06.08.09

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ODF News and Microsoft’s Acts Against It

Posted in Asia, Europe, Formats, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Office Suites, Open XML, Standard at 12:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

AbiWord as ODF

Summary: Bits and pieces about the road to document interoperability and those standing in its way

THIS post offers an assorted roundup, which starts with the Dutch government actively supporting ODF, as it has for quite some time. There is a workshop coming:

The workshop is meant for people who write and architect the code to handle the actual ODF in applications – desktop editors and viewers, online apps, mobile, etc.

The event is organised by the Dutch government programme Netherlands in Open Connection and OpenDoc Society under auspices of the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations.

As it turns out, Dutch people also sponsor this project called officereader, which promotes ODF.

For the first time ever, it is now possible to read your OpenDocument files from OpenOffice.org, KOffice, AbiWord and Lotus Symphony on your Symbian Smartphone using Open Source software

We have been writing quite extensively about how Microsoft was harming ODF with MSODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. In relation to the news about Fraunhofer promoting Microsoft lock-in, Pamela Jones writes in Groklaw: “I think this may explain why Microsoft deliberately followed the ODF version it did. My weather report: lots of FUD ahead. And Apache is helping them. You likely recall the role the Fraunhofer Fokus group played in the OOXML vote.”

A week ago we also wrote about MSCOSCONF (Malaysia), which is a Microsoft-oriented event going under the “open source” banner. They even use Office 2007 to produce material. Pamela Jones writes about MSCOSCONF in Groklaw: “May I ask why anyone would help Microsoft do this? Why is it “great” that Microsoft is spreading money around FOSS, with such a goal as this as transparent as it is? Think. Road kill. What comes after Embrace, Extend?”

Also in Malaysia we find this new article where Microsoft pretends to be collaborating.

“We are committed to being open when it comes to interoperability,” said Dzahar Mansor, national technology officer at Microsoft Malaysia.

“This includes ensuring open connections, enhancing support for industry standards and fostering a more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open-source communities.”

Microsoft, he said, is taking this path because it will enable its customers to have more choice in software and be able to easily integrate mixed-source infrastructure

This is marketing buzz. If Microsoft is “committed to being open when it comes to interoperability,” then why are its developers breaking format compatibility in ODF? Notice the talk about “mixed-source infrastructure.” Microsoft would love to abolish discussion about software freedom.

The next statement from Microsoft goes like this:

“Data will move seamlessly between applications and systems regardless of platform or vendor,” he added.

Which platform might that be? The one which Microsoft is suing (Linux) using software patents, which are invalid where the defendant is based anyway?

Microsoft continues making void allegations to suppress the use of platforms other than Windows. Bill Gates was scheming to use software patents against OpenOffice.org, which is a viable rival to an increasingly-confusing and bloated Microsoft Office. What can Microsoft offer which OpenOffice.org does not deliver to 80% of the people out there (who only use like 20% of the features)?

Answer: A highly cluttered — and thus baffling — office suite, where change is made for the sake of change (illusion that a sale of the newer version will be worth the price). See what some people mean by “clutter”.

I just need to share this one. Playing around with MS Word 2008 on my Macbook, I made a wonderful discovery. In case you’re familiar with the Ribbon UI of MS Office 2007 and in case you’ve always been wondering how the Mac version of Office 2007 turned out to be a bit, well weird, then here are some news for you.

Had Microsoft had no lock-in, which an interoperable ODF is rightly intended to put an end to, how many people would actually buy this “premium” offer which is Microsoft Office? Lock-in like OOXML yields enormous leverage. Microsoft is not capable of selling software; It is a lot better at forcing people to ‘buy’ its software, e.g. get Windows whenever you buy a computer or be forced to get Office to access personal files and read files from peers/colleagues.

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