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ISO Helps Patent Cartels, Monopolies; Mozilla Surrenders, Fedora Will Not

Posted in ISO, Patents, Standard at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MPEG LA logo

Summary: Criticism of ISO and a few bits of news about Free software projects and their response to MPEG-LA

THE PR wires teach us that the corrupt ISO is still up to no good, this time floating the MPEG cartel, as usual. Mark Ballard, a fantastic British journalist, shows us just how incompetent — if not corrupt — ISO really is:

The International Standards Organisation has admitted it doesn’t know what an open standard is, despite trying to have the UK’s open standards policy quashed.

The situation has left ISO and its franchise partners, such as the UK’s British Standards Institution, looking a lot less authoritative. While open standards are being branded onto statutes around Europe, and after more than half a decade of controversies so great it caused street protests against ISO’s treatment of the open standards issue, the legal authority on standards now refuses even to acknowledge its existence.

Yet ISO and its partners had so successfully lobbied against the UK open standards policy last year that the Cabinet Office withdrew it. And its lobbying, like that of all those who opposed the policy, concerned one specific question: what is an open standard.

ISO and its partners said the UK had got the answer wrong. So what then should it be? That’s what Computer Weekly has been pressing ISO to say since January.

“ISO does not have a definition of ‘open standard’,” is what ISO said finally this week.

It sounded incredible. But it exposed how frail ISO’s position had become.

If the ISO does not get its act together, it deserves to become obsolete. Fedora, for example, still ignores the MPEG maze that ISO is endorsing. Mozilla, much to our regret, says that “mobile matters most” when it excuses itself for selling out, leading to defeatism among those who underestimate the importance of this issue.

Mozilla’s choice was covered here before and the importance of the matter is explained in this new article from Free Software Magazine:

Whether we like it or not, H.264 is “the” de-facto standard on the Internet. Every time you visit Youtube, you are watching a video encoded using the H.264 standard. The video quality is great, the compression is astonishing. And so is the price. H.264 is subject to a huge number of software patents. You need to pay hefty licensing fees if you want to create H.264 files today. We, the users, are not feeling this as we are not paying a cent. However, the freedomes allowed by this format are limited, and vague at best: here is why. (Note: this piece originally had a different title, “The bomb called H.264 is set to explode in 2015. Are you watching?”. However, I have been pointed out that the terms have indeed been extended. The problem, however, is still there)

We wrote several articles about it last year. MPEG is still very nasty poison, and it should be avoided vigorously.


ES: Alex Brown: El ‘Joe Lieberman’ de Microsoft

Posted in Fraud, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 9:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

(ODF | PDF | English/original)

Joe Lieberman

Resumen: Recordemos El lado Feo de Microsoft

De Linux Magazine (artículo 2008): “Los activistas en el foro Boicot Novell han puesto de manifiesto el documento más de 5.500 páginas en formatos PDF, HTML, hojas de cálculo, y varios otros formatos en su página web. A pesar de que OOXML ha sido certificado como un estándar ISO bajo circunstancias TURBULENTAS e INESTABLES, la ISO (Organización Internacional de Normalización) ha querido conservar la documentación completa en secreto. Los activistas Boicot Novell describen la exposición documentación como una reacción al “abuso sistemático y el paso a la irrelevancia de ISO.” Alex Brown, quien fue en parte responsable del proceso de OOXML en ISO, describe la exposición en su blog como un “descarado acto de violación derecho de autor.”

“Brown va a decir que “los piqueros incluso han sido tan buenos como para jactarse de los requisitos de banda ancho que sus crímenes han ocasionado “y termina con las palabras:”Incluso ahora, puedo escuchar los abogados de Ginebra lamiendo sus labios sobre esta … ” Boycott Novell webmaster Roy Schestovitz no se inmutó por la posible legalidad. Y añade: “No dude en pasar esto (o incluso ridículizó) los ~60 megabytes de LOCK-IN, que MICROSOFT NO TE DEJA VER.” Él no está solo en esta opinión: los numerosos comentarios en curso están etiquetados con los autores los nombres.

“Los contribuyentes sitio web también apuntan a la reciente “llamada provocativa” de IBM, para la que la ISO “haga un mejor papel”, con IBM haciendo difícil su participación en el proceso (información aquí).”

