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11.13.14

Revealed: Microsoft is Trying to Corrupt the UK in Order to Eliminate Its OpenDocument Format-Oriented Standards Policy

Posted in Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 11:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

British flag

Summary: Microsoft interference with Britain’s preference for ODF is now confirmed, thanks to a valuable news report from Computer Weekly; OOXML lock-in is being unleashed by Microsoft on Android users

NUMEROUS articles in the British press have been pointing out too slow an adoption of ODF in the UK, despite policies that demand it. Now we have a better understanding of potential causes.

As a quick recap, here is a partial chronology of this year’s developments:

  1. UK Government Seems to Be Serious About Moving to Free Software and OpenDocument Format This Time Around
  2. In Another Attempt to Derail British ODF Policy Microsoft Calls Its Systematic Bribery “Internationally Recognised”
  3. Response to ODF as Government Standard Proposal
  4. Amended Comment Regarding ODF as Document Standard in the UK
  5. UK Government Adopts OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Already Attacks the Government Over It, Showing Absolutely No Commitment to Open Standards
  6. Groklaw Back in the Wake of ODF in the UK?

So ODF adoption in the UK is only a matter of time. But we have already known based on limited evidence (or a conspiracy of silence) that Microsoft worked silently to crush this policy. Yes, Microsoft claims that it “loves” FOSS and Linux or “supports” ODF while secretly attacking them all by corrupting the political system in the UK, striving to suppress them and ultimately kill them.

Now comes new evidence that shows how people at the highest levels at Microsoft are getting involved to block ODF, i.e. anything which merely permits Free software to compete on fair grounds. Computer Weekly has a couple of good articles, the first of which states that “Departments lack common targets for implementing open-document standards” and the second one telling us “the curious case of Microsoft and the minister”. As it turns out, the software monopolist clearly strikes back behind people’s backs. To quote the article: “Microsoft consistently opposed the policy, which the software giant saw as its last chance to overturn the UK government’s broader plans for open standards. As emails seen by Computer Weekly reveal, the decision became an issue in the supplier’s Seattle boardroom, and brought the lobbying powers of the software giant into full force in Whitehall.

“There has been speculation about the role played by senior government minister David Willetts, then minister of state for universities and science in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), but who later left the post in David Cameron’s 2014 summer reshuffle.

“An investigation by Computer Weekly has revealed that – according to well-placed sources – Microsoft turned to Willetts to help win its case, with the supplier’s global chief operating officer (COO) Kevin Turner getting involved. But neither BIS nor David Willetts himself is willing to discuss the role the minister played in Microsoft’s attempts to influence this obscure but vitally important part of government IT policy.

“Willetts was the government’s liaison point for Microsoft, as a major employer and investor in the UK economy. He also served as co-chair of the Information Economy Council, a body set up to enable dialogue between Whitehall and the IT industry over future policy.”

One should bear in mind that Britain is perhaps at the forefront of ODF adoption. There is an imminent London-based ODF event, just like those Plugfests from back in the days, and departments of government are expected to move to ODF. However, based on recent reports they are slow to conform or obey these requirements.

Last week we wrote to Linda from the Cabinet Office, hoping to get her and her colleagues’ attention amid dirty tricks from Microsoft. In a personal E-mail I stated:

Several months ago we had an amicable exchange in which I alerted Cabinet Office, through the comments, that Microsoft would likely oppose its policies in subversive and underhanded/secretive ways.

Two new articles from Computer Weekly serve to prove my point now and I hope that you and your colleagues will spare some times to read them, especially the following article:

http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240234078/Government-open-standards-the-curious-case-of-Microsoft-and-the-minister

The more transparent the Cabinet Office makes this process, the more the British public will be able to protect the Cabinet Office from such self-serving foreign influence that strives to expand the reach of back doors, surveillance, predatory pricing, and format lock-in.

To quote the aforementioned (first) article from Computer Weekly:”Whitehall departments have begun to publish their plans on how to implement the government’s open-document standards policy – but so far, each appears to be working to very different timescales. One department – the Treasury – has stated it won’t see full implementation until as late as 2018.

“The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the Treasury have published their plans so far. The Treasury said it will not be fully implementing the mandated open-document standard until February 2018, three years after other departments.”

The ODF-friendly UK policy might not survive if the British public does not get involved and helps the politicians or public servants resist brutal lobbying from Microsoft, which knows no boundaries. Here is another new article of interest:

From this week, it has promised to publish PDFs and Word documents in PDF/A and ODS formats respectively.

