Summary: A call for people to leave a comment/digital letter to British officials who elected ODF as the only document standard for communication with the public
TOMORROW is the last chance to leave feedback on this British consultation (must be registered to leave one’s comment) which we covered in some recent days. Today, in the latest of three previous posts, we covered the disgusting flame and biased coverage from Microsoft apologists who try to incite. They try to make ODF proponent look like a bunch of radicals.
Here is my feedback:
The only opposition to ODF comes from one single entity: Microsoft. It’s not a British company and it is not an ethical company, to say the very least.
Microsoft would like us to believe that “Open” XML (an Orwellian name) is a “standard” without telling how it became a “standard”, starting with ECMA, where key officials publicly gloated about the corruptible process, and the ISO, from which key/top members resigned following what Microsoft had done (while specifically citing what Microsoft had done).
Systematic corruption cannot be ignored and the debate cannot be framed as one where we look at stamps of approval alone.
As a researcher, a former journalist, and a webmaster of sites which receive hundreds of millions of hits annually, I already wrote almost 1,000 articles on the topic of OOXML, sacrificing a lot of my time because this classic case of corruption was too serious to be ignored. The European Commission said it would investigate this, but the huge extent of Microsoft’s abuses are, according to the Commission itself, why it no longer pursued this, even after it said it would (too many resources would be required because of the international scale).
Bribed officials are just the tip of the iceberg. Spamming officials with letters (not just through partners but also lobbyists, “sockpuppets” who are operated by peripheral staff etc.) is just one of many tactics as well. Microsoft went as far as pushing senior people out of their jobs if they dared to oppose OOXML. There are documented examples as such.
This is not atypical for Microsoft; Microsoft had done similar things (and got caught) a decade earlier when it faced antitrust charges. Ballot stuffing, insiders in committees, bribes etc. are Microsoft’s way of doing business and here too we should expect to see it.
I wrote extensively about technical issues in OOXML, as well as legal issues such as patents. Some of the letters to you may have already covered at least a small subset of those. There were protests in numerous places including Poland and Norway, where members of the standardisation process marched the streets in protest. That’s how bad it was.
There was a BRM in Switzerland — a jaw-dropping case of corrupt process. This was part of how Microsoft got its “standard”, ignoring thousands of listed and properly enumerated issues. It would be impossible to list these exhaustively in a letter because there were literally thousands of pages detailing technical issues. These were discarded, ignored, and the attendees appalled by what they clearly considered to be a deeply rigged process.
Microsoft was flying journalists to Seattle (at Microsoft’s expense) in order to manufacture favourable articles. It seems to be doing something similar in the British press right now. Microsoft offered delivered presentations and studies from so-called ‘independent’ experts who would soon thereafter be hired to work full time at Microsoft. There were attempts to equate ODF with one single company (notably IBM) and attempts to equate ODF with a particular piece of software when ODF was in fact backed by hundreds of entities, both from the private and public sector. Many programs support ODF, and they support is very well. OOXML is just a rebranding of closed Microsoft formats (legacy), propped up by companies which Microsoft paid specifically for the purpose of backing OOXML (there are publicly accessible documents that clearly support these allegations). OOXML is about protecting the common carrier, Windows, creating lock-in for a cash cow. British taxpayers cannot bear these costs anymore.
I would like to quote a leaked Microsoft document which was presented in a case against Microsoft in the United States. The internal document stated: “A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select die panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. Since you can’t expect representatives of our competitors to speak on your behalf, you have to get the moderator to agree to having only “independent ISVs” on the panel. No one from Microsoft or any other formal backer of the competing technologies would be allowed -just ISVs who have to use this stuff in the “real world.” Sounds marvellously independent doesn’t it? In feet, it allows us to stack the panel with ISVs that back our cause. Thus, the “independent” panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you’ve got a major win on your hands.”
This basically sums up what Microsoft is trying to do in order to derail British standard policies at this moment. This was done before in many places and at different times. As one who works for British government clients I am very familiar with some of the ways in which Microsoft tries to interfere with standards and with competition, claiming to pursue “choice” when what it actually means is proprietary software, privacy infringement, lock-in etc. disguised as “choice”. Do not be misled by claims of victimhood and appeals to fairness which are actually just self interest, designed to increase licensing costs and dependence of software from the United States.
