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Latest Wins for OpenDocument Format

Posted in America, IBM, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard, SUN at 4:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

Summary: IBM dumps Microsoft Office; reports from ODF Workshop arrive; the Microsoft crowd still tries to capture ODF seats

IBM and Lotus

THE BIGGEST piece of news about OpenDocument Format (ODF) is probably IBM’s internal migration from the proprietary Microsoft Office to the proprietary Lotus Symphony. But it’s not exactly news; it seems like news that IBM occasionally re-announces to generate buzz. Either way, it is another “Big Win for ODF,” to use the summary of a Sun employee.

IBM asks all their employees to stop using Microsoft Office, and completely switch to Lotus Symphony – IBM’s office suite which is based on OpenOffice.org 1.1.

Here is the coverage from Heise:

American IT giant IBM plans to have its staff abandon Microsoft office software. According to a report in German daily Handelsblatt, the some 360,000 employees of the firm are to switch from the MS Office Suite to IBM’s own Lotus Symphony. The paper’s report (German link), is based on leaked internal IBM correspondence from upper management. IBM’s internal move away from Microsoft Office began in June 2008 with early pilots. By the end of the year, IBM documents are to be created in the ODF format, which is license-free for everyone.

There is also some coverage in IDG and in The Inquirer, which adds this for context:

IBM’s aggressive new campaign comes as Microsoft faces legal challenges over the lynchpin of its Office suite. Canadian software firm i4i has accused Microsoft of violating its patents on XML components within the word processing application. The case nearly halted sales of Word within the US.

Here is some coverage about the i4i case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11].

ODF Workshop

The ODF Workshop in Brazil is something that we covered at the end of August. The ODF Alliance finally has a sort of summary covering this event.

The growing public-sector support for ODF was on display at the 3rd International ODF User Workshop, which concluded last week in Brasilia. The event—organized by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SERPRO (Federal Service for Data Processing – Ministry of Finance, Brazil) and Caixa Econômica Federal, in collaboration with the ODF Alliance—brought together representatives from governments around the world that have already made the move to ODF or are actively considering how best to utilize an open format to preserve access to documents and records, increase software choice, and save some money in the process. The first day of the event was held at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Itamaraty Palace) and the second day at CONSEGI, the largest international free software and electronic government conference organized by the Brazilian Federal Government.

Jomar Silva, who organised this event (or helped in organising it), has his own summary too. Here is the English version:

After his presentation, the debate was basically done by a group that agrees that we need a stronger stance against proprietary technologies and the group that believes that we must continue addressing the issue more calmly … and we had almost two hours of debate, perhaps the most interesting I’ve ever attended.

Microsoft Interference

Microsoft Corporation, the company which is fragmenting ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], has already attempted to bring ODF to its own turf; corrupting for OOXML was apparently not enough. A month ago we showed that Microsoft managed to bring SC34 into its own area of influence and now we find messages like this one: “packing for Seattle ISO SC 34 meeting #sc34 #odf #ooxml #microsoft”

“They try to get into panels where they can promote Microsoft without it seeming that way.”Yes, Seattle/Microsoft will be the place in which to discuss ODF. And meanwhile, Microsoft proponents Rick Jelliffe and Jesper Lund Stocholm are grilling Rob Weir over ODF in their continued battle to mock ODF (based on simple track record and business affiliations/payments).

Stocholm, for instance, is flirting with other ODF people like Jomar Silva, hoping to hide his agenda and mingle with those whose work he later abuses. Privately, we’ve heard similar stories about Microsoft proponent/partners who attend FOSS events across the world for the purpose of getting inside, understanding the people (reporting/ousting ‘troublemakers’ to Microsoft) and later affecting the agenda from the inside. That’s what Microsoft and its ecosystem do best. Here is Stocholm getting inside another panel. Very typical. They try to get into panels where they can promote Microsoft without it seeming that way.


Pia Waugh is seen promoting ODF, which is great news. “Current speaker has format compatibility issues,” she wrote. “Good lesson in importance of open standards. Everyone sh[oul]ld go ODF!” From the Customer Support Lead at Mozilla we learned a few days ago that this is “a day to remember…. as the day when @patrickfinch sent an ISO standard ODF document to the k-team!!”

Here is a warning that “iWork lacks ODF support”. We have already explained why Apple helps the duopoly with Microsoft.

“That particular meeting was followed by an anonymous smear campaign against one of the TC members. A letter was faxed to the organization of the TC member in question, accusing the TC member in question of helping politicize the issue (which is, of course, untrue). I too had the dubious pleasure of hearing first hand how Microsoft attempted to remove me from the TC (they did not succeed, thanks to integrity and cojones of the organization I am affiliated with).”

