01.11.10

Microsoft OOXML Gets Fragmented Based on Geography

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents at 11:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: OOXML to behave differently and have a different function depending on where one buys Microsoft Office

Microsoft is not giving up in the i4i case, but interestingly enough, while Cliff Saran from the UK claims that Microsoft is removing custom tags, ZDNet UK indicates that this removal won’t happen in the UK. Software patents are invalid in the UK and the injunction is based in the US (i4i exports its products from Canada).

An update to Microsoft Word that will remove some XML functionality will not be provided to British users, Microsoft has confirmed.

Since OOXML is a format and not a standard (it is a new name given to Microsoft’s proprietary format in Office), the above is interesting. UK users of Office will have XML functionality that their peers in the US are missing. This increases fragmentation and thus it introduces incompatibility.

Here is the reason Microsoft is doing it. This is a matter of urgency.

Microsoft on Wednesday posted an update for Word 2007 that ditches the custom XML tagging technology a federal court banned the company from including in its software after Jan. 10.

CIO Weblog writes about this debacle in a post titled “Patent roulette”:

Industry observers have expressed concern over the proliferation of software process patents since they became generally accepted in the mid-nineties, and some of the most egregious abusers of the over-burdened system have been the large, lawyered-up industry giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft. The recent spectacle of Microsoft being hoisted by its own petard has provoked considerable glee in some circles, but that’s not why I find it interesting. Rather, it illustrates that, increasingly, conventional on-premises software is becoming just another subset of Software as a Service (SaaS).

IT Business (from Canada, just like i4i) goes further and says that this may provide reasons to move to Free software and abandon Microsoft Office for good:

I also find it more than a little funny to see how Microsoft was crying about how unfair it all was not just to Microsoft but, as Microsoft’s lawyers put it at the time, to all the little people out there “who require new copies of Office and Word would be stranded without an alternative set of software.” Microsoft’s attorneys also claimed that the situation would be a “major public disruption,” and would “have an effect on the public due to the public’s undisputed and enormous reliance on those products.”

Cry me a river. OpenOffice works just fine and it’s free to boot.

Yes, this was argued several times before. Microsoft is very arrogant when it comes to its market position. There are more details about it in Law.com, but nothing terribly exciting.

“The reality is that we already have two OOXML variants, and two more are coming when Office 2009 ships: OOXML 1.0 (i.e. ECMA 376 today); Office 2007 (i.e. OOXML 1.0 + all undocumented bits + all fixes); OOXML 1.1 (whatever is the outcome of Feb’s BRM); Office 2009 (OOXML 1.1 + undocumented bits)”

Stephane Rodriguez

Microsoft Demoted in IT Leaders League, Ranked Second-Worst Polluter/Environmental Hazard

Posted in Apple, Bill Gates, Boycott Novell, Google, Microsoft at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s products are too inferior for industry giants like Google and Apple to be too worried about; Greenpeace slams Microsoft again

THE previous post showed that Microsoft is using partners to challenge Google’s dominance as a search engine and is also using questionable tactics to harm Google's Linux phones (this includes FUD). Some time ago we shewed that Apple and Microsoft might be joining forces against Google/Android. As the Mac Observer wrote it down a few days ago:

Apple Officially Writes Off Microsoft, Moves Sights to Google

[..]

I wrote off Microsoft long ago. Except the Mac Business Unit – I think Office for Mac is a great product. Seriously, though, under Steve Ballmer’s leadership, Microsoft has largely floundered, moving from one blundered catch up project to another.

It’s becoming a trend this month.

From IDG: “World Domination Boils Down to Apple vs. Google”

And from NewsWeek: “Forget Microsoft vs. Google. This Decade, It’s an Apple-Google Slugfest.”

Some people would argue that Windows Mobile is out is the picture/race, which means that now it’s a case of BSD/Apple versus Linux/Android. Apple is also stepping in Google’s advertising space and there is a positive spin to it:

Google Loves Apple’s Quattro Deal

[..]

Google’s logic here is straightforward: If other big companies are buying mobile ad networks, then Washington can’t possibly be upset with us for buying AdMob.

Lastly, regarding Apple and Microsoft, TG Daily was spreading some environmental messages against Apple while leaving Microsoft in the clear last year. It is becoming quite different this year. From the news this time around (annual CES protests):

Nintendo and Microsoft Ranked Dead Last in Greenpeace Rankings

Nintendo, Microsoft Last Place on Greenpeace Report

Apple has Microsoft beat — as far as Greenpeace is concerned

Greenpeace, the well-known environmental organization that speaks out against nuclear power and climate change, has revised its “Guide to Greener Electronics,” a ranking of 18 major electronics companies based on how eco-friendly they are in their practices. While it didn’t top the list, Apple came out the big winner, jumping 4 places higher on the list to fifth place — that’s 11 places higher than Microsoft, which bottomed out the ranks, beating only Nintendo.