Microsoft’s OOXML is so “open” that when I leaked it on my Web site (should be fine for “open” document) I received legal threats. The purpose of the leak was to highlight many technical flaws which Microsoft hid using restrictive access and prohibitive costs, leaving information to only a few insiders in the know, much like TPP and other secret “free trade” negotiations.
Be strong in the face of bullying and pressure. Microsoft would not permit open standards to be accepted. That would give people a choice of platform, a choice of an office suite, and the choice of long-term preservation of their data.
Remember that the deadline is tomorrow (Wednesday), so now is a good time to leave a comment. █
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Insults and lies continue to dominate Microsoft’s arguments against OpenDocument Format (ODF)
Summary: Some more disgusting flame and generally poor coverage from Microsoft apologists who hit the British press
THERE is a war of words between the Microsoft camp and the rest of the world or at least Britain, as we covered here before. The Register, which accepts payments from Microsoft, continues its provocative and very offensive coverage, summarised with: “Even if Microsoft bosses collectively whistled Always Look on the Bright Side of Life they’d still struggle to drown out people backing Cabinet Office proposals to adopt the Open Document Format as the official standard for UK.gov missives.”
That’s because everyone but Microsoft (and its partners) does not want or need OOXML, which is all about crime. Can’t The Register get that?
“In the war of words,” says the author, “it is 1-0 to the open source zealots.”
This is journalism?! It’s more like Microsoft lobbying and propaganda disguised as “reporting”.
The whole article is full of insults. The author is “conflating program with format… dismissing the case for open standards as zealotry,” writes iophk. “The Reg has been crap for years no end in sight” (there were Microsoft payments, whereupon the sceptical eye which The Register once laid on Microsoft pretty much went away).
“Zealous about the right thing,” said the headline of one comment response. “Not “open source zealots”, but “open data zealots”,” stresses the commenter. Notice that ODF is not about FOSS; proprietary software can benefit from it also.
“Fred Flintstone” (pseudonym) wrote: “I rather object to the repeated use of the word “zealots” in the article, which seems to suggest the author has a bias.
“IMHO, choosing proper open formats has got ZERO to do with religion or beliefs, but everything with realistic value assessment.”
There are much better comments in this consultation (British readers, please log in and leave feedback). Microsoft’s attack on ODF in this case is paradoxical for the reasons put in this statement: “This isn’t about switching to open source software, but to a format widely and well-supported by open source office formats [...] The government could continue to run Microsoft Office, but the preferred data format would be ODF. This makes Microsoft’s argument seem to be rather shrill. Why on earth would changing the default format of released documents be a big deal?”
Red Hat’s FOSS site covered this subject, but at the same time it gave this proxy of Microsoft a platform in which to equate FOSS usage with “consuming” (similar to the idea of exploitation and so-called “freeloaders”, which is how Microsoft’s Outercurve staff refers to FOSS users in Red Hat’s very own OpenSource.com).
Microsoft is rallying its British partners, urging them to bamboozle and pressure the British government to drop ODF as a requirement. Don’t let Microsoft monopolise the voice of Brits. Don’t let the company that committed crime pretend that we, the victims, as the bad people (just because we are rightly upset). █
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Microsoft may be doing the “add your name here and spam away” routine once again, this time in Britain
Summary: There are two days left for British people to consider sending feedback regarding Microsoft’s crimes and fiction of a ‘standard’
THIS will be our last reminder to British readers who are able to do good service not just for the UK but for the whole world (by setting an example).
Microsoft was caught not only bribing but stuffing ballots and writing templates for sockpuppets and partners to mail officials, e.g. at ANSI. For those who cannot remember or were not paying attention at that time (about 7 years ago), Microsoft engaged in a large volume of illegal activities for which it was never punished. Now it wants to use these activities to extinguish a long-overdue policy in favour of Free software. Microsoft is trying the familar "me too" strategy.
