05.25.08

Microsoft ‘Embraces’ ODF: The Danger of an Inside Job Revisited

Posted in Free/Libre Software, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 12:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Don’t encourage new, cross-platform Java classes, especially don’t help get great Win 32 implementations written/deployed. [...] Do encourage fragmentation of the Java classlib space.”

Ben Slivka, Microsoft

This is not our own assessment, so readers are encouraged to consider the findings separately and then judge for themselves. According to Groklaw, there are signs that ‘Agent’ Alex [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21] and ‘Agent’ Patrick [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] may be involved in increasing Microsoft’s influence inside ODF (and yes, we have lost faith in both individuals, due to a pattern of deeds and not based on prejudice). We do not distance ourselves from this view, but we share what was found because it supports a previous assertion and warning (mind the latter part about ECMA’s intervention).

The Embrace, Extend, Extinguish of ODF Begins?

[...]

If this is who is steering ODF in OASIS, I’m extremely worried. And if there is a secret working group rewriting the directives, while Microsoft and Alex Brown both say they want ODF transferred to ISO for ongoing maintenance, I’d say the Embrace, Extend, Extinguish of ODF has officially begun.

Something that was posted here a few days ago was also sent to GL, so consider the following, which closes another loop:

Oh, by the way. Remember how the Czech Republic supported OOXML with all its might and main, changing from Disapprove in September to Approve after the BRM?

[...]

Guess what just happened according to Dow Jones?

The Czech government and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) signed a cooperation accord Thursday on licensing and supply….

Deputy Interior Minister Zdenek Zajicek said the arrangement would save the government about EUR28 million.

Interesting, indeed. When we posted this here we pointed out very quickly that the government was willfully locking itself in to Microsoft.

Another side of the fence already dismisses criticism of Microsoft’s moves and other such motives. [via Andy Updegrove]

Microsoft’s move to support ODF now leaves very little reasonable ground for such opponents: those who are determined will surely be forced further into extremity. Some residual shrieks that Microsoft is trying to “extend and embrace” may linger, or maybe there will be mutterings that Microsoft are “poisoning the well” – but in the end these will be tired mantras that count for little – whether Microsoft is playing fair with their formats will become a testable fact. Religious arguments will not survive in that arena.

From Microsoft’s paid Wikipedia editor:

While I welcome the move [by Microsoft], my regular readers will know I that I think partisan participation in standards bodies (i.e. where one mob actively blocks the technical requirements of another mob on the grounds “I don’t want to advantage my competitors”) is untenable for a standards body. That there is a significant danger that this attitude will prevail can be seen from the response of (my fanboys) the ODF Alliance Marino Marcich with its talk of “governments will continue to adopt a ‘buyer beware’ attitude” and so on. It will be a challenge for companies who have made “open” a codeword for “anti-Microsoft” to figure out a new marketing position: but where you get “open” people running public conferences on openness under Chatham House secrecy rule and sending emails threatening legal consequences to committee experts if they dare not follow the corporate line, I don’t have high expectations. The word “openness” has become like the “war on terror”: don’t look at the details or what is actually being done too closely!

Actually, Microsoft is among the culprits. We noted this recently. Jason Matusow almost joked about how much the word “open” can be bent (slanted and abused).

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3 Comments

  1. Rick Jelliffe said,

    May 26, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Gravatar

    Roy: You know that I only made suggestions to the Wikipedia discusion pages on OOXML and I didn’t make a single edit. This was done transparently, in full accordance with Wikipedia’s rules and with the support of Wikipedia editors and resulted in a page with less of the partisan crap and more of the hard technical details. I did not have to vet or submit any of my suggested improvements to Microsoft (nor did I).

    So please call me something more accurate than “MicroSoft’s paid Wikipedia editor”. I am sure you wouldn’t your readers to be misinformed.

    Cheers
    Rick Jelliffe

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 26, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Gravatar

    Hi Rick,

    Yes, I reckoned that the use of a nonsensial phrase like “Microsoft’s paid Wikipedia editor” would make it clear that it’s a joke. There is no such role, so it’s almost sarcastic.

    From what I was able to gather, your influence in Wikipedia (never mind edits or not) had you compensated. A ‘smoking gun’ is a smoking gun and it matters who was holding it, loading it, preparing it, or whatever. It’s not just the execution.

    The consulting contracts you ha[d|ve] with/for Microsoft are nothing too unusual, either. That’s just how Microsoft is providing ‘incentives’ to those who perfume OOXML sufficiently, to the point where they can really believe that OOXML is an ‘open’ format that would be beneficial. Convincing oneself isn’t good enough. And it’s not just OOXML by the way. That’s just one pattern of something broader which deserves to be described as “criminal activity”, a bribe.

    Unlike you, I am not a standards or an XML expert. What I do know, however, is that the standardisation process needs to serve those who will be affected by it, not just the money holders. The whole ISO process has been a sham, a shame and a mockery to the industry. Those in the ‘money cycle’ deserve the flak they get. Maybe time will heal the wounds.

    Best wishes,

    Roy

  3. qwerty said,

    May 26, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Gravatar

    IMO anyone who takes money or works FOR Microsoft in any way is a miserable piece of shit, not worth a squirt of piss. I call them what they are: SHIT.

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