07.12.07

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Novell Supports .NET and MS OOXML, the BBC Supports .NET and MS DRM

Posted in Deals, DRM, Europe, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Windows at 5:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell and the BBC (Microsoft partners) are not so different after all

Earlier this week we commented on some shocking stories. These short technical stories proved that Microsoft’s OpenXML is disastrously flawed. It does not even do mathematics correctly. Bad math is part of the formal specifications, but it’s only part of the story.

Groklaw has just pointed out (via Mr. Korn from Sun Microsystems) that OpenXML (OOXML) is inconsistent — if not in violation of — accessibility requirements.

When and how will the accessibility failings cited in the paper be fixed? … For example, the white paper notes that MSOXML fails to support WCAG 1.0 checkpoints 4.2, 5.2, 9.4, 10.2, 12.1, 12.2, and 12.4. The white paper further notes that MSOXML only partially supports checkpoints WCAG 1.0 checkpoints 6.4, 8.1, 9.1, and 11.1. Some of these are particularly important for blind users needing to understand the context of table cells and for good Braille and DAISY transcription of tables – issues we found in ODF v1.0 and fixed in ODF v1.1. Will these things get fixed in the future? If so, when? By whom? With what outside review (if any)? To appear in what update of the specification?

Is this not ironic? If you followed the OpenDocument debate in Massachusetts, then you probably saw that Microsoft claimed higher grounds based on accessibility, which OpenDocument has already addressed. Microsoft used the “accessibility” FUD in MA in order to stifle OpenDocument adoption. To make matters worse, it does not seem like this problem will be addressed.

Gray [of Microsoft], at the start of your blog comment you say “I’m not sure that the “who did this?” question matters as much as your post seems to indicate”, and you spend several paragraphs describing your (non-accessibility) background at Microsoft and Adobe.

OOXML is only one nasty thing which Novell has committed itself to help with. More worrisome perhaps is the obsession with Mono (.NET), including Moonlight/Silverlight. The old arguments needn’t be repeated because they are archived in the site, but the news here concerns the BBC.

As you may already know, the BBC entered a partnership with Microsoft last year. Since then it has discriminated against platforms that are not Windows. An antitrust complained has recently been filed by the Open Source Consortium, with which I am affiliated. Public money (remember that the BBC is funded by taxpayers) is handed over to Microsoft, which uses that money to strengthen the monopoly.

As it turns, the BBC is now looking at Silverlight. Not only would some Brits be unable to access online videos (blame Microsoft DRM), but they would also need patented Microsoft technology in order to access Web content. This is terrible.

It would take me a long time to organise my references, so I will just append them here and hope that they tell the story. They are reverse chronological for the most part.

Silverlight looks better by the Moonlight

The BBC has already experimented with Silverlight and says it is looking for an “embedded media solution”.

EC threat to BBC over downloads

However, OSC disagrees and says the next step is to make a formal complaint to the European Commission (EC).

“We’re preparing the full details at the moment and we will be sending a formal letter within the next week,” said Mr Taylor.

Open sourcers rattle EU sabre at BBC on demand player

The BBC is being threatened with an anti-trust challenge in Europe over its use of the Windows Media format in its on demand service, iPlayer, which is in the final stages of testing.

Free the BBC

We are deeply concerned about the BBC’s use of “Digital Rights Management” (DRM) to manage content delivered to users over the Internet. There are dozens of arguments against DRM, however we believe these are the most important and relevant to the BBC.

MPs rap BBC over Siemens deal

But public spending watchdog the PAC said BBC executives misled the board of governors about possible savings while trying to convince them to give the deal the go-ahead.

The committee of MPs found £60m of costs was excluded when budgets were put to the governors for approval.

[...]

The PAC said the BBC was failing to manage the contract properly.

[...]

The report suggests the BBC should open up its accounts to government officials for proper scrutiny.

Apple Users Petition Prime Minister

UK Apple users are petitioning the Prime Minister Tony Blair over the BBC’s decision to make streaming media available to Windows users only. The BBC plans to launch an on-demand tv service which uses software that will only be available to Windows users.

Save the BBC from Windows DRM!

Clearly, shutting out 25% of your audience sits ill with the BBC’s remit of serving all of its users…

There is no denying that this is an extremely difficult area for the BBC, since it must negotiate not one but three minefields – those of technology standards, copyright and contract law. But there are still things that it could do without turning into a global advertisement for Microsoft’s flawed DRM approach.

BBC plans to lock viewers into Microsoft monopoly says Open Source Consortium

The Open Source Consortium (OSC) believes the plans are anti-competitive and will use public money to lock viewers into the technologies of a repeatedly convicted monopolist.

BBC slammed for ‘fawning’ to Bill Gates

BBC viewers have flooded the corporation with complaints over how it covered the launch of Microsoft Vista earlier this week.

In one cringingly servile interview worthy of Uriah Heep, the Beeb’s news presenter Hugh Edwards even thanked Gates at the end of it, presumably in appreciation at being allowed to give the Vole vast coverage for free.

In other TV news items presenters excitedly explained how Vista could be obtained and installed – details courtesy of the BBC’s website.

But British viewers, currently forced to pay a £131.50 licence fee to maintain the BBC’s “impartiality”, were less than impressed.

Scores got in touch to complain that so much was Auntie up Bill’s bum that you could barely see her corset.

Brits! Act now to save the BBC from Microsoft

The BBC are holding an open consultation regarding how they’re going to delivery on-demand content, they want answers to questions like: “How important is it that the proposed seven-day catch-up service over the internet is available to consumers who are not using Microsoft software?”

BBC breaks out with Windows WMA protection

According to a press release from Sonos, the blokes over at the Beeb have decided to jump ship for relying on Realplayer for web content, and have switched over entirely to the Windows-friendly WMA format. Now that the BBC has made The Big Switch, BBC radio stations will be received automatically for users of wireless music and radio provider Sonos.

Avoid the Vista badge, it means DRM inside

The root of this crappy DRM infection is Microsoft. It is the driving force here. This has nothing to do with protecting content, as we keep pointing out, there has never been a single thing that has had a DRM infection applied that didn’t end up cracked on the net in hours. DRM is about walled gardens and control.

He who controls the DRM infection controls the market. DRM is about preventing you from doing anything with the devices without paying the gatekeeper a fee. This is what MS wants, nothing less than a slice of everything watched, listened to or discussed from now on. DRM prevents others from playing there, thanks to the DMCA and other anti-consumer laws.

Make no mistake, MS is pushing the DRM malware as hard as it can so it can rake in money hand over fist with no competition. It is really good at lock-in, in fact, the firm based its entire business model on harming the user so they have to comply and spend more.

Microsoft Tells Apple To Stop Complaining About DRM

Microsoft: We Like DRM

Why Microsoft will fight for DRM

Microsoft launches ‘PlayReady’ DRM system

Although digital rights management (DRM) is popular with content creators, it has attracted criticism. Sony was widely attacked after using a rootkit-like application to hide content protection on some music CDs, and earlier this month Apple CEO Steve Jobs called on the music industry to drop its use of DRM.

Golden Rant : Microsoft DRM’s gone too far

Microsoft appears to have hit the wrong button on its critical Windows XP download service late last month, pretty well forcing every XP user to upgrade to Windows Media Player (WiMP) 11 if they (like me and many others) have the automatic download/install option enabled for critical updates.

The Longest Suicide Note in History

Gutmann: The genie’s out of the bottle before the operating system has even been released! But that doesn’t mean Vista users in particular – and the computer community at large – won’t end up paying for Microsoft’s DRM folly. At the risk of repeating myself repeating myself, yet another reason to move to Linux.

DRM in Windows Vista

Windows Vista includes an array of “features” that you don’t want. These features will make your computer less reliable and less secure. They’ll make your computer less stable and run slower. They will cause technical support problems. They may even require you to upgrade some of your peripheral hardware and existing software. And these features won’t do anything useful. In fact, they’re working against you. They’re digital rights management (DRM) features built into Vista at the behest of the entertainment industry.

And you don’t get to refuse them.

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6 Comments

  1. John Drinkwater said,

    July 12, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Gravatar

    s/complained/complaint/

    I’m utterly confused by my BBC’s decision tbh. They’ve always had policies that govern the use of things over & above the standard web platform. They’ve always shunned Java for some reason, but accepted Flash, which is strange, but acceptable (Macromedia/Adobe have tried to support as many platforms as they can). Recently they’ve been using more Flash on their site, and use Adobe’s stats (95% of desktops) as proof that people have it, and if not, that’s their problem. Again, mostly acceptable.
    But supporting Silverlight? It’s got an install base of 0%, and even imho in 2 years, it wont have an install base above 20%. It appears Microsoft is using the BBC (& Novell) as a means to push Silverlight, and that’s just plain wrong, it’s skewing the market.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 12, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Gravatar

    That’s just my suspicion. The stories above (among others) show that the BBC’s decisions have business motives behind them. While the BBC is not truly a business, it is associated with some. Execs from the BBC are having lunch with people that they sign contracts with.

    I’ll have some more about the BBC tomorrow. The FSF posted a rebuttal, but there won’t be time (or enough material) to show how this is related to the theme of the site. I sometimes wait until several related stories can be accumulated. So, watch this space. ;-)

  3. John Drinkwater said,

    July 12, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Gravatar

    Do be more careful about implying stuff about BBC executives, BBC employees have already pulled out the “defamation” card on the BBC Backstage mailing list when people hinted at BBC & Microsoft “dealings” ;)

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 12, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Gravatar

    Are you referring to an article from the Inquirer? I recall posting one such article to a forum a few weeks ago. Either way, employee != taxpayer. My ‘job’ is not at risk and the BBC has already been caught engaging in funny dealings with Siemens (nothing proven yet).

    I have just communicated with the OSA via the lists.

    “An article in the Guardian caught my attention this morning. I worry
    that the Beeb might be doing the Microsoft dance again. They now
    consider heavily patent-encumbered (and unproven) technology for their
    Web site.

    Any thoughts? What if we intercept this before it goes as far as iPlayer
    did? The BBC is still at the stage of “consideration”.

  5. Sebastiaan Veld said,

    July 12, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Gravatar

    Funny that a organisation like the BBC does not use open standards -as- a standard. Think someone over there got a nice bonus from MS for getting Vista in the news and promoting their stuff so much:)

    Do not agree with the fact that the BBC is no different than Novell; BBC does think about implementing stuff that may not be able to be used by everyone in the first place, but only on the Windows platform (MS would like to see that!), but Novell tries to bridge these technologies to Linux and Mac, so they can be used by everyone. Makes that Novell a MS technology promoter? Don’t think so, at least no more or less than Samba does. Samba makes a linux server behave like a Windows server. It’s open source and free indeed, but so is Mono. Both solutions make it possible to use Linux and Windows in mixed environmens. Is supporting OpenXML bad? OpenOffice and others do support reading and writing of all kinds of (also Miscrosoft) document formats. They were created to be able to communicate with others. I do not care if someone that needs a OpenXML plugin for OO and install’s it, if we care then we should take all not open formats out of OO.

  6. John Drinkwater said,

    July 12, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Gravatar

    The BBC has lost it’s way. Over the previous few decades they’ve invented TV standards, the teletext standard, subtitling fonts, you name it.
    Recent cost-cutting (out-sourcing key infrastructure) and targets for audiences (BBC News 24 gets more americanised daily…), imho, have driven them to seek the “trendier” end of the tech market even if that means ignoring their unbiased & impartial viewpoint on the market. Sad really…

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