Summary: Microsoft’s leap year bug-as-a-standard is back; more thoughts on the Word ban, which is challenged by Microsoft
AS we noted last week, OOXML has already 800+ pages of documented bugs. Microsoft and the Microsoft-dominated working group/s seemingly want to have some more bugs. Norbert Bollow, the man behind OpenISO, has the details.
2009-08-12: The ISO/IEC Working Group on OOXML Wants to Unfix the Leap-Year Bug and Related Date-and-Time Problems.
What can be done?
Obviously, if you’re involved in your national mirror committee for ISO/IEC JTC1, you can seek to convince it or the relevant subcommittee that 29500-4 / DCOR 1 should be disapproved. The international deadline for this ballot is 2009-11-04; the national member bodies of ISO will generally have deadlines in October by when the concerned committees mus make their decisions. While you’re at it, you’ll also be able to argue for disapproval of 29500-4 / FPDAM 1 (for related but different reasons, I’ll explain about that in one of my next blog postings.)
If you’re working for a software company and it is not yet active in the appropriate national standardization organization, you should probably become active to make sure that the emerging body of international standards in the field of IT isn’t going to get in the way of your company’s business interests. This recommendation for getting involved applies even if your company is a small one, or if software development isn’t the firm’s main line of business.
While putting it in the way of the weasel, Microsoft is still pushing what amounts to a tax on users of Internet standards. It’s doing this through a definition of “open standards” that would mandate standards bodies to consider patented, protected, proprietary technology on a par with truly open source offerings, and encourage companies to pack standards bodies with paid employees.
If we learned anything at all from the OOXML debate it should be that any Microsoft victory there was pyrrhic. ODF was able to deliver on its standard long before Microsoft could change its own proprietary scheme to match what the ISO approved.
If their idea was to bury ODF in the corporate user base, Microsoft failed, and at enormous cost, both to its own reputation and that of the ISO standards bodies.
At the same time, Microsoft is accumulating patents on XML. See for example:
- Signs That Microsoft Might Prepare for ‘Patent Terror’ Against Rival Office Suites
- Microsoft’s OOXML Patents, Apple’s Endorsement, and the Rise of OpenOffice.org
- Microsoft Keeps Trying to Inject Software Patents Into ODF and Other Standards
- Microsoft ‘Patents’ ODF Whilst Also Harming It
- Microsoft Hostility Towards XML Expands to Hostility Towards HTML
- Patents Roundup: OASIS Takes Stance Against Software Patents, Microsoft Loses Again
- XML Patents, Microsoft Aggression, and ODF Hostility
- Microsoft’s ‘ODF Patent’ as Vacuous as Its Promise of Interoperability
- Reader’s Article: The Microsoft Patent Threat to ODF
- On Microsoft’s Software Patents and ODF Fragmentation
It sounds like a joke. But, it’s real and it’s anything but a joke for Microsoft. Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, has issued an injunction (PDF Link) that “prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML.”
MICROSOFT plans to appeal a ruling by a Texas judge that would ban the software giant from selling its popular Word program in the US.
Groklaw has the documents from the ruling and one reader has given us the following i4i vs. Microsoft opinion:
<http://www.groklaw.net/pdf/i4ivMS-412.pdf>. Some interesting and arrogant quotes from Microsoft emails about the XML editor market. Read from the last two lines of page 39 through the first line of page 41. Best quote is the one in parentheses that ends on page 41.
Can’t believe those guys actually thought they had a prayer of monopolizing the market for low to medium power XML editors, particularly with Word native file support XML read/write filters.
My prediction: Microsoft either wins a stay pending appeal in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or it settles promptly thereafter. Don’t think Microsoft can just remove the code for custom XML schemas embedded in the Microsoft flavor of OOXML overnight. OOXML also serves as the communications protocol between Office and Sharepoint Server, and from there via a conversion to XAML to a bunch of other Microsoft server side Office apps. To boot, Microsoft did the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack, a backport of the Office 2007 native file support APIs modularized with the old API’s replicated in the wrapper. That’s now running in Office 2000, Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2008 for the Mac. Interesting blog article here by a Softie describing what they did. Rick Shaut, Open XML Converters for Mac Office, Buggin’ My Life Away (7 December 2006), <http://blogs.msdn.com/rick_schaut/archive/2006/12/07/open-xml-converters-for-mac-office.aspx>.
So they’ve got this huge mass of apps that are interdependent and really can’t tweak just one of them. To boot, they’ve got institutional customers already dependent on custom XML schemas, not to mention a few developers who’ve created apps with custom XML
dependencies. See e.g., this article by Doug Mahugh describing the custom XML dependency of Mindjet’s round trip interop with MS Word. <http://blogs.msdn.com/dmahugh/archive/2006/09/16/758090.aspx>.
Did I mention that Microsoft halting the sale of Word 2007 and 2003 in the U.S. is about as likely as the crack of dawn getting raped and thereby impregnated? Microsoft either wins that stay pending appeal or it settles.
When software patents cause so much trouble, it is made a lot easier to explain why they should be deprecated. █
MR. OLSON [For Microsoft]: The ’580 patent is a program, as I understand it, that’s married to a computer, has to be married to a computer in order to be patented.
JUSTICE SCALIA: You can’t patent, you know, on-off, on-off code in the abstract, can you?
MR. OLSON [For Microsoft]: That’s correct, Justice Scalia.
JUSTICE SCALIA: There needs to be a device.
MR. OLSON [For Microsoft]: An idea or a principle, two plus two equals four can’t be patented. It has to be put together with a machine and made into a usable device.