Greenpeace: Nintendo, Microsoft Least Green Electronics Makers

Nintendo continues its reign as the least environmentally friendly electronics manufacturer, according to Greenpeace, but Microsoft is approaching that dubious honor as well after dropping two places and becoming the second-worst in this year’s “Guide to Greener Electronics.”

For more information that is relevant, see the following:

  1. Real Environment Activists Don’t Use Windows
  2. Bingeing with Microsoft and Ruining the Environment

Bill Gates was accused by his former employee of global warming denial, so the attitude above makes some sense.

Microsoft Recruits Partners to Fight Against Google

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, HP, Microsoft, Search at 10:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Yahoo! Blog from Sunnyvale, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Generic license (caption added by us, with Ballmer’s words

Summary: Microsoft’s former partner Carol Bartz and some other companies like HP use their market share to help a convicted monopoly abuser

MANY Free software developers have left Yahoo! following Microsoft’s hijack of their company/employer. Watch this ludicrous new idea:

Maybe the solution is cleaner if Yahoo continues to strengthen ties with Microsoft, before ultimately being absorbed by them. Then the three (RIM, Microsoft, Yahoo) could combine forces in the mobile market.

Yahoo! is already throwing away a Microsoft rival, Zimbra, handing it over to former Microsoft employees. This decision “perplexes users” according to a new report.

A report that VMware has bid for Yahoo’s Zimbra, an open source email and collaboration company, has shocked VMware users and observers.

Watch what else Microsoft’s deal is causing. From TechCrunch:

Anxious Yahoo BOSS Developers To Speak With DOJ About Microsoft Deal

In July 2008, Yahoo announced a radical new product called BOSS, or “Build Your Own Search Service” that lets developers tap into Yahoo’s core search index with an unprecedented amount of flexibility. Now, in light of the Microsoft/Yahoo search deal that was announced last summer, the future of BOSS is uncertain. That’s bad news for the many developers who have built projects on the BOSS APIs, some of whom are building businesses off of the service. Now, after being met with months of silence and uncertainty, some BOSS developers are taking action: they’ve scheduled a conference call with the Department of Justice to discuss their concerns.

“Yahoo to Keep BOSS under Microsoft,” says Marketing Pilgrim, but TechCrunch argues that “Details [About It Are] Still Hazy”.

Carol Bartz has already been slammed by Yahoo! investors for her insanely-submissive deal with Microsoft, but she gives herself a “B-Minus” nonetheless [1, 2]. It is wrong to ask a person — any person for that matter — to assess himself/herself. Bartz is now saying that she ought to have sold out to Microsoft even sooner.

She says she could have moved faster to reorganize the company and strike a Web-search agreement with Microsoft (MSFT). (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)

Amazing, eh?

Well, Yahoo! as a search engine will become history (probably like Altavista) and Bong’s [sic] chances in Asia, where Yahoo! has been more successful thus far, remain terribly slim. It has the wrong name to begin with, and not just because of trademarks.

Clearly, without a doubt Microsoft didn’t do their homework regarding Bing. When fortune cookies say “learn Chinese” and calls your search engine a disease it raises all sorts of red flags.

Anyone speak Chinese? Is this accurate or just some funny prank. Does the word “bing” mean Disease? If it is, it’s classic. Goes along the lines of the worst possible names for companies.

Steve Ballmer might say that Bong [sic] is a “cancer” that he hopes will “attach itself to everything it touches.” It just won’t work. If $100,000,000 in marketing did almost nothing, then it’s a lost cause.

Microsoft is said to have just spent $500,000,000 in order for Verizon to push Bong [sic] down customers’ throats. There is a similar deal with HP based on this new report:

HP search will default to Microsoft’s Bing

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show that his company’s Bing search engine will be the default option on new computers made by Hewlett-Packard, which could have a measurable change on the search engine optimization (SEO) landscape.

Shame on HP for installing a lot of "junk" software for Microsoft, including Silverlight. This is not particularly new.

Google is under fire in Germany for “lack of transparency” when it comes to data, but it’s same with Google’s rivals, Microsoft included.

Germany’s minister of justice has chastised internet giant Google over its business strategy and “lack of transparency” regarding user data.

It’s like the Asa Dotzler incident all over again. Why is Microsoft not chastised for doing the same thing not just on the Internet but on people’s desktops too? It’s even done without users’ permission.

December’s Golden Flying Chairlet Award Goes to Omar

Posted in Flying Chairlet at 10:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Golden Flying Chairlet Award

THIS MONTH’S Golden Flying Chairlet Award (for December) goes to Omar, who has helped us understand Microsoft's tactics in the Middle East.

People Are Getting Rid of Xbox 360 as Sales Drop to 7th Position in Japan

Posted in Boycott Novell, DRM, Finance, Hardware, Microsoft at 9:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Early signs of permanent death for the Xbox franchise, caused by faulty hardware, massive losses (billions of dollars), and failure to compete

XBOX 360 is probably known best for its record-breaking error rates, which made it a laughing stock from a financial perspective. Yesterday we wrote about Microsoft's admission that there might not be another Xbox. There are multiple sources for this this and Xbox 360 has just sunk further and is now ranked only 7th (yes, seventh!) in Japan:

Sales for Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 fell in Japan in new retail data from the region.

