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:
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.”
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.
Besides OpenGL 4.5, the Khronos Group announced from SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver today the release of the provisional specification for SPIR 2.0.
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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? █
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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  and a new interview with Italo Vignoli of The Document Foundation  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:
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.
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…
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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 , its members , and some FOSS  or general news sites  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 ), among many other issues that never received an extensive legal coverage. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
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.
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.
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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But we may need Google’s help
Summary: Caligra, WebODF and various influential nations’ departure from Microsoft Office will help famous projects such as OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice make ODF the only international standard for editable documents exchange
NOW that the latest Microsoft Office may be banned in China (China, Korea and maybe Russia are moving away from Window and thus away from Microsoft Office too) there is a real chance, boosted not only by BRICS nations, that ODF will be very widespread. The recent new release of Caligra (covered some days ago in our daily links), the advance of WebODF  into various frameworks  and applications , the exciting news from Korea  and even actions towards standards and interoperability in Europe [5,6] give us many reasons for optimism. People who state that ODF is “dead” or “nobody uses it” basically try to justify defeatism and continued (exponential) dependence on Microsoft through the network effect.
While some people prefer simpler formats , others continue to stick to office suites. Microsoft is trying to invade the Android empire, putting lots of OOXML in it (with Google’s help [8,9]) and now we see claims that Microsoft is ‘supporting’ Android by merely giving proprietary spyware with lock-in to it (for OOXML), not just adding spyware to it and then packaging it as ‘Nokia by Microsoft’:
We have already seen the launch of Nokia’s first Android-powered smartphones under the Nokia X brand earlier this year. And now it seems Microsoft is planning to bring a similar experience for its users under the Lumia brand.
New information from the famous tipster @evleaks suggests that Android-powered Lumia smartphones are currently being developed under the ‘Nokia by Microsoft’ brand.
We have seen a lot of OOXML openwashing as of late. We also criticised Google for its stance on document formats. What we shall end up with as the widespread standards very much depends on the actions of large corporations, not just people (whose choices will be limited by corporations). We need to push hard for ODF and it will most likely win, especially as more and more nations dump Microsoft Office. Google has control over many users’ choice of document formats (Google Apps, Android, ChromeOS), so we need to put more pressure on Google to go against the flow (Microsoft formats) and with the future, which is ODF. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Today, after a long period of hard work and preparation, having deemed the existing WebODF codebase stable enough for everyday use and for integration into other projects, we have tagged the v0.5.0 release and published an announcement on the project website.
Google Docs is a great resource for collaborative editing and online document editing, however it has one of the greatest problems of all – it doesn’t support the ISO approved document standard ODF. Which leaves governments, businesses and individuals locked into Microsoft’s .docx format.
Yesterday WebODF released v 0.5.0 complete with a library, web editor and FireFox plugin.
South Korea is using the fact that Windows XP is no longer supported as a reason to walk away from Microsoft completely.
According to a government statement, South Korea wants to break from its Microsoft dependency and move to open source software by 2020″
First, we hope to boost reuse of these solutions by improving the project descriptions. Over the past months, we selected 40 projects on Joinup that we expect to have the highest potential for reuse, taking into account such factors as the maturity of the project, its use in cross-border cooperation and licence. Together with the project developers, we improved the descriptions of these projects and enhanced their metadata. For example, we added pointers to existing implementations, details on the intended users and ways to participate.
It is hard enough for people to understand what protocols such as TCP/IP do. These open standards however are invisible to most of them, even if they’re using them on a daily basis. Other open standards, such as OpenDocument Format, are probably not conceivable by some people, who think that an office document is “an extension of Microsoft Office”. I have even heard of teachers, here in France, who refused to even mention ODF because such a thing “could not possibly exist”. The conceptual distinction between a file and an application has not permeated much, even in the twenty first century.
The title explains what this article is about. If you save an .odt file as text, or copy/paste the contents as a text file, or run odt2txt or the unoconv utility, you lose the apparent line structure of the original, and with it the line numbering. But there is a way…
At last week’s Google I/O conference, the company announced new levels of compatibility with Microsoft Office documents in its Google Docs cloud-based applications, including the ability to edit Office documents. These capabilities are driven through QuickOffice, a toolset that Google acquired back in 2012. Quickoffice has provided close compatibility with the Microsoft Office file formats, ranging from .doc to .xlsx, for users of Google Docs.
When Google acquired QuickOffice back in, we assued it was an effort to bring Microsoft Office like capabilities to mobile devices as there was no polished Office Suite back then. Then Google started integrating QuickOffice into its own Google Docs and there were signs that the company may kill the standalone app.
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Summary: Another step in the long struggle to cast proprietary as ‘open’, especially when it comes to Microsoft’s last remaining cash cow and Facebook’s core business of mass surveillance
Openwashing has been a key ingredient of Microsoft’s strategy as of late, pretending that its privacy violations and patent racketeering are somehow outweighted by some kind of goodwill. This is something that not only Microsoft does but also the (partly) Microsoft-owned Facebook is doing quite a lot these days. It is truly disturbing.
Angus Kidman said that “Open [sic] XML is the format which Microsoft Office has used to store Office documents since Office 2007″ even though it is untrue. Almost nobody used it at the time, so Microsoft bribed and corrupted so many people and organisations, hoping to universally impose OOXML on people, pretending it was “open” even though it was all about proprietary Office. Nobody was going to use something so unnecessary, so Microsoft bribed many people for this, including large companies, as compatibility with existing formats had improved and the goalposts needed to be moved. Here is LibreOffice’s Meeks, who was surrendering to Microsoft’s proprietary OOXML rather than adhering to standards like ODF, probably because he was paid by Novell at the time (and Novell was bribed by Microsoft specifically — as per the contractual agreement — to promote and openwash OOXML).
“When the press is trying to insinuate that Microsoft (Office) and Facebook are open there is clearly something wrong with the press.”So once again they are using “Open Source” to promote proprietary lock-in. This is not a novel concept, Microsoft did this with Novell (converter). Phoronix says: “This work may benefit some open-source document editors / office suite software, with more commentary being available from Michael Meeks’ blog.”
How is being reliant on OOXML beneficial to anyone but Microsoft shareholders? This is a trap. We need to reject this format. Google too should stop its unhelpful backing of OOXML, which is getting more detrimental by the day (more of it in the company’s latest event was disclosed, affirming Google’s lack of commitement to document standards).
As noted by some bloggers and writers for the European Commission’s Web site: “To ensure preservation of digital assets, it is essential that specific file formats are implementable in open source software, concludes Björn Lundell, associate professor at the University of Skövde in Sweden. He recommends this should be made a requirement for digital asset strategies of public administrations, thus minimising the risk of losing control over these assets.”
Well, there are patents in OOXML and complexity which shows that it’s really just designed around one implementation in a proprietary form (Office). OOXML should be rejected, especially in the public sector. There is nothing open about it. It’s a massive lie.
Nicholas Miller from VentureBeat and others play a role in a similarly-disturbing campaign that seeks to paint Facebook as “open”. With press release-oriented ‘journalists’ out there it has been quite easy. The Facebook openwashing that we recently wrote about is further promoted by pro-Facebook sites that use semantic jokes to get across this illusion.
When the press is trying to insinuate that Microsoft (Office) and Facebook are open there is clearly something wrong with the press. These are systematic and very persistent (especially this year) openwashing campaigns that everyone should push back against because these deceive and help derail real Free software. █
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Image from the 10 Downing Street Web site
Summary: A roundup of resistance to OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Free/Open Source software (FOSS) in the British public sector
AS ONE ought to expect, especially based on past experiences, a migration to FOSS won’t happen without resistance from an old generation of Microsoft proponents. Just watch how Microsoft rallied its partners to object to a pro-ODF consultation (we explained Microsoft's very dirty tactics to the Cabinet Office). It didn’t quite end there.
Despite the fact that a foreign government is cracking PCs with Windows on them (and seeking to make this practice legal), some people in suits here in Britain insist that Windows in the public sector is an acceptable risk. It’s not. It should be banned. Well, some government departments quietly move towards FOSS (I work with them) and numerous keep quiet about it for fear of retribution from Microsoft and/or its partners, who view FOSS like it’s some kind of Communism that’s spreading.
Continued resistance from Luddites and “tribe elders” of technology (who grew up in another type of world and dined with executives of proprietary software vendors) was expected all along. The ODF consultation showed just one portion of it (publicly-visible, unlike some stories I know of but cannot share).
One reader asked me yesterday: “what became of that government consultation?”
Well, nothing so far, as far as we know. This new article that this reader sent us states: “if you blithely email someone a .docx file you are effectively condemning them to pay rent to Microsoft for ever.”
Indeed, and this too is a reason to shun Microsoft, not just the back doors. The author continues by stating: “One way to loosen the corporate stranglehold would be for everyone to adopt the set of standards called Open Document Format, designed so the files work the same whatever software or computer type you use.”
Yes, indeed, but there are people who stand in the way of implementing national (top-down) policy.
Earlier this month there were a bunch of Microsoft-friendly British articles (at least 3), the latest of which is this one. They all cite Jos Creese (the original/seminal article was this, but it led to some more, even overseas), relaying claims that “Microsoft is cheaper” (than FOSS).
This is wrong on so many levels. It very much depends on what’s calculated and how. OOXML is massively dangerous lock-in. Microsoft had to corrupt the world’s standards bodies to get it where it is today. The bribery for Windows-only formats was documented here half a decade (or more) ago and it was coupled by patent extortion, bribing of companies, and all sorts of other criminal acts. To say that Microsoft is cheaper is almost like saying that robbing a bank is cheaper than working (labour) for the same money. To use a better analogy, to get oneself locked into one vendor is not “cheap”. It has been reported that the British government pays ~$10,000 per Windows desktop per year. Cheap, eh? It’s more like extortion. There is a monopoly on support.
Concurrently, Adrian Bridgwater offers some convenient hogwash that ‘vanishes’ Microsoft’s criminal activities against GNU/Linux, pretending that there is something inherently wrong with FOSS and/or GNU/Linux and that this is the reason it does not (yet) dominate the desktop. Never mind OOXML abuses, bribes against GNU/Linux (we documented some), and many other forms of manipulation. This is the type of revisionism that Microsoft requires right now, creating the illusion that FOSS is inadequate for desktop use, even though Chromebooks are taking off (they run GNU/Linux), defying Microsoft’s vicious attack ads.
One commentator at IDG alluded to the above people as “clueless CIOs” in his headline, stating that “companies are using open source to bring their legacy apps up to code, but all too many CIOs are still clueless about how often open source is being used in their own organizations.”
It wasn’t just clueless CIOs like Jos Creese who offered Microsoft lip service in the British press earlier this month, proposing lock-in rather than freedom because lock-in is supposedly “cheaper”. Another article, citing another bunch, speaks about LibreOffice/OpenOffice, focusing on Microsoft macros lock-in and OOXML lock-in to make FOSS seem inadequate. Titled “Open source ‘fails to excite councils’”, the article makes arguments like the following:
It added that open source software is seen to be difficult to replicate automated interfaces to Microsoft Office products which connect with council systems.
This is precisely the reason to dump Microsoft, not to avoid dumping Microsoft. This is evidence of lock-in and the better one gets out of the lock-in, the better.
On a brighter note, there is a new article from Ireland titled “open source is where I think the future is headed in local government…”
It is not a formal article, but it shows that people — influential people even — do in fact promote FOSS. To quote:
So, I’m in Dublin tomorrow for the OGP Europe Regional conference in Dublin in advance of next week’s Digital Lunch asking if Northern Ireland is ready for an open government partnership? If you are interesting in the subject, do keep an eye on Twitter throughout the day, and I’ll update with a blog report on Friday morning before I leave again.
It is expected that in the coming months or even years some vassals of Microsoft will go public (to the press) bashing FOSS with FUD, misdirection, miscalculations and stereotypes, sometimes criticising FOSS for not being sufficiently Microsofty (e.g. dealing with OOXML). Their arguments often insinuate that abandoning Microsoft would be wise (the opposite of what they mean to say); the British public sector got caught up in expensive and dangerous (back doors for starters) dependence. Free software would give Britain back its sovereignty. Technical autonomy is priceless; it is invaluable. █
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Last Wednesday, March 26th, on Document Freedom Day, OASIS submitted Open Document Format 1.2 standard to the ISO/IEC JTC1 Secretariat for transposition to an International Standard under the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) procedure.
Plug.and.socket 142One of the two articles of faith that Eric Kriss and Peter Quinn embraced in drafting their evolving Enterprise Technical Reference Model (ETRM) was this: products built to “open standards” are more desirable than those that aren’t. Superficially, the concept made perfect sense – only buy products that you can mix and match. That way, you can take advantage of both price competition as well as a wide selection of alternative products from multiple vendors, each with its own value-adding features. And if things don’t work out, well, you’re not locked in, and can swap out the loser and shop for a winner.
Last week Monday, five European public administrations published a new call for tender, to further improve interoperability between free and open source office suites and the ubiquitous proprietary alternative. This is the second time that the German cities of Munich, Leipzig and Jena, the Swiss Federal Court and the Swiss Federal IT Steering Unit have issued such a call. ICT specialists have until 30 April to submit proposals.
The office suites’ interoperability project is again managed by the OSB Alliance, a trade group representing open source service providers from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
According the alliance’s press release, one of the main features to be developed concerns change tracking between open source and proprietary office suites. The public administrations issuing the call want to improve the specification of change tracking, and make this part of the Open Document Format ISO standard.
Such a policy would help the South Tyrol government in its new IT approach, increasing its use of ICT solutions based on free and open source, the governor says.
South Tyrol’s new policy was announced on 11 March. Responding to emailed questions, Governor Kompatscher said that the region is in favour of using free and open source solutions not only for new IT solutions, but also when upgrading existing IT components. “We’ve started to review our license costs. If there are free and open source alternatives, and where the costs and risks of changing are justified, we will switch to these.”
The Document Foundation (TDF) has announced the Document Liberation Project, in an effort to empower individuals, organizations, and governments to recover their data from proprietary formats and offer a mechanism to transition that data into open file formats.
There was a time when office compatibility was a bit of a problem on Linux, but with the latest office suites out there available for Linux, this is not an issue anymore. The applications here mimic MS Excel’s behavior, so switching to one of them should be pretty straightforward. Exporting and importing to and from MS Excel format works as well, and there aren’t many compatibility issues (however, the native format these programs use is the OpenDocument Spreadsheet (ODS) format.
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