03.11.08

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Microsoft’s ‘Interoperability’ Already Broken on All Fronts

Posted in Interoperability, Mail, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, SUN at 12:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IE8: broken; Exchange: broken; OOXML: broken

So many promises, yet so little progress. Microsoft continues to show that its half-hearted attempts may be little more than a PR bubble which pleases journalists but hardly enables counterparts to compete under fair terms (standards).

Goodbye to Web (Browser) Interoperability

Yes, have a look before allowing the press to get your hopes up.

There are quite a few good things about the Microsoft release, such as showing that HTML5 is looked at, Acid2 is (almost) being passed, and CSS support is improving, but there are quite a few evil things as well…

We warned about this last week. IE8 promises a lot but offers very little. In fact, according to ACID3 tests, Internet Explorer (all versions) remains by far the least standards-complaint Web browser. Antitrust action in Europe over such neglect is to proceed as planned.

Goodbye to Exchange Interoperability

Exchange interoperability? Forget about it. Shades of the Microsoft “undocumentation” saga (and that is Microsoft’s own term — “undocumentation” — which is a word used internally).

Speaking to ZDNet.co.uk at the CeBIT conference, Joseph said Microsoft’s start is not promising: “This could definitely make life easier for developers, but we have spotted over 200 undocumented exceptions, including one that allows you to create recurring calendar appointments in Exchange. It was in the documentation for Exchange 2000, but they forgot to document it for Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007.”

Goodbye to OOXML Interoperability

BetaNews took Microsoft’s plug-in for a spin and… splat.

Microsoft also announced this afternoon the release of the first 1.1 edition of a stand-alone translator between ODF and OOXML documents. This project is currently being hosted on SourceForge. BetaNews located the project, and noted that only the command-line version of the translator has thus far been upgraded to version 1.1.

A check of the release notes show that many formatting features between Word 2007 and ODF documents are lost in the translation, even for the 1.1 version. Page background colors, background images for tables, variable font weight, blinking text (a holdover from the MS-DOS era), text rotation, capitalized or lower-case text as an applied format, embedded objects, and hidden sections are among the 41 known formatting elements that the newest build of the translator does not currently support.

Two other experiments with Microsoft’s plug-in had similar issues reported, if the plug-in even worked at all. We covered these in:

  1. Microsoft API Pledge Worse Than Useless, Real Standards Needed
  2. Broken Promises: Microsoft Interoperability Already Broken (No GNU/Linux, No ODF)

At the end of the day, Microsoft prefers signing deals with companies like Novell and even Sun. They don’t truly cater for a decentralised control using standards. Microsoft wants total dependency upon itself. Here is the latest about Sun.

Efforts announced last September to improve interoperability of Sun’s hardware and Microsoft’s software continue to take form with the official opening of the Sun/Microsoft Interoperability Center.

Microsoft’s idea of interoperability continues to be that of taxoperability, based on tightened cooperation and royalties. But that’s not the way standards work. The next post delves deeper into this issue.

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