05.04.09

Microsoft’s ODF ‘Support’ is a Scam

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just a PR campaign

OOXML data vacuum

Summary: ODF support in Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 is a fail, fail, fail, and fail

Microsoft’s so-called ‘support’ for ODF is worse than no support at all. Why, who didn’t see that coming? The seminal analysis which is very comprehensive comes from an IBM employee, Rob Weir. Among the many things that he wrote:

We’ll probably also hear that 100% compatibility with legacy documents is critical to Microsoft users and that it is dangerous to try to save Excel formulas into interoperable ODF formulas because there is no guarantees that OpenOffice or any other ODF application will interpret them the same as Excel does. So one might try to claim that Microsoft is protecting their customers by preventing them from saving interoperable spreadsheet formulas. But we should note that fully-licensed Microsoft Office users have already been creating legacy documents in ODF format, using the Microsoft/CleverAge ODF Add-in. These paying Microsoft Office customers will now see their existing investment in ODF documents, created using Microsoft-sanctioned code, get corrupted when loaded in Excel 2007 SP2. Why are paying Microsoft customers who used ODF less important than Microsoft customers who used OOXML? That is the shocking thing here, the way in which users of the ODF Add-in are being sacrificed.

Groklaw too has made some fine arguments throughout the day (article and comments), so we won’t be repeating them. Here is just a portion:

I tried the updated Microsoft Office 2007 SP2, which supports ODF, or says it does. I created a document in Office 2007 SP2 and saved it as ODF. I got an ominous Microsoft warning that if I persisted, I might lose some formatting — “Document [name] may contain features that are not compatible with this format. Do you want to continue to save in this format?” — but it saved the document when I clicked Yes. I reasoned that OpenOffice, which I intended to use to test the result, does have the features I wanted. I had included one footnote, a photo, and a text block, all of which OpenOffice can do, but when I opened the saved document in OpenOffice, none of it looked right. You couldn’t read the footnote at all, because it’s cut horizontally in the middle of the text. You can see it’s there, but you can’t make out the words.

I thought most of the problems, and there were others, might be my fault though, because I’ve never used Office 2007 before, since I don’t own it, and I found it very confusing. Because I don’t own Office 2007, and I had limited access time to test on someone else’s, I looked around to see if anyone else was reporting results in the new SP2. I asked Groklaw members if they had tried it out yet and how it worked for them. A Groklaw member, Dobbo, did a test working on a spreadsheet with a client, and his experience was also a failure.

Regarding this Microsoft ODF “interoperability”, says one reader of ours: “[it] shows well how Microsoft sees interoperability. I suppose, with this, they can, in a very narrow and technical sense, claim ODF support. They certainly violate the spirit of ODF by not interoperating with other prominent implementations like OpenOffice.

“…Microsoft will make a lot of noise to pretend that it supports ODF and only give it a very bad name and discourage its use…”As we’ve warned right from the beginning, Microsoft will make a lot of noise to pretend that it supports ODF and only give it a very bad name and discourage its use while giving CIOs reasons never to dump Microsoft Office for lack of ODF support (no matter the level of support). Microsoft is doing it all in a hurry to just drop an “ODF” label on the box and then use the likes of Waggener Edstrom to make loads of noise (like never seen before) and associate Microsoft’s Office with ODF ‘support’.

If this rush job sounds like a familiar trick, it ought to. Rather than support ODF right from the start Microsoft hurried up with its phony format and shoved it down ISO’s throat using plenty of corruption. Alan Lord has just explained this pretty wellin his Web site:

Microsoft implemented OOXML (their XML based file format which is essentially a binary dump of the memory footprint of your document wrapped in an amazingly obscure and illegible XML schema) in Office 2007. You may have even received the odd file with a .docx or .xlsx extension. Then some kind of panic happened in MS and they decided that because Governments and other public bodies were asking for ODF (ISO/IEC 26300 Open Document Format supported by many applications including OpenOffice.org) they’d better get OOXML standardised too. So in a rush job, Microsoft’s specification publicist ECMA took the format used on Office 2007, got the developer documentation and wrote a bit more stuff around it and published it as ECMA 376. It then got submitted to the ISO for “fast tracking”.

As Tony Manco stated earlier, Microsoft now “wants to try and shape ODF, the same thing they tried to do with the Internet.”

Another anonymous reader described (hypothetically) what Microsoft will say next:

“Hey! Look! We support ODF too (kind of), so you can keep buying MS Office!”

OR

‘Of course. “See. ODF is broken, so use OOXML instead.”‘

Microsoft has already said that ODF files are "corrupt".

