02.07.08

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Microsoft Gets Security Upside-down on OOXML

Posted in Formats, FUD, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patents, Standard at 2:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Things are gradually becoming rather outrageous. The gist of this post is that Microsoft gives the illusion that OOXML provides legal security and peace of mind, whereas old file formats are very mean, nasty and dangerous.

Needless to say, this mutually-imposed mentality has a lot to do with the forced upgrades strategy, which Microsoft’s business model and cash cow heavily relies on (the “upgrade treadmill” as they call it).

OOXML is All Patents, But Microsoft Lies

It is getting truly tiring and frustrating to see Microsoft luring in people to OOXML promising that software patents would not be an issue, despite the fact that the company keeps filing and applying for them (ping Brian Jones). There are other recent lies, but who we they kidding? Have we not learned from Mono yet? We wrote about this only yesterday. Even Rob Weir (of IBM) has just published a clarification.

But you might say, “Please Rob, you can’t be serious. Who would try to get a patent on laying out a footnote? That just doesn’t happen in the real world.”

But consider for Microsoft’s patent application “Method and computer readable medium for laying out footnotes” (US20060156225A1). I’m not saying that application matches the above feature in the standard, but if it did, is there anyone who will argue that the Open Specification Promise would not apply in this case?

Digital Majority had a nice find about exactly this subject: “Defensive Patents, Other Fairy Tales”

“Defensive patents” make as much sense as leaving a loaded gun around the house. Like a home robbery, it is more likely it will be used against the home owner then the intruder.

OOXML is badThese could soon become guns for the toddlers (or Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]) to pull out of the parents’ drawer, no? Remember the analogy that we used quite recently. Those patents, just like a gun, are also likely to be used offensively whenever threatened, cornered, or angry. “Defensive patent” excuses are akin to “pledges not to sue,” none of which is a binding legal contract.

Forcefeeding OOXML: Case Revisited

Russell appears to have just elaborated on an older story about Microsoft using security excuses to 'punish' those who do not upgrade to the 'latest and greatest' version of Microsoft Office. Microsoft tried to deny some of this, but not enough people were foolish enough to buy the excuses.

Here is the article.

With the blink of a 117 MB download (and an even lengthier installation process), Office users will no longer be able to open files in 24 older file formats. That means users – citizens, government employees, small business owners, etc. – will not be able to open their own documents saved in file formats used by Corel (Wordperfect), Lotus, and most versions of MS Office products before 2000. Instead, users will see the not-so-user-friendly statement below:

“You are attempting to open a file type that is blocked by your registry policy setting.”

When a user attempts to open one of these older files, they will receive the above in a dialog box and no alternative actions are given to help users get access to their information in these “blocked” files.

Unlike Palamida, for example, Microsoft is contantly selling us fear. We saw this with software patents (legal security) and we are seeing it with OOXML (computer security). It is commonly claimed that fear is the most powerful motivator/driver known to human kind. Exploiting it (or “capitalising on it”) is the lowest form of marketing techniques.

Fearmonger. Thy name is Microsoft. And Novell.

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