However, on Excel, which are most commonly published as “live” data tables, it said: “Content producers should convert to ODS format before submitting to digital content teams.

“However the statisticians have identified problems with certain spreadsheets – where drop-down filters fail to work when converted – more work needs to be done on finding a solution to this problem and DCLG will to commit to the spreadsheets where possible will be published from 1 November 2014 being in an ODS format.”

DCLG said that it is committed to opening up government and providing a level playing field for open source systems, providing the citizen with free access to government information.

I was in Whitehall some days ago, so I passed next to many of these government offices. The place is plagued by greedy businessmen and tourists, so the voice of the British people can hardly be heard. We need to become more loud about it and contact such people without shame or shyness. Microsoft is so desperate to spread OOXML everywhere that it now goes after users of the most widely used operating system (Android/Linux), aided by spin from Microsoft partner and booster Tony Bradley among other spinners who are spreading OOXML lock-in by promoting OOXML for mobile devices (Android does not even handle ODF out of the box, which is a great shame for Google). Microsoft first sought a monopoly on the application (office suite), then it pursued a monopoly on the format (OOXML), and now it is pursuing even a monopoly on the files with its so-called ‘cloud’ (storing all files on Microsoft’s servers).

10.25.14

City of Berlin Does Not Abandon Free Software, It’s Only Tax Authorities

Posted in Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 3:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Berlin is already a Windows shop and it’s not window-shopping

Window shopping

Summary: A Softpedia report that says the City of Berlin is moving to Microsoft Office is flawed and may be based on a poor translation

Last year we wrote about Berlin's reluctance to follow the lead of Munich, which happily uses Free software and GNU/Linux, despite the FUD from Microsoft (including some of the latest, not just last year's). It has been over a year since a formal investigation was launched into Microsoft’s bribery of officials in many countries. We are not aware of any progress on it, but all we can say is that Microsoft did try ‘soft’ bribes in derailing Munich’s efforts. There is a lot of rogue stuff going on and we covered it in past years.

According to this one report in English, “City of Berlin Going from OpenOffice Back to Microsoft Office”. The problem is, we are not aware of Berlin ever moving to OpenOffice. I spoke to an old friend in Berlin (he works on LibreOffice) as this report continued to seem a little suspicious. I followed through to the source, assuming it either shows that once again Microsoft bribes have paid off or that Microsoft is spreading lies and FUD. As it turns out, a poor translation by Silviu Stahie may be the issue.

“As it turns out, a poor translation by Silviu Stahie may be the issue.”According to this report, Microsoft OOXML is again interfering with adoption of Free software in government. To quote: “It’s difficult to say what the steps that prompted the city officials to make this decision were. It might just as well be the fact that documents created with OpenOffice 3.2 can’t be opened by people with newer or proprietary software, or vice versa.

“The fact of the matter is that LibreOffice, a much newer and modern office suite open source solution, can do all these things. It’s already used in cities around the world, so others don’t seem to have the same problems as Berlin. From what we can gather from the Golem.de report, the switch to Microsoft Office is already happening and it should be finished by the end of 2015.

“A much bigger issue is the lack of intervention from the German government, which has yet to implement or regulate the use of open source formats in its own branches. Things would be much simpler if everyone used a single kind of file format that can be read by both proprietary and open source software.”

The original article (in German) basically says that it’s about the tax authorities, not the City of Berlin. The article also blames it squarely on OOXML, stating at the end (now translating into English) that a requirement that one should use open formats for the government of a state is possible, as shown in the United Kingdom, which established in July of this year PDF and ODF as the standards for documents.

09.18.14

ODF on the Rise

Posted in OpenDocument at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yellow folder

Summary: Milestones for OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the launch of FixMyDocuments

THE UK has moved to adopt ODF and the world at large is gradually embracing real standards. Andy Updegrove wrote about OpenForum Europe and Rob Weir wrote about ISO approval of ODF 1.2 last night:

OASIS ODF 1.2, the current version of the Open Document Format standard, was approved by ISO/IEC JTC1 National Bodies after a 3-month Publicly Available Specification (PAS) ballot. The final vote for DIS 26300 was: 17-0 for Parts 1 and 2, and 18-0 for Part 3.

