As a reminder, as part of its many OOXML abuses, Microsoft paid companies to ‘support’ OOXML
Summary: The similarities between the effect of adding UEFI code and adding OOXML code to Free software
IN 40 comments or so I have been discussing UEFI with the developer of Shim, whose latest work one can read about in:
So, while Garrett’s shim will soon be bring many more varieties of Linux to many more Windows 8 PCs, UEFI Secure Boot will remain a significant worry for anyone wanting to run Linux or other alternative operating systems on Windows 8 PCs.
Next I went to the other extreme, disabled Legacy Boot and enabled Secure Boot. In this configuration, the Live USB media for Linux Mint and openSuSE wouldn’t even try to boot as they don’t have EFI bootloaders included. Fedora 18 Beta would try, but failed — the necessary security certification is not yet included on the 18 Beta distribution. But Ubuntu 12.10 booted with absolutely no problem. Hooray!
UEFI was designed with lock-down — not just “security” — in mind. It’s like TPM. Thus, Microsoft hoped to embrace the darn thing, making it harder to boot Linux. It doesn’t take a wild theory to deduce this. We saw the same things around 2007, as I explained in comments alluding to hundreds of posts I had written in 2006-2008. Antitrust is bound to be hurt when the anticompetitive is embraced by that who is being hurt.
Speaking of which, check out what Simon Phipps says about Freiburg:
We recently saw the news that the German city of Freiburg had decided to end its open source migration and instead switch to using Microsoft products again. The rationale provided seemed curious to me – after all, at the same time the German city of Munich announced total savings amounting to €10 million from its own successful and ongoing migration.
What seemed odd was there was no account of how they changed course to make the migration succeed. Munich learned lessons from early challenges and updated its strategy in order to succeed. But not Freiburg.
From what I could see, instead of ditching the old versions of MS Office and OpenOffice.org they’d started with and installing up-to-date LibreOffice using expert in-house help, they had just hung on to outdated software and expected staff to muddle through to success. When that didn’t happen, they blamed the software and not the strategy. Everything was in German, so rather than risk misinterpretation I turned to German-speaking friends in the technology industry to explain the report to me (if I got anything wrong, please tell me – the documents seemed very complicated).
My (guided) reading shows three points of concern in the situation over the last four years. First, the only ongoing expenditure in support of the migration is running costs of less than €15 per seat per annum, all associated with licensing supposedly superceded proprietary software. Second, substantial one-off costs of around €231/seat associated with interoperability – a topic that is always an indicator that proprietary software is controlling people’s thinking. Third, no obvious investment in ongoing community engagement or equivalent commercial subscriptions for open source.
“Very good article,” Matthias Kirschner calls it. He is right. Phipps did a fine job and he should know. He was overseeing a lot of aspects of OpenOffice.org for several years at Sun. He also led some efforts to spread ODF and opposed Go-OO, whose team moved on to LibreOffice.
As we showed before, Microsoft had also used OOXML to derail the kind of migrations we saw in Freiburg. Those who were paid by Microsoft to pretend to support OOXML were also to blame. They helped legitimise it. It was always disguised as “choice”, where one choice was lock-in, i.e. no choice. For proprietary software lobbyists, to be “neutral” is to choose proprietary lock-in, as shown in this new article:
Two members of Congress, reaching across the partisan divide, are pushing the government to think broadly — governmentwide — about open-source software, provoking warnings from industry groups that they are ignoring the core principle of technology neutrality.
No, this is not such a matter. To deny choice using lock-in is not to be neutral, it’s to be predatory.
Anyway, one can hopefully grasp the similarity between the two cases; when Microsoft introduces new FOSS-hostile traps it requires that some "useful idiot" — either paid or unpaid — ‘proves’ that the traps are digestable. An effective diplomatic approach is to reject what is worthy of rejection, not give up. This is not a compromise, it is giving up/surrendering to Microsoft, █
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“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”
–Richard Stallman, June 2008
Summary: Microsoft uses price hikes in the UK amid discussions about ultimately moving to standards like OpenDocument Format
MR. Updegrove, a standards guru, recently wrote about the new UK standards policy which is FRAND-hostile. FRAND is neither fair nor reasonable; it is about patents, usually software patents. There is more on that here at OSS Watch:
I have just got back from this event organised by the European Commission and the European Patent Office to discuss the implications of implementing open standards in open source. Now of course this is an issue that has been very active in the UK recently, and about which we have blogged, due to the present government’s desire to use open standards as a way of increasing efficiency in government IT procurement. The idea, briefly, is that specifying IT systems in smaller, interoperable chunks that implement open standards should make government IT easier to manage and maintain and more able to be supplied by a wider range of bidders, including authors and integrators of free and open source software. As discussed in the blog linked above, there is an issue with implementing royalty-bearing standards in GPL-licensed software, and as a lot of the free and open source software out there is GPL-licensed, government risks locking this software out if they don’t specify standards that are royalty free.
