Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft's OOXML Patents, Apple's Endorsement, and the Rise of OpenOffice.org

Keyboard closeup
[N]ovell and [M]icrosoft lobbied for OOXML



Summary: Weak defense from Microsoft regarding OOXML boobytraps; OpenOffice.org still downloaded heavily

OOXML Patents Surface



THIS is a tedious topic that we covered yesterday and also earlier this year in:



Microsoft's latest word-processing patent is stirring up discussion even in the news.

The core of US Patent 7,571,169 which Microsoft was granted on August 4th refers to – "A word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML".


The Microsoft crowd is trying to calm things down by saying:

OOXML is covered by Microsoft's Open Specification Promise, under which Microsoft promised not prosecute those using, selling, or distributing its implementation of a technology or specification.


As we explained before, the Open Specification Promise is a useless promise, based on the analysis of the SFLC. The Microsoft Community Promise is equally bad.

Some days ago we mentioned how Microsoft was trying to sneak RAND into Free software [1, 2] and The Source has a posting about that too.

Recent statements on “Open” give an interesting insight into Microsoft constancy.

In a recent Computerworld UK blog entry, Glyn Moody takes Microsoft’s Jason Matusox to task for conflating “balance” with “open”. I won’t re-hash the points Mr. Moody makes so read his article too!

Basically, Mr. Matusox laments how Open standards are “overbalanced” in favor of standard implementors, and someone is insisting that standards must have “no IP restrictions”.


Yes, Microsoft wants more software patents in standards, and it wants them to be enforceable even in the EU.

Apple's Role



Microsoft does not treat Mac users as well as a company should, but it still spreads OOXML to that UNIX platform. Given that Apple has been somewhat of an OOXML ally of Microsoft, the following is noteworthy.

Imagine that, Apple supported Microsoft's Open XML standardisation. Last week’s Microsoft Office 2008 Service Pack 2 (SP2) release wasn't so great for Mac Office users, a giant fail. You know, when you have a multibillion office applications business who would dare to test for crossplattform compatibility of file formats before you release the service pack? No one does, and Apple users of the Mac Office were absolutely outraged about Open XML.


ISO's Role



A couple of days ago we showed how Microsoft was controlling ISO. There is more on that at the <No>OOXML Web site.

OpenOffice.org



In more positive news, the OpenOffice.org team says that version 3.1 of the software has already been downloaded over 20 million times (in 3 months), meaning that OpenOffice.org is downloaded over 6.6 million times per month. It is a staggering pace which does not take into account the exchange of CDs, including GNU/Linux CDs, which typically contain OpenOffice.org out of the box (and in the repositories). Heise has this new article about a collaboration plug-in for OpenOffice 3.1 users

Secure collaboration specialist TeamDrive has released its collaboration plug-in for OpenOffice 3.1 users. The freeware TeamDrive OpenOffice Plug-in allows users to create and share TeamDrive "SharedSpaces" (shared folders) and includes version control. Users can exchange files securely and view version comments or open previous versions of a document.


This ought to show the power of OpenOffice.org, which is often the target of heavy Microsoft FUD. OpenOffice.org -- like Mozilla Firefox -- thrives in a sea of extensions.

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