More interestingly, now emerges a campaign called FixMyDocument, which Glyn Moody wrote about yesterday [1]. It is a campaign in favour of ODF and it has already got some big backing, including explicit backing from Neelie Kroes [2,3,4]. Go there now and sign the declaration. Supporting FixMyDocuments only takes about 20 seconds and it sends out an important message.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. FixMyDocument and Global Legislative Openness

    Back in July, I wrote about the huge win for open standards when the UK government announced that it would be adopting ODF for sharing or collaborating on government documents. I also implored the open community to support this initiative in every way it could to ensure that it took root and maybe even spread. So I’m delighted to see that Open Forum Europe has done just that with a new site called FixMyDocument.eu. (Although I am a “fellow” of the associated Open Forum Academy, I had nothing to do with this.) Here’s how it explains the initiative:

  2. Neelie Kroes Supports ODF In Government

    Locking in one’s self to doing things M$’s way is not smart. It’s stupid, especially when we know it’s a trap M$ deliberately created to keep it’s cash cow pouring milk into M$’s pail.

  3. Open document formats campaign backed by Europe’s digital commissioner

    European government agencies should adopt open document formats in their dealings with citizens, outgoing European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes has urged.

  4. EC Commissioner Kroes supports ODF campaign

    European Commissioner and Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes supports the FixMyDocuments campaign that is urging Europe’s public administrations to make better use of open document formats. The campaigners aim to get public administrations to publish their documents in open formats that can be read and manipulated by anyone, without imposing the use of software from any particular vendor. The campaigners are pushing the authorities to use the Open Document Format (ODF).

08.23.14

Blowback in Chile and Munich After Microsoft Intervention

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OpenDocument at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s attacks on the digital sovereignty of countries involves lobbying, corruption, an attack on standards (e.g. ODF), an attack on FOSS policies, and even an attack on accurate reporting (truth itself)

Microsoft’s attempts to corrupt Chile seem to have brought nothing but blowback. Microsoft and its minion got shamed and the FOSS policy will soon get even stronger. Moreover, Microsoft is making Chile’s anti-lobbying laws stronger by basically trying to lobby and to write legislation by proxy. It shows that this wholly malicious strategy from Microsoft is finally not paying off, thanks in part to reporters who exposed what had happened. Well done, Chile!

We can safely assume that what Microsoft is doing in Chile right now it also tried to do in the UK e.g. pressuring the Cabinet Office regarding its pro-ODF policy. Microsoft, by all indications, is not a scapegoat; it’s not hated because of “jealousy” or because of its size. It is not hated for being incompetent or for being shoddy (which its software is). The company is corrupt. It’s a criminal enterprise with a long track record to show it. Thankfully, however, we keep seeing new stories that show us just how corrupt Microsoft really is. People who deny this are simply ignoring reality.

Today we have several updates from Chile and from Munich, Germany. Citing this article from Miguel Parada, Softpedia writes:

Fresh on the heels of the entire Munich and Linux debacle, another story involving Microsoft and free software has popped up across the world, in Chile. A prolific magazine from the South American country says that the powerful Microsoft lobby managed to turn around a law that would allow the authorities to use free software.

Towards the end it is also connected to what’s happening in Munich. To quote: “Microsoft has been in the news in the last few days because the German city of Munich that adopted Linux and dropped Windows system from its administration was considering, supposedly, returning to proprietary software.

“This new situation in Chile give us a sample of the kind of pull a company like Microsoft has and it shows us just how fragile laws really are. This is not the first time a company tries to bend the laws in a country to maximize the profits, but the advent of free software and the clear financial advantages that it offers are really making a dent.

“Five years ago, few people or governments would have considered adopting free software, but the quality of that software has risen dramatically and it has become a real competition for the likes of Microsoft.”

Richard Stallman is visiting Chile right now (coinciding with a Microsoft scandal over there). Here is a new article about Stallman’s reaction to what Microsoft is doing in Chile. He was there at the right time and he will hopefully raise issues like privacy, digital autonomy, and economic benefits of using FOSS (local engineers being in charge), and so on. Ernesto Manríquez told us that “MS lobby [is] in a 65 million dollar market, and how Vlado Mirosevic lost his innocence,” based on this new article in Spanish (we won’t provide automated translations as anyone is able to do so upon desire). Manríquez also told us that “Chilean Chamber of Deputies to harden anti-lobby law after Microsoft scandal,” based on this article in Spanish.

