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. █
Send this to a friend
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. █
Send this to a friend
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.
Send this to a friend
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. █
Send this to a friend
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.
Send this to a friend
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”… █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Countries where policy is written to prioritise Free software (i.e. software controlled by domestic companies) as well as open standards are facing interference from hostile pressure groups
With Microsoft moles inside many governments (we gave lot of examples) it is no wonder that taxpayers don’t have their interests served. As a bit of a primer, consider going through the following Wiki pages:
Over in France, which famously has gotten one of the strongest European pro-FOSS policies in place, funny business is going on. April writes: “The Senate, at first reading, and National Assembly commission of Cultural Affairs and Education, at second reading, voted for a provision giving priority to Free Software and open formats in the future “Public Service for Digital Education.” Regrettably, the government, yielding, without any doubt, to pressure from Afdel and Syntec Numérique, has just filed an amendment neutralizing this provision.”
“Over in Italy, rogue actions are being reported as people try to stall the famous migrations to FOSS.”Recall what Microsoft did about imminent ODF preference in France. It used proxies to derail the democracy and promote OOXML, i.e. Microsoft formats as a ‘standard’ [1, 2, 3, 4].
Speaking of people who boosted OOXML (e.g. Winterford in this case, the writer who became a Microsoft booster after receiving gifts from Microsoft [1, 2]), they are demonising FOSS, comparing the FOSS advocates to “crusaders” and even showing a photo of a medieval shield. The truth is exactly the opposite. The crusaders are the foreigners (multinationals) who try to impose proprietary software on populations across the world. Winterford must not be happy to see ODF elevated in his nation, Australia. He did a lot to promote OOXML after Microsoft had given him gifts.
“Microsoft can sometimes make the Italian Mafia look benign in comparison.”Over here in the UK, policy is being put in place which favours local companies like my employer (FOSS only). Pogson writes: “There it is, a whole government planning how to escape M$ and “partners” bloat. They are going to do IT the right way, considering what will give the desired outcome efficiently instead of just throwing money away to get the desired outcome any way possible. If we all did that would anyone pay ~$100 extra for a PC with M$’s OS on it, $150 extra for M$’s office suite, $thousands to run a server on a network? How about enduring endless malware aimed at the leaking hulk of that other OS and endless re-re-reboots?”
Over in Italy, rogue actions are being reported as people try to stall the famous migrations to FOSS. To quote: “The discussion in the working group that is supposed to detail when Italy’s public administrations should prefer open source over proprietary solutions, is stalling, says lawyer Ernesto Belisario, professor at University of Basilicata in the city of Potenza. “Some of the members think the law stipulates a technical and economical assessment, instead of reading it as a statement supporting open source.””
“The fight for FOSS in the public sector does not end when policies are written.”Recall the role played by Nichi Vendola. Microsoft can sometimes make the Italian Mafia look benign in comparison. Microsoft is desperate to stop FOSS expansion in Italy and some other news from Italy is now properly summarised in our Wiki.
The article above notes that “Carlo Piana, member of the working group on behalf of the Free Software Foundation Europe and the KDE foundation, confirms that the members do not agree on the reading of the law. “It is important that we agree on the interpretation as soon as possible, otherwise the working group will fall short on its tasks. “I don’t believe this will be the outcome, but if the current position persists, the communities I and the other members represent will strongly protest and we will have little choice but to take all the consequences on our contribution.”
“I am sure that the organisation will realise that this is a crucial point. The law clearly supports our position, for many good reasons. While we are aware that some level of compromise is necessary, this cannot be on the substance of the law and on the very mission of our activity. As Mr. Belisario correctly says, some may disagree with the law, in which case they can try to change it; but as long as it remains unchanged, the law must be abided with.”
“One strategy for impeding FOSS growth in Europe has been lobbying for FRAND and the unitary patent (software patents in Europe through the back doors). “The fight for FOSS in the public sector does not end when policies are written. Just look at what Microsoft did in Brazil to bypass policies.
One strategy for impeding FOSS growth in Europe has been lobbying for FRAND and the unitary patent (software patents in Europe through the back doors). Matthias Lamping does not think that the EU should embrace this trajectory for patents. He writes in a pro-patents blog that he “is not a big fan of the unitary patent package – not because it dislikes the idea of unitary patent protection for the Internal Market, but precisely because [he] does like it. However, creating a “unitary patent” which claims EU origin but disclaims EU character, just because something is supposedly better than nothing, is rather an act of desperation than sensible policy making. This is not the place and not the time to repeat old arguments, but [despite Merpel's warning that this might offend the sensibilities of some readers] one thing cannot be said often enough: False integration can be worse than no integration; and a bad court system is not necessarily better than no court at all. It may be true, to a certain extent, that the system can be improved once it is in force. But a house built on a shaky foundation will always be in danger of collapsing, no matter how many cosmetic repairs are made.”
It seems possible that, owing to pressure from countries like Spain, the unitary patent package will fall through. Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, the loudest opposer of the unitary patent package, said the other day:
that’s why I’m now 99.9999% sure that #UnitaryPatent will die, but what a waste of time/energy and political confidence!
The unitary patent package has taught many of us on the developers’ side that there will always be opportunistic lawyers/politicians looking to serve themselves and their friends at governmental/industrial levels. This incestuous relationship is all about self gain. The fight against corruption is perpetual and it is an important fight to be fighting. █
‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’
Send this to a friend
Summary: Although the Australian government does not guarantee the use of open standards and/or Free software, it does give way for better facilitation of those
After years of OOXML-related abuses such as bribes, Microsoft might — just might — see some consequences. According to this announcement from Australia, ODF is a winner, but the “proposal does not require that ODF be used as a standard. Rather, it just specifies that productivity suites must support ODF. Recent versions of Microsoft Office, as well as Google Docs, Libre Office and OpenOffice support the file format,” says this post. It is not entirely true that Microsoft supports ODF; it is just its proprietary hybrid which it labels ODF. The news sites, nonetheless, welcome the news. Here is a bunch of reports about it:
Australia’s government may mandate that its agencies use software compatible with OpenDocument Format (ODF), an international file standard.
The country’s government agencies mostly use Microsoft’s Office software, but support for an open standard eliminates the “potential for a vendor ending support for specific format,” wrote John Sheridan, Australia’s chief technology officer.
If the draft proposal is approved, however, government agencies would not be required to work only with ODF documents, Sheridan wrote. The proposal is now open for comments and will eventually be taken up by the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board for approval.
The office of the Australian Government Chief Technology Officer (AGCTO) is proposing support for the Open Document Format (ODF) in an annual review of computing system policies.
The AGCTO’s office says that requiring support for ODF will not preclude use of other formats and does not mandate use of ODF 1.1. But it will establish ODF 1.1 as the baseline for compatibility within the Australian government. According to Australian tech news site Delimiter, in 2011, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) decided to standardise on Office Open XML, but was pushed to reconsider that choice after receiving complaints. The new proposal has now been published and the AGIMO and AGCTO are seeking public feedback before progressing further.
We previously covered outrage in Australia over choice of OOXML (entryism possibly the cause, i.e. Microsoft moles), so this latest news sure is a positive change and a step in the right direction. Have they just rewritten the policy to conform with a t prior decision of choosing Microsoft Office though? We shall see… █
Send this to a friend
« Previous Page — « Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries » — Next Page »