05.23.08

Gemini version available ♊︎

Document Formats Roundup: ODF Gets the Upper Hand

Posted in Africa, Antitrust, Europe, Formats, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 11:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spread ODF

ODF Advocacy News

Pieter Hintjens has announced that on Wednesday they signed the Hague Declaration. “We signed four copies. One went to the Royal Dutch Archives, one will remain with Digistan, and we’ll sell two on eBay to raise funds for our work.” We address this issue simply because readers have asked. So… it’s done. Signed and completed. Now we must only cope with scary people, to whom Digistan seems like some satanic ritual.

Yesterday we wrote yet again about the study from New York (additionally mentioned in [1, 2]), which serves as an objective analysis suggesting that only one document format should rule them all. That format seems likely to be ODF after Microsoft’s change of heart. To explain this change of heart, consider what Slated said last night in a discussion group:

It’s pretty obvious Microsoft is making concessions in order to soften the blow of the inevitable antitrust findings, rather than it being just a hand-waving exercise.

Looks like the old schoolboy trick of admitting to the lesser crime, to divert attention away from the bigger one. Bribery and corruption are such ugly words.”

Back again to the New York study, there’s some decent coverage of it in The Inquirer.

It is an interesting turn of fate that sees US legislators recommend dismantling a vital means for Microsoft to hold its dominant world position in desktop software, yet make those same US commercial interests central to the nascent international document standard, while ensuring a powerful lobby of the ISO in the interests of US government.

Looking back a little further, you can find this formal response [PDF] from the ODF Alliance. It was quoted widely in the media.

The ODF Alliance today greeted with scepticism Microsoft’s announcement of its intention to include support for the OpenDocument Format in the first half of 2009. “The proof will be whether and when Microsoft’s promised support for ODF is on par with its support for its own format. Governments will be looking for actual results, not promises in press releases,” said Marino Marcich, managing director of the ODF Alliance.

Memories also return from OpenMalaysia which, needless to say, isn’t too impressed by Microsoft’s endless spin. Here’s one for a chuckle.

Then a few weeks ago (April 2008), we had the famous words of Malaysia’s very own Yasmin Mahmood, “The industry just wants to have the best innovation; they want to have the freedom of choice. The whole idea is not about choosing, it’s about having a choice … and that is what customers and partners want.”

Take a moment to think about this one.

OOXML Flaws

Here is yet another article which elaborates on Microsoft’s technical difficulties with its own format. How can a company — any company for that matter — struggle to implement a specification that was derived from its own implementation in the first place?

Microsoft has admitted that it won’t be adding support for the new OOXML standard in Office 2007 Service Pack 2 because of its complexity.

This says a lot about the volume of deficiencies in OOXML, does it not? We addressed such issues the other day (software bugs as a standard).

Schools

Microsoft’s nightmare scenario is becoming more of a reality already. What’s that nightmare, you ask? Consumer choice. Tenders and bids for government contracts. Should we not expect those to be the default choice and simply take them for granted? Limitation of choice has, for a long time, been on Microsoft’s side.

“Limitation of choice has, for a long time, been on Microsoft’s side.”For many years, Microsoft has relied on the fact that nothing “worked properly” unless you bought Microsoft Office. This enabled Microsoft to fix the prices, overcharge, exclude GNU/Linux (bar Wine), and persist with an iron fist attitude whenever features are requested, discounts seen as needed, or critical security patches craved for.

We mentioned the following development in a hurry (and thus very briefly) a couple of days ago. Now comes this article from the British press about the opening of doors that could soon bring Free software to more schools, or at least facilitate choice.

Officially sanctioned open source and free-to-use software could be in use across the UK education system within months after government education agency Becta issued a tender for a four-year framework agreement.

Becta is looking for up to 10 software suppliers to participate in the £80m framework that will launch in October. This will replace its software licensing framework, in place since April 2005.

The contract notice says: “We are particularly seeking suppliers which can provide a comprehensive choice of software solutions including appropriate open source and free-to-use alternatives and advise users on best-value licensing.”

Solutions should be cost-effective, but provide freedom of choice, said a Becta spokeswoman.

“We’re providing guidance on the educational elements and looking for suppliers that can provide comprehensive choice,” she said.

There are still some important questions to be answered. For example, would Microsoft charge for an Office and Windows licence covering all computers regardless of what's actually installed on them?