This is very relevant to the Microsoft propaganda against Munich for its successful migration to GNU/Linux. In the wake of revelations about NSA surveillance in Latin America and Germany (for espionage, not antiterrorism) this should matter a lot. Microsoft and the NSA are in bed together and this means that Chile would be worse than foolish to embrace anything at all from Microsoft (even some random application). This is why Munich did the right thing. It went to FOSS all the way. It’s not difficult for the NSA to crack.

Simon Sharwood has not yet caught up with the latest news from Chile, but he did cover (in English) what Microsoft had done there:

Microsoft successfully lobbied against a law that would have seen Chile’s government adopt open-source software, says Elmostrador, a newspaper in the South American nation.

The publication’s report tells the tale of Vlado Mirosevic, a left-leaning politician who is the leader of the Chilean Liberal Party and its only representative in the national parliament.

In April this year, Mirosevic proposed a bill that would have compelled Chile’s government agencies to at least consider open-source software. Buying proprietary software would still be possible, once an agency justified the decision.

Manríquez is meanwhile showing us articles like this one (in Spanish) about what he calls “The long arm of Microsoft lobby and political connections” (familiar issue).

Microsoft is not a company but more like a political movement or a secret society/sect that infiltrates governments. We have already given many examples of Microsoft’s use of connections in government for corruption, including massive tax evasion (worth billions of dollars). See examples from Europe, from the US, and from India. The relationships often work like bribery in terms of money rolling back to politicians’ pockets when they give public money to Microsoft through contracts. Sometimes Microsoft veterans move to politics (where they use their newly-acquired power to help Microsoft) — or conversely — politicians being promised a salary from Microsoft in the future. This is the “Revolving doors” type of bribery. Classic! We already saw how one Microsoft veteran facilitated Microsoft’s massive tax evasion in the United States after he had infiltrated government.

A follower from Argentina told us last night we would be interested in this new report about Microsoft admitting that it avoids $29 billion in US taxes (just US). If that’s not enough to show just how corrupt Microsoft is, what will be?

Going back to Munich, the Microsoft boosters who distorted the story didn’t actually stick to facts. Munich complains about misreporting. As Jim Lynch put it the other day:

I saw that story floating around many sites yesterday and decided to hold off commenting about it. There was just something about it that rubbed me the wrong way, and I’m glad I waited before including it in a roundup.

Frankly though, it doesn’t surprise me that some sites would jump the gun and use it as an opportunity to belittle or bash Linux. We’ve seen this kind of thing before where a tempest in a teacup gets blown all out of proportion and suddenly Linux is doomed or whatever.

Unfortunately, even after the current wave of stories about Munich fades away, we’ll see the same sort of journalistic shenanigans about Linux happen again at some point. It’s just too easy and too tempting for some sites to gain traffic and ad revenue by jumping on the anti-Linux bandwagon.

After systematic lying about Munich how many people out there are still misled by Microsoft MVPs and partners pretending to be journalists? This is a war on perceptions after all.

As Susan Linton put it, “Monday we reported that Munich was throwing in the Linux towel, but today we find that may not be exactly the case.”

This other report makes it clear that Microsoft OOXML — not FOSS or GNU/Linux — is the problem. To quote: “Hauf also confirms that council staff have, and do, complain about LiMux, but that the majority of issues stem from compatibility issues in OpenOffice, something a potential switch to LibreOffice could solve.”

This is a Microsoft issue, not a FOSS issue, and this is why the UK is now moving to ODF (OOXML not allowed) in the public sector. Remember what Microsoft did in Chile for OOXML.

Microsoft is a criminal company. Even after Ballmer’s departure nothing has changed. As Microsoft is inherently and deeply connected with governments (moles and former staff), don’t expect Microsoft executives to be sent to prison, not even when it’s caught bribing officials around the world (which happens).

OOXML is fraud

08.11.14

Microsoft is Still Attacking Open Standards, So Khronos Does Not Need the Microsoft Moles

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 12:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Khronos

Summary: Having attacked the industry’s document standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) while pretending to have ‘embraced’ ODF Microsoft is now pretending that it is eager to support OpenGL

MICROSOFT just won’t leave anything alone, not even its rivals (or especially its rivals). Microsoft is a maestro of “embrace and extend” strategies. In the case of ODF, Microsoft insists on openwashing so as to stop Free software and open standards. When Microsoft pretended to ‘embrace’ ODF it actually attacked it, and it continues to attack ODF to this day (2014). It tries to do it secretly, via proxies like the BSA. It is very hard to find out who is doing what because the whole affair is shrouded in secrecy. This secrecy is part of the design.

Dr. Glyn Moody tried using the law to impose transparency on Microsoft’s actions. He failed, but in the process he did manage to reveal that Microsoft was up to no good. Here's the latest:

This is really one of the most ridiculous get-out clauses, because it is so wide. The whole point of the FOI system is so that we can see precisely what is being said in these discussions, and to find out what companies are saying behind closed doors – and what ministers are replying. Although it’s laudable that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills got in touch to correct its response to me, it’s rather rich to do so and then simply refuse point-blank to release any of the information it has just found.

The only consolation is that whatever Microsoft whispered in the corridors of power to de-rail the move to ODF – since I hardly imagine it was a fervent supporter of the idea – it didn’t work. However, there are doubtless many other occasions when it did, but we will never know. That’s just unacceptable in a modern democracy.

What we have here is a clear reminder that Microsoft is attacking open standards in the UK. Microsoft bribed people to rig balloting processes all around the world and it tried hard to confuse the public by calling a proprietary format “Open XML”, using a lot of abuses to also put some stamps on it. Microsoft is basically diluting the brand of Open Source, just as with Nokia at the moment Microsoft is naming Windows “Debian”. To quote a mystifying new report: “When Linux users hear about Debian they know instantly that it’s one of the best and most popular operating systems out there. Nobody thinks that it might be a new firmware for a Windows-powered Nokia phone.”

Is that not a trademark infringement? Debbie and Ian would almost certainly not approve.

Going back to standards, what Microsoft has been trying with ODF, as we have demonstrated repeatedly, is an “embrace and extend” manoeuvre. It’s like “the ‘other’ Java” from Microsoft, to name just one example where Microsoft destroys rivals by ‘embracing’ them and then distorting them.

After Microsoft’s many attacks on OpenGL (there is no “Microsoft OpenGL”, but Microsoft did contribute to harming of OpenGL as a standard and even derailed gaming under GNU/Linux this way) we learn about this disturbing (but rather predictable) move:

Neil Trevett, the VP of the Mobile Developer Ecosystem at NVIDIA and also serves as the President of the Khronos Group, confirmed that Microsoft has joined the Khronos Group’s WebGL working group. Microsoft in past years has generally distanced itself from “GL” in favor of their own Direct3D API. Microsoft was originally a member of the OpenGL Architecture Review Board, but they’ve been out of that position for more than one decade with just pushing DirectX on Windows and leaving Windows OpenGL support as a bastard child.

Microsoft is hoping to dip its fingers in OpenGL so that it can better control it. Khronos oughtn’t allow the Microsoft moles in, assuming it remembers the history of what Microsoft did to OpenGL. There are promising new features in the latest OpenGL and OpenCL [1,2,3], so to let a dying platform like Windows show the way would be rather unwise. Microsoft wants to do to OpenGL (OGL) what it did to Open Document Format (ODF). Microsoft wants and needs lock-in in order to survive. Since it’s WebGL we are dealing with here, just recall all the damage Microsoft caused to and brought upon the Web.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The Khronos Group Is Developing A New Graphics API From The Ground-Up

    Khronos announced a call for participation in a next-generation OpenGL initiative. The announcement reads, “Khronos announced a call for participation today in a project to define a future open standard for high-efficiency access to graphics and compute on modern GPUs. Key directions for the new ground-up design include explicit application control over GPU and CPU workloads for performance and predictability, a multithreading-friendly API with greatly reduced overhead, a common shader program intermediate language, and a strengthened ecosystem focus that includes rigorous conformance testing. Fast-paced work on detailed proposals and designs are already underway, and any company interested to participate is strongly encouraged to join Khronos for a voice and a vote in the development process.”

  2. OpenGL 4.5 Released With New Features

    Well, the next-gen OpenGL didn’t end up being OpenGL 5.0 but is being billed as OpenGL 4.5. Regardless, the OpenGL 4.5 specification is out now.

  3. SPIR 2.0 Is Out In Provisional Form For OpenCL 2.0

    Besides OpenGL 4.5, the Khronos Group announced from SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver today the release of the provisional specification for SPIR 2.0.

