08.15.07

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Finland and New Zealand’s Fight Against Vendor Lockin; IBM Set to Release Lotus 8 with ODF Support on Friday

Posted in Australia, Europe, Formats, IBM, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Protocol, Servers, Standard at 6:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML in Finland

A comment just posted in our Web site tells us that Microsoft’s ‘funny business’ OOXML train may have just reached Finland. To quote part of the comment:

I’m saddened to report that ooxml (msxml) corruption trains seems to have hit yet another country, Finland.

How many countries does it make so far? We have certainly lost count, but it’s clear that money and predatory partnerships (as opposed to technical merits) play a major role in what ought to have been a purely technical decision.

OOXML in New Zealand

The fight for open standards has just arrived at New Zealand as well. It appears to be a battle between the consumer and the corporate agenda (Microsoft money, as Peter Quinn would shrewdly put it). Here is a fragment from a new article published in New Zealand’s press:

But Christie says alarm bells are going off in many parts of the world over Open XML. He says many aspects of the format remain proprietary and because of this the process behind its development has not been robust.

He says the Open Document Format standard went through three years of public standardisation before being submitted to the International Standards Organisation, while Open XML was rushed out at “an unprecedented pace”.

The areas where interoperability breaks down are where the detail is just not there, Christie says, either because of haste or to protect proprietary methods. Add the issue of portability across platforms, he says, and OOXML fails to deliver two of the three hallmarks of a good standard.

Let’s wait and see how things turn out. Microsoft has a lot of influence in Australia, so don’t hold your breath.

ODF with IBM (and Beyond)

Wikipedia maintains a nice page about OpenDocument adoption. The most recent win was in Malaysia, so there is certainly some momentum going for ODF. In fact, this Friday IBM will release an ODF-based applications suite.

IBM is preparing to ship a new version of its Lotus Notes and Domino applications on 17 August, according to a company website that was published on Tuesday.

This product, which is proprietary software, ought to prove that not only Open/StarOffice supports ODF. There are many other programs that either support or will support ODF (e.g. KOffice, Abiword, Google Apps). This ought to prove that ODF is a truly open and free standard, which can be implemented entirely by anybody.

There are some extensions to this suite from IBM and although it is proprietary, it is also Web-based or mashup-enabled.

“Customers can also create mash-ups to feed the information into other systems,” she said, adding the REST API is also being used to integrate Connections with BlackBerry which should make its way to early adopters this month.

Microsoft’s REST was mentioned before, but not in a positive context. If you have not become familiar with it, then just be aware that it does to SOA what OOXML does to documents. It is a vendor lockin and an example of sheer arrogance (snubbing standards).

Speaking of IBM, there is this new short speculation about Novell and a suggestion for IBM to acquire Novell — something which is not the first to be suggested. But there are many speculations, some of which lack substance.

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7 Comments

  1. Finland calling said,

    August 16, 2007 at 8:42 am

    Gravatar

    August 16th updates from Finland.
    Electronic Frontier Finland, http://effi.org put out a press release entitled “Hidden cards do not match with open standards”.
    Effi demands IT leader Leena Honka to publish finance ministry’s attitude immediately.
    Only choice for a file standard to use between public and admininistration is an open one. In Effi’s view, OpenXML in its current form isn’t that.
    Honka has also before declined to tell her views on important questions around Finnish information society.
    For example, in 2005 she wouldn’t tell what she thinks about raising the usage of open source in public administration.
    Ville Oksanen from Effi notes: “If they wanted to handle this matter properly, the state should have arranged a public hearing betimes. Now there isn’t practically enough time to do so.”

    Battlelines are now as follows:
    Ministry of justice opposes fast-tracking of OOXML.
    Ministry of finance and ministry of the interior don’t have a negative basis for fast-tracking. (They just don’t know? Swing votes ahoy..)
    Ministry of trade and industry supports fast-tracking with the clause that end-users are guaranteed to have choice between ODF and OOXML. (Yearright, we know how well this worked before.)
    National library of Finland and National archives service are positive towards OOXML fast-tracking. (Why? They are to lose are. Or maybe someone should check their MS connections from http://www.kansalliskirjasto.fi/yleistieto/organisaatio/johtokunta.html and http://www.narc.fi )
    Ministry of education and Association of Finnish local and regional authorities say they haven’t decided yet.

    In Monday’s meeting at SFS ry (The Finnish Standards Association) different participants don’t have invidual voting rights, but they are put into voting bundles.
    Chairman Lassi Nirhamo won’t reveal their contents beforehand. (Well what did you expect?)

    Mrs.Honka used to work at Finnish customs with the same title as now, IT leader. Customs are using Windows XP, MS Office and Windows servers. Tietoenator was their partner of choice to deliver the solutions. Fujitsu-Siemens provides the hardware and servicing.
    State’s budget for her is about 600 million euros per year.
    They claimed to get savings of 20-30 percent when migrating towards centralized solutions – from the same partners as mentioned before; Tietoenator, WM-Data and also Fujitsu. (Fujitsu-siemens)

    Some remarks and collected information about OOXML in Assemblix developerwiki: http://wiki.assemblix.net/Office_Open_XML

    MS connections a plenty in here too, http://www.tietoyhteiskuntaohjelma.fi/tietoyhteiskuntaneuvosto/en_GB/information_society_council/

    Kind of good news came from Ministry of justice:
    They are changing from Lotus Smartsuite to “mostly” OpenOffice.
    Of 10000 Windows workstations 8500 will run OpenOffice, the rest Microsoft Office, because “some public administration’s shared software explicitly requires the use the Microsoft Office”.
    “Special expert” Martti Karjalainen reports there has not been any particular problems with the transition, which is going smoothly also by looking at the numbers – only 20000 to 30000 euros have been spent on services from external entities.
    Project is being finished sometime next year.
    Cost estimate for 2006-2011 with Microsoft Office only is 6.7 million euros. Estimate for the chosen combination is only 2 million euros.
    Comparison includes licences, administration & hosting, training, support, changes in information systems and document formats. (

    But all in all, this does not look, smell or feel good.
    Some pro-MS trolls are already visible on finnish forums, of course.

  2. Jared Spurbeck said,

    August 16, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Gravatar

    It shouldn’t be a purely technical decision, as you said. There are people behind each standard, and the ISO is effectively deciding who to ally with.

    Microsoft plays that game very well. Which is surprising, given how many times they’ve betrayed others.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 16, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Gravatar

    Thanks for all these details, ‘Finland calling’. They bring more transparency to a process which clearly involves personal ties, not just the objective assessment of a 6,000+ page document (if at all).

    Jared, when you say “plays that game very well”, keep the following in mind.

    Jason Matusow: “There is no question that all over the world the competing interests in the Open XML standardization process are going to use all tactics available to them within the rules.

    http://blogs.msdn.com/jasonmatusow/archive/2007/07/30/ecma-open-xml-and-the-portuguese-national-body.aspx

    More here: http://boycottnovell.com/2007/07/27/ooxmll-spain/

    Also see:

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/08/02/massachusetts-ooxml/

    Particularly:

    http://enterprise.linux.com/article.pl?sid=07/04/16/2019244&from=rss

    Does Microsoft consider bullies a “tactic available within the rules”?

  4. mcinsand said,

    August 16, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Gravatar

    Someone please correct me if my problem is a result of an old version of Lotus Notes at my office (version 5 or 6), but I absolutely loathe it. I’d almost rather go back to Outlook… seriously. The keyword search through a message folder doesn’t work worth a damn; it regularly misses message that I know are in there, and I end up having to slog through the folder manually. The way it handles ‘launched’ files sucks canal water, especially if I mod the file in a way I want to keep and then save the file. The default save for a launched file is in a maze of temporary folders. Message filtering does not exist very far beyond name-only.

    Again, please correct me if my problems are merely that I have an old version, but I wouldn’t choose to use Lotus Notes, period. Maybe they ought to take a closer look at Thunderbird.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 16, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    Gravatar

    > Maybe they ought to take a closer look at Thunderbird.

    Better yet, now that Mozilla decided to disown it, IBM could adopt the Bird and actively develop/finance it instead of leaving all the heavy lifting for the ‘community’ to manage. I have used Thunderbird for 3 years. With extensions, it is truly a killer application.

  6. mcinsand said,

    August 16, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Gravatar

    Yeah, I like the ‘Bird, although I’m kind of disappointed to hear that Mozilla couldn’t make it fit into their company. You may have a point with the heavy lifting idea; IBM has the muscle. I use Thunderbird here, at home. If IBM were to sponsor it, then maybe companies would take it seriously as a workplace client.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 16, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s unlikely that IBM might adopt it, however, because it would cannibalise sales of Lotus.

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