08.31.09

What People Say About Microsoft’s War on Open Standards

Posted in Formats, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, Standard, TomTom at 3:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[W]e should take the lead in establishing a common approach to UI and to interoperability (of which OLE is only a part). Our efforts to date are focussed too much on our own apps, and only incidentally on the rest of the industry. We want to own these standards, so we should not participate in standards groups. Rather, we should call ‘to me’ to the industry and set a standard that works now and is for everyone’s benefit. We are large enough that this can work.”

Microsoft [PDF]

Summary: Bits of analysis of Microsoft’s mistakes on Web and document standards

IT IS no secret that Microsoft dislikes open standards; they are not good for the shareholders. The integrity of the company often comes later than short-term gain, so it is not a wise strategy, either. According to this gem, it has just become apparent that OOXML is nothing more than a reactionary move caused by the advent of ODF. It was known all along but there is new compelling evidence to support such an argument.

James D. Mason says:

I spent 22 years as the chairman of what is now ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34. SC34 is the committee that standardized SGML in the 1980s and now is responsible for both ODF, supported by many open-source products, and OOXML, the XML released by Microsoft in response to ODF. Neither ODF nor OOXML has anything to do with ODA/ODIF, which have been dormant since the turn of the current century but were still under development in the 1990s in a committee that was parallel to the one that became SC34.

Our past analysis: OOXML is a response. Thank you very much for the confirmation. Stronger language from Mason found in this article.

Thanks to Andre for finding this out. In his country, Germany, Microsoft has been using Fraunhofer essentially as a shill for OOXML. In light of the very latest deception form Fraunhofer, Jones wrote at Groklaw (News Picks):

ODF is totally open to the world. So where might the bottleneck be found, class? Did you really, really think that Microsoft intended there to be real interoperability? Some of us recall very well what happened in Germany in the OOXML approval process and the role this institute played. Remember their words, as translated from the German by a Groklaw volunteer? –

“The beginning standardization procedure of Office Open XML as an ISO standard will lead to a technological development of both standards – Office Open XML and ODF 1.0. The constructive comments that have been made alongside the DIN approval from leading experts guide the way in direction of interoperability” says the head of the department e-Government at Fraunhofer FOKUS and head of the DIN work group translation of document formats. “We at Fraunhofer FOKUS e-government-lab will support the procedure effectively and accompany our lab-partner Microsoft as a member of ECMA International with our know-how in implementing our recommendations.”

In relation to the patent assault on Free software, Jones later used the OOXML saga as an example too, remarking that it proves Microsoft never wanted to interoperate. “Like Microsoft will run right out and do that [give up on patent threats]“, she wrote, “because it just spent a fortune building up a patent portfolio, and it doesn’t plan on using them against Linux. Dream on. It’s not about hating any company, but there is enough water under the bridge to be able to predict that Microsoft probably will use those patents aggressively, as they already did in the TomTom case, and as they do in FUDly ways already. And what makes anyone think Microsoft wishes to interoperate, after watching the OOXML saga? Best to be realistic about Microsoft. The Linux Foundation may feel it has to say stuff like that, but I don’t.”

Microsoft has a long history of fighting against standards rather than accepting that they are needed. Eventually, inevitably, Microsoft joined ODF but did so poorly in a way that may only harm ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. And now it may do the same to HTML5. As CNET puts it:

The World Wide Web Consortium’s HTML Working Group had been led by IBM’s Sam Ruby and Microsoft’s Chris Wilson. Wilson has stepped down and is being replaced by two others, Paul Cotton, who manages Microsoft’s Web services standards team, and Maciej Stachowiak, who manages Apple’s WebKit WebApps team, according to an e-mail announcement by W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee.

Why are freedom-hostile companies put in charge of the W3C HTML Working Group? We asked that question a couple of days ago, mystified.

“Jimmy the Geek” from Linux Today writes:

About 4 years ago. I could see that Vista was going to kill any momentum that Microsoft had picked up from XP and I was right. I even called the layoffs happening this year.

Sadly some of my friends are caught up in the whole MS layoff situation, which sucks.

My prediction for the next 5 years? Microsoft is going to do a Novell. They are going to try to keep doing what they have always done, despite losing more and more and more market, until in the end they are forced to adopt open source as their core OS.

Well, until then, Microsoft will suffer financially, quarter after quarter.

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5 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    August 31, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Gravatar

    “It is no secret that Microsoft dislikes open standards; they are not good for the shareholders. ”
    I would not blame this for why MS dislikes open standards, it indeed cause many problems, but it is not why MS is evil.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    See what you think of this.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Yes, I already read this, and I am certainly not arguing about this. In fact, you could argue that OOXML is even more dangerous than this since it pretends to be open while the old binary Office formats didn’t. What I am saying is that I don’t think “maximizing shareholder value” is why MS is evil.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “Microsoft is, I think, fundamentally an evil company.”

    Former Netscape Chairman James H. Clark

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Yep, the real cause of why MS is evil is it’s business strategyt of trying to hold it’s cash cow up by locking in customers, which is fundamentally flawed.

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