The anonymous reader adds: “The question is, are they doing this in a way that leaves them open for another EU investigation?

Truth be told, Microsoft’s pseudo ODF ‘support’ is placeholder to prevent defections away from Microsoft Office, so it is even worse than not supporting ODF at all. It creates an illusion and harms the reputation of ODF. It also stifles interoperability.

Microsoft’s stunt may be intended to drive people to OOXML and make ODF interoperability look poor. What is OOXML for anyway? Here is one good answer to this question:

If, they follow that statement through, it means OOXML will only work for compatibility with previous versions of office documents and this stops at MSOfiice 2007.

Of course it is easy to rewrite the charter, as it is only words. However, a charter sets the guideline and scope for one’s work, in agreement with a third party. That is why people do not like to alter the charter. Think about a charter like the consitution for the group, it can be amended if there is consensus, but should not be attempted with great caution, i.e., much greater care than amending a rule.

Microsoft’s business model is based strongly on making other people’s software unable to interact with Microsoft’s. Why would Microsoft change its ways now that it faces a crisis and may announce more layoffs tomorrow?

“In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

OOXML patent issue prompt

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2009/05/04/microsoft-office-odf-a-lie/

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

9 Comments

  1. David Gerard said,

    May 4, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Gravatar

    Better than that: read this Microsoft press release. They promise *practical* interoperability. Before giving that fabulous line of red in Rob’s second table.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.”

    Bill Gates, Microsoft

  2. notzed said,

    May 4, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Gravatar

    Really, as if m$ are going to spend any time and effort undercutting the one thing that makes them money – owning the file formats.

    Already a comment on Weir’s post suggests the ‘open source’ crowd could whip-up an importer that works around m$’s shitty exporter issues. If they do that, then all that they’ve worked for will be for nothing – just the crap with the web all over again, and another useless format which nobody can use reliably.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s RTF all over again.

  3. twitter said,

    May 4, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Gravatar

    In the end, it’s not ODF that’s broken it’s Word and ignoring ODF is a critical mistake. People already hate Office 2007 and love Google Docs. People with Open Office can work with the DOC version people who use M$ Office also work with. Guess which word processor works with netbooks, the only kind of computer selling these days? The usual networking tricks are not working in M$’s favor this time. Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for a word processor, people are going to simply send docx to the trash. There are simply too many better and easier way to publish and collaborate than a clunky old desktop with expensive and buggy software. M$ is stuck in the 90s but the world has moved on. The more M$ breaks word, the faster people will leave it.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 5, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Gravatar

    Here is another new take:

    Microsoft has opened the ODF door and will be pressured on better interoperability, so even my inner cynic has a hard time imagining interoperability will not improve. With Office 2007 SP2 and Wordpad in Windows 7 supporting ODF, the future looks bright for OpenDocument Format. Has Microsoft turned a new leaf? Microsoft’s recent investments in ODF, PDF, and web standards (in Internet Explorer 8) are probably more a function of government regulation or business demand than corporate goodwill.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Huh, OOOninja think anything’s better than nothing? Despite Microsoft’s best efforts to make it worse than nothing. We’ll see. Although they cleverly kept to the letter of the spec while maintaining a perfect lack of interoperability, I can’t see the promises in that press release from 2008 not coming back to bite them.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Huh, OOOninja think anything’s better than nothing?

    isn’t OOOninja tied to Sun somehow? I’d assume he has to be civil.

    David Gerard Reply:

    The author’s email address (the contact link at bottom) is @openoffice.org, so it’s an at least semi-official tips blog, yes.

What Else is New


  1. All EPO Articles Are Available Over Gemini Protocol

    For lighter and more privacy-preserving access to Techrights use the Gemini capsule instead of the Web site



  2. Judge and JURI

    The Committee on Legal Affairs, a.k.a JURI, meets the EPO tomorrow (in 24 hours); will abuses by António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli be brought up?



  3. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 13: The Failed Promise of a “Good Governance” Guru…

    Before becoming an absent-minded Vice-President of António Campinos Christoph Ernst was posing as the very opposite of what he would become



  4. Gemini Gateways for IPFS

    The World Wide Web is fine for a lot of things, but for controversial publications and publications that invoke the 'wrath' of corporations/states/plutocracy we must look beyond the traditional protocols, choosing decentralised means and self-hosted means of publication (instead or at the very least in conjunction)



  5. Challenging Times for EPO Management

    A discussion of the status quo at Europe's second-largest (but scarcely-understood) institution, subjected to a JURI hearing tomorrow afternoon



  6. “The Fighters of Freedom”

    Some anime fans have made this video about recent events



  7. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, April 10, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, April 10, 2021



  8. [Meme] Bundestagate Series Spoiler

    The chain of command/s at the EPO typically leads to major tragedy



  9. Breaking News: Campinos to Appear Before the Legals Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on Monday 12 April

    "Some MEPs have been briefed about ongoing governance deficits at the EPO, in particular the lack of GDPR compliance and the sell-out of "digital sovereignty" to Microsoft, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will dare to bring these issues up during the hearing."