Well, after a long consultation process, the Cabinet Office has decided that it will indeed make it a principle that government IT should implement interoperability standards that are royalty free…
The founder of the FSFE said that Microsoft had stated FRAND is FOSS-compatible, which is of course a lie. Microsoft did this in an awkward European event on FRAND and OSS. It’s not “reasonable” to ban Free software. According to the British technology press, since lock-in enables raising of prices for little risk associated with customer retention, Microsoft does exactly that: [via]
Microsoft will make businesses pay 15% more for licenses…
It is for particular services. As we showed in the site’s previous posts and will also show in the next one, Office as a service is struggling, just like Windows. Price hikes are the only way for Microsoft to dodge further losses in the long term. Microsoft is struggling most than common people appreciate. They think that widespread usage necessitates financial stability.
Now, before it is too late, governments should follow Munich’s lead (12,000 desktops migrated to GNU/Linux with ODF). The sinking ship if the ageing Microsoft monopoly.
Updegrove explains how a controlled opposition strategy, namely the portrayal of non-open as “open” (OOXML is one example), is being used now:
The debate over what ‘openness’ should mean in the standards arena has been around for a long time – perhaps as long as a hundred years. But in order to understand the current debate, it’s important to realize that we are in phase two of that dialogue.
In the first phase, the definition of openness was pretty well established and nailed to the wall, following the evolution and formalization of the global standards infrastructure. The high level result was the principle of “RAND” terms (the RAND standing for reasonable and non-discriminatory terms), or FRAND terms (adding an F for “Fair,” if you hail from Europe). These terms are backed up by fairly universally accepted process rules for the conduct of standards development in the global standards bodies. In the United States, compliance with the rules is supervised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which until recently accredited almost all U.S. standards setting organizations.
The definition of “open” — with all sorts of slants and variations of it (e.g. “open core”) — has been changing over time because of those who feared Free software and later on Open Source resort to deception. They try to conquer the opposition. █
“More Open Than Open [...] I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”
–Microsoft’s Jason Matusow, integral part of the ‘Open’ XML corruptions (further background in [1, 2, 3])
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Summary: OOXML helps Microsoft derail Free software adoption in the German public sector while Portugal’s goes ODF-only
So the news says that Freiburg will return to Office after failure to properly communicate with those who understand lock-in. IDG covered this almost exclusively and wrote: “According to the organisations, no open source experts were consulted in the process. Therefore they hoped the council would still consider a migration to a current version of LibreOffice or OpenOffice.”
Calling the Free Software Foundation Europe an “open source group” is bad, but we saw that in previous reports on the subject. The matter of fact is, a lot of issues have already been addressed:
Open source developers have already fixed three of the five major problems that are limiting support by open source office suites for Microsoft’s proprietary document format OOXML, reports Matthias Stürmer. The Swiss Ernst & Young IT consultant is one of those improving the open source office tools. He hopes better support for OOXML this will “help to successfully complete and maintain migrations towards open source office suites.”
Notice how OOXML always stands in the way, as Microsoft intended. Here is the call for Freiburg to stay with ODF:
Five civil groups advocating the use of free and open source by public administrations urge the German city of Freiburg to continue to use the Open Document Format as its default format for electronic documents. “Free office suites are making progress. LibreOffice today has over 60 million users worldwide.”
This week’s Tuesday evening, Freiburg’s city council is voting over a proposal to end its floundering migration of OpenOffice and to stop using the Open Document Format. Instead of ODF, the city board wants to default on Microsoft’s alternative, OOXML.
Some people who oversee Microsoft OOXML start following me in Twitter, so I guess Microsoft watches us ODF proponents very closely. Andy Updegrove has great news from Portugal:
According to a press release issued today by the Portuguese Open Source Business Association (reproduced in full at the end of this blog entry), the government of Portugal has decided to approve a single editable, XML-based document format for use by government, and in public procurement. And that format is not OOXML.
Here is a news report in English. After those Portugal OOXML scandals we sure expect some corruption from Microsoft. Here are some observers who should keep an eye on Microsoft's thugs. A timely reminder from Portugal:
Other Microsoft irregularities in Portugal can be found in:
ESOP says: “We must stress the importance of the whole open standards adoption process and declare our explicit support for the way the interoperability regulation was designed. On one hand, there is some pragmatism to be noticed: the list of open standards is relatively short with priority given to functions where interoperability problems are a large concern. On the other hand, pragmatism didn’t mean lost of insight: there is no more than one open standard per functional category. This is something ESOP has always defended, as a measure to prevent incompatibilities that could bring the adoption process to a failure.”
Related to this, also see:
Keep on open eye on Microsoft Portugal. █
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Summary: Without speaking to FOSS experts the bureaucrats in Europe consider giving up on ODF and FOSS
EARLIER THIS year we wrote about how OOXML was interfering with FOSS adoption in the German public sector. IDG has
this report which echoes a few others but places little or no emphasis on OOXML. It says:
Several open source groups such as the Free Software Foundation Europe, the Document Foundation and the Open Source Business Alliance protested the plans in an open letter to the council on Friday, saying the council compared apples with oranges.
“Numerous statements concerning LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice are incorrect or outdated,” they said in the letter, adding that the support of LibreOffice and OpenOffice is at a professional level these days. “The assessment of the evaluation that compatibility to Microsoft Office cannot be reached in the next few years, is also wrong,” they said.
According to the organizations, no open source experts were consulted in the process. Therefore they hoped the council would still consider a migration to a current version of LibreOffice or OpenOffice.
The council plans to vote on the draft bill next Tuesday.
That is just a few days from now. The cost of lock-in is very high and many managers fail to take this into account. There are 450 comments in Slashdot. The problems in Freiburg are somewhat representative of the excuses made in other places. Microsoft had hired some people whose task is to attack LibreOffice/OpenOffice.org adoption (also see [1, 2, 3]), nut almost nobody in the corporate press reported on that. █
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Summary: Microsoft brings proprietary lock-in with OOXML to Android
TECHRIGHTS has explained Google's bad decision to spread OOXML rather than ODF and some ask: Why Is Google Not Supporting The Open Document Formats?
This is a true story: “Today my wife forwarded me an email from her Nexus S asking if I could open the attachment as she could not. I replied, “where is it not opening – your Android phone or the Chromebook?” She replied, “Either.”
“I looked at the email, it was a presentation from her friend in .odt format. A friend who we recently converted from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice.”
“hat this means in practice is that it’s going to be really difficult to displace proprietary formats like .doc and .xls, even with the best will in the world.”
–Glyn MoodyI had a similar experience this month. Now Microsoft makes the Office lock-in worse at the expense of the Windows lock-in.
“It’s clear that Google is aiming at the huge repository of users of M$’s office suite rather than GNU/Linux or FLOSS users,” writes Pogson. Later he wrote that Microsoft sacrifices the Windows cash cow to save the Office cash cow.
Glyn Moody, being timely enough, addresses the issue of network effect impeding open formats like ODF. To quote: “As the research notes, this is a indication that networks are very powerful – exactly as we might have surmised given the experience in the open source world. What this means in practice is that it’s going to be really difficult to displace proprietary formats like .doc and .xls, even with the best will in the world. It also shows the importance of getting governmental affirmative action that explicitly recommends open formats in order to overcome these network effects – or at least speed things up.”
ODF/OOXML remain an important topic here; it doesn’t get the amount of coverage it deserves from the press. █
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Summary: ODF gets the cold shoulder treatment from a prominent participant in the office suites market
THE editor of Muktware learns that Google has taken a step which legitimises and further spreads a Microsoft format that few applications support and none supports fully. According to this, “Google has announced that it is dropping support for older Microsoft Office formats. Google Docs will not export any files in older Microsoft Office formats namely .doc, .xls, .ppt. User will be able to export files in modern Microsoft Office formats such as .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx.”
The problem is, as I found out while I spent three days in Warwick this week, businesses that use Google Apps start spreading around a lot of OOXML. This is not just a technical problem.
“Spreading OOXML files is just about the worst thing Google could do.”Further down in the article it is correctly stated that “Microsoft OOXML was approved as an ISO standard after a lot of controversy and charges of bribing voters [read the full story here & here]. The ODF was already an ISO standard so there was no need for another standard, but Microsoft wanted it’s own format to become a standard so they got it though hook or crook.”
It was not just bribes. The level of corruption was systemic, too.
Given the fact that Microsoft was left without choice but to implement ODF import filters — however poorly — Google should have fallen back on or defaulted to ODF. Spreading OOXML files is just about the worst thing Google could do. So much for “do no evil” policies… █
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Summary: Microsoft makes it abundantly clear that its closed formats and Fog Computing will be used to deny people choice
In its corrupt pursuit for OOXML standardisation Microsoft ensured that real standards get suppressed. We covered many such stories about four years ago. Mr. Pogson found a new blog post where Microsoft implicitly admits failure to implement ODF support for a long time. As Pogson puts it: “The following statement was released 2012-08-13, promising finally to implement an open standard M$ foisted on the world but did not follow since 2007, five years ago. Deliberately choosing to break an open standard is reprehensible and possibly illegal restraint of trade. The means M$ used to impose that open standards was also questionable. Why bother with a company that offers future standardization when you can have it now with LibreOffice?”
In other news, Microsoft is now forcing users into an even worse lock-in, leading even Microsoft boosters into a mode of dissent. And in Germany, as in several other places, Microsoft tries to halt adoption of ODF. Advocacy groups complain and to quote one report: “The board of the German city council of Freiburg should disclose the analysis that underlies its move back to proprietary office software, say the Open Source Business Alliance, the Free Software Foundation Europe and the Bundesverbands Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologie. In an open letter published this morning, the three organisations also call on the city board to keep the Open Document Format as the default.”
Microsoft used German public institutions to promote OOXML. Wherever there is real choice there is no Microsoft. █
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Summary: The sham which is OOXML and what the past teaches us about it
THANKS to some funds from former Microsoft executives, Mono continues to be developed, giving the illusion that there is something “open source” about .NET. We saw the same thing being done to promote the idea that OOXML is “open”; companies like Novell were bribed to become participants. According to this new post from Andy Updegrove, only in 2012 did Microsoft actually get an implementation of OOXML. To quote: “Yesterday, Microsoft made an unobtrusive announcement that brings a degree of closure to a seven year long epic battle between some of the largest technology companies in the world. The same saga pitted open source advocates against proprietary vendors, and for the first time brought the importance of technical standards to the attention of millions of people around the world, and at the center of the action were Microsoft and IBM, the latter supported by Google and Oracle, among other allies.”
Just as we stated years ago, nobody had implemented OOXML; this was just an excuse for attacking ODF and keeping people stuck with Office. Looking further back we find that Microsoft used similar tactics against old Novell. To quote Pamela Jones: “When Judge J. Frederick Motz recently threw Novell’s WordPerfect antitrust case under a bus, ruling for Microsoft on its motion for judgment as a matter of law, his excuses seemed flimsy to me, at best. One of his reasons was that, in his view, when Microsoft withdrew support from certain APIs back in the ’90s, Novell could have just used what they already had to at least come up with a makeshift solution to tide them over so as to be ready for the Windows 95 launch. He also found it important that Novell bigwigs didn’t complain about the APIs to Microsoft at the time.
“Was he right?
“[I]n the process of corruption Microsoft managed to rip people out of their job (we provided example), simply because they stood up against Microsoft’s criminal activity.”“I want to show you some emails from 1994 and 1998 our volunteers have just transcribed as text, from the collection of PDF exhibits in Comes v. Microsoft. The 1994 internal Microsoft thread includes Jim Allchin saying, in effect, that the company should deliberately make sure competitors’ applications don’t work as well on Windows as their competing applications do. That is precisely what Novell claims happened with WordPerfect, and in that exact time frame. The Allchin email seems to match Bill Gates’ notorious email about deciding to pull back on the API support (“We should wait until we have a way to do a high level of integration that will be harder for the likes of Notes, Wordperfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage.”). And then there are a couple of internal Novell emails from 1998 on problems with Microsoft, and finally a Gateway thread from the same general time frame, showing how Microsoft could really mess your business up, if Microsoft Help didn’t want to help, which Novell says is what happened right after Microsoft pulled the API support.”
This is very revealing. Microsoft does everything to sabotage interoperability and it still does not get punished for it. Rich criminals are rarely being jailed, even when they bribe, cheat, and bully. See the OOXML abuse index.
Glyn Moody says the latest news “means [Microsoft] *failed* to [implement OOXML] until now” and he links to this submission from Updegrove. Not a single person was sent to prison for what clearly was Microsoft corruption. Not a single person in Microsoft lost his or her job, either. On the contrary, in the process of corruption Microsoft managed to rip people out of their job (we provided example), simply because they stood up against Microsoft’s criminal activity. █
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