EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Microsoft and Friends Want to Add More Bugs to OOXML

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, Standard at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rubbish dump - OOXML

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.

Dana Blankenhorn wrote about Microsoft’s OOXML abuse just a couple of days ago, reminding readers that Microsoft is more ferocious than ever.

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:

Carrying on from yesterday's post covering the subject of a lawsuit, here are some more reports about Microsoft Word being banned in the US. As SJVN put it:

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.”

Here is the official press release. TechDirt correctly points out that it won’t stick and Microsoft has already appealed against the ruling. [hat tip: ZiggyFish]

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.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

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


  1. Jose_X said,

    August 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm


    An injunction could cost Microsoft possibly over ten billion USD (spread out as disappearance of profits plus tacked on losses for several quarters to come). I’m guessing at this number but it would involve real retooling at many levels I am sure (including with partners (eg, books).. which might result in lawsuits or loss of partners, perhaps). Additionally, until they sort of fixed the problem (and their products would initially be more buggy), they would have to deal with lost sales and may even have to deal with returns or more lawsuits and loss of customers (especially if the patent holder went after major customers.. eg, to get money from them).

    An angry Microsoft would make more mistakes, including getting more aggressive about patents today.

    They likely will have to continue to have to deal with injunctions for their products from today forward until software patents are neutered at least significantly.

    Patents don’t belong in realms where you already have a lot of inventors and barriers to inventions and manufacture are low (as is the case, clearly, at least for software use for use on general purpose devices).

    Since trying to help Microsoft on the patents realm by arguing on their behalf at their trials was not beneficial to FOSS, perhaps the approach is to have individuals sue Microsoft from here to eternity until Microsoft actually starts using their dollars to fight against patents on software for general purpose computing.

    Patent trolls can actually do society good by helping to rid it of monopolists and help FOSS grow. Go for **injunction** against the monopolist vendors and royalties against existing users.


    Jose_X Reply:

    >> Go for **injunction** against the monopolist vendors and royalties against existing users.

    Users would not be affected too much except that they would have to continue to pull value out of their existing investments and would realize quickly the high value of open source. [You can use open source Linux for free and pay for support if you so wish. You know open source Linux is publicly audited by many independent third parties.]

    By asking for small royalties from existing users (especially from the major corporations), those that already paid top dollar for Microsoft products would at most have to dish out a small percentage more (something they already do if they use anti-virus software and have ongoing service contracts). Because so many use MS products, the patent troll could still make significant money. Most importantly, the troll could feel they are doing a great service to society (at the cost of making fewer millions). They can live more peacefully that they didn’t exploit the horrendously unethical software patent system to stifle society but instead used it to fight down a monopolist that no one has been able to knock from their perch. Think of the greater good current Microsoft developers could do for society if they would work for other companies that were less hostile than is Microsoft and would be a greater part of open source?

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The FFII was going to do something similar — create a patent troll to take Office off that market and teach Microsoft a lesson. That was only a thought last year.

    Jose_X Reply:

    [Note, see *** below]

    Microsoft has not yet pledged not to use any patents against FOSS, in particular, they are far from coming close to that position.

    They have been, are, and plan on continuing to be a threat to FOSS: they are fighting to defend software patents and are working in many other ways against end users’ peace of mind, freedom of choice, access, privacy, and security.

    They mock FOSS developers that do the hard work for relatively little $$, when these, if these followed the example of Microsoft, would be out there getting patents and using those patents to help FOSS grow, ie, using the patents to fight monopolists.

    The patent system is so broken (at least in the US) that anyone can get a very general patent (broad enforcement power). It would be almost trivial in difficulty to actually produce the sample invention “details” to shove inside the patent application. The key would be to develop the patent claims as general as possible and aimed at putting barriers in front of monopolists (so we would study their technology a bit). [Ie, it's the patent claims that are key and directing these at monopolists].

    The FFII can start a fund to pay for patents. Many can help write up tutorials on how to patent.

    There are many holes to cover if you want to try and protect your invention. Rather, it’s more cost, time, and effort effective to work on putting barriers in front of others.

    In “FOSS” fashion, we can help put an end to software patents and its exploitation by unethical individuals — not by helping improve IBM, Microsoft, troll X, etc, patents, NO — not by coming up with toothless prior art, NO — but by getting our own strategic patents and using them to teach a lesson to any major vendor out there that was working to support software patents, in particular, as a way to gain an upper hand against small competitors and against FOSS.

    Wow! pay Microsoft tons of money for “protection” than have trolls come and get injunctions against your software-based products!

    Creating software patents is very accessible (especially when you don’t even need a PC because of how broken the system is).

    I would hate to spend time writing up patents, but I have resorted to thinking much more about planning that out, in part, because it makes me sick the idea that I could work on software for a long time and do something interesting and useful to others yet have some exploiter of unethical, broken, unconstitutional (software) patent system come and affect me and the users negatively in any way — heck the mere existence of software patents is a constant threat and disincentive (especially if you wanted to go in certain directions).

    Plus, as RMS did with copyright, we might possibly be very capable of exploiting the patent system ourselves to promote FOSS. The only problem is that we’d have to get dirty day in and day out. [Instead of writing the GPL license one time, we have to keep writing patents periodically, although, it only takes a few key patents to gain much, and overall patents are much easier to write than is a multi-use license.]

    The issue of first to file vs first to invent is an important one. If first to file, then doing peer review of patent applications and sketchy outlines in public is subject to anyone running to the patent office (or sleeping outside there waiting) faster than you after copying the public ideas. Currently in the US, you have a first to invent and you get one year to hammer out the patent application.

    I’m sure we would learn over time how to optimize the exploitation of the broken software patent system being defended by these unethical groups.

    We still argue against software patents vigorously. So long as they stay; however, we want to have first to invent/publish laws and try to get the fees lowered so that this doesn’t continue to be a tool exploitable largely only by the already wealthy. In particular, we should try to get ruled unconstitutional (in the US) any system that imposes anything but filing fees. Patents should be like copyrights. Just publish. As the system works today, the wealthy get those benefits of “just publish” but no one else does. If more people participated, the economy would come to its knees as it would be clear that a patent (on ideas) system cannot work when accessible to many.

    Rather than copyrighting only specific works, the patent system allows you to get monopolies, not just on works (ideas) that describe other works, but on these other works being described. In other words, you don’t have to write every interesting story, you just have to describe, in very general terms, every interesting story.

    Where we come in to stop others is that we can latch on to their broad patent claims by adding more specificity. The key is to anticipate this extra specificity before it shows up in public products, and we want to still remain general in description so that writing around our patents is still difficult.

    The patent system does not promote the progress of science and useful arts.

    Such is what I have observed (as a layman).

    Jose_X Reply:

    The market for MS servicing would not go away right away or for a while.

    In fact, just seeing more injunctive actions against the Monopolist software manufacturer will awaken people up to the problems of single source suppliers.

    As Linux gets better, the likelihood of seeing patent trolls go for injunctions against monopolists grows since the short-term negative impact will continue to go down while the long term benefits will be as real as ever.

    Will third parties be in position to thrive off free/open source software?

    Of course, don’t buy MSFT if you don’t want to be stuck holding the hot potato on the day of reckoning.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Other companies that sued Microsoft have already elevated the cost of Office and other products — a cost which passes to consumers.

What Else is New

  1. United They Stand: FFPE-EPO Supports Suspended Staff Representatives From SUEPO

    An obscure union from the Dutch side of things at the EPO is expressing support for the suspended colleagues from SUEPO (more German than Dutch)

  2. Censoring WIPR Article About Censorship by EPO

    A testament to how terrified journalists have become when it comes to EPO coverage, to the point of deleting entire paragraphs

  3. Censorship at the EPO Escalates: Now We Have Threats to Sue Publishers

    Having already blocked Techrights, the EPO's management proceeds to further suppressions of speech, impeding its staff's access to independently-distributed information (neither ordinary staff nor management)

  4. Response to Bogus Accusations That EPO Staff Protests Are Really an Attempt to Derail UPC

    Common myths about staff protests in the European Patent Office (EPO) debunked, with some additional background and general perspective on recent events, the unitary patent (UPC) and so on

  5. New Heise Article Makes It Clear That 'Nazi'-Themed Accusations Against the Suspended Board Judge Were Insufficiently Substantiated

    The personal attacks on a judge who was illegally suspended (a so-called 'house ban') increasingly look like the management's own campaign of defamation, mostly intended to marginalise and punish a judge who spoke about serious charges against VP4 (Željko Topić)

  6. Links 24/11/2015: Asus Chromebit CS10, Second Linux 4.4 RC

    Links for the day

  7. European Central Bank Staff Committee Adds to Growing Pressure on Abusive EPO Management

    The staff representatives of the European Central Bank E-mail their colleagues -- with European Central Bank managers' approval -- regarding the European Patent Office and its attacks on staff unions

  8. Gross Violation of Workers' Rights in EPO: Denial of Christmas Vacation/Leave for Slower Workers

    A look at an E-mail from within the EPO which shows how Christmas is used to squeeze staff, urging them to work even faster (despite speed gains) or lose their Christmas leave

  9. The Bogus Narrative Floated by EPO Management: Our Judges and Examiners Are Armed and Violent

    A look at the union-busting and protest-crushing moves from high-level EPO managers, who are trying to convince politicians that they do so in an effort to stop terrorists and neo-Nazis

  10. Support SUEPO or End Up Like They and Some of the Boards Did

    SUEPO, the fast-growing staff union of the EPO, increasingly needs the support and protection offered by action and participation from staff

  11. NRC Handelsblad (Dutch Evening Newspaper) Speaks About EPO's Refusal to Accept Court Orders From The Hague

    Article explains the depths of the issues inside the EPO and the unacceptable immunity that management at the EPO continues to exploit, shaming or discrediting the very notion of the rule of law in Europe

  12. HeBS Digital and Black Duck Press Releases Treated Like Articles, Used to Muddy the FOSS Waters

    Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is under attack again, and it's the proprietary software lobby that's responsible for that