  10. Pro-FSF Petition (“An Open Letter in Support of Richard Matthew Stallman Being Reinstated by the Free Software Foundation”) Tops 6,200 Signatures

    Monopolies and their media, along with their NGOs, have spoken and incited based on falsehoods; people now respond so the hate letter has a real crisis



  11. Links 10/4/2021: osbuild 28, KDE Frameworks 5.81.0

    Links for the day



  12. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 12: A Worthy Successor to His Mentor?

    We examine the role of Christoph Ernst in EPO management, both in the Benoît Battistelli era and the António Campinos era (plenty to hide)



  13. USPTO for Monopolies, Keeping GNU/Linux in the Dark

    Growing evidence of gross discrimination against GNU/Linux (or Free software, even BSD/UNIX) users at the USPTO is too hard to ignore; some people out there challenge the Office over this travesty



  14. Accessibility and Availability First

    To make Techrights more widely accessible and more difficult to block/censor we've been making further changes, including self-hosting where possible



  15. Self-Hosting Videos With Free Formats and Animated Previews, Watermarks/Logos and Translucency

    We examine the power of video editing with ffmpeg, chained with command-line scripting and HTML5 features



  16. Links 10/4/2021: Linux on M1, Wine 6.6, ClamAV 0.103.2

    Links for the day



  17. Lunduke: On Mob Justice in the Tech Industry

    A new video from the former Microsofter who fears the phenomenon that’s adopted by companies like IBM



  18. IRC Proceedings: Friday, April 09, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, April 09, 2021



  19. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Appendix (Benoît Battistelli's Vichy Syndrome): Georges Henri Léon Battistelli and Charles Robert Battistelli

    Local copies with evidence of or something concrete about Benoît Battistelli’s connection to unsavoury — and by today’s standards outright fascistic — politics



  20. IBM Doubles Down on Masters Being an Acceptable Word in the Context of Technology

    3 days after this post which disproves IBM's stance or shows its double standards it once again says “Masters” in its official blog (won’t that offend and alienate some people as they insist?)



  21. Hate Letter Against Richard Matthew Stallman (RMS) Backfired So Spectacularly That Signers Asked to Revoke Their Own Signatures and the List Was Then Frozen Permanently (Updated)

    "An open letter in support of Richard Matthew Stallman being reinstated by the Free Software Foundation" tops 6,100 signatures (graph generated just moments ago)



  22. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 11: The BMJV's Tweedledee: Dr Christoph Ernst

    The right-hand man of António Campinos plays a role similar to that of Herr Lutz before him



  23. Links 9/4/2021: Tanglet 1.6.0 and HPVM 1.0

    Links for the day



  24. The Libel Against Richard Stallman Did Not Age Well

    Almost 2 years down the line libel about the founder of the FSF remains online, uncorrected (in sites funded by Microsoft and IBM)



  25. The Letter in Support of the FSF and Richard Stallman is Backed by the International Community, Not American Monopolies and Nationalistic Elements

    Free software is for everybody to use, internationally, it is not the asset of a bunch of current and old monopolists (connected to the US military) that also control the media; the nature of the signatures says that out loud



  26. Gemini Over IPFS (Decentralised Web, Accessed Over Gemini Protocol)

    The Gemini protocol (gemini://) can already be used to fetch (at the back end) and present objects from a P2P-like network; we're currently exploring practical use cases and possibilities



  27. News Sites That Talk About Patents Have Become Shameless Self-Promotion 'Plugs' by Law Firms (and Sometimes Outright 'Spam' for Litigation)

    The sources of news about patent affairs have dried up; sites that actually used to investigate and report facts have since then shut down or defected to the Public Relations/marketing industry



  28. Links 9/4/2021: Kubernetes 1.21 and FFmpeg 4.4 Released

    Links for the day



  29. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, April 08, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, April 08, 2021



  30. [Meme] Self-styled Judges

    To suit a recurring theme at the EPO we hereby present Roland Lutz, a self-styled judge


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

Recent Posts