“If this unethical behaviour by Microsoft was not sufficiently despicable, they did the unthinkable by involving politics in what should have been a technical evaluation of the standard by writing to the head of the Malaysian standards organization and getting its business partners to engage in a negative letter writing campaign to indicate lack of support of ODF in the Malaysian market. Every single negative letter on ODF received by the Malaysian standards organization was written either by Microsoft, or a Microsoft business partner or a Microsoft affiliated organization (Initiative for Software Choice and IASA).

A Memo to Patrick Durusau

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  1. JohnD said,

    September 12, 2009 at 9:54 am


    Lotus Symphony is not proprietary.
    They are using an old product name for continuity only. Symphony is based on OO with some minor changes to allow the applications to run as tabs within an Eclipse based client.
    The suite is free for everyone.
    IBM has stated that they will integrate things from previous apps like 1-2-3 into Symphony and make those features available to the community.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Where can I download the source code of Lotus Symphony?

    I’ve already asked some people in IBM about this and it is not Free software. IBM exploits people’s inability to discern gratis from libre.

    JohnD Reply:

    Well you need to find some other people to talk to because they’ve obviously given you inaccurate information.
    Here’s a link that explains what they’ve done:
    Want the source code? Download OO and Eclipse and you have it. The only “thing” that might be close to proprietary is the UI. The only reason they changed the UI is to provide a consistent interface for the end user.
    If you take the time to read the literature they are also marketing it as an alternative to proprietary options like M$.
    How do I know all this you ask? Because I’m a PCLP 5&6, and I sell and support Lotus products and work with IBM business partners.

  2. JohnD said,

    September 12, 2009 at 11:01 am


    Download OO and eclipse – that’s all you need.

  3. JohnD said,

    September 12, 2009 at 11:15 am


    I’d also like to know how IBM is “exploiting” people when they aren’t charging for the product and they are using ODF instead of a proprietary format.
    They took two FOSS products and integrated them in order to provide a consistent interface with some of their other products which are proprietary. Lotus Notes 8.x and Symphony use the same eclipse based client that’s all. Just because they aren’t telling you exactly how they did it, doesn’t make the product proprietary. They have done nothing to alter the functionality of Eclipse or OO. All they have done is change the packaging, not the product. The user community is not being short changed in any way.
    This idea gets to be even more of a stretch when you factor in the fact the IBM started Eclipse and helped move it into the FOSS community. Not to mention IBMs continued support of the Eclipse project.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The code situation is more complicated than you make it seem.

    JohnD Reply:

    No it isn’t.
    All the code that makes the product works is available to anyone via OO or Eclipse. The only pieces “missing” are the things they did to integrate OO and Eclipse to provide an interface that’s consistent with other products that are proprietary.
    End users are not being charged for the product.
    IBM has not included anything into the product that would subject end users to patent attacks.
    You have cited definitions in the past:
    1 : one that possesses, owns, or holds exclusive right to something; specifically : proprietor 1
    2 : something that is used, produced, or marketed under exclusive legal right of the inventor or maker; specifically : a drug (as a patent medicine) that is protected by secrecy, patent, or copyright against free competition as to name, product, composition, or process of manufacture
    3 : a business secretly owned by and run as a cover for an intelligence organization
    Item 2 is the most applicable in this case. The only thing IBM has exclusivity to is the name and possible the UI – this hardly makes Symphony a proprietary product.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm


    The only pieces “missing” are the things they did to integrate OO and Eclipse to provide an interface that’s consistent with other products that are proprietary.

    So it’s not Free software. IBM still controls it.

    The only thing IBM has exclusivity to is the name and possible the UI – this hardly makes Symphony a proprietary product.

    Saying “hardly makes Symphony a proprietary product” is like saying “this lady is hardly pregnant.”

    JohnD Reply:

    Roy what world do you live on?
    IBM does not control Eclipse or OO. Take those two things away and there is no product.
    Using your rationale – if I create a custom tool bar for OO and don’t tell anyone how I did it – OO has just become my proprietary software.
    All the tools they used to create the UI are public domain. Anyone who has a desire could go out and duplicate what they’ve done.
    There may be a few things they don’t want to release because they are covered by preexisting patents for Notes – Notes has been around a long time. Not putting those things in the public domain would actually protect end users – not screw them over.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    IBM’s attitude towards software patents is another topic worth debating.

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