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08.07.09

Microsoft Keeps Trying to Inject Software Patents Into ODF and Other Standards

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, RAND at 12:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[More Open Than Open]: “I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”

Jason Matusow, Microsoft (for background see [1, 2])

Summary: Behind the scenes, Microsoft is trying to promote RAND (for standards) while acquiring more XML patents

YESTERDAY we made the front page of Slashdot, which wrote about Microsoft’s XML patents. Sadly, the editor did not link directly to any of our recent writings that specifically tackle the patent issue, e.g.:

Slashdot’s summary was as follows:

Embrace. Extend. Patent. On Tuesday, Microsoft was granted US Patent No. 7,571,169 for its ‘invention’ of the Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML. Presumably developers are protected by Microsoft’s ‘covenant not to sue,’ so the biggest question raised by this patent is: How in the world was it granted in light of the 40-year history of document markup languages? Next thing you know, the USPTO will give Microsoft a patent for Providing Emergency Data in XML format. Oops, too late.”

For those who think that Microsoft has no intention of using such patents, see this E-mail from Bill Gates.

Microsoft tries to redefine “open” (again) such that it's inclusive of RAND clauses, i.e. software patents and royalties. The latest attempt from Matusow has not escaped the attention of Glyn Moody, who dissected it and wrote:

The logic here seems to be that there would be an “imbalance” in open standards if it were insisted that patents were excluded – because balance obviously means having standards with and without patents. While it’s true that creates a “balance”, it’s a purely linguistic one; the fact is that patent-encumbered standards requiring licensing fees cannot, by definition, be open. That’s because they do not create level playing fields: there is always one or more players who occupy a privileged position. So the balance is entirely specious.

[...]

Against that background of a standardisation process being bent to breaking point, complaints about the *balance* of open standards ring rather hollow.

Not to mention Microsoft's intimate relationship with ISO.

A few days ago we mentioned the fact that OOXML has over 800 pages of known defects. The <No>OOXML Web site has just located these for sharing publicly.

800 pages of defect for OOXML, here it is. ISO is such a transparent organisation that they are afraid of the web, and the public light of the blogosphere. Here is the leak for you.

Microsoft has resorted to a new methodology of justifying the existence of this highly-defective proprietary format. Apart from Microsoft spinners like Paul Thurrott, coverage came from IDG, which points out that:

Microsoft did not spell out how the file format “ballot” will appear to users, or what choices, other than ODF (Open Document Format), the open-source word processing, spreadsheet and presentation document standard, will be shown.

The above articles say absolutely nothing about Microsoft’s ODF implementation being defective in the sense that it is not interoperable [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

In better news (about ODF) we have:

ODF Plugfest: Working in Progress

These days a number of organizations and ODF implementors are working together to organize a second ODF Plugfest in parallel with the upcoming OpenOffice.org Con 2009, that will take place in Orvieto (Italy) in November.

Tables Sprint in Copenhagen

Casper also took the plunge on loading and quite quickly got stuff up and working, and with the commit he did right before I left his apartment, most of the features here should now be loading correctly from ODF.

Converting OpenOffice files to/from Microsoft Office files

Whatever your choice, there’s a fair chance you’ll be able to enjoy cross-office, cross-platform integration with a high level of accuracy, saving lots of time and trouble in getting the files to open and look the right way. Instead of working hard, you now have a set of tools that will toil for you.

Office Suites

So what options are available for UNIX/Linux systems? I have found there are six common office/productivity solutions for these platforms with which most of us are already familiar.

Fight The Empire With Open Source

I have recently been in touch with Novell, the Open Document Format Alliance (ODF Alliance), and some of our local Legislators to find out what kind of movement we have here in the state of Utah and if an Open Standard is possible because ideally I would like to see state agencies step away from the proprietary formats used by Microsoft and Corel and use open formats. Many of our state agencies have been restricted from funding for expensive Microsoft products in support of Open Office. I long for a change that will require State and Local Government to use Open standards, but I realize that a change of this magnitude will take time and patience.

Microsoft is still trying to slow down ODF, to the degree that it can get away with. Microsoft is not a friend of ODF.

“It’s a Simple Matter of [Microsoft’s] Commercial Interests!“

Microsoft on OOXML

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