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10.02.09

Company That Attacks ODF Gains More Control of ODF (and Why Open Source Should be Careful, Too)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, ISO, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OSI, Standard at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ODF TC
Credit: Rob Weir

Summary: Microsoft manages to grab seats in its competitor’s table; Explanation of why CodePlex it to “Open Source” what OOXML is to “open standards”

WE HAVE already shown ISO ODF being stuffed by Microsoft under everyone’s nose [1, 2]. The press did not cover this important issue, unlike last year's obvious indication that Microsoft had hijacked SC34.

In the following new post, figures are being shown to demonstrate the obvious — that ISO got cracked by Microsoft, which then pushed a proprietary format (controlled by Microsoft) down its throat using illegal means. From the conclusions:

I suppose this [OOXML] is “global” in a sense, in the same way one could stage an “International Food Festival” and then have McDonalds show up and contribute a Big Mac from the U.S., a Big Mac from Germany, a Big Mac from the Ivory Coast, a Big Mac from Finland and another Big Mac from Brazil and so on. Certainly, you could claim this was “international”, but you would be laughed right out of the festival if you did.

[...]

Evidently there is no one capable of fixing this. ISO says that domination by a single corporation is not their responsibility, because only NBs vote and each NB determines its own participation rules. But individual NBs also don’t see a problem, because any single one of them only has one Microsoft employee at the meeting. So the NB itself is not necessary stuffed (although that does happens occasionally as well). So by placing Microsoft employees in many NB delegations and putting the overflow into the Ecma delegation, Microsoft can still dominate the ISO committee and not trigger a rule violation in ISO or in any NB.

This is essentially how Microsoft hacked ISO. Now that the flaw has been demonstrated, any large international corporation with sufficient funds and interest can exploit it as well. So long as the rules remain as they are, ISO is vulnerable. ISO defends this criticism by pointing out what good work they’ve done in the past, and how they rarely have problems of this kind before. But this shows little appreciation for the nature of the problem which have been demonstrated. It is like arguing that a newly discovered (though long latent) security flaw in an operating system is insignificant because you’ve never had an attack before now. Of course, this misses the point entirely. Once the vulnerability is known and publicly exploited, you’re living on borrowed time until you can secure the system. Today ISO is living on borrowed time and is very close to becoming a Microsoft-infested zombie server.

The author, Rob Weir, is already being heckled by Microsoft employees and their MVPs, who try to change the topic of discussion because defending corruption is so much more difficult. Sadly, Weir is perhaps too shy to admit that he is not happy with the company that attacked ODF so viciously and now forks it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] sitting on the ODF table.

To repeat an old analogical expression, Microsoft wants to stick its finger in all the pies, including Linux and Free software (or “open source”) where it is doing the same type of routine.

Microsoft and its army of partners have their limits though. They did not manage to stuff OSI like they did stuff ISO, so they created their own separate entity [1, 2, 3, 4], akin to OOXML. Jason Brooks, writing on the subject in his latest column, thinks that this could lead to flames.

For its part, the FSF has spent the summer alternately blasting individuals and groups for and warning them against using or adopting technologies distributed or even invented by Microsoft. For instance, the FSF this summer launched a Website devoted to cataloging the “sins” of Windows 7 and has weighed in on multiple occasions as to why, despite what Microsoft promises, no open-source developer should code in Microsoft’s C#.

As Groklaw showed a few days ago, Novell is a big part of this problem [1, 2]. Groklaw received flak for saying so. The Mono-Nono Web site adds:

For one thing, PJ has a bit of experience dealing with such nastiness. The irony of course is that she gained it while investigating SCOs attacks on Linux, and will probably be using it for Team Mono and Friends attacks on Freedom now! There’s a certain symmetry to that, I think.

Another thing is that I’ve noticed that the pro-Mono attacks are looking a bit faded lately.

I guess that’s what happens when you keep attacking honest people truly interested in Freedom and your basic weapons are ad hominem and disinformation.

Matthew Aslett makes the following brow-raising statement:

Microsoft is no different from any other proprietary vendor in this regard. The like sof IBM and Oracle and SAP have all had to find their own ways of coexisting with FOSS.

This is not so accurate. Microsoft is unique for the reason shown below (which still applies).

“Microsoft is unique among proprietary software companies: they are the only ones who have actively tried to kill Open Source and Free Software. It’s not often someone wants to be your friend after trying to kill you for ten years, but such change is cause for suspicion.”

Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC)

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