07.03.08

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Microsoft: Getting More Open or Burning Down Openness for Easy Entry?

Posted in ECMA, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard, SUN at 6:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By ruining the system, existing open standards become irrelevant to be replaced by proprietary ones

Microsoft is an empire of lock-in, so it’s clearly no buddy of standards. This simple fact has been proven endlessly for decades. It’s probably to do with the business model of renting proprietary software.

That said, now that standards are required as a matter of policy in some places, Microsoft hopes to lower the barriers to entry and then contaminate a long-lasting system with pseudo ‘standards’ which are virtually paid for (or sneaked in via proxies like ECMA). OOXML is just the beginning as ISO refuses to repair itself.

It is a very dirty game of politics, rule-bending and marketing. Even ISO is willing to pretty much lie to the public. In the words of <No>OOXML:

Let’s hope other ISO members responsible for the appeal made by 4 countries are more clever then Mr Bryden when it comes to strengthen the ISO rules, and especially rewriting the Fast-Track rules that were changed probably on purpose for the OOXML process by ECMA ex-secretary general, Mr Van Den Beld.

Jan Van Den Beld is now working for a Microsoft lobbying arm, CompTIA. He seems like more of an insider that does their job under different hats.

Yesterday we wrote about another Microsoft lobbying arm, ACT. Here is Digistan’s take on their latest move.

The EU Commission announced on June 25 that EIF/2.0 (The European Interoperability Framework which defines the rules for software used in e-Government) will hold the line as regards patents on standards.

The announcement is expected to annoy those who wanted a “broad” definition of open standards that would include patented standards. As expected, the Business Software Alliance and the Association for Competitive Technology, both vocal in their defense of software patents and patented standards, have denounced the move as “imposing one business model over another”.

Speaking of Microsoft agents, watch this.

The next ISO SC34 meeting in London will discuss OOXML (non-)future. The meeting will be hosted by the British Library, an ECMA member, supporter of OOXML and advised by Alex Brown.

For background and context, see:

Glyn Moody has just commented on what Microsoft had done.

Given that companies favouring closed-source, proprietary approaches can hardly argue with that logic, the battle has moved on. What we are seeing now is a desperate rearguard action to redefine “open standards” to embrace elements that are decidedly closed.

The OOXML fiasco at ISO is perhaps the highest-profile manifestation of this, where a closed, proprietary standard was gradually made to seem open. Here, the “open standard” label represents simply a box that must be ticked to keep that pesky EU and its communistic member states happy, not a real Damascene conversion to fairness and a level playing-field.

Does that not put in perspective the standardisation of Portable Document Format, which is an Adobe format?

The Portable Document Format (PDF), undeniably one of the most commonly used formats for electronic documents, is now accessible as an ISO International Standard – ISO 32000-1. This move follows a decision by Adobe Systems Incorporated, original developer and copyright owner of the format, to relinquish control to ISO, who is now in charge of publishing the specifications for the current version (1.7) and for updating and developing future versions.

Should “most commonly used” become analogous to “open”? Probably not.

From another article about this very same topic:

ISO Approves PDF as an International Standard

[...]

Microsoft submitted Office Open XML, a proprietary XML-based document format it built for its Office 2007 productivity suite, to the ISO. The ISO approved OOXML on April 1 in a controversial vote that is still being contested by some of the standards bodies that took part in it.

Meanwhile, Sun has produced an ODF validation service.

I would like to announce the availability of a new ODF Validation service at openoffice.org. What is it? It is actually a web page where you can check whether an ODF file meets some basic conformance or validation requirements defined by the ODF specification.

The standards industry is truly in a crisis. With so much money at stake (e.g. in Microsoft’s case), duplicate ‘standards’ and bribery are only to be expected.

ECMA is Microsoft

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