07.16.09

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Microsoft + Ecosystem Block ODF, OpenOffice.org, Firefox

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 6:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Nightmare

Summary: A look at new reports that show a consistent worrisome behaviour

BNET has this article which is titled “How Microsoft Ratted Itself Out Of Office.”

Microsoft dodged a bullet in Massachusetts, but realized that if its Office productivity suite wasn’t adopted as a de jure standard, rather than merely a de facto monopoly, it would eventually lose customers who were mandated by law to use only standards-based applications. That’s why it fought tooth and nail to convince ISO to adopt OOXML as a standard — even if that meant publishing its entire specification.

In order to ‘convince’ ISO (Microsoft did a lot more than “convincing”) Microsoft and its ecosystem embarked on one of the biggest IT scandals of this decade. Some press in India is trying to change the story right now. It says:

Single standard is supported by the open document format (ODF) brigade that includes IBM, Red Hat and Sun Microsystems in India while multiple standards are supported by Microsoft, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and industry bodies like Manufacturers’ Association of Information Technology and Nasscom.

This is some very ugly spin with weasel words like “brigade”, a small list of vendors on ODF’s side and then a larger list of small vendors (Microsoft partners) that are claimed to support “multiple standard” as if it’s better to have a proprietary format (assisted by abuse to push it down ISO’s throat) and a fork of ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

Microsoft employees carry on preaching their hostility towards fair competition or real standards like ODF and Rob Weir drew attention to this report about “ODF mobile combat robot” (not related to OpenDocument) only to receive a lukewarm response from ODF skeptics. In Twitter, Microsoft employees and their partners of course mocked it (and Rob Weir) because they hate ODF. Thy see it as a nuisance which they must cope with.

The reality of the matter is that OpenDocument is gaining as we last showed moments ago. jOpenDocument appears on the scene now as well.

jOpenDocument is a free library for developers looking to use Open Document files without OpenOffice.org.

jOpenDocument is Open Source (under GPL or commercial license).

More DOF events are being organised, such as this one in LinuxCON 2009.

OASIS ODF Adoption TC Chair, Don Harbison, will present a session entitled:

“OpenDocument Format v1.2 – Interoperability, Conformance & Tooling”

This talk will focus on the application implementation implications of ODF V1.2, for IT leaders and developers of desktop, and cloud solutions. Beyond the completion of ODF 1.2, complementary work has progressed to support ODF interoperability and conformance needs. A new ODFDOM API and tools are available from the ODF Toolki Union, enabling the development of excitig new document-centric solutions. The talk is introductory in nature.

Roberto Galoppini on the ODF Plugfest:

The Dutch government is showing the way to go: the Minister for Foreigng Trade Frank Heemskerk opened the now famous ODF Plugfest saying that a joint course of action for developing effective ODF support in each other’s products is needed.

We previously mentioned the ODF Plugfest in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

Meanwhile, however, guards of the Microsoft monopoly are working to block ODF-compliant software like OpenOffice.org. Watch the picture. We often learn from readers that Microsoft has many people out there in IT departments who are compulsively blocking competition to Microsoft. How about this new example from Orange?

Orange UK exiles Firefox from call centres

[...]

This technician tells us that about a quarter of the Bristol staff had moved to Firefox after growing increasingly frustrated with IE6′s inability to open multiple pages in the same window and overall sluggish performance. But a recent email from management informed call-centre reps that downloading Firefox was verboten and that they would be fined £250 if their PCs experienced problems and had to be rebuilt after running Firefox or any other application downloaded from the net.

“Under no circumstances should Firefox be downloaded,” the email read. “Downloading any application from the internet is against Orange policy. There is NO support for Firefox in the operational environment. Orange Web applications are all designed to run on IE6 and therefore there is a likelihood that functionality will be impaired on Firefox.”

According to the reader who alerted us about it, this “begs [the question] how they can install applications on a supposedly secure and locked down desktop.”

Microsoft Internet Explorer is a very bad thing to standardise on because it deliberately deviates from Web standards [PDF]. In fact, YouTube is now ditching IE6 support.

Judging by this screenshot taken by an IE6 user who was watching some videos on YouTube, it appears the Google company will be phasing out support for the browser shortly. I don’t have Internet Explorer 6 installed on my computer, so I can’t verify this first hand, but illogical it seems not and a simple Twitter search shows multiple people confirming the news. Heck, some are even downright ecstatic over the news.

Even Digg has begun pondering an IE6 ditch:

Should Digg block IE6?

Currently, IE6 usage accounts for 10% of Digg visitors and 5% of page views on Digg. While this is down from 13% and 8% a year ago respectively, IE6 still accounts for a fairly large portion of Digg usage. That said, a lot of time is spent by Digg engineers supporting site activity like diggs, buries, and comments in IE6, and while it accounts for 5% of site traffic, IE6 accounts for only 1% of diggs, buries, and comments.

Watch out for Microsoft and its followers looking to block ODF, OpenOffice.org, and Firefox. It happens all the time, but the issue is scarcely reported on.

“Microsoft sees what’s coming. Things like Word and Excel sort of like a drug now getting ready to go generic.”

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