“I guess you got these already,” iophk wrote. “It’s all a repeat of the ‘Windows, too’ or ‘equal’ time tactic” (or “choice”, where choice means Microsoft only but “no exclusion in principle” of competition of Microsoft). Choice means proprietary and spyware. Not open, not freedom.
Those who are familiar with what Microsoft did can mention the bribes, not focus only on technical arguments. The bribes were needed because of lack of technical value. For some more background and links for leaving feedback to the British government see the following reports [1, 2, 3] from the British press or even the Slashdot link to Andy Updegrove (Simon Phipps from the OSI wrote about it in his personal blog) And “while /. lasts,” iophk says, “UK FOSS people need to all send in some good comments. It’s not anything the outside community can take on.”
It’s like we are back to 2007/2008 — back when Microsoft was stuffing ballots and spamming people to get its way. One way to fight back is to expose those tactics, not just counter them in the same way. As the comments in Linux Today help show (there are hardly any comments in Linux Today since QuinStreet took over), people are very emotional about this and they are eager enough to do something substantial. Microsoft is back to using criminal activities (not just lobbying), bringing people like Updegrove back out from the woodwork. █
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Microsoft wants us to embrace the criminal’s standard, not a real standard
Summary: Microsoft strikes back against the British government for ‘daring’ to consider something other than proprietary software with proprietary formats
CRIMINAL organisation Microsoft, which is renowened for its illegal activities and collusion with other criminal entities, is calling its syndicates in the UK to go retaliate against British politicians who favour Free/libre software, fair competition, British companies, and real standards. This was predicable because it happened before (e.g. watering down of policies). It’s Microsoft’s way of “doing business”. Corruption is the de facto standard when it comes to Microsoft deals with the British government (various departments). We included evidence in over 100 posts over the years.
Microsoft’s latest retribution attempts are centred around the requirement of a standard. Microsoft wants us to believe that its crime-riddled proprietary formats, collectively referred to as OOXML, are in any way ‘standard’. They’re not. Not even in the UK. They’re corruption. Recall that even Britain’s BSI faced lawsuits over this corruption, as we covered in old posts such as:
Having been found to be bribing governments (probably as big as China's, not just banana republics), Microsoft should watch carefully its next move in the UK. If it attempts to bribe officials again (even ‘soft’ bribery), then it will receive a lot of blowback but no jail time, as it’s exempted from punishment for such crimes and Ballmer ran away on time.
Microsoft says that choosing ODF “sets a worrying precedent because government is, in effect, refusing to support another internationally recognised open standard,” referring to OOXML in the latter part. Well, everyone who watched this carefully knows the huge levels of corruption involved there, including bribed officials, rigged voted, etc. Nobody really considers OOXML “internationally recognised”; except Microsoft boosters and fake ‘journalists’ perhaps. Those know are informed recognise it as an internationally-recognised case of systematic crime by Microsoft. Here is a summary of just some of these crimes (counted up to an early point in time).
The British press says “Microsoft hits back at government’s open source plans,” noting that “Microsoft has urged its partners to pay closer attention to what it describes as the government’s “ill-considered” proposals to move to a more open IT model.”
Here again we see Microsoft acting by proxy. We saw that before. Whenever some Free software house (small business) in the UK receives some business from the government Microsoft sends out its proxies/partners as though they are some kind of “task forcex” (Microsoft terminology), commissioned to destroy any traces of non-Microsoft in the public sector. It’s an act of cleansing and it’s very well designed and occrdinated by the Redmond-based convicted monopolist.
“Last month,” the article gives context, “the government hinted it was considering moving away from technology such as Microsoft Office in favour of open-source offerings in an effort to break supplier “oligopoly”.”
Yes, indeed, and what’s wrong with that?
“According to Microsoft,” says the article, “the government is currently undergoing a consultation on plans to mandate the use of Open Document Formats (ODF) and to ditch Microsoft-developed Open XML (OOXML).”
