, facilitate home school links and address the digital divide.
Ah, yes, interoperability: Microsoft’s favourite word of the moment.
In the following article, some of the ugly bits are being mentioned.
The company’s educational volume-licensing arrangements usually cover all machines in an educational institution, regardless of which operating system is installed on them.
Linpro scored a win against this type of monopoly abuse [1, 2].
Responding to just this article from Kelly Fiveash, Matt Asay, who is originally a Brit, wrote:
discounts only make it cheaper to fall into lock-in. The Open Source Consortium’s president Mark Taylor says it well: “Schools can now choose between long-term software freedom or a short-term discount on the next lock-in play.”
Fortunately, groups like Becta, which brought the original complaint against Microsoft to the European Commission, are unlikely to fall asleep at the wheel.
Microsoft will no doubt eventually be forced into offering interoperability alongside its discounts.
As the first commenter points out, he did not do his homework and there is more to this stories than he realises.
BECTA recently came under fire for designating a 'Microsoft shop' to take care of open source in British education, so the following eye-twitching article, “Britain sees Sense with open source .NET,” seems to ring a bell; An alarm rather. █
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Microsoft may be messing about with the press (as it did before [1, 2]) in order to get portrayed as open source ‘darling’. It’s the usual promises and spin that reporters swallow without a grain of salt.
The headline game is being played by IDG where it states: “Microsoft hails open source outreach”
Well, maybe Paul Krill wants to become another Galli, i.e. please Microsoft in the press to eventually get a job at Microsoft. There’s some history there [1, 2]. This is not the first time that he does this and here is his latest:
Microsoft continued to make its case on Tuesday that it is a friend to open source, listing a number of efforts it has undertaken in spaces ranging from Linux to virtualization and rich Internet application technology.
“Virtualization”? Like that Novell collusion? And “rich Internet application technology”? Like Silverlight, which locks out GNU/Linux users [1, 2, 3] and acts as patent bait inside distributions? What happened to critical reporting?
Had Microsoft been serious about Free/open source software, it would not try so hard to tie it down to a proprietary stack [1, 2, 3]. Ozzie has already acknowledges recently that open source is a greater threat to Microsoft than Google. They now hope to abduct open source and make it something else — part of the Microsoft ecosystem [1, 2].
What type of operating system is Microsoft trying to drag developers’ feet to anyway? According to this latest report from Mar Jo Foley, Windows 7 is likely to be just another Vista, i.e. a downgrade from Windows XP.
From what admittedly little I had a chance to see, Windows 7 does not look or feel like a major departure from Windows Vista.
Issues and false promises around this release were also mentioned in:
Developers have been stubbornly avoiding Vista, according to fairly recent surveys. GNU/Linux is targeted by more developers than Vista. Microsoft tries to change this and Novell continues to serve as Microsoft’s bridge. █
“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”
–Microsoft, internal document
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