Media Create Co. on Fri. reported that the Xbox 360 sold 6,489 units between Dec. 21 to Dec. 27 to rank No. 7 in overall hardware sales.

This is pathetic. As mentioned yesterday, Microsoft cites US-only surveys when it comes to Xbox 360 because everywhere else in the world the picture is very different (far less flattering to Microsoft). Here is a new editorial titled “Why I Bought a PS3″; it speaks about ditching Xbox 360 for a PlayStation 3 and it says:

But despite my heavy investment in Microsoft’s gaming platform, something about a proper new Final Fantasy game appearing on the Xbox 360 felt horribly wrong, like dropping a Ferrari engine into a Buick body. Sure, she’ll run, but the soul of the machine would just be off somehow.

Associated Content has another new article:

Red Ring of Rant – a Mad Gamer’s Opinion of the Xbox 360

Imagine the horror of any gamer when he sees three blinking red lights on his Xbox 360 staring back at him. Well, it happened to me about a year ago in my college dorm room. The problem was that my warranty had expired on my console and guess what, Microsoft makes you pay them $100 to repair the console. So, for about 1/3 of the cost of a new Xbox, the same company that caused the hardware failure in the first place wants you to pay them to fix the problem they created. It’s like some guy coming up to your car, smashing the windows, and then wanting you to pay him $50 to fix the same windows he had broken.

[...]

Unless you have a warranty on your system, don’t bother paying Microsoft another dime of your money and instead, get a PS3. I’ve even heard that Microsoft repairs aren’t permanent and that even the new systems are loaded with technical problems. Save yourself that bottle of Advil and instead, buy a better piece of hardware like the PS3 or Wii. Here’s one gamer hoping that in the future, Microsoft gets the red ring of death and can no longer pollute the world with its malfunctioning products.

Some Web sites are suggesting home repair, but it’s hardly a solution to inherently-faulty hardware design. Our reader Ryan, who is a former Microsoft MVP, sold his Xbox 360 last month; he is moving to the Wii and yesterday he told us a lot more in the IRC channel.

“I’m not the only one finished with XBOX,” he wrote. “I’m sure that sales of their next system will suffer because of people like me that remember how unreliable their last one was. I replaced it with Wii for a number of reasons, 100% backward compatibility was one of them and another was they have like 1/30th the failure rate of XBOX 360. 30 XBOX 360s die per 1 Wii, that’s just too damned funny. It’s like Microsoft is saying ‘You’re 30 times more likely to experience a failure with our system that costs 3 times more. Buy XBOX.’”

“I had kind of wondered how long they would tolerate a product that does nothing besides burn cash.”
      –Ryan Farmer
He later added: “Their shareholders must have had enough of quarter after quarter of lost money since 2001. I had kind of wondered how long they would tolerate a product that does nothing besides burn cash. apparently 10 years of bad product is their bullshit threshold. When I say 3 times more, I mean not just the initial price, cause that’s easy to manipulate, I mean the $100 wifi, the $60 a year XBOX Live… the[n] $10 more for every game, added onto the $300 console.

“Initial price point is what makes or breaks a sale, I know that from being in retail. You have to price things to where they look affordable even when they aren’t, and then shove everything else in as an “accessory”. Like, you see retailers selling Blu Ray Disc players well below what they bought them for, but a new release movie will be $30 or higher. Video game consoles have always been loss leaders, but leave it to Microsoft to really start making you bleed for games and accessories later, even stuff that should have been part of the console. It really tells you how poorly managed their XBOX division is if they take in that kind of money and can’t post a profit. Most of the things they sell you are imaginary! like “Microsoft Points”. They don’t even incur any expenses to make or distribute or retail that stuff.”

Microsoft Attempts to Freeze Mobile Market to Harm Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft resorts to vapourware-inspired tactics in order to suppress an exodus from Windows Mobile to better platforms, mostly Linux based like the Nexus One/Android (shown above), Maemo, LiMo, Bada, and WebOS

Brier Dudley, a Microsoft fan from the Seattle Times, realises that Android (Linux) is the newest challenge on the block, so he is promoting the idea that Windows Mobile 7 is just around the corner. Here is what he wrote:

Google’s Nexus One phone isn’t as revolutionary as the buzz would suggest. It’s basically a really nice touchscreen device running a new processor that supports slick 3-D graphics and services.

But its debut today still ups the ante for Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, who is delivering the opening keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday night.

Microsoft is close to releasing Windows Mobile 7, the latest version of its beleagured phone platform. It’s supposed to be unveiled at a March developer conference.

Not close at all! Vapourware talk is entering the debate again. Go on then, “freeze the market at the OEM and ISV level,” to use the words of Microsoft's Nathan Myhrvold. