08.30.07

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Dissecting Microsoft’s OOXML/ODF Strategy

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Bill Gates, Corel, Deals, Deception, Europe, Formats, Linspire, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard, Steve Ballmer, Xandros at 11:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spread ODFA while ago, I was attempting to formulate and visualise the sorts of strategies that Microsoft might be chalking on its boards. I produced a mindmap a couple of weeks ago and MattD dissected the Microsoft/Novell deal. The mindmap goes beyond ODF/OOXML aspects and shows how Microsoft uses deals (proxies) to eventually get its way.

A discussion that I had in Linux Journal brought up some new facts and a train of thought. I then decided to focus on OOXML/ODF in isolation. Here are some of methods which Microsoft has so far used in order to battle ODF and promote its own enablement of vendor lock-in.

  • Recruitment of members/voters/bloggers (some of which are anonymous)
  • Linux companies: Turbolinux, Novell, Xandors, Linspire (binding contract involves OOXML)
  • Corel deal
  • Apple cross-licensing deal; using iWorks as ‘proof’ that OOXML is possible (never mind if support is read-only and very poor)
  • Politicians:
    • Ballmer and Gates phone US politicians to flip votes and stack/group opposers
    • Gates visits China, invites ministers to his home, and offers discounts/favours
    • Hungarian minister calls for a new vote on OOXML(this time with Microsoft partners)
  • New countries emerge out of oblivion and decide to vote on OOXML (easy “Yes” voters to persuade or even ‘buy’)
  • Possibly (solid proof still required): charity in India and investments in Vietnam
  • Lies and deception, e.g. telling people ‘election date’ is a month or so later. This way, they don’t turn up or never truly decide based on technical understanding.
  • Ecma-related disinformation, CompTIA FUD (among other lobbying arms such as the ISC)
  • Studies and paid-for ‘research’ (IDC)
  • Making deliberate accusations and lies while those who can defend or rebut are on vacation
  • Press releases that are incomplete and/or deceptive (e.g. bending the meaning of “choice” and “open”)
  • Lies (or exaggeration) about third-party products (e.g. AbiWord) supporting OOXML, assuming that Microsoft Office is OOXML and vice versa
  • Shutting out rival companies (Portugal, Sweden, Germany, Sweden, and more)
  • Letters calling for support disseminated among (and by) Microsoft partners
  • Phonecalls and E-mails sent to Microsoft partners for more lobbying muscle
  • Microsoft creating Web sites and grossroots petitions (e.g. in the UK), then asking partners to show pseudo support by signing and participating
  • Lobbying/bullying (e.g. “Men in Black” incident in Florida)
  • Use of FUD in Congress, e.g. talks about budget failures that are not even related to ODF (diversion of discussed topic and a political debate replacing a technical one)
  • CIO shuffles, e.g. in Massachusetts
  • Use of connections in media, e.g. publicity stunts in the BBC (now influenced heavily by Microsoft, whose departing executives now work for the BBC)
  • Use of connections in governments, e.g. UK National Archives, whose head chose OOXML for storage and preservation. This head happens to have two hats and one of them is a senior Microsoft position. He puts national archives (i.e. crucial public data) in the hands of Microsoft and their lock-ins.
  • Spamming ANSI

All of these issues have already been covered in the site. Binding the appropriate hyperlinks to them would take quite some time, but if you require a pointer, fire away and we’ll provise it.

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4 Comments

  1. Luc Bollen said,

    August 31, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Gravatar

    Roy, where is the ODF logo on this post coming from ? I find it very nice !

  2. Zaine Ridling said,

    August 31, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy, I appreciate you taking a lead with this serious flaws and issues surrounding MS-OOXML’s ISO progress. One thing I think people should know is the exponential cost of maintaining MS-OOXML documents over time. Imagine a government 25 or 40 years from now having to pay (Microsoft, who else?) to read their own data? That payment, or “tax,” will be in the form of programmers to continuously write and update MS-OOXML filters for new software as the spec naturally expands over time. At well over 6,000 pages to start, that’s a daunting time sink that goverments can ill-afford.

    Meanwhile, ODF is already approved, already in use by over 17 software apps and various office suites (soon to be 22), and hey, it’s free from proprietary interdependencies and binary hooks. Frankly, you’d have to be a goddamned idiot to be in favor of MS-OOXML.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 31, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Gravatar

    Luc, here is the source of this artwork, which people are encouraged to spread (just like ODF itself.

    Zaine,

    Frankly, you’d have to be a goddamned idiot to be in favor of MS-OOXML.

    I don’t think it’s about being an idiot, but about being bribed or receiving incentives in many cases. Ignorance is sometimes the explanation, until one looks at the problem more closely.

  4. John Drinkwater said,

    September 1, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Gravatar

    Luc,
    It’s not just for websites, you can wear it too!
    I managed to “win” a free ODF t-shirt from Red Hat, pics here:

    http://flickr.com/photos/johndrinkwater/1114650954/
    http://flickr.com/photos/johndrinkwater/1114650682/
    http://flickr.com/photos/johndrinkwater/1114650862/

    Roy,
    Some people blindly accept Microsoft’s advice on the subject, they don’t even need to pay! You’ve seen the recent BBC article about the looming data black-hole coming up. Talk about spoon-fed :)

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