08.06.14

Microsoft Wants Us to Think That ODF is Bad for Britain

Posted in Microsoft, OpenDocument at 10:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft is not giving up as OpenDocument Format spreads between British citizens and government departments, obviating the need for Microsoft cash cows (Office on top of Windows)

TO a monopolist like Microsoft it seemed just fine to bribe people in order to keep its abusive monopoly in tact (see our OOXML abuses index). To others, such as British authorities, it finally appears clear that supporting monopolists is not a good service to British citizens, especially when this monopolist is foreign. When ODF was embraced by the UK Microsoft was very quick to complain and shortly thereafter we found out that OOXML is becoming less compatibility-centric than ever before. The plan is to get everyone — both governments and citizens — stuck with the monopolist, so it is clear that Microsoft has no legitimate case and it should be pushed away as soon as possible. Writing about a new article from the British press, Pogson wants to see some enthusiasm from the British public because Microsoft pretends that not using OOXML is bad for Britain.

So, the move by the government of UK is a win/win/win/win situation however you look at it, unless you are M$ or a “partner”. The rest of us should rejoice too because the whole world is watching and taxpayers everywhere will ultimately benefit as M$’s empire shrinks and Freedom reigns.

Indeed, and here is the original claim from Microsoft:

Blighty’s government brought a tear to Microsoft’s eye this week when it chose the Open Document Format for the default UK.gov file format. From this week forth, all electronic documents produced and used by Whitehall and other government agencies will have to be ODF, annoying Redmond since it backs its own Office Open XML or possibly a combo of the two.

Microsoft has attempted to paint this move as anticompetitive or bad for the British public, but just like the tobacco lobby, Microsoft is completely reversing the truth. How long before English offices realise they don’t actually need Office and Windows, then follow Munich’s footsteps?

08.02.14

Microsoft Continues to Further Distort OOXML in Order to Make it Less Compatible With Non-Microsoft Software

Posted in Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ooxml_demo_4.jpg

Summary: Microsoft continues to distort the office suites market and impede interoperability using the OOXML pseudo ‘standard’, essentially by branching out into “Strict” and “Transitional”, making it exceedingly hard for developers to deal with files generated by Microsoft Office and vice versa

TRYING to work with Microsoft is misguided. Just look and see what has happened to many companies, including — to name a recent example — Nokia. Microsoft has no honour for anyone but Microsoft itself. Microsoft was bribing officials and abusing sceptics in order to get its way when it comes to document formats. Nobody should forget the crimes that Microsoft committed in order to keep the world stuck with Microsoft Office. We reminded the British government of these crimes and very recently the UK adopted ODF. This was a very smart and timely move because based on people from The Document Foundation (TDF), the bogus ‘standard’ which is basically just an ‘open’-looking gown for Microsoft Office (proprietary) formats is now being further distorted in order to cause trouble for people who are not Microsoft customers. These abuses are even worse than before and Microsoft thinks it can get away with them because it bribed people to put an ECMA and ISO stamp on OOXML (no matters what happens to it later on).

As Charles from The Document Foundation put it the other day:

Regular readers of this blog will remember these glorious days, just before the big financial crisis, where Microsoft had created the so-called OpenXML standard that was supposed to be totally not competing against the OpenDocument Format, managed to have pretty much the entire standards community swallow it in the most creative ways possible, then fell short of actually implementing it in its own products. A good summary of the whole -technical- story is available here. The irony of life has the uncanny ability to devise ways to enchant us. Well, sort of. The format called “OOXML – Strict”, by comparison to “OOXML-Transitional” was the readable open part of the ISO 29500 standard, known as OOXML. For years, it was obvious that Microsoft Office implemented OOXML-Transitional (the heap of the more or less documented parts of the format alongside undocumented blurbs) and nothing else, creating a situation where one standard, OOXML was existing, and another format, OOXML, was fully implemented and spread all around, yet was an undocumented, proprietary specification. That’s the .docx, pptx, and .xlsx you see everywhere, and the one LibreOffice was busy reverse-engineering for all these years.

This unfortunate situation, we were told, was about to change soon, with the full adoption of OOXML-Strict by Microsoft Office. Helas, if you open a purely OOXML-Strict compliant file with Microsoft Office 2013, the file will be declared corrupt. If you open the same one with LibreOffice 4.3, the file will open and you will be able to edit its contents just like with any other format supported by LibreOffice. In other words, LibreOffice can claim to have a better support of OOXML than Microsoft Office, despite years of unfulfilled promises, pledges, and never met expectations by Redmond. I guess that, just like the old saying goes, promises only commit the ones who actually believe them.

IBM’s Rob Weir has just released another piece about document formats [1] and a new interview with Italo Vignoli of The Document Foundation [2] sheds more light on what Charles spoke about. To quote Vignoli: “MS Office locks-in the user not only with proprietary formats but also with the OOXML pseudo-standard format. This is due to the way the supposedly standard format is handled by MS Office.

“In fact, each version of MS Office since 2007 has a different and non standard implementation of OOXML, which is defined as “transitional” because it contains elements which are supposed to be deprecated at standard level, but are still there for compatibility reasons.

“Although LibreOffice manages to read and write OOXML in a fairly appropriate way, it will be impossible to achieve a perfect interoperability because of these different non standard versions.

“In addition to format incompatibilities, Microsoft – with OOXML – has introduced elements which may lead the user into producing a non interoperable document, such as the C-Fonts (for instance, Calibri and Cambria).”

When Microsoft speaks about following standards what it means to say is that “Microsoft is the standard” and everyone must just follow Microsoft. Only a fool would choose OOXML over ODF, especially now. Korea and China seem to be moving away from Office quite rapidly.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Document as Activity versus Document as Record

    And then there is a document as the record of what we did. This is implied by the verb “to document”. This use of documents is still critical, since it is ingrained in various regulatory, legal and business processes. Sometimes you need “a document.” It won’t do to have your business contract on a wiki. You can’t prove conformance to a regulation via a Twitter stream. We may no longer print and file our “hard” documents, but there is a need to have a durable, persistable, portable, signable form of a document. PDF serves well for some instances, but not in others. What does PDF do with a spreadsheet, for example? All the formulas are lost.

  2. Why you should never use Microsoft’s OOXML pseudo-standard format

    The UK government recently announced that they would use ISO approved document standard ODF for viewing and sharing government documents. It’s a very important move because it breaks Microsoft’s vendor lock where single US-based company ‘owns’ and ‘controls’ all the documents created on Earth. Microsoft is infamous for using unethical means to make it harder for other players to offer any kind of interoperability with their products which can threaten Microsoft’s market share.

    So we reached out to Italo Vignoli of The Document Foundation, the organization responsible for developing LibreOffice which is a fork of OpenOffice, to understand the risks of using OOXML…

07.26.14

Groklaw Back in the Wake of ODF in the UK?

Posted in OpenDocument at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Renewed activity in FOSS-leaning legal site Groklaw amid numerous victories for FOSS

IN LIGHT of the good news about ODF, Groklaw has broken its silence and come back to life for the first time in nearly a year. The Document Foundation [1], its members [2], and some FOSS [3] or general news sites [4] have covered this as well because it’s a major breakthrough. There is other good news, such as the USPTO narrowing the scope of software patents, eliminating many of them. The “USPTO’s Scrutiny Of Software Patents Paying Off,” says this one article, which adds: “Though recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have not provided much help, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s efforts to more closely scrutinize software patents is reducing the incentive for patent applicants to seek vague, broad claims, experts told USPTO officials at a forum Tuesday.”

No wonder Groklaw is eager to say something and perhaps come back for good. It will hopefully return to covering FOSS issues, such as the IRS assault on FOSS, patents against Android (China revealed Microsoft’s patents and Microsoft’s booster Richard Waters reveals that Qualcomm too might be affected [5]), among many other issues that never received an extensive legal coverage.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The Document Foundation congratulates the UK government for their revolutionary and historical choice of open document standards
  2. What the UK Government’s adoption of ODF really means

    On Tuesday the news that the UK Government had decided to use ODF as its official and default file format started to spread. The full announcement with technical details may be found here; the Document Foundation published its press release on Thursday morning there.

  3. Docker acquires Orchard, SAP supports OpenStack, ODF and more
  4. UK government adopts ODF as standard document format

    The UK government has announced the open standards it has chosen for sharing and viewing official documents.

    The government has formally adopted the Open Document Format (ODF) as the standard for sharing and collaborating on documents and PDF/A or HTML as the standard for viewing documents. These standards are expected to be used across all government bodies.

  5. Qualcomm latest US tech company to reverse in China

    Qualcomm became the latest US technology company to suffer a reversal in China, as it warned on Wednesday that a government investigation there had added to its difficulties in collecting licensing fees on new mobile devices.

    [...]

    The warning follows a dent to Chinese revenues at other US IT companies such as Cisco and IBM, which have been hit by falling demand amid reports of official Chinese moves to discourage purchases of US technology in the wake of the intelligence revelations by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden.

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