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12.23.10

The Feedback Regarding EIFv2 is Becoming More Negative, Microsoft Likes It

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, Standard at 2:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ruined church
Photo from Scotland

Summary: Microsoft’s reaction to EIFv2 is almost overwhelmingly positive while new posts from freedom proponents (about RAND in EIFv2) suggest that it is indeed beneficial to Microsoft, which derailed it

IN our previous posts that discuss the second version of EIF [1, 2, 3, 4] we have shown a mixture of opinions, some more positive than others and some utterly negative. The yardstick for this type of thing is sometimes the reaction from Microsoft and its allies. The FFII writes: “A monk adheres to celibacy. #BSA would lobby the Franciscans to change their rules that all catholics qualify as monks”

Regarding Microsoft’s reaction to EIFv2 the FFII writes:

Microsoft is happy with EU egovernment interoperability plan

Here is Microsoft’s response. If Microsoft is happy, then EIFv2 is not good for software freedom.

Here is another analysis of EIFv2 which says: “Unfortunately, it seems as if the folks writing the EIF didn’t get the EIS memo; we are left to guess how they see architecture in play. With v2, EIF points to four interoperability levels – legal, organisational, semantic and technical. The organisational level includes business process alignment, organisational relationships and change management. Consequently, administrations must use an architectural approach that embraces all the levels; that would of course be enterprise architecture, I would argue. Unfortunately, rather than going that direction, EIF ends up in giving vague and uncommitted recommendations in east and west.”

What is happening here is sad because Microsoft and SAP lobbyists manage to subvert EIFv2, which was supposed to be beneficial to people, not large corporations from abroad. There is an Indian lesson for Europe (also in Spanish [1, 2]), which rejected RAND as it ought to have done and the FFII’s press release shrewdly states that “EU interoperability enforcement attempts to catch up with Asia”. From the opening paragraphs:

The European Commission adopted a communication “Towards interoperability for European public services”, introducing the second incarnation of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) and the European Interoperability Strategy (EIS) [1]. This week the Commission also published fresh Horizontal Guidelines [2] which bloc-exempt patent cartels from competition enforcement.

“The European Interoperability Framework is a legend. It’s hard, indeed, to make impact that compares with the first EIF. Unfortunately the lobby watered European interoperability enforcement down. It’s amazing that EU-Commissioner Šefčovič overcame indecision, and presents their ‘wet’ documents.”, says FFII Vice-President Rene Mages.

David Meyer from ZDNet UK wrote about it as follows:

The new European Interoperability Framework (EIF), released on Thursday, includes a recommendation that, “when establishing European public services, public administrations should prefer open specifications, taking due account of the coverage of functional needs, maturity and market support”.

The Commission’s stance goes some way to defying the advice of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which had claimed a preference for open specifications would “undermine the innovativeness of European standards”.

Andy Updegrove, an expert in this type of field (standards), says that “EC Takes One Step Forward, Two Steps Back in Openness”:

Last Thursday the European Commission took a major step forward on the “openness” scale. The occasion was the release of a new version of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) which definitively endorsed the use of open source friendly standards when providing “public services” within the EU. This result was rightly hailed by open source advocates like Open Forum Europe.

But the EC took two steps backward in every other way as it revised its definition of “open standards,” presumably reflecting IT industry efforts (e.g., by the Business Software Alliance) to preserve the value of software patents.

In this blog entry, I’ll review the seven-year long process under which the “European Interoperability Framework” (EIF) first set a global high water mark for liberalizing the definition of open standards, and then retreated from that position.

If one were to choose the single most disputed question in standard setting over the past decade, it would have to be the deceivingly simple question, “What does it mean to be an ‘open standard?’”

[...]

The preference for royalty-free implementation has also been dropped. No distinction now appears between FRAND and FRAND-free standards, even within the more aspirational (“openness is most fully realized”) language of EIF 2.0 as compared to 1.0 (“the minimum requirements of open standards are”).

This is closer to Glyn Moody’s assessment as he concludes with:

For whatever reason, it appears that the EC has decided to abandon the leadership position that it took in 2004 for setting the bar on standards suitable for government adoption. Those that believe that open standards, liberally defined, are vital to open government will now have to look for innovation elsewhere.

The more we wait, the more negative the opinions about EIFv2 seem to be. As rightly pointed out by Microsoft Florian, the initial reactions (e.g. in Twitter/Identi.ca) from the pro-Europe crowd were prematurely positive.

The way things are (in EIFv2), OOXML won’t be excluded. That’s a problem. “When Miguel de Icaza said “OOXML is a Superb Standard”, NOVL was taking money from MSFT to promote OOXML,” says Rob Weir in relation to Groklaw’s most recent take [1, 2].

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