Yes, indeed, because that’s the ethical and technical thing to do. We are going to take part in this consultation and we are going to urge our readers (especially British readers) to do the same. Microsoft is certainly going to use its proxies to bombard those in the consultation (sometimes it infiltrates those who assess the process, too, in addition to sending template letters to ‘DDOS’ the process, occasionally with sockpuppets) and the words from Microsoft are especially appalling because OOXML is a story of bribery and corruption, OOXML is not really a standard. Marketing, deception, revisionism, personal attacks etc. are going to be used by Microsoft to try to make it look like ODF is all about IBM and OOXML is ‘the’ standard. In reality, it’s not an international standard but an international case of crime (that tte European Commission was assigned to handle). Hundreds of examples can be given to show this, including bribery, entryism, retribution, bullying, etc. If OOXML was a real “open” standard, then how come when I leaked it (as if one needs to ‘leak’ standards) Microsoft and its cronies threatened litigation against me? So much for “open”… they were hiding the technical flaws and the fact that it’s just a scam (cannot be implemented by anyone but Microsoft, which also did not implement it, ever).
A Cabinet Office representative stated in response to Microsoft’s comments: “As part of our long-term economic plan, we’re committed to opening up government procurement to a wider range of suppliers. We want to see a greater range of software used and for departments to choose what is right for them and the users of their services.”
Simon Phipps, who back in the days of these Microsoft crime worked at Sun, calls for people to participate in the consultation. Any Updegrove, who was at the forefront back then as well, says “[t]he deadline is next Wednesday – make sure you’re heard!” We will be writing a letter and we urge others to do the same, possibly over the weekend. Talking about Microsoft’s crime and the rogue process should not be a taboo; justice has a lot to do with it. If the UK moves to ODF and embraces Free software, then other nations will use that as an example and follow suit. █
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Too many hirings from Microsoft?
Summary: Google is paying the very same people who helped Microsoft’s OOXML crimes, having also started using OOXML by default
TECHRIGHTS spent a lot of time showing that ECMA is seriously corrupt (we still have an “ECMA” category filled with stories about this laughable organisation). It basically is the moral of equivalent of a regulator who receives a bribe to not only turn a blind eye but also to publicly go to other regulators and glorify the one who bribes. So why would Google, a former ODF promoter (not anymore), pay ECMA money?
One has to recall what ECMA did back in the OOXML days — the time when Microsoft was going around the world bribing just about everyone in the process (business and governments) in order to rig votes, shame the opposition, etc. Microsoft showed a deeply criminal nature at that time. Now we’re left with FRAND-laden ‘standards’ which are basically not compatible with FOSS, as Andy Updegrove (Linux Foundation) explained the other day . It is clear why we need standards that everyone can implement  (it is good for manufacturers and purchasers, not for monopolists) and ODF is one such standard that still makes some headlines  and finds selective support from governments (even here in the Microsoft-centric UK ).
Google should really be promoting ODF, but it doesn't. This is one of the areas where Google disappoints in a very major way and adding insult to injury, Google pays ECMA right now . What has happened to the Google we knew until about 5 years ago? Except many hirings from Microsoft Google has hired many patent lawyers and done other dubious things. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Fourth in a series of public-private exchanges jointly convened by the EC and EPO on the topic of ICT standardization and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), the “main highlights” are of particular note.
WebODF is a new open-source projet that allows ODF document files to be displayed within a web-browser. WebODF is used by the new OwnCloud release for its collaborative, web-based ODF file editing.
Jingle Bells. The UK government has spruced its open document policy up for Christmas.
The Cabinet Office began a public consultation on open document formats this week, three and a half years after it came to power promising they would be one of the first things it delivered.
The consultation might signify the government has renewed its commitment to the policy. It had struggled so much since the coalition’s first failed attempt to introduce it in 2011 that it seemed it would never deliver at all.
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Summary: The company which aids crimes of the state is protected from having its crimes treated as such; just like big banks that receive bailouts rather than jail sentences, Microsoft receives document formats monopoly rather than embargo
SEVERAL years ago it was rare and unusual for one to receive OOXML files, but nowadays this is becoming common. Microsoft corruption paid off. Not a single person was sent to prison, let alone put on trial or an antitrust probe. It sure seems — as Microsoft would would gladly demonstrate — that very large corporations are above the law and if they are eager to engage in fraud and corruption, then they will get away with it, provided they are close enough to government (Microsoft — like Cisco and AT&T — is somewhat an NSA Trojan horse).