  13. EPO President Battistelli Now Intimidates Even National Delegations

    Report about an embarrassing incident implicating Benoît Battistelli and some angry comments cast over the witch-hunting of a judge, using all sorts of questionable tactics

  14. A Look at the Latest Gross Deletionism at the EPO's 'Media Partner', French Newspaper Les Échos

    The EPO's bogus 'journal of record, which Team Battistelli likes to cite in order to bolster its warped version of events at the EPO while maintaining a close secret relationship with the publisher, keeps censoring its own reporters (spiked paragraphs, silently self-censored or censored after publications)

  15. Rumour About Efforts to Dismiss a Board Judge by Intimidating Boards of Appeal

    Comment found online accuses the Administrative Council of pressuring, by threats, Directorate-General 3 to dismiss a judge who is silently accused (with selective 'leaks' to the media, reportedly orchestrated by EPO managers) but not even proven guilty

  16. President Battistelli Now Pressures/Threatens Politicians Who 'Dare' to Complain About Abuses and Unacceptable Conditions at the EPO

    Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, a French politician, unleashes an angry letter from Benoît Battistelli and reveals just to what lengths the EPO's Team Battistelli is willing to go in order to crush political backlash

  17. EPO: It's Like a Family Business - Part IV

    Some more background information about Elodie Bergot and Gilles Requena, who are married whilst also sharing positions of power at the EPO (and also strong connections/ties with the EPO's President, Mr. Battistelli); Rumours afloat at the EPO -- some with ever-increasing circulation too -- are worth noting

  18. Translation of Thomas Magenheim-Hörmann's Article in the German Media, Urging European Politicians to Intervene in EPO Chaos and Lawlessness

    Frankfurt-based media presents an opinion piece written by a Munich-based economic correspondent, Thomas Magenheim-Hörmann

  19. German Press Says Broken EPO Lets President Severely Punish Staff Not Even Guilty of Any Wrongdoing

    Juve publishes an article which attempts to be 'balanced' (meaning it believes everything that EPO officials say) but at the same time reveals unacceptable practices that go in inside the EPO

  20. German Media Reveals That Out-of-Control EPO Management is Even Threatening and Abusing Lawyers Now

    The EPO's longstanding fight against justice escalates to an unprecedented war on lawyers themselves; “After this latest move,” says a German newspaper, “even lawyers are starting to feel threatened by the Office.”

  21. Washington Post Only Entertains Debate About Patent Trolls (But Not Patent Scope) Whilst US Lawyers Trick the System to Patent Software

    The Bezos-owned Washington Post continues to help those who wish to eliminate patent trolls (which bother Amazon amongst other large conglomerates) but remains void of any coverage about patent scope, including software patents that patent lawyers work so hard to defend

  22. It Pays (Off) to 'Bribe' the Media: Watch How Les Échos Covers EPO Matters and Self-Censors

    French newspaper Les Échos is self-censoring yet again and it is framing the EPO scandals as the fault of employees, not the fault of abusive managers who are working with Les Échos as a so-called 'media partner' (the EPO management is French-dominated)

  23. 'Leaked' PDF Shows How EPO Management Tried to Crush Judge Who 'Dared' to Criticise EPO Management

    The EPO's management continues to chill potential critics and is now making an example of a board's judge, despite having no such authority over him

  24. Links 21/11/2015: Community Appreciation Day, Jolla's Problems

    Links for the day

  25. EPO: It's Like a Family Business - Part III

    A look at how the EPO's management (Željko Topić in particular) defended the unprecedented promotion of Ms Bergot (wife of the president's close assistant), even in the face of outcry from EPO staffwarning

  26. In an Effort to Counter EPO Staff Narrative (After ~2,000 of Staff Protest) EPO Management Portrays Staff as Violent But Provides No Evidence

    The EPO's management has a poor record on accuracy and truth and the latest staff-shaming tactics serve to reinforce that track record

  27. Gross Aggression by EPO Management Shows the Urgent Need to Remove Immunity From EPO

    The increasingly militant approach of EPO management (with counterterrorism staff added to interrogate EPO staff) serves to show an organisation gone truly bonkers

  28. Patents Roundup: Alice Decision Still Upsets Patent Lawyers, Microsoft AstroTurf Group Lobbies on FRAND, Google and Red Hat Recalled

    The reaction of patent profiteers to scope/boundary restrictions, the FRAND lobby by Microsoft's longtime front group, FRAND matters in Korea (affecting Android), Google's response to patent threats, and Red Hat still keeping quiet about its patent agreement with Microsoft

  29. Links 20/11/2015: DockerCon EU, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2

    Links for the day

  30. Patent Lawyers Want to Bring Software Patents (Hence Patent Trolls Too) to Europe, Piggyback Battistelli's Habitual UPC Promotion

    Analysis of the views of academics (profiting from solid research), contrasted with patent lawyers (profiting from feuds and conflicts), and the latter group's exploitation of Benoît Battistelli's misguided policies


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