The following other article wrongly gives credit to Microsoft, as if the company did something because of kindness. In fact, it has done pretty much nothing other than tossing some words in blogs and a press release. We shall see how that vapourware comes along [1, 2, 3, 4], but we won’t know for sure any time soon, will we? Maybe in 2009. Maybe later. Microsoft rarely delivers anything on time and excuses are the marketing model.

In a development that could make it easier for schools to use cheaper, open technologies instead of proprietary programs, Microsoft said it will make its Office 2007 software compatible with the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Assuming they deliver at all. Can’t wait for Longhorn (due by 2003)!

South Africa Revisited

Microsoft must really, really hate (or be afraid of) South Africa at the moment. The insults are very telling and the formal complaint which soon followed put some dark clouds over OOXML. Yesterday we argued that South Africa could soon find other nations joining the opposition, following its lead and its example in a way.

Norway, for instance, has just revealed, due to South Africa serving a blow to Microsoft, that it’s working to reverse its vote and the same type of action is considered or already taken in other countries whose post mortems reveal evidence of corruption too compelling to ignore. The embargo proposal is still on and Microsoft's popularity very low in Europe.

If you wish to know more about South Africa’s impact on OOXML, then have a look at the following new articles (listed in no special order).

This is from Glyn Moody:

When the ISO vote was “won” by OOXML, many spoke of challenging the result, but nobody actually took that step. Until now…

[...]

Also worth noting here is the growing stature of the South African computer community in terms of standing up for open standards and open source, which is great to see. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Microsoft’s Jason Matusow has recently attacked the South African government for its policies on computer procurement – a sure sign they’re doing something right.

Andy’s post was among the first few to highlight this development and Groklaw commented further on it:

I wonder if this is why Microsoft suddenly decided to support ODF, to avoid being shut out completely pending the appeal. Might other national bodies be considering doing the same thing? Stay tuned.

[...]

So. OOXML is not currently an official standard? I think that is what this means. It will take months, at least, I believe, to resolve this. So, to me the ODF support announcement by Microsoft yesterday suddenly makes sense. I wrote a bit about the appeal process here, if you want to review it. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it ain’t over till it’s over.

Quite a lot in these South African affairs has had to do with economics, stereotypes, and imperialism. At verge and risk of crossing over to non-technical aspects of this, consider another noteworthy comment.

South Africa has done what many other countries (presumably through corruption or laziness) have so far failed to do – call out the obvious. I guess a country like South Africa that was denied freedom for so long, truly values freedom for the same reason, while the rest of us just take it for granted.

To quote a comment from Ed landaveri (posted in our site a couple of hours ago):

   “Africa (and the whole Third World) needs Microsoft lik
   it needed colonialism.” Mr. Paul Saunders

Matusow is only reflecting his bosses a band of scared tyrants afraid of people waking up to real freedom. Matsulow have entered into history along side many idiots who spoke of racial superiority or justified genocide. The only dumbs in SA and the whole world are the ones who could swallow Matusow’s rhetoric.” he said.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

3 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    May 24, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Gravatar

    In fact, MS is admitting defeat for OOXML by adding ODF support to Office 2007.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 24, 2008 at 1:03 am

    Gravatar

    I’m not so sure about it because while it’s a defeat, Microsoft could try to snatch a victory and turn the situation to its own advantage from inside the Committee. Remember Patrick Durusau? Watch this photo:

    http://adjb.net/index.php?entry=entry080409-221633

  3. AlexH said,

    May 24, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Gravatar

    Poor Patrick getting stick again.

    I read the ZDNet article as saying that the OOXML complexity was about having a single version of Office potentially reading two different formats, and how they would handle the upgrade, not that the changes for OOXML were so complex they had to punt them.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 07/02/2023: Fedora 39 Development Plans Outlines

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: Monday, February 06, 2023

    IRC logs for Monday, February 06, 2023



  3. Links 06/02/2023: Escuelas Linux 8.0 and Many Political Issues

    Links for the day



  4. Links 06/02/2023: Sparky 6.6 and IPFire 2.27 – Core Update 173

    Links for the day



  5. Taking Back Control or Seizing Autonomy Over the News Cycle (Informing People, Culling the Marketing)





  6. Reality Versus Fiction: EPO Insiders Versus EPO Web Site and UPC 'Churnalists'

    The "official" sources of the European Patent Office (EPO), as well as the sedated "media" that the EPO is bribing for further bias, cannot tell the truth about this very large institution; for proper examination of Europe's largest patent office one must pursue the interpretation by longtime veterans and insiders, who are increasingly upset and abused (they're being pressured to grant patents in violation of the charter of the EPO)



