As a reminder, as part of its many OOXML abuses, Microsoft paid companies to ‘support’ OOXML
Summary: The similarities between the effect of adding UEFI code and adding OOXML code to Free software
IN 40 comments or so I have been discussing UEFI with the developer of Shim, whose latest work one can read about in:
So, while Garrett’s shim will soon be bring many more varieties of Linux to many more Windows 8 PCs, UEFI Secure Boot will remain a significant worry for anyone wanting to run Linux or other alternative operating systems on Windows 8 PCs.
Next I went to the other extreme, disabled Legacy Boot and enabled Secure Boot. In this configuration, the Live USB media for Linux Mint and openSuSE wouldn’t even try to boot as they don’t have EFI bootloaders included. Fedora 18 Beta would try, but failed — the necessary security certification is not yet included on the 18 Beta distribution. But Ubuntu 12.10 booted with absolutely no problem. Hooray!
UEFI was designed with lock-down — not just “security” — in mind. It’s like TPM. Thus, Microsoft hoped to embrace the darn thing, making it harder to boot Linux. It doesn’t take a wild theory to deduce this. We saw the same things around 2007, as I explained in comments alluding to hundreds of posts I had written in 2006-2008. Antitrust is bound to be hurt when the anticompetitive is embraced by that who is being hurt.
Speaking of which, check out what Simon Phipps says about Freiburg:
We recently saw the news that the German city of Freiburg had decided to end its open source migration and instead switch to using Microsoft products again. The rationale provided seemed curious to me – after all, at the same time the German city of Munich announced total savings amounting to €10 million from its own successful and ongoing migration.
What seemed odd was there was no account of how they changed course to make the migration succeed. Munich learned lessons from early challenges and updated its strategy in order to succeed. But not Freiburg.
From what I could see, instead of ditching the old versions of MS Office and OpenOffice.org they’d started with and installing up-to-date LibreOffice using expert in-house help, they had just hung on to outdated software and expected staff to muddle through to success. When that didn’t happen, they blamed the software and not the strategy. Everything was in German, so rather than risk misinterpretation I turned to German-speaking friends in the technology industry to explain the report to me (if I got anything wrong, please tell me – the documents seemed very complicated).
My (guided) reading shows three points of concern in the situation over the last four years. First, the only ongoing expenditure in support of the migration is running costs of less than €15 per seat per annum, all associated with licensing supposedly superceded proprietary software. Second, substantial one-off costs of around €231/seat associated with interoperability – a topic that is always an indicator that proprietary software is controlling people’s thinking. Third, no obvious investment in ongoing community engagement or equivalent commercial subscriptions for open source.
“Very good article,” Matthias Kirschner calls it. He is right. Phipps did a fine job and he should know. He was overseeing a lot of aspects of OpenOffice.org for several years at Sun. He also led some efforts to spread ODF and opposed Go-OO, whose team moved on to LibreOffice.
As we showed before, Microsoft had also used OOXML to derail the kind of migrations we saw in Freiburg. Those who were paid by Microsoft to pretend to support OOXML were also to blame. They helped legitimise it. It was always disguised as “choice”, where one choice was lock-in, i.e. no choice. For proprietary software lobbyists, to be “neutral” is to choose proprietary lock-in, as shown in this new article:
Two members of Congress, reaching across the partisan divide, are pushing the government to think broadly — governmentwide — about open-source software, provoking warnings from industry groups that they are ignoring the core principle of technology neutrality.
No, this is not such a matter. To deny choice using lock-in is not to be neutral, it’s to be predatory.
Anyway, one can hopefully grasp the similarity between the two cases; when Microsoft introduces new FOSS-hostile traps it requires that some "useful idiot" — either paid or unpaid — ‘proves’ that the traps are digestable. An effective diplomatic approach is to reject what is worthy of rejection, not give up. This is not a compromise, it is giving up/surrendering to Microsoft, █
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“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”
–Richard Stallman, June 2008
Summary: Microsoft uses price hikes in the UK amid discussions about ultimately moving to standards like OpenDocument Format
MR. Updegrove, a standards guru, recently wrote about the new UK standards policy which is FRAND-hostile. FRAND is neither fair nor reasonable; it is about patents, usually software patents. There is more on that here at OSS Watch:
I have just got back from this event organised by the European Commission and the European Patent Office to discuss the implications of implementing open standards in open source. Now of course this is an issue that has been very active in the UK recently, and about which we have blogged, due to the present government’s desire to use open standards as a way of increasing efficiency in government IT procurement. The idea, briefly, is that specifying IT systems in smaller, interoperable chunks that implement open standards should make government IT easier to manage and maintain and more able to be supplied by a wider range of bidders, including authors and integrators of free and open source software. As discussed in the blog linked above, there is an issue with implementing royalty-bearing standards in GPL-licensed software, and as a lot of the free and open source software out there is GPL-licensed, government risks locking this software out if they don’t specify standards that are royalty free.
Well, after a long consultation process, the Cabinet Office has decided that it will indeed make it a principle that government IT should implement interoperability standards that are royalty free…
The founder of the FSFE said that Microsoft had stated FRAND is FOSS-compatible, which is of course a lie. Microsoft did this in an awkward European event on FRAND and OSS. It’s not “reasonable” to ban Free software. According to the British technology press, since lock-in enables raising of prices for little risk associated with customer retention, Microsoft does exactly that: [via]
Microsoft will make businesses pay 15% more for licenses…
It is for particular services. As we showed in the site’s previous posts and will also show in the next one, Office as a service is struggling, just like Windows. Price hikes are the only way for Microsoft to dodge further losses in the long term. Microsoft is struggling most than common people appreciate. They think that widespread usage necessitates financial stability.
Now, before it is too late, governments should follow Munich’s lead (12,000 desktops migrated to GNU/Linux with ODF). The sinking ship if the ageing Microsoft monopoly.
Updegrove explains how a controlled opposition strategy, namely the portrayal of non-open as “open” (OOXML is one example), is being used now:
The debate over what ‘openness’ should mean in the standards arena has been around for a long time – perhaps as long as a hundred years. But in order to understand the current debate, it’s important to realize that we are in phase two of that dialogue.
In the first phase, the definition of openness was pretty well established and nailed to the wall, following the evolution and formalization of the global standards infrastructure. The high level result was the principle of “RAND” terms (the RAND standing for reasonable and non-discriminatory terms), or FRAND terms (adding an F for “Fair,” if you hail from Europe). These terms are backed up by fairly universally accepted process rules for the conduct of standards development in the global standards bodies. In the United States, compliance with the rules is supervised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which until recently accredited almost all U.S. standards setting organizations.
The definition of “open” — with all sorts of slants and variations of it (e.g. “open core”) — has been changing over time because of those who feared Free software and later on Open Source resort to deception. They try to conquer the opposition. █
“More Open Than Open [...] I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”
–Microsoft’s Jason Matusow, integral part of the ‘Open’ XML corruptions (further background in [1, 2, 3])
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Summary: OOXML helps Microsoft derail Free software adoption in the German public sector while Portugal’s goes ODF-only
So the news says that Freiburg will return to Office after failure to properly communicate with those who understand lock-in. IDG covered this almost exclusively and wrote: “According to the organisations, no open source experts were consulted in the process. Therefore they hoped the council would still consider a migration to a current version of LibreOffice or OpenOffice.”
Calling the Free Software Foundation Europe an “open source group” is bad, but we saw that in previous reports on the subject. The matter of fact is, a lot of issues have already been addressed:
Open source developers have already fixed three of the five major problems that are limiting support by open source office suites for Microsoft’s proprietary document format OOXML, reports Matthias Stürmer. The Swiss Ernst & Young IT consultant is one of those improving the open source office tools. He hopes better support for OOXML this will “help to successfully complete and maintain migrations towards open source office suites.”
Notice how OOXML always stands in the way, as Microsoft intended. Here is the call for Freiburg to stay with ODF:
Five civil groups advocating the use of free and open source by public administrations urge the German city of Freiburg to continue to use the Open Document Format as its default format for electronic documents. “Free office suites are making progress. LibreOffice today has over 60 million users worldwide.”
This week’s Tuesday evening, Freiburg’s city council is voting over a proposal to end its floundering migration of OpenOffice and to stop using the Open Document Format. Instead of ODF, the city board wants to default on Microsoft’s alternative, OOXML.
Some people who oversee Microsoft OOXML start following me in Twitter, so I guess Microsoft watches us ODF proponents very closely. Andy Updegrove has great news from Portugal:
According to a press release issued today by the Portuguese Open Source Business Association (reproduced in full at the end of this blog entry), the government of Portugal has decided to approve a single editable, XML-based document format for use by government, and in public procurement. And that format is not OOXML.
Here is a news report in English. After those Portugal OOXML scandals we sure expect some corruption from Microsoft. Here are some observers who should keep an eye on Microsoft's thugs. A timely reminder from Portugal:
Other Microsoft irregularities in Portugal can be found in:
ESOP says: “We must stress the importance of the whole open standards adoption process and declare our explicit support for the way the interoperability regulation was designed. On one hand, there is some pragmatism to be noticed: the list of open standards is relatively short with priority given to functions where interoperability problems are a large concern. On the other hand, pragmatism didn’t mean lost of insight: there is no more than one open standard per functional category. This is something ESOP has always defended, as a measure to prevent incompatibilities that could bring the adoption process to a failure.”
Related to this, also see:
Keep on open eye on Microsoft Portugal. █
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Summary: Without speaking to FOSS experts the bureaucrats in Europe consider giving up on ODF and FOSS
EARLIER THIS year we wrote about how OOXML was interfering with FOSS adoption in the German public sector. IDG has
this report which echoes a few others but places little or no emphasis on OOXML. It says:
Several open source groups such as the Free Software Foundation Europe, the Document Foundation and the Open Source Business Alliance protested the plans in an open letter to the council on Friday, saying the council compared apples with oranges.
“Numerous statements concerning LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice are incorrect or outdated,” they said in the letter, adding that the support of LibreOffice and OpenOffice is at a professional level these days. “The assessment of the evaluation that compatibility to Microsoft Office cannot be reached in the next few years, is also wrong,” they said.
According to the organizations, no open source experts were consulted in the process. Therefore they hoped the council would still consider a migration to a current version of LibreOffice or OpenOffice.
The council plans to vote on the draft bill next Tuesday.
That is just a few days from now. The cost of lock-in is very high and many managers fail to take this into account. There are 450 comments in Slashdot. The problems in Freiburg are somewhat representative of the excuses made in other places. Microsoft had hired some people whose task is to attack LibreOffice/OpenOffice.org adoption (also see [1, 2, 3]), nut almost nobody in the corporate press reported on that. █
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Summary: Microsoft is the one struggling to catch up in an age of Linux expansion, but LibreOffice continues to chase Microsoft’s proprietary formats
ONE of our readers, Marti, alleges that Microsoft is copying Android. As he puts it, “[o]n Android ICS they are simply widgets, which show the latest updates of your email and social media, or whatever widget you place on one of the preferred multiple “virtual desktops”. You simply have the ability to “browse” trough the history, by tipping the widgets and scrolling down (like in a web-browser).
“Marti provides some more examples where Microsoft is copying Android, just like it copies KDE.”“Windows® 8 Live Tiles® on the other had are showing a “history” of the most recent updates in a “interactive” manner. Meaning text is scrolled continually on multiple Tiles®. At first this seems quite funny and sexy, but trust me, it gets on your nerves within 15 minutes.”
Marti provides some more examples where Microsoft is copying Android, just like it copies KDE. A Gartner analyst’s negative remarks on this copycat act of Microsoft are spreading further to say that Vista 8 is not suitable for enterprises, just as OOXML causes nothing but headaches in businesses. On the face of it, attempts are being made to bridge some gaps:
If in past, you had trouble importing Microsoft Publisher documents in LibreOffice, you may get relief soon. Bernnan Vincent, a GSoC student, has created libmspub library capable of reading Microsoft Publisher files and converting it to SVG and open document format.
OOXML support in LibreOffice is a case of following Microsoft rather than leading with ODF. In a future episode of TechBytes we will talk to someone from the LibreOffice team (Charles-H. Schulz and explore the rationale of the strategy, e.g. whether SUSE's relationship with Microsoft played a role in this. Before we get to that we are going to release an episode where Stallman tells me about phone surveillance. With Skype, Microsoft is now tracking people’s phonecalls too. See our Skype wiki page for more information and some background. As one new report puts it: “The question was: “Is Skype snooping on your conversations?” The answer is yes.
“According to a Microsoft Skype spokesperson, “As was true before the Microsoft acquisition, Skype co-operates with law enforcement agencies as is legally required and technically feasible.” So what the heck does that mean?” It probably just means that Microsoft continues to be an enemy of the population, and furthermore toppling Microsoft is a good thing. █
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Controlling behaviour using money (bribe)
Summary: SUSE developers unite with Microsoft as LibreOffice developers with financial Microsoft ties help advance the agenda of their backers from Microsoft
THE relationship between Go-OO and LibreOffice continues to remind us to be at least somewhat vigilant. Money buys results. As part of Novell’s deal with Microsoft it was required to advance OOXML. It’s a form of bribe, but nothing compared to the other fraudulent activities that Microsoft used to advance OOXML. The elusive format was not even implemented by Microsoft and it led to many incompatibilities. Based on this news, Office continues to be a fragmented mess, which is a way of encouraging everyone to always buy the newest version. To quote: “The newly unveiled productivity suite from Microsoft, Office 2013, won’t be running on older operating systems like Windows XP and Vista it has been revealed.
“As part of Novell’s deal with Microsoft it was required to advance OOXML.”“Office 2013 is said to be only compatible with PCs, laptops or tablets that are running on the latest version of Windows i.e. either Windows 7 or not yet released Windows 8. According to a systems requirements page on Microsoft for Office 2013 customer preview, the Office 2010 successor is only compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012. This was confirmed by a Microsoft spokesperson.”
More interestingly, some body we have heard of before (the so-called “Open Source Business Alliance” which we wrote about before because of rogue agenda), together with SUSE connections (Microsoft-funded), is helping the promotion of OOXML:
Developers from a project hosted by the Open Source Business AllianceGerman language link are working to improve the compatibility of LibreOffice and OpenOffice with Microsoft Office. The German municipalities of Munich, Jena and Freiburg, and the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, the Swiss Federal IT Steering Unit (FITSU) and the Swiss Canton of Vaud – who together use OpenOffice on around 18,000 workstations – have jointly raised €140,000 (approximately £109,000) funding for the project.
In December, the OSB Alliance’s Office Interoperability Working Group introduced a specification which mapped out the improvements that need to be made in these areas. The extensions are being implemented by developers from SUSE and by Hamburg-based open source specialists Lanedo.
So here we have SUSE/Novell, once again helping to demote ODF, giving a lift to OOXML in government instead. As for SUSE itself, its latest build is being reviewed:
In overall, I was more comfortable with the KDE version than the Gnome version.
Let’s hope SUSE does not promote OOXML in KDE as well. KDE has probably been most outspoken in its stance against OOXML. A few hours ago in our IRC channel Ryan asked: “Does LibreOffice still keep creepy metadata in ODF files like Microsoft’s office suite does in all its file formats?” LibreOffice developers should recognise the fact that some of them, the people from SUSE, are funded indirectly by Microsoft. There are ways for LibreOffice to help the Microsoft agenda at the expense of other competitors. Microsoft’s occupation of rivals will be recalled in the next post. █
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Summary: An interview with the Open Source Relations Manager of Mandriva, one who is boasting a pivotal role in the free office suites space
MR. Charles-H. Schulz is prominent in the Free/open source world and he is no stranger to Techrights. 4 years ago we wrote about him in relation to ODF advocacy and a year later we interviewed him. Recently, Charles got an appointment at Mandriva and last week he also got married. We decided to catch up and learn more about Mandriva, Openoffice.org, and LibreOffice.
Techrights: Please explain to us your role in Mandriva.
Charles-H. Schulz: My official title is “Open Source Relations Manager”. My role is to help with the general open source strategy of Mandriva SA, and that implies several levels of involvement, either with the community or with the corporate level as well.
How does one go about transitioning from a corporate-centric model into a community-based one?
The answer is both simple and complex at the same time. Let’s define the terms here for the sake of clarity. A corporate centric model of open source governance, or better, a corporate centric model of FOSS project is a model where one corporation defines the project, is supposed to reap the benefits out of it, has a weak governance structure, and where most of the contributors are individuals who contribute to the project are individuals who are employed by the said corporation or by its affiliates.
“It’s a model that allows for a diversity of stakeholders to get involved at various levels of the project, from the contributor to the leadership.”A community-centric model is not a model where there are no corporations around. It’s a model that allows for a diversity of stakeholders to get involved at various levels of the project, from the contributor to the leadership. It is also a model where the governance structure tends to be more defined, because the project is actually much more independent and does not rest on one sponsor for most of its resources and contributors.
So how do we transition from the former to the latter is by assessing what the main sponsor can offer, and by setting up a governance structure that allows a diversity of contributors to get involved. The resources question here is crucial. What do we need? How many servers? What’s the migration process? And of course, what’s the governance, and how do we make the new project truly independent from the former sponsor (regardless of the friendly or unfriendly relationship with this sponsor)?
I think the keyword here is “contributor”. If you have enough contributors outside the main sponsor who are coming from diverse affiliations, then you have a sustainable project.
That’s the kind of questions we have been studying on the 19th of June in Paris together with the Mandriva Linux community representatives. I think the results are very encouraging, and that we manage to make sense of what we want to do, how we are going to do it and why we do it; now we are entering the actual phase of work, and we’ll try to keep this committee work effective while trying to involve the community at large on specific areas.
What office suite does Mandriva use by default and why?
Mandriva uses LibreOffice by default. And if you ask why, it’s simply because it’s the best free office suite ever.
You have had experience ushering a community from one project (OpenOffice.org) to another (LibreOffice) amid times of uncertainty and great risk. Are these are parallels to this case?
I think there are, although here we have the main sponsor, Mandriva SA, who is very open about the reasons why it can no longer sustain a Linux distribution project on its own, and therefore is working directly with the community to make an independent project emerge. That’s the main difference. There are parallels though that tend to be more subtle: What we’re trying to achieve, just like with the transition from Openoffice.org to LibreOffice, is a culture shift from “it will get done by someone else” to “we must do it”. In other words, there is the same demand and urge to set up a fully meritocratic system.
How is collaboration between OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice coming along?
You mean between Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice? Because Openoffice.org is dead, and it had several children. The collaboration is limited on practical terms because of the licensing differences, but we are rebasing our code on the latest Apache OpenOffice in order to be able to have a cleaner licensed base. Right now, we must still deal with the LGPL v3, and while it’s a great licence it cannot change over time; so we have embarked in a relicensing effort towards MPL v2 and GPL v3+ and we are looking forward the interesting switch at Apache OpenOffice from the Openoffice.org codebase to the Symphony codebase; there will certainly be some code we might be able to reuse. Although, when you come to think of it, it’s funny to enter the Apache Incubation Process with one software you’re inheriting, and to use a different software you’ve also inherited just after the incubation process is completed
Mandriva was once one of the most used (if not the most used) distributions of GNU/Linux. Where would you position the distribution on those terms in 2012?
“What we will end up seeing in 2012 and onwards, is a great community powered distribution that’s separate from the company itself; and the company offering a range of Linux-powered products and platforms for the enterprise and the education market.”Let’s face it, the Mandriva Linux distribution was for years the most widely used distribution around. It’s not the case anymore. Several changes happen in the GNU/Linux distribution market and Mandriva never really caught them. It’s not so much that the distribution became outdated: if anything, using Mandriva today, or its fork, Mageia, shows just as advanced, beautiful and user-friendly the distribution is. But the alignment between a sound corporate strategy and the community side of things was never really thought of until now. What we will end up seeing in 2012 and onwards, is a great community powered distribution that’s separate from the company itself; and the company offering a range of Linux-powered products and platforms for the enterprise and the education market. So if anything, you’ll see more of Mandriva as a corporate distribution, and more of the Mandriva Linux community as a community distribution; there is no fork here, but a friendly and productive relationship with no exclusive reliance on each other.
Congratulations on the wedding. Have you gotten the wife using GNU/Linux yet?
Oh, when I met Melissa she was already using the Gimp on Windows. She’s a very creative individual, and a few months after the beginning of our relationship, her old laptop broke. I introduced her to GNU/Linux; she used various distributions: Ubuntu for a long time, but also Mandriva, and now she’s a very happy Fedora user. I should also add that she created all of our wedding decorations, from the menus to the walls,
with the Gimp; she’s a poweruser of the Gimp and there are several community members, including me, who approached her asking whether she’d be interested in providing video tutorials for the project. █
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Summary: Dubious claims of OpenOffice.org and Linux being “33 percent more than the cost for Office 2010 with Windows 7.”
LAST MONTH we witnessed EDGI in the Philippines, which we also saw bullied around by the US government at the behest of Microsoft (see Cablegate) after it had decided to go with Free/open source software nationally. Truthfully, this goes a long way back. For a country to choose FOSS is quite brave because US multinationals treat it like those countries have just adopted communism and declared war on capitalism (or “IP”). Mr. Pogson looks at GNU/Linux in the Philippines and says:
HB1011, Free Open Source (FOSS) Act of 2010 is in committee stage. It’s stated purpose is that “The government shall apply only FOSS or Foss solutions in all ICT projects except under exceptional cirumstances”. There is strong opposition, for example, from the Minister of Education who claims FLOSS costs more… Of course using “7″ and databases costs less than using paper but they did not give GNU/Linux a fair shake in trials. M$ now uses the Minister of Education as a poster-child for non-free software: “We received feedback from the school IT administrators that the computers running OpenOffice.org had more technical issues, to the point that some computers were unusable….For us, the cost to deploy and support computers with OpenOffice.org and Linux is about 33 percent more than the cost for Office 2010 with Windows 7.” That sounds like EDGI got in there and paid people to use M$’s stuff. I don’t see any other way that FLOSS could be more expensive.
This is one that needs watching. Microsoft obviously plays dirty here, as usual, maybe via some front groups like the BSA (as it did years ago). █
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