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

10.23.13

Microsoft Culture Against Another Universal Standard: Unicode

Posted in Standard at 5:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unicode

Summary: Microsoft’s long battle against character encoding standards such as Unicode, which bridge the gap for communication between people, not just applications

HALF A decade ago we spent a lot of time here promoting open standards — the grooves for connectivity between applications, operating systems, and pertinent pieces of code. Without standards, there is little collaboration because the cost of connecting separate pieces of software is quite high.

“But to Microsoft consistency was an evil threat; it threatened its monopoly.”Assuming that collaboration is the key to rapid advancement and innovation — reusing knowledge, pooling human resources, etc. — standards are important everywhere we look, e.g. electrics, plumbing, energy, automobiles and so on. Encoding of characters is not everyone’s field of expertise; it is a low-level area of computing, akin to assembly code and little/big endian. But the principles of standards stay the same across fields and standards are almost always beneficial. I have wasted many hours of my life trying to overcome issue associated with Microsoft’s broken character encodings. It was a long time ago that people appreciated the value of consistency in some areas (not to be confused with monoculture or monopoly). But to Microsoft consistency was an evil threat; it threatened its monopoly. The Scientist published a piece called “Standards Needed” [1] not too long ago and Linux Journal praised Unicode [2], which helps bridge character encoding barriers. Thanks to Unicode, many of us out there can access and render pages in almost any language, even rare languages (and even if we cannot understand them). The Register, however, thought it would be productive to bash Unicode [3]. And watch who wrote the piece: a Windowshead. What a surprise!

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Opinion: Standards Needed
  2. Unicode

    Let’s give credit where credit’s due: Unicode is a brilliant invention that makes life easier for millions—even billions—of people on our planet. At the same time, dealing with Unicode, as well as the various encoding systems that preceded it, can be an incredibly painful and frustrating experience. I’ve been dealing with some Unicode-related frustrations of my own in recent days, so I thought this might be a good time to revisit a topic that every modern software developer, and especially every Web developer, should understand.

  3. Down with Unicode! Why 16 bits per character is a right pain in the ASCII

    In the beginning – well, not in the very beginning, obviously, because that would require a proper discussion of issues such as parity and error correction and Hamming distances; and the famous quarrel between the brothers ASCII, ISCII VISCII and YUSCII; and how in the 1980s if you tried to send a £ sign to a strange printer that you had not previously befriended (for example, by buying it a lovely new ribbon) your chances of success were negligible; and, and…

    But you are a busy and important person.

    So in the beginning that began in the limited world of late MS-DOS and early Windows programming, O best beloved, there were these things called “code pages”.

    To the idle anglophone Windows programmer (ie: me) code pages were something horrible and fussy that one hoped to get away with ignoring. I was dimly aware that, to process strings in some of the squigglier foreign languages, it was necessary to switch code page and sometimes, blimey, use two bytes per character instead of just one. It was bad enough that They couldn’t decide how many characters it took to mark the end of a line.

    [...]

    As far as I know, there isn’t a creation myth associated with the unification of the world’s character sets.

    [...]

    For Windows C++ programmers, the manifesto identifies specific techniques to make one’s core code UTF-8 based, including a proto-Boost library designed for the purpose. (Ironically, the first thing you have to do is turn the Unicode switch in the Visual C++ compiler to ‘on’.)

    [...]

    Next weekend I will be scraping all my Unicode files off my hard disk, taking them to the bottom of the garden, and burning them. As good citizens of the digital world, I urge you all to do the same.

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

A Single Comment

  1. UndeadPotato said,

    October 23, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Gravatar

    It feels like you did not read the article. From what I understood from my reading of it, it’s arguing that UTF-8 is more expandable and does not depend on a certain number of bytes per character. I admit, I don’t fully understand the technical merits of Unicode vs. UTF-8 vs. UTF-16, etc. but there’s more to the article than what you say here. It seems like a reasonable opinion based on valid arguments.

What Else is New


  1. Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft's Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

    Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs



  2. OpenSUSE's 'Assurances' Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

    OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE's; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project's future



  3. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  4. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism<



  5. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  6. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  7. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  8. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  9. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  10. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  11. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  12. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  13. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day



  14. Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

    Links for the day



  15. Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

    Links for the day



  16. Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

    Links for the day



  17. Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

    The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption



  18. Links 6/9/2014: Core OS at DigitalOcean, Women in Xorg

    Links for the day



  19. Software Patents 'Quality' Debated in Courts, Microsoft's Biggest Patent Troll Still a Chronic Liar

    Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' largest patent proxy, continues to spread lies about its motivations, claiming that patent assessment is among the goals when in fact only the courts and patent offices do this



  20. New Article Explains How Bill Gates Prevents Schools From Moving to GNU/Linux and Free Software

    A new article from Al Jazeera provides details about the role of so-called 'charities' of billionaires inside school systems



  21. Microsoft Sued for Large-scale Copyright Abuses

    Microsoft reveals its disregard for copyright law which it loves so much to wield as a weapon against its competition and clients



  22. Links 5/9/2014: New WordPress, Systemd Debate Continues

    Links for the day



  23. 'Embrace and Extend' at Microsoft: The New Generation

    Some of the latest examples of Microsoft's predatory acts against Free software and against competition in general, disguised as acts of friendliness



  24. Bill Gates' God Complex: Common Core a One-Man Campaign of Greed and Control

    The push for Common Core is overwhelmingly dominated by Bill Gates, who intimidates and even resorts to retribution against critics while bribing those who help him accomplish the goal of privatised (for his private profit) indoctrination in US schools



  25. Bill Gates Investments Harm the World, Not Improve the World, Based on New Exclusive Piece of Investigative Journalism at The Nation

    The Gates Foundation's profiteering efforts and lack of ethics outlined in a new report that many sites around the Web find fascinating and mostly irrefutable



  26. Links 3/9/2014: Android Gadgets, New Tails OS

    Links for the day



  27. Linus Torvalds DebConf Talk

    Torvalds' latest talk which got media attention earlier this month



  28. Microsoft Should Not be Considered Too Big to Jail

    Microsoft continues to use dumping as a strategy which revolves around starving the competition, not beating the competition



  29. Pro-Software Patents Voices Finally Acknowledge the Demise of Software Patents in the United States

    A milestone is reached as even the most zealous supporters of patents on algorithms (or computer-implemented inventions, or software patents) are admitting that the era of software patents may be over



  30. New Lies About Microsoft 'Privacy' and New FUD Against the GPL Comes From 'Former' Microsoft Staff at Black Duck

    More AstroTurfing by sites that are run by Microsoft MVPs and firms which were created by people from Microsoft


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts