Anybody surprised by this?
Campaign promises versus actions
Summary: How public policy and guidelines are being warped by patent aggressors and super-rich opportunists rather than public/collective interest
EARLIER this year we showed how Microsoft-connected FRAND lobbying yielded discriminatory (against FOSS) policies in Europe. This is not a coincidence, it’s intentional. This is also one way to legitimise software patents through the back door.
“In some ways not much has changed since the IEEE Standard Association’s (IEEE SA) new patent policy came into effect in March last year.”
–IAMFRAND should not be acceptable for standards, for reasons that have been covered to death around the Internet. According to a new press release, NASA makes some patents (not many) “available in the public domain,” to use its own words. As Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer put it in Twitter, “Good! But why not all?” We wrote about this before [1, 2]. As NASA is funded by taxpayers, hoarding patents makes no sense, especially when NASA auctions these away to patent trolls who can then tax the public.
Writing about standard essential patents and FRAND, IAM ‘magazine’ has just said: “In some ways not much has changed since the IEEE Standard Association’s (IEEE SA) new patent policy came into effect in March last year. There remains a group of tech companies led by Qualcomm, Ericsson and Nokia who refuse to license their standard essential patents (SEPs) under the new rules while, on the other side, the IEEE and another, larger band of tech companies including Cisco and Intel, insist that the changes were vital in bringing clearer guidelines to licensing on fair, reasonable and non discriminatory (FRAND) grounds.”
Nokia now feeds patents into patent trolls, at Microsoft’s request. One of these patent trolls literally pays IAM — a fact that even IAM’s editor was unable to deny when I asked him. Then we have Ericsson, which brought patent trolling to Europe, and also Qualcomm, which Will Hill explained 2 days as follows:
Heh, no surprise there. Qualcomm is a big Microsoft partner, allegedly “playing nice” for the “internet of things.” Maybe their existence is as a Microsoft proxy and PRISM partner, corrupting free software like Android from the inside. I wonder if they are one of the vendors that aggressively push for non free firmware that the guy behind Core Boot complained about in 2006 or so.
As a patent victim,
Attacking Nokia with patents,
As a patent perp,
blocking legal reform
“working with Android” receiving Palm patents,
Lock step with Microsoft in killing Windows 7 and Windows 8 to push Windows 10,
Part of the empire,
The latter bunch, those who advocate FRAND, are also asking for something unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory because it excludes FOSS. To quote IAM: “To Cisco’s Ohana that means that the IEEE dispute is about much more than a small number, albeit significant, changes to its patent policy. “I have never believed that the furore around the IEEE policy has much to do with the policy itself but more to do with the concerns that some companies have about contagion,” he says. “Fundamentally what they’re worried about is if what has happened at IEEE spreads beyond the IEEE.”
“Notice to what degree IEEE policy is guided by multi-billion multinationals.”Notice to what degree IEEE policy is guided by multi-billion multinationals. Where are public interests in all this? Well, just like in NASA’s case, we are seeing how even at a Federal or supposedly scientific level there’s no real debate about merit of policies, only self interest of a bunch of billionaires. And that’s a problem.
The IEEE’s hostility towards FOSS isn’t a new thing. See for example the older articles below. █
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“What we are trying to do is use our server control to do new protocols and lock out Sun and Oracle specifically”
Summary: Microsoft’s war against POSIX/UNIX/Linux APIs culminates with the .NET push and the ‘bastardisation’ of OpenSSH, a Swiss army knife in BSD/UNIX and GNU/Linux secure channels
MICROSOFT will not rest until it regains its once dominant position in computing. It’s not just because of pressure from shareholders but also because of clevery-marketed sociopaths, such as Bill Gates, who are back at the helm and are very thirsty for power.
Microsoft is now pushing .NET into GNU/Linux, having failed to do so with Mono and Xamarin because regular people (end users) and sometimes developers pushed back. How can Microsoft still convince people to embrace the Microsoft APIs (which are heavily patented and not secure)? Openwashing and propaganda.
Jordan Novet, who writes a lot of pro-Microsoft or marketing pieces for Microsoft (for many months now), is formerly a writer of Gigaom, which had received money from Microsoft to embed Microsoft marketing inside articles (without disclosure, i.e. corrupted journalism). Now he acts as a courier of Microsoft marketing, repeating a delusion which we spent a lot of time debunking here (.NET is NOT “Open Source” [1, 2, 3]). To quote Novet:
Microsoft today announced the beginning of a new bug bounty to pay researchers to find security holes in some of the tech giant’s recently open-sourced web development tools.
“How can Microsoft still convince people to embrace the Microsoft APIs (which are heavily patented and not secure)? Openwashing and propaganda.”When Microsoft alludedwto “Open Source” in relation to .NET it sometimes merely piggybacks the reputation of projects it exploits. See the article “Microsoft’s .NET Team Continues Making Progress On An LLVM Compiler” (not GPL). To quote Phoronix: “Earlier this year Microsoft announced an LLVM-based .NET compiler was entering development, LLILC. Six months later, LLILC continues making progress.
“The .NET team has published a six month retrospective of LLILC. It’s a very lengthy read for those interested in low-level compiler details.”
“Microsoft is still working on implementing support for Windows’ crypto APIs rather than OpenSSL/LibreSSL and to address POSIX compatibility concerns along with other issues.”
–Michael Larabel, PhoronixThis is a potential example of the infamous “embrace, extend, extinguish” approach. As we have shown here before, platform discrimination remains and it is even being extended to existing Free software projects, such as OpenSSH, as we explained yesterday (expect Windows-only ‘features’ and antifeatures). Microsoft APIs are already being phased in — the “extend” phase in E.E.E. (embrace, extend, extinguish). We warned about this months ago [1, 2] and we are now proven right. Even Michael Larabel noticed this and wrote: “Microsoft is still working on implementing support for Windows’ crypto APIs rather than OpenSSL/LibreSSL and to address POSIX compatibility concerns along with other issues.”
So now we have Windows- and Microsoft-specific code right there inside OpenSSH, in spite of Microsoft support of back doors for the NSA et al. Does this inspire much confidence? Repelling Microsoft isn’t about intolerance but about self defence. █
“I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”
–Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée
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Windows too old and long in the tooth
Summary: The ongoing migration of various governments to Free/libre software contributes to the demise of Microsoft’s monopoly and common carrier
“REPORTS suggest Windows phone users are jumping ship with sales in rapid decline,” said the British media earlier this week (title is “Microsoft has a very big problem”). Linux and Android are certainly still gaining. When one switches completely to GNU/Linux, embrace of OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Free/libre software is often implied. It’s virtually imperative. It’s like the ultimate and most complete switch, whereas embrace of open standards or Free software alone tends to be ‘softer’ or rather restrained, staged, and at times hesitant. There is lobbying against each at varying (depending on perceived risk or severity) levels of granularity.
“Someone inside GE recently told me that GE was quietly dumping Windows for Linux in its lucrative CT scanners business.”Microsoft is in trouble and there is no denying that.
According to British media, Vista 8 continues to be a disaster technically and in some nations, unsurprisingly, GNU/Linux has greater market share than the latest Vista (Windows 8.1). The desktop monopoly too is in jeopardy, especially where governments made it their policy to embrace Free/libre software (Uruguay and Venezuela in this case).
Here in the UK the National Health Service (NHS), longtime prisoner of Microsoft, is putting up resistance and considering Free software in a growing number of operations. Making the huge mistake of putting Microsoft Windows in medical devices or facilities is not forgivable. Someone inside GE recently told me that GE was quietly dumping Windows for Linux in its lucrative CT scanners business. According to this new report, X-ray scanners (causing cancer) are behaving badly because of Windows. To quote: “the device proved an easy target. TrapX’s team was able to use an exploit for a known weakness in the Windows 2000 operating system to establish what TrapX refers to as a “pivot” – or point of control- on their test network from which they could attack other systems. After creating a backdoor into the device, TrapX researchers added a new user to the system and decrypted the local user password. The company was then able to extract the database files that would contain medical information.”
“In due course, having removed the Office barrier/hurdle, HMRC can move to GNU/Linux because Google is purely Web-based.”This can become ground for many lawsuits from patients or families of dead patients. This is the sort of scandal that ought to push all British government departments which still use Windows XP immediately to GNU/Linux. No version of Windows is secure; the underlying encryption (proprietary) tends to have back doors. Every piece of proprietary software must be assumed insecure until proven otherwise (by becoming Free software and standards-compliant). There are moves in this direction, namely of standards, in Sweden  and in Holland [2,3], with calls growing for the NHS to embrace openness . There is an increasing push towards Free/libre software, not just open standards (which relate to one another). The governments in Europe should move to Free software like LibreOffice, where interoperability becomes trivial, to borrow Andy Updegrove’s latest arguments , but alas, as we noted the other day (alluding to the UK, Sweden, and India), HMRC is moving from one proprietary office suite to another. Here is the ‘damage control’ from Microsoft, which is trying to avoid the impression of being dumped. To quote the British press, “MICROSOFT HAS HIT BACK at claims that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has dumped the firm in favour of Google’s cloud apps.
“The move, first reported at The Register, will see 70,000 HMRC employees switching from Microsoft’s productivity offering to Google’s cloud-based apps services.”
Google will emphasise ODF support (open standards), but it is not Free/libre software. In due course, having removed the Office barrier/hurdle, HMRC can move to GNU/Linux because Google is purely Web-based. HMRC’s footsteps are likely to be followed by other British government departments (owing to ODF as a national requirement for editable document), taking away some of Microsoft’s most lucrative contracts (British government) and showing other governments across the world that they too can dump Microsoft and proprietary software, not just Windows. Office is the cash cow, Windows is the common carrier. The demise of one leads to the demise of the other. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Sweden’s governmental procurement specialists at Statens inköpscentral are fine-tuning the list of ICT standards that public authorities may use as mandatory requirements when procuring software and ICT services. The procurement agency is working with standardisation specialists at the University of Skövde, to check which ICT standards are truly open.
Public administrations that continue to ignore the policy to implement open standards in their ICT solutions should be fined, says Dutch MP Astrid Oosenbrug. “Public administrations should come to grips with open data, open standards and open source. With all their talk about regaining the trust of their citizens and creating a participatory society, public administrations should take a cue from open source communities.”
Public administrations that switch to open source regain financial scalability, says Jan-Taeke Schuilenga, IT architect at DUO, the Dutch government agency managing the financing of the country’s educational institutions. “We had reached the limit of proprietary licence possibilities. Switching to open source gave us freedom of choice.”
The UK government must open up and highlight the power of more basic data sets to improve patient care in the NHS and save hundreds of millions of pounds a year, Nigel Shadbolt, chairman of the Open Data Institute (ODI) has urged.
Once upon a time, standards were standards and open source software was open source software (OSS), and the only thing people worried about was whether the copyright and patent rules relating to the standards would prevent them from being implemented in OSS. Actually, that was complicated enough, but it seems simple in comparison now that OSS is being included in the standards themselves. Now what?
If this sounds unusual and exotic, it isn’t. In fact, code has been creeping into standards for years, often without the keepers of the intellectual property rights (IPR) Policies governing the standards even being aware of it.
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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’s long battle against character encoding standards such as Unicode, which bridge the gap for communication between people, not just applications
HALF A decade ago we spent a lot of time here promoting open standards — the grooves for connectivity between applications, operating systems, and pertinent pieces of code. Without standards, there is little collaboration because the cost of connecting separate pieces of software is quite high.
“But to Microsoft consistency was an evil threat; it threatened its monopoly.”Assuming that collaboration is the key to rapid advancement and innovation — reusing knowledge, pooling human resources, etc. — standards are important everywhere we look, e.g. electrics, plumbing, energy, automobiles and so on. Encoding of characters is not everyone’s field of expertise; it is a low-level area of computing, akin to assembly code and little/big endian. But the principles of standards stay the same across fields and standards are almost always beneficial. I have wasted many hours of my life trying to overcome issue associated with Microsoft’s broken character encodings. It was a long time ago that people appreciated the value of consistency in some areas (not to be confused with monoculture or monopoly). But to Microsoft consistency was an evil threat; it threatened its monopoly. The Scientist published a piece called “Standards Needed”  not too long ago and Linux Journal praised Unicode , which helps bridge character encoding barriers. Thanks to Unicode, many of us out there can access and render pages in almost any language, even rare languages (and even if we cannot understand them). The Register, however, thought it would be productive to bash Unicode . And watch who wrote the piece: a Windowshead. What a surprise! █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Let’s give credit where credit’s due: Unicode is a brilliant invention that makes life easier for millions—even billions—of people on our planet. At the same time, dealing with Unicode, as well as the various encoding systems that preceded it, can be an incredibly painful and frustrating experience. I’ve been dealing with some Unicode-related frustrations of my own in recent days, so I thought this might be a good time to revisit a topic that every modern software developer, and especially every Web developer, should understand.
In the beginning – well, not in the very beginning, obviously, because that would require a proper discussion of issues such as parity and error correction and Hamming distances; and the famous quarrel between the brothers ASCII, ISCII VISCII and YUSCII; and how in the 1980s if you tried to send a £ sign to a strange printer that you had not previously befriended (for example, by buying it a lovely new ribbon) your chances of success were negligible; and, and…
But you are a busy and important person.
So in the beginning that began in the limited world of late MS-DOS and early Windows programming, O best beloved, there were these things called “code pages”.
To the idle anglophone Windows programmer (ie: me) code pages were something horrible and fussy that one hoped to get away with ignoring. I was dimly aware that, to process strings in some of the squigglier foreign languages, it was necessary to switch code page and sometimes, blimey, use two bytes per character instead of just one. It was bad enough that They couldn’t decide how many characters it took to mark the end of a line.
As far as I know, there isn’t a creation myth associated with the unification of the world’s character sets.
For Windows C++ programmers, the manifesto identifies specific techniques to make one’s core code UTF-8 based, including a proto-Boost library designed for the purpose. (Ironically, the first thing you have to do is turn the Unicode switch in the Visual C++ compiler to ‘on’.)
Next weekend I will be scraping all my Unicode files off my hard disk, taking them to the bottom of the garden, and burning them. As good citizens of the digital world, I urge you all to do the same.
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Summary: Countries where policy is written to prioritise Free software (i.e. software controlled by domestic companies) as well as open standards are facing interference from hostile pressure groups
With Microsoft moles inside many governments (we gave lot of examples) it is no wonder that taxpayers don’t have their interests served. As a bit of a primer, consider going through the following Wiki pages:
Over in France, which famously has gotten one of the strongest European pro-FOSS policies in place, funny business is going on. April writes: “The Senate, at first reading, and National Assembly commission of Cultural Affairs and Education, at second reading, voted for a provision giving priority to Free Software and open formats in the future “Public Service for Digital Education.” Regrettably, the government, yielding, without any doubt, to pressure from Afdel and Syntec Numérique, has just filed an amendment neutralizing this provision.”
“Over in Italy, rogue actions are being reported as people try to stall the famous migrations to FOSS.”Recall what Microsoft did about imminent ODF preference in France. It used proxies to derail the democracy and promote OOXML, i.e. Microsoft formats as a ‘standard’ [1, 2, 3, 4].
Speaking of people who boosted OOXML (e.g. Winterford in this case, the writer who became a Microsoft booster after receiving gifts from Microsoft [1, 2]), they are demonising FOSS, comparing the FOSS advocates to “crusaders” and even showing a photo of a medieval shield. The truth is exactly the opposite. The crusaders are the foreigners (multinationals) who try to impose proprietary software on populations across the world. Winterford must not be happy to see ODF elevated in his nation, Australia. He did a lot to promote OOXML after Microsoft had given him gifts.
“Microsoft can sometimes make the Italian Mafia look benign in comparison.”Over here in the UK, policy is being put in place which favours local companies like my employer (FOSS only). Pogson writes: “There it is, a whole government planning how to escape M$ and “partners” bloat. They are going to do IT the right way, considering what will give the desired outcome efficiently instead of just throwing money away to get the desired outcome any way possible. If we all did that would anyone pay ~$100 extra for a PC with M$’s OS on it, $150 extra for M$’s office suite, $thousands to run a server on a network? How about enduring endless malware aimed at the leaking hulk of that other OS and endless re-re-reboots?”
Over in Italy, rogue actions are being reported as people try to stall the famous migrations to FOSS. To quote: “The discussion in the working group that is supposed to detail when Italy’s public administrations should prefer open source over proprietary solutions, is stalling, says lawyer Ernesto Belisario, professor at University of Basilicata in the city of Potenza. “Some of the members think the law stipulates a technical and economical assessment, instead of reading it as a statement supporting open source.””
“The fight for FOSS in the public sector does not end when policies are written.”Recall the role played by Nichi Vendola. Microsoft can sometimes make the Italian Mafia look benign in comparison. Microsoft is desperate to stop FOSS expansion in Italy and some other news from Italy is now properly summarised in our Wiki.
The article above notes that “Carlo Piana, member of the working group on behalf of the Free Software Foundation Europe and the KDE foundation, confirms that the members do not agree on the reading of the law. “It is important that we agree on the interpretation as soon as possible, otherwise the working group will fall short on its tasks. “I don’t believe this will be the outcome, but if the current position persists, the communities I and the other members represent will strongly protest and we will have little choice but to take all the consequences on our contribution.”
“I am sure that the organisation will realise that this is a crucial point. The law clearly supports our position, for many good reasons. While we are aware that some level of compromise is necessary, this cannot be on the substance of the law and on the very mission of our activity. As Mr. Belisario correctly says, some may disagree with the law, in which case they can try to change it; but as long as it remains unchanged, the law must be abided with.”
“One strategy for impeding FOSS growth in Europe has been lobbying for FRAND and the unitary patent (software patents in Europe through the back doors). “The fight for FOSS in the public sector does not end when policies are written. Just look at what Microsoft did in Brazil to bypass policies.
One strategy for impeding FOSS growth in Europe has been lobbying for FRAND and the unitary patent (software patents in Europe through the back doors). Matthias Lamping does not think that the EU should embrace this trajectory for patents. He writes in a pro-patents blog that he “is not a big fan of the unitary patent package – not because it dislikes the idea of unitary patent protection for the Internal Market, but precisely because [he] does like it. However, creating a “unitary patent” which claims EU origin but disclaims EU character, just because something is supposedly better than nothing, is rather an act of desperation than sensible policy making. This is not the place and not the time to repeat old arguments, but [despite Merpel's warning that this might offend the sensibilities of some readers] one thing cannot be said often enough: False integration can be worse than no integration; and a bad court system is not necessarily better than no court at all. It may be true, to a certain extent, that the system can be improved once it is in force. But a house built on a shaky foundation will always be in danger of collapsing, no matter how many cosmetic repairs are made.”
It seems possible that, owing to pressure from countries like Spain, the unitary patent package will fall through. Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, the loudest opposer of the unitary patent package, said the other day:
that’s why I’m now 99.9999% sure that #UnitaryPatent will die, but what a waste of time/energy and political confidence!
The unitary patent package has taught many of us on the developers’ side that there will always be opportunistic lawyers/politicians looking to serve themselves and their friends at governmental/industrial levels. This incestuous relationship is all about self gain. The fight against corruption is perpetual and it is an important fight to be fighting. █
‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’
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Summary: Although the Australian government does not guarantee the use of open standards and/or Free software, it does give way for better facilitation of those
After years of OOXML-related abuses such as bribes, Microsoft might — just might — see some consequences. According to this announcement from Australia, ODF is a winner, but the “proposal does not require that ODF be used as a standard. Rather, it just specifies that productivity suites must support ODF. Recent versions of Microsoft Office, as well as Google Docs, Libre Office and OpenOffice support the file format,” says this post. It is not entirely true that Microsoft supports ODF; it is just its proprietary hybrid which it labels ODF. The news sites, nonetheless, welcome the news. Here is a bunch of reports about it:
Australia’s government may mandate that its agencies use software compatible with OpenDocument Format (ODF), an international file standard.
The country’s government agencies mostly use Microsoft’s Office software, but support for an open standard eliminates the “potential for a vendor ending support for specific format,” wrote John Sheridan, Australia’s chief technology officer.
If the draft proposal is approved, however, government agencies would not be required to work only with ODF documents, Sheridan wrote. The proposal is now open for comments and will eventually be taken up by the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board for approval.
The office of the Australian Government Chief Technology Officer (AGCTO) is proposing support for the Open Document Format (ODF) in an annual review of computing system policies.
The AGCTO’s office says that requiring support for ODF will not preclude use of other formats and does not mandate use of ODF 1.1. But it will establish ODF 1.1 as the baseline for compatibility within the Australian government. According to Australian tech news site Delimiter, in 2011, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) decided to standardise on Office Open XML, but was pushed to reconsider that choice after receiving complaints. The new proposal has now been published and the AGIMO and AGCTO are seeking public feedback before progressing further.
We previously covered outrage in Australia over choice of OOXML (entryism possibly the cause, i.e. Microsoft moles), so this latest news sure is a positive change and a step in the right direction. Have they just rewritten the policy to conform with a t prior decision of choosing Microsoft Office though? We shall see… █
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Microsoft tries to paint itself as “fighting the bad guys”
Summary: Software security ‘standard’ to be led by the company which made insecurity an acceptable engineering practice?
According to this new report (criticised heavily in this LXer thread), Microsoft is trying to lead security standards as if Microsoft is the master of security. Oh! The vanity!
“Previously, roughly half a decade ago, Microsoft fonts also enabled remote hijacking of one’s Windows-running PC.”Microsoft is not just bad at security but also at patching security flaws; many people, especially in businesses, won’t install updates from Microsoft without qualms because these tend to break the software every now and then, even weeks ago. As IDG put it: “The saga of botched patch MS13-036 takes new twists and turns — including a problem with Multiple Master fonts” (familiar story, not the first of this kind).
Go on and wonder how poor modularity must be if a security patch can impact fonts. Previously, roughly half a decade ago, Microsoft fonts also enabled remote hijacking of one’s Windows-running PC. █
“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”
–Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive
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