Como alguien señaló en los comentarios, “Alex Brown cada vez más se parece a un TITERE de MICROSOFT haciéndose pasar por un oficial de la ISO imparcial” (afirmación correcta)[http://techrights.org/2009/10/30/alex-brown-the-fox/] y vamos a escribir sobre el tema de nuevo muy pronto. Esto también se relaciona con Novell.

Como la saga del OOXML (“Open” Office XML) ayudó a mostrar que Microsoft es una empresa CORRUPTA que matonea a sus críticos. Ellos -MICROSOFT- tratan de hacer que sea un riesgo para exponer SU MALA CONDUCTA. Pero eso no importa, mirar Relaciones Públicas en su lugar es mucho más reconfortante que hacer frente a los males de este mundo.

Xmas gifts from Microsoft

“El mundo tiene muchos problemas y que necesitan ser reformados. Y sólo se vive una vez. Cada persona que tiene cierta capacidad para hacer algo al respecto, si es una persona de buen carácter, tiene el deber de intentar solucionar los problemas en el medio ambiente en el que viven.”

“Eso es un valor, que sí, que proviene en parte de mi temperamento. También hay un valor que viene de mi padre, que es que los hombres capaces, generosos no crean las víctimas, si no que tratar de evitar que las personas se conviertan en víctimas. Eso es lo que tienen la tarea de hacer. Si no lo hacen es que no son dignos de respeto o no son capaces.”

-Assange Julian 21 de diciembre 2010 Transcripción de la BBC: El Assange

Eduardo Landaveri adds to the above translation:

This pharisee -Alex Brown -dared to attack you personally as well as Groklaw, years have passed & now he’s sobbing about how MS never complied following its duties to ISO but he never issue an apology about his accions.

Instead of threatening people he should be investigated & audited before he retires. I hope the EU does something about him

Or in Spanish:

Este fariseo se atrevió a atacar a usted personalmente, así como Groklaw, los años han pasado y ahora está sollozando acerca de cómo Microsoft nunca cumplió sus funciones hacia la ISO, pero nunca emitió una disculpa por su acciones.

En lugar de las que amenazan la que debe ser investigado y auditado antes de retirarse. Espero que la UE haga algo al respecto.

Many thanks to Eduardo for his quick translation.


Groklaw Lashes Out at Novell for Promoting OOXML (With Lock-in and Patent/RAND Traps)

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, RAND, Standard at 5:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New year promise

Summary: Novell is slammed by a longtime stickler for helping promote Microsoft’s proprietary rival to ODF, which is the international standard for documents

PEOPLE have begun leaving for their vacation, but earlier on Groklaw decided to speak about Novell’s massive betrayal (translation to Spanish), which is not exactly news at all. Novell’s betrayal has been clear to us for over 4 years and we wrote thousands of posts on the subject.

Groklaw turns to Comes exhibits, specifically IBM exhibits. Rob from IBM has just posted this chart which shows what an utter mess Microsoft Office can be for ODF (pretty much by design [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) and Groklaw links this to what Novell did with Microsoft and what Microsoft did to IBM a couple of decades ago. To quote some parts:

First quietly create incompatibilities to make sure that Microsoft applications wouldn’t run right on OS/2. Then tell the world that they shouldn’t buy OS/2 because Microsoft applications wouldn’t run right on OS/2.

But 1991 is a long time ago, I hear some of you say, and there is a new Microsoft. Oh? Let’s see if that’s so by highlighting one of the recent Novell filings with the SEC, its work agreement with Microsoft titled “Improving Microsoft-Novell Interoperability through Open XML” and dated March of this very year.

It’s regarding work Microsoft was willing to pay Novell to do to make Microsoft’s cynically misnamed Open XML seem like it allows interoperability. Novell has been at work since March to make Novell’s version of OpenOffice.org interoperate, sort of, but as you will see not completely with Microsoft Office 2010 so that it would at least look like Open XML works and that somebody is implementing it.

What a role for Novell to agree to play. We’ve had our suspicions for years, since Microsoft and Novell entered into its patent peace agreement and technical work agreement, and now we know that everything we suspected Novell was doing with its version of OpenOffice.org, it was. It is. This is the smoking gun. And the work agreement runs through November of 2011, so this story isn’t over yet.


Remember that one of the big objections to OOXML becoming a standard in the first place was that it allowed for proprietary extensions, which it was pointed out would make it difficult and indeed impossible for anyone but Microsoft and any chosen pals to interoperate with the “standard”. And here you see it in real life. Under criticism, Microsoft hires Novell to be a Microsoft pal and to try to figure out a way to make Microsoft Office look like it interoperates with OpenOffice.org up to a point, not any version of it, but just Novell’s version of OpenOffice.

You are not supposed to have to hire people to figure out a private way to be compatible with a true standard.


Oh, Novell. What were you thinking? Why would you agree to this? I can read these words, so why couldn’t you? They say you are being used to prop up the reputation of Open XML, while not really making it compatible in the end. What kind of goals are these? For a *standard*? For a company selling GNU/Linux?


Irony is dead. Here you have a so-called standard being used for exclusivity, so Microsoft and Novell have special interoperability that others can’t enjoy.

And as for Novell’s awful role, obviously, Novell executives never grasped the essence of Linux or FOSS. That explains a lot, including the company’s downfall in the end, don’t you think? Selling out the community in secret does not a long-term business plan make. And to everyone who pushed for or accepted Novell’s version of OpenOffice.org, what’s the plan now? Seriously. Time to really make a plan. Microsoft does. How about the community? How stupid are we?

Groklaw also appends the exhibit (we will hopefully have its Spanish translation soon, courtesy of Eduardo Landaveri) and Microsoft’s booster/insider Alex Brown gets slammed for his role in this whole process (he is a Microsoft “mercenary” as Landaveri would probably call him). He is criticised severely not just for his abuse as OOXML convenor but also as a Microsoft booster after all these incidents. Brown also threatened me after I had leaked OOXML, for all the misconduct associated with it (even corruption like bribes). That’s the type of crowd Microsoft surrounds itself with, in order to defend itself from prosecution for crimes.

For those who can recall the debate from 2008, OOXML is filled with RAND traps although it’s not the only issue with this proprietary format. The news about EIFv2 [1, 2, 3] (also in Spanish) suggests that Europe will not exclude OOXML for its unacceptable RAND terms and there is a new analysis (supposedly impartial) of what EIFv2 will mean to Europe:

Whether or not by indirect reaction to some of these developments, Red Hat has this week issued a blog post outlining the European Interoperability Framework (EIF), which has been set out by the European Commission. The commission recognizes that open technologies are key to achieving interoperability and therefore recommends that public administrations should aim for openness at all times.

If the European Commission is right to back this initiative with its emphasis being on “open specifications” and open standards being implemented in practice, then it may help the wider cause of free and open source software application development (in the public sector at least) from the following perspectives:

* The promotion and support the delivery of public services by fostering cross-border and cross-sectoral interoperability;
* To guide public administrations in their work to provide public services to businesses and citizens; and
* To complement and tie together the various National Interoperability Frameworks (NIFs) where they exist.

Although this model is confined to Europe under the auspices of the European commission, if effective it may prove telling for procedural adoption in other developed countries of the Western world from the United States and beyond.

The EIF is more than just a typical paper from another government committee. It is the result of a multi-year, multi-stakeholder effort that sets out to shift the paradigm for IT deployment in the public sector. Indeed, in the words of the EIF, it… “should be taken into account when [governments are] making decisions on public services that support the implementation of policy initiatives… [and] should also be considered when establishing public services that in the future may be reused as part of public services.”

OOXML was never supposed to get anywhere near ISO, but Novell helped it along the way, in order to appease Microsoft which had paid Novell hundreds of millions of dollars. Boyott Novell and whatever comes after it (AttachMSFT is buying Novell, so the name of the target will change).


OOXML Patent Lock-up Teaches Microsoft and Others That Software Patents Hurt

Posted in EFF, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents, Standard at 7:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Digital lock

Summary: Lessons to be taken from the i4i vs Microsoft case and the real story behind amicus briefs in this case

THE i4i vs Microsoft case has led to OOXML troubles. Microsoft knew about it all along [1, 2, 3], which is why ISO was urged to invalidate OOXML after it had foolishly sold out.

Microsoft’s booster/insider Alex Brown keeps provoking about OOXML and patents right about now, but we’ll leave that alone for the time being because it’s not worth stirring up this hornet’s nest again. He too knew about this problem, but as the BRM convenor for OOXML he kept quiet about it. He had a job to do and that job was seemingly to promote Microsoft, not do the duties he was assigned to carry out for ISO.

Microsoft is currently trying to escape the trap set up by i4i after the very shrill Microsoft cheated i4i and even took some pride in it. Microsoft wants to get rid of i4i’s patent/s and spinners of this (mobbyists in particular) take it out of context by pretending that Microsoft’s patent policy is reasonable and that the EFF supports Microsoft. As the FFII puts it, this is just a case of:

#EFF against i4i #XML patent

It’s a software patent and Microsoft et al. knew about it years ago yet hid the issue in order to market OOXML, which is a story of corruption.

Ryan Paul wrote about it and so did Groklaw which has a full amicus brief presented as text:

Seriously, Google, Verizon, Dell, HP, HTC, and Wal-Mart, if you can believe it, have together filed an amicus brief [PDF] in support of Microsoft’s petition for writ of certiorari [PDF] in the i4i patent litigation case Microsoft lost both at the District Court level and on appeal to the Federal Circuit. HP and Dell submitted amicus briefs before in support of Microsoft, back when the case was being appealed to the Federal Circuit, but after Microsoft lost again there, the crowd in support has grown. And they all give the court an earful about just how messed up the patent system has become.

It’s a new day, ladies and gentlemen, when Wal-Mart gets it that the patent system is destructive to business and destroying innovation. A number of others have also filed amicus briefs, including EFF together with the Apache Software Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Computer & Communications Industry Association. You can find more amicus briefs in Nick Eaton’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle, but I thought you’d particularly like to see the Google brief, so I’ve done it as text, because Google uses the same firm that represents them against Oracle in the patent litigation regarding Java and Android, King & Spalding.

Rob Weir is meanwhile showing that ISO is a farce. “Costs over $100 to view,” he writes “#FAIL RT @isostandards: ISO/IEC standard for special mathematical functions (C++) http://ow.ly/2MiPR”

If ISO allows patent traps (even from trolls) to become “standards”, then ISO renders itself obsolete.


Microsoft Obeys Neither Open Standards Nor Open Source Software Doctrine

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, ISO, Microsoft, Standard at 7:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Image: stuffing-capable ISO

Summary: Microsoft is preaching about standards and open source again, having just had managers vilify both (sometimes resorting to outright corruption); IE9 another new example of harming Web standards and snubbing Open Source

IDG’s pseudo-open source blog has a new hit today. It’s Microsoft’s Walli [1, 2] again and he wants to educate us dumb communists, explaining to us what “Open Source” really means. “Please Don’t Confuse Standards with Open Source Software” says his headline and one can imagine the rest of those Microsoft talking points. Microsoft loves proprietary software development methods and when it comes to standards, it loves labeling its own proprietary APIs/protocols “standards” (recall what Microsoft did to ISO).

“They call it open source for marketing purposes,” explained to us gnufreex a couple of hours ago, “but they are doing business by GNU manifesto.” [update 18/9/2010: gnufreex asked to emphasise he referred to Red Hat here]

As we showed earlier today, Microsoft pretty much admits that it hates Open Source (not just Free software). It’s good that the technology press has been paying attention to it. “Microsoft slags off Open Sauce” says the headline from TechEye:

While software giant Microsoft has been trying to tell the world plus dog that it really loves Open Sauce, there are signs that some company executives did not get the memo.

Hernan Rincon, president of Microsoft Latin America, has been hitting the press claiming that “open” really is a way of saying “incompetent”:

He claimed when software companies cannot compete they are declaring their product to be “open”. This apparently “masks incompetence”.

“When convenient, the companies say they are open and they they use it for your own benefit, ” he added in our Babelfish translator.

It’s not just Open Source that Microsoft is clearly hostile towards (to the point of violating licences repeatedly after exploitation). At Microsoft there is still hostility towards the Web, with obvious examples like Silverlight (very anti-Web standards) and even Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), which Microsoft boosters say will fracture of the Web. We wrote about the subject earlier today and Swapnil Bhartiya says more by claiming that IE9 is a Chrome and Firefox “rip-off” (his own headline).

The browser seems to an obese boy, unlike lean Chrome and Firefox. The setup file itself was twice the file size of Mozilla Firefox 4.

Firefox was smaller in size (10MB), almost half the size of IE9. It installed fast and was up and running while IE was still installing.

Typical of Microsoft’s flint-stone age approach, you have to ‘re-start’ your machine in order for IE 9 to work. Doesn’t matter how much important work you are doing, you have to restart.

IE9 is bad for other reasons [1, 2, 3] and no component of it is available for code audit, let alone for sharing. Just about any other Web browser — Opera and Safari included — has at least something that’s Free software inside it. Microsoft loves Open Source? Don’t bet on it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].


Microsoft is Still Trolling ODF and Other Free Software Causes Using Fake ‘FOSS People’, OOXML Defects Ignored

Posted in Free/Libre Software, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 2:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Image: stuffing-capable ISO

Summary: News about ODF, SC34 which is a farce, and some of the latest heckling from Microsoft proponents who masquerade as pro-openness or impartial

DESPITE interference from Microsoft intruders [1, 2], the OpenOffice.org conference in Hungary went pretty well based on numerous reports. People in attendance learned about the need for Open Document Format (ODF) and there are other pro-ODF articles in the press these days. The Guardian, for instance, is still making waves.

A good piece from the Guardian’s Charles Arthur yesterday, reporting teacher and Windsor & Maidenhead councillor Liam Maxwell’s analysis, of how much councils could save by switching to Open Document Format, as used in OpenOffice.org: some £200M if all councils did this for all their staff. There was some background to this, about the problems encountered by Windsor and Maidenhead, on Computer Weekly’s site on Wedensday.

The key stumbling block for councils, as for schools, appears to be compatibility with others systems, most notably those supplied by Capita. Liam calls for the Cabinet Office to strengthen its present position on open source and open standards by mandating ODF as a standards across the public sector, were this to happen I don’t doubt that we’d see Capita quickly make SIMS and their other products compatible with OpenOffice.org, making it far easier for schools and councils to choose their office suite from all those available, rather than forcing them to pay for MS Office, bundled with ‘features’ which many will rarely if ever use. Charles seems to think that such a requirement is far more likely with Francis Maude at the Cabinet Office than it had ever been under the previous administration, even in Tom Watson’s day.

Microsoft is not done throwing wrenches at ODF.

Bart Hanssens recently stated that “odf 1.2cd05 60-day review ended, comments received” (these comments are part of the openness of this system). Rob Weir, who works alongside Hanssens on ODF, found himself having to confront Microsoft minions again. Microsoft’s booster and insider Alex Brown, who was the BRM convenor for OOXML while he smeared ODF, is not being left alone by Weir, who writes about another scandalous SC34 (see coverage from SC34 in 2008 and SC34 in 2009): “If you are looking for OOXML defects to fix, how about going back to 100′s of NB issues you gaveled away at the BRM?”

Weir is then met by opposition from Brown’s longtime right-winger, the ODF-hostile Jesper Lund Stocholm [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. He is a known Microsoft booster and Weir’s responses to him go like this:

- “Are you saying that there are zero issues remaining from the OOXML ballot that should be addressed? Really? Zero?

- “So if I understand correctly, you are asking NB’s to resubmit defect reports for issues not resolved at the BRM?

- “It wasn’t clear. I assumed WG4 would look at the defects already submitted during BRM. You are saying they are not.

- “You should send note to all NBs telling them that they need to resubmit relevant defect reports from the OOXML ballot

- “With ODF we do it differently. Our defect log includes all ballot comments received for ODF 1.0. No need to resubmit

- “I understand how to submit comments. But I wasn’t aware that the previously submitted comments were being ignored.

- “Deferred ballot comments are either in WG4′s defect index or not. Simple question. What is the answer?

- “Earlier Alex suggested lack of interest explained the lack of comments. Maybe NBs think they have already submitted? I did.

“NB issues should be solved,” says the FFII to this booster (the FFII’s member also participated in squashing OOXML).

Watch Jesper Lund Stocholm belittling OpenOffice.org by implying that it’s a ripoff of Microsoft Office. Typical.

Weir finally responds to Brown by writing: “I’m not suggesting a new process. Just asking status of those defects. Sounds like they need to be resubmitted, right?”

“BRM comment processing rates can range from 0.5-1000 comments/hour,” says Weir to Mary McRae from OASIS (maintainer of ODF).

Not surprisingly, throughout this conversation the two Microsoft boosters (Microsoft is fronting with them) tried to defend Microsoft by attacking its competition. For instance, they turn to dismissing and attacking ODF, simply because they cannot defend their dirty handling of their proprietary OOXML. The conversations can be found in Twitter, so they don’t need additional exposure here.

Bart Hanssens adds: “The ironic thing is that Ecma never made public the public comments they received on OOXML. But for ODF this is an open book.”

On and on it went for a couple of days and at the end Weir gave up feeding those Microsoft minions. Microsoft rarely speaks directly about such issues, it just sends out MVPs or something else that may seem impartial to an outsider. Weir then posted a rant about ISO, which is captured by the vendor called Microsoft as far as document formats are concerned. To quote part of this rant:

We saw during the OOXML ballot, and especially at the BRM, how this totally fell apart. It was raised several times that Microsoft was dominating the committees, sometimes representing more than 50% of the people in the room. But ISO leadership dodged the issue, saying there was nothing they could do about it, based on their rules. This may be true. But that is just acknowledgment that their rules are not able to prevent domination problems.

And on Balance, ANSI says:

The standards development process should have a balance of interests. Participants from diverse interest categories shall be sought with the objective of achieving balance.

Like committees containing almost exclusively Microsoft Business Partners? Fail. In fact you can go up and down the list and ISO fails to meet these minimum requirements.

ISO got poisoned some years ago, at least the parts of ISO which Microsoft had to ‘stuff’ with workers who are in Microsoft’s pocket. We did give examples at the time. Other Microsoft minions are harassing the FFII right now, but the FFII is not alone among their victims. Microsoft Florian, for example, is labelling Eben Moglen “Fidel” (as in Castro) and calling him that many times. How low has Microsoft sunk in its battles against the SFLC/FSF? Microsoft’s MVP Miguel de Icaza is also attacking the FFII right now. Anyone who still believes that this man exists in the GNU/Linux world in order to serve an agenda not of Microsoft need look no further than some of this man’s most recent actions. He apparently still trolls ODF too. The FFII wrote to him: “Feel free to submit ODF1.2 bug reports to @rcweir and Oasis, 5 days to go.” There is increased friendship and collaboration between the Mono camp and Microsoft Florian, both of which attack the FFII, trying hard to cause trouble. Microsoft Florian maintains his rude habit of mass-mailing people to achieve his goals.


How Microsoft Belittles ODF, Using the “Choice”-Themed Lies (and Why Google Should Offer ODF as a Choice)

Posted in Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 4:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If thought can corrupt language, then language can also corrupt thought.”

George Orwell

Summary: Microsoft and its proponents/minions are still pushing an old propaganda line by claiming that Windows and OOXML will bring “choice”

THE NEWS is aflood with reports that IBM comes under scrutiny in the EU. Little is being said about the fact that IBM is being attacked SCO-style by Microsoft and its “satellite proxies” (IBM's words). We care about this because IBM’s mainframes run GNU/Linux — a fact that people like Florian Müller could not care less about (and this matters because “FlorianMueller” is the one who also pushed the news into Slashdot with his own convictions and bias). See the conversation in the previous post where Müller admits using Vista 7 (he seems like a permanent Windows user) and does not care so much if his stance is helping Microsoft. He’s apathetic to it. He also spins/subverts the word "choice" in the same way Microsoft does (same with the word “openness”*). It’s done just as Microsoft Malaysia did it to ODF and other branches of the company do under all sorts of situations. It’s a language game. Standards are about limiting choice at some level of granularity in order to ensure that different implementations work well with one another. Microsoft’s hypnosis strives to confuse people about choice; it’s about office suites, not formats.

Rob Weir has just informed his peers and supporters of ODF that Microsoft is restricting choice (abolishing and harming ODF’s status) using language games.

Microsoft’s talking points go something like this:

If you adopt ODF instead of OOXML then you “restrict choice”. Why would you want to do that? You’re in favor of openness and competition, right? So naturally, you should favor choice.

You can see a hundreds of variations on this theme, in Microsoft press releases, whitepapers, in press articles and blogged by astroturfers by searching Google for “ODF restrict choice“.

This argument is quite effective, since it is plausible at first glance, and takes more than 15 seconds to refute. But the argument in the end fails by taking a very superficial view of “choice”, relying merely on the positive allure of its name, essentially using it as a talisman. But “choice” is more than just a pretty word. It means something. And if we dig a little deeper, at what the value of choice really is, the Microsoft argument falls apart.

So let’s make an attempt to show how can one be in favor of choice, but also be in favor of eliminating choice. Let’s resolve the paradox. Personally I think this argument is too long, but maybe it will prompt someone to formulate it in a briefer form.

Glyn Moody remarks on this post by calling it a “nice debunking of a sneaky Microsoft trope about choice” and he also shares this word of warning about a new Google Docs “format”.

“I’m having trouble searching for just ODF formats, Did Google remove the ability?”
I asked Weir about it and he said that he “Can’t tell much from the screenshot. Not clear that it is a format. Maybe Punch is an app? Or internal test system?”

As a reminder, Google officially opposed OOXML when Microsoft was corrupting standards bodies all over the world, but Google never showed much active support for ODF, either. Google has been mostly passive and there are recent examples where Google exlcuded ODF support and was criticised for it (although not in a major way).

One person has just mailed us to say: “I’m having trouble searching for just ODF formats, Did Google remove the ability?”

“In general I’m losing it for Google,” said this person to us, “they support OS [open source] only when it suits them. They [are] really not our friends.”

Google Docs is of course proprietary.
* When Microsoft says “openness” it never means “Open Source”. In cases where Microsoft is excluded or chooses to be excluded it advocates “choice” as means/route to depart from standards and embrace proprietary offerings instead.


ISO is Irrelevant and British Government Pushed to Support ODF

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 5:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MicrISOftSummary: New reminder of how Microsoft corrupted international standards and a call for action in the United Kingdom

NOVELL’S SUPPORT of OOXML was mentioned in the previous post, which also helped put Mono in context. Mono will soon comprise Microsoft code licensed under Microsoft licences. It’s almost as though Novell is just a proxy for putting Microsoft stuff inside GNU/Linux. We’ll leave this discussion for another day though. More interesting news happens to have come through Rob Weir a few hours ago. It is a new post titled “Are Standards Organizations Relevant?”

Recently I was in a brief conversation about the use of the IEEE. They are an institution that, like many (all?) other standards organizations, seems to exist largely or entirely to standardize the reason for their existence. While it is generally agreed that we would greatly prefer a world with standards organizations to one without, it’s evident that standards organizations need to do more than they currently are to remain relevant. Given the complaints about standards organizations, the solution to this may actually be more standardization.


Another important point is careful control over what exactly becomes a standard. Standards must be fully defined with nothing critical being dependent on any particular implementation. If I pick up the document defining the standard for a document format, that document should contain all the information I require to create an application which handles that format in a manner identical to the reference implementation. For the Open Document Format (ODF) standard, this is possible. For the Microsoft Office OpenXML (MSOOXML) document format, this is impossible. The MSOOXML definition refers to the behaviour of previous versions of Microsoft Office applications without providing any documentation on how to properly produce that behaviour or even what the correct behaviour should be. Even worse, the MSOOXML definition defines an “arbitrary binary data” field — neither open nor XML, and by definition impossible to define. It is therefore possible for an application to create a MSOOXML document which would appear to be completely adherent to the document specifications but which could not be properly read by any other application.

We have covered to death the corruption that occurred amidst ISO’s decision. This was an extraordinary display of Microsoft’s criminal nature, which it showed not just once but possibly hundreds of times in a short period of time (we documented many examples).

In better news, a proposal has just been made for the British government to make ODF the national standard.

Establish the Open Document Format as the standard for use in all Government departments rather than continually upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Office at a cost of many millions of pounds. This is a process which is already taking place in other European countries and one which should be started in Britain at the earliest opportunity.

Supporting OOXML in any way is acknowledging that abuse of the system is acceptable and that open standards no longer mean anything. The British Standards Institution has already been sued for what it did regarding OOXML.

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