OpenOffice.org is a Minefield

Posted in Action, Deception, Formats, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, OpenDocument, VBA at 10:27 am by Shane Coyle

Anyone who is using or redistributing OpenOffice.org must pay attention, as it appears that Microsoft is preparing to defend its crown jewel Office, either by licensing or litigation.

Remember the Microsoft-Sun deal of a few years ago? Part of the deal was coverage for users of StarOffice, the commercial distribution of OpenOffice.org offered by Sun:

The agreement in question was signed in April of this year as part of Sun and Microsoft’s landmark multibillion dollar settlement. It was released as part of Sun’s annual U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings Monday.

The April agreement says that Microsoft can seek damages from Open Office users or distributors for any copy of Open Office installed after April 1, 2004. However, users of Sun’s commercial distribution of Open Office, called StarOffice are protected from legal liabilities under the agreement, said Russ Castronovo, a spokesman for Sun.

As we all know, Novell’s "customers" now also enjoy protection from Microsoft litigation as well.

So, now you have your choice – accept Microsoft’s license terms, which both Sun and Novell have seen as necessary, or risk Microsoft’s wrath. And, having seen the lengths that they are willing to go to stem the adoption of ODF, I am not taking any chances.

Here Comes Microsoft’s Anti-OpenDocument Study

Posted in Formats, FUD, Microsoft at 1:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yes, this was inevitable. First it was Linux, which threatened Windows and now it’s OpenDocument, which threatens Microsoft’s biggest cash cow—Microsoft Office. Disinformation is yet again used as a weapon and Novell is the ammunition.

Just published:

This study is a fact-based analysis of the emerging open document standards, Open XML and ODF.

Groklaw has already commented on this ‘study’: “PJ: Jungle drums tell me that Microsoft is spreading this odd report around. Why wouldn’t it, when it includes hilarious sentences like this first one I’ve chosen? ODF, just to explain, is already an ISO standard. Open XML is not. Also notice the big “if” and then how they make use of the deal with Novell. Novell, Novell, what were you thinking? Not about ODF, obviously.”.

To add some context, IDC has served Microsoft with grossly biased reports in the past. Just months ago there was this:

The study, conducted by research firm IDC and commissioned by Microsoft, said Windows Vista will be installed on over 30 million personal computers in Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and United Kingdom within the first year of shipment.

Also covered here: IDC pronounces Linux unimportant to European economy

Need we even go back in time and find similar work by Microsoft-funded pressure groups and astroturfing?

In 2001, the Los Angeles Times accused Microsoft of astroturfing when hundreds of similar letters were sent to newspapers voicing disagreement with the United States Department of Justice and its antitrust suit against Microsoft. The letters, prepared by Americans for Technology Leadership, had in some cases been mailed from deceased citizens or nonexistent addresses.

How about this recent tidbit: “Bill Gates lends cash to buy newspapers – $350 million to MediaNews”?

More Information on the Anti-ODF Crusade (and Lobbying)

Posted in Deception, Formats, Marketing, Office Suites at 1:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I would like to quote two recent articles from the most reliable source there is on that matter.

Article #1

MA Governor-Elect Names MS Anti-ODF Lobbyist to Technology Advisory Group

That person is Brian Burke, the Microsoft Regional Director for Public Affairs, and if that surprises you, it surprises me as well, given the degree of acrimonious debate and disinformation witnessed in Massachusetts over the last 15 months involving the Information Technology Division’s transition to ODF…. it is my understanding that it was Burke who led the lobbying effort on Beacon Hill against ODF, and also urged legislators to introduce the amendment intended to take away much of the ITD’s planning power generally, and as regards standards specifically, and hand it to a task force made up of political appointees…. Although I’m told that Burke announced yesterday at the first meeting of the new working group that he will be participating as a private citizen rather than a Microsoft employee, I believe that Burke should recuse himself from participating in any discussions or recommendations relating to document format standards.

Article #2

ComputerWorld Documents Microsoft’s Lobbying in Massachusetts

The article goes on to describe the back-channel negotiations between State CIO Louis Gutierrez and Microsoft’s Alan Yates, and the way that Microsoft played the lobbying card throughout those discussions

Additional resources:

Other recent cases of Microsoft lobbying:

Is the Open Document Format (ODF) Now Dead?

Posted in Formats, Interoperability, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 12:46 am by Shane Coyle

You want interoperability? Sure, but on our terms…

As noted in this article on WinBeta, with the 3 top word processors in the world supporting Office Open XML “Suddenly the landscape looks very different, as by the end of this week, the world’s most widely distributed and supported document format will at last be an open standard…but it won’t be ODF.”

Of course, that is because while Corel will support both ODF and DOCX and so will Novell OpenOffice, Microsoft Office will not feature native support for ODF.

For its share of this morning’s statement, Microsoft began referring to its suite’s format without the word “Office,” using instead the designation “Ecma Open XML.” Last Wednesday, a version of that format was submitted for general approval by the ECMA standards organization – the same one which helped Microsoft institute its version of Netscape’s JavaScript as a standard. A vote on approval of Ecma Open XML is scheduled for this Thursday, and today’s announcement of Novell’s support most likely all but assures its passage.

As evidenced by the lengths that Microsoft went to influence the Massachusetts Open Document decision, it was probably worth a few hundred million dollars to Microsoft to continue their Office domination under the guise of an open standard file format, and it seems it was definitely worth it to Novell.

Complete Open XML?

As pointed out by Bob Sutor months ago, Open XML is a huge specification and is unlikely to be completely implemented by anyone other than Microsoft themselves, leading to limited interoperability – which we were told was the whole point of this exercise.

In my opinion, suggesting “choice” among ODF and Open XML by governments who are seeking control, true choice, and interoperability is nothing more than maintaining the status quo — a requirement for Microsoft products under the guise of supporting a “standard.”

In reaction to today’s announcement. Sutor is unwaived in his assessment:

I’m ready to stand corrected when they demonstrate full translation of arbitrary documents that use all the corner cases of the gargantuan Open XML spec. Presumably they would have a test suite that demonstrates full coverage. If they are just doing a partial translation, then this is just what I said would happen in the blog entry: the only consumers of complete Open XML will be Microsoft, and even that is questionable. The extreme bloat of the Open XML spec will only preserve the network effect when full fidelity is required. Gosh, do you think that could possibly be the point, I wonder?

Geez, what’s with all the conspiracy nuts?

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