A few days ago a good British journalist wrote about Open Document Format, reminding us of what many people forgot. I could never forget ODF because I wrote almost a thousand posts about this area and I saw a huge amount of Microsoft crime going on without punishment (let alone any promise of punishment). This saga helped show that no matter how much crime Microsoft commits (e.g. bribing governments) some governments will continue to protect it. US officials will even act like Microsoft marketing people, almost as if they are trying to set up spying posts in other countries. They would go as far as trying to portray ODF as "anti American" because it can reduce dependence on Microsoft’s back doors-friendly operating system.
Earlier today Glyn Moody asked,” where did ODF disappear to?”
As Moody put it: “Readers with good memories may remember various key fights over the years that were largely about ODF and OOXML. The first round culminated in the extraordinarily shoddy fast-tracking of OOXML through the ISO standards process. Then we had a big battle over open standards in general, which also involved ODF and OOXML, where the UK government performed a dizzying series of U-turns.
“That was over two years ago, and it struck me that after years of sound and fury, and all the work the open source community put into supporting ODF and open standards, we have recently heard nothing about the use of ODF by the UK government. That is, OOXML seems to have won be default. Indeed, it is striking that practically every document from the UK government is in OOXML format: for a while, there was an attempt to offer ODF formats too, but clearly people in UK government have given up even pretending to be fair here.”
Remember that as long as Microsoft protects criminals who do it with impunity (state support) it will continue to be protected by the Establishment. For anyone who thinks that technical merits can be used to win an argument, well… politics is not hinged on logic. The NSA and NSA-funded GCHQ show us that politics is not even hinged on law. Outlawed practices (cracking, viruses, etc.) and digital disorder (like OOXML) is okay when those in power say they need it. █
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The NSA-friendly back doors chosen politically, barring technical considerations and assessment
Summary: Forced disclosure of administrative documents in France reveals a secret Microsoft deal which is purely political and not technical
FOLLOWING our coverage of Microsoft and spooks collaborating (two months before the NSA leaks began), APRIL (software freedom advocacy group in France) sent us what it called a “[f]ollowup on “Open Bar” contract between Microsoft and French ministry of Defence,” stating:
you wrote a few months ago an article about the “Open Bar” contract
between Microsoft and French ministry of Defence
FYI We published last weeks news documents. These documents show that
choosing an Open Bar contract was indeed the result of a political
decision which clearly was made before the feasibility and risks studies
were being performed.
Read on :
This page says: “This framework contract, which was signed without any open call for tender or competitive procedure, granted right of use on some Microsoft products and associated services for the duration of the contract, i.e. four years. It was signed in complete secrecy, despite numerous negative opinions, and was the subject of several leaks to the press.”
“Taking advantage of this information, we made two successive requests for administrative documents. The first one obtained a partially usable response. We are now publishing the released documents resulting from the second one.”
This is very fascinating and it can give clues as to what happens in other countries. France is generally considered one of the most FOSS-friendly countries in the world when it comes to the public sector (based on Europe-wide assessment from professional assessors it was ranked first). Microsoft's assault on standards, which include ODF, was very interesting in France because then too it involved political corruption and involvement by Nicolas Sarkozy, who was close to Microsoft executives. This led to OOXML apologism and adoption [1, 2],
It is clear that Microsoft is intimidated (poor Microsoft!) if not deeply shocked to find the French police moving to GNU/Linux. Other proprietary software vendors are becoming “legacy vendors” as some call them  and as proprietary systems show massive failures in the British public sector, e.g. , we are likely to see more nations embracing Free/libre software (new example in [3,4]), with ODF leading the way in many cases (LibreOffice gets more support [5,6] and development effort ). Speaking of the UK, things change here for the better and just yesterday the UK Home Office became a client of the company I work for. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
It’s clear that open source is shaking up the technology industry. What isn’t yet clear is how this impacts legacy vendors.
Richard Bacon, a Conservative member of the committee, said the report was further evidence of a “systemic failure” in the government’s ability to draw up and manage large IT contracts. “This saga is one of the worst and most expensive contracting fiascos in the history of the public sector.
A recently unveiled search engine for accessing the collections of Finland’s archives, libraries and museums was built on open source, announces the country’s National Library. “The advantage of open source is that it enables organisations to work together to develop a system without limits, contracts or procedures.” The engine itself is also made publicly available.
The Document Foundation (TDF) announces that Studio Storti is now a member of its Advisory Board. Studio Storti is the largest provider of open source solutions to the Italian Public Administration, and is launching a LibreOffice Division to support migrations from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice.
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Summary: Marketing OOXML as part of the announcement of LibreOffice 4.1 and why it is a bad idea that Apache OpenOffice 4 won’t embrace
Microsoft represents exceptionally bad behaviour, including serious crimes, ‘cleansing’ (planned purge) of competitors and occasionally for producing shoddy products, too (resulting in users being sent to prison or entire enterprises destroyed). Nobody deserves to be compared to Microsoft. There should be a Godwin-like law for such comparisons.
Having our own strengths and adapting to future trends is the selling point of Free software, aside from freedom. But some seem to forget the abuse associated with OOXML (bribes, blackmail, etc.), which leads to marketing free/libre office suites as having just “OOXML improvements”. The Microsoft booster does it, but that doesn’t mean that we should too.
In the past few days there were two major releases of office suites and coverage was inclusive of the following (including original announcements) for Apache™ OpenOffice™ 4.0:
Apache OpenOffice 4.0 has been released. This is the first major milestone release since the Free and Open Source software Office suite was donated to the Apache Software Foundation by Oracle.
It is also the first Apache OpenOffice version that includes code and features merged from IBM’s Symphony. So this is not just a cleanup of the old OpenOffice code that you used to use before LibreOffice was forked from it. It’s much more than that.
The new version of OpenOffice, has introduced a new sidebar, designed to take advantage of widescreen monitors. The side bar has been taken from IBM’s Lotus Symphony office Suite, which was a fork of OpenOffice.
Apache OpenOffice 4.0 is now available for download from our official download page. Building upon the great success of the OpenOffice 3.4 release, which has seen over 57 million downloads, this major update brings exciting new features, enhancements and bug fixes. OpenOffice 4.0 features an innovative new Sidebar user interface, additional language support for 22 languages (including 3 new languages), 500 bug fixes, improvements in Microsoft Office interoperability, enhancements to drawing/graphics, performance improvements, etc. You can read the details of these later in these Release Notes.
The Apache Software Foundation is out with a major new milestone release of the open source OpenOffice suite. The new OpenOffice 4 release marks a major new stage in the evolution of the open source project at Apache.
“This is a big update, a release nearly a year in the making,” Rob Weir, Apache OpenOffice Project Management Committee, told Datamation. “The volume of changes in Apache OpenOffice, the more visible ones as well as the many improvements behind the scenes, justifies a major version increment.”
It has been disappointing to see LibreOffice in particular putting forth OOXML as a selling point, Even Swapnil Bhartiya uses the “interoperability” term — the word Microsoft likes to use to dodge talking about standards. He says: “Since Microsoft’s Office suite dominates the landscape, interoperability is key for LibreOffice. While Microsoft refuse to work with other file formats, LibreOffice supports as many file formats possible and in this version “numerous improvements have been made to Microsoft OOXML import and export filters, as well as to legacy Microsoft Office and RTF file filters. Most of these improvements derive from the fundamental activity of certified developers backing migration projects, based on a professional support agreement.”"
It is disheartening to see that several years down the line almost nobody even mentions OOXML crimes. Michael Larabel was among those who did not emphasise OOXML at all.
The bottom line is, market Free software based on freedom and technical strength, not something like similarity or adherence to Microsoft. People want to get away from Microsoft, they don’t want an identical substitute. Apache™ OpenOffice™ 4.0 (mostly IBM-driven) does not market OOXML, whereas LibreOffice (mostly SUSE-driven) does to a certain degree. So much for “libre”… █
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