  7. Links 06/02/2023: Linux 6.2 RC7 and Fatal Earthquake

    Links for the day



  8. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, February 05, 2023

    IRC logs for Sunday, February 05, 2023



  9. Links 05/02/2023: Wayland in Bookworm and xvidtune 1.0.4

    Links for the day



  10. Links 05/02/2023: Pakistan Blocks Wikipedia, Musharraf Dies

    Links for the day



  11. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, February 04, 2023

    IRC logs for Saturday, February 04, 2023



  12. Links 04/02/2023: FOSDEM Happening and Ken Thompson in SoCal Linux Expo

    Links for the day



  13. 2023 is the Year Taxpayers' Money Goes to War and Energy Subsidies, Not Tech

    Now that a lot of powerful and omnipresent ‘tech’ (spying and policing) companies are rotting away we have golden opportunities to bring about positive change and maybe even recruit technical people for good causes



  14. Getting Back to Productive Computer Systems Would Benefit Public Health and Not Just Boost Productivity

    “Smartphoneshame” (shaming an unhealthy culture of obsession with “apps”) would potentially bring about a better, more sociable society with fewer mental health crises and higher productivity levels



  15. Links 04/02/2023: This Week in KDE and Many More Tech Layoffs

    Links for the day



  16. Dotcom Boom and Bust, Round 2

    The age of technology giants/monopolies devouring everything or military-funded (i.e. taxpayers-subsidised) surveillance/censorship tentacles, in effect privatised eyes of the state, may be ending; the United States can barely sustain that anymore and raising the debt ceiling won't solve that (buying time isn't the solution)



  17. Society Would Benefit From a Smartphoneshame Movement

    In a society plagued by blackmail, surveillance and frivolous lawsuits it is important to reconsider the notion of “smart” phone ownership; these devices give potentially authoritarian companies and governments far too much power over people (in the EU they want to introduce new legislation that would, in effect, ban Free software if it enables true privacy)



  18. IRC Proceedings: Friday, February 03, 2023

    IRC logs for Friday, February 03, 2023



  19. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, February 02, 2023

    IRC logs for Thursday, February 02, 2023



  20. Links 03/02/2023: Proton 7.0-6 Released, ScummVM 2.7 Testing

    Links for the day



  21. Links 03/02/2023: OpenSSH 9.2 and OBS Studio 29.0.1

    Links for the day



  22. Links 03/02/2023: GNU C Library 2.37

    Links for the day



  23. Sirius Finished

    Yesterday I was sent a letter approving my resignation from Sirius ‘Open Source’, two months after I had already announced that I was resigning with immediate effect; they sent an identical letter to my wife (this time, unlike before, they remembered to also change the names!!)



  24. The Collapse of Sirius in a Nutshell: How to Identify the Symptoms and Decide When to Leave

    Sirius is finished, but it's important to share the lessons learned with other people; there might be other "pretenders" out there and they need to be abandoned



  25. Links 03/02/2023: WINE 8.1 and RapidDisk 9.0.0

    Links for the day



  26. Links 02/02/2023: KDE Gear 22.12.2 and LibreOffice 7.5

    Links for the day



  27. Linux News or Marketing Platform?

    Ads everywhere: Phoronix puts them at the top, bottom, navigation bar, left, and right just to read some Microsoft junk (puff pieces about something that nobody other than Microsoft even uses); in addition there are pop-ups asking for consent to send visitors’ data to hundreds of data brokers



  28. Daily Links at Techrights Turn 15, Time to Give Them an Upgrade

    This year we have several 15-year anniversaries; one of them is Daily Links (it turned 15 earlier this week) and we've been working to improve these batches of links, making them a lot more extensive and somewhat better structured/clustered



  29. Back to Focusing on Unified Patent Court (UPC) Crimes and Illegal Patent Agenda, Including the EPO's

    The EPO's (European Patent Office, Europe's second-largest institution) violations of constitutions, laws and so on merit more coverage, seeing that what's left of the "media" not only fails to cover scandalous things but is actively cheering for criminals (in exchange for money)



  30. European Patent Office Staff Votes in Favour of Freedom of Association (97% of Voters in Support)

    The Central Staff Committee (CSC) at the EPO makes a strong case for António Campinos to stop breaking and law and actually start obeying court orders (he’s no better than Benoît Battistelli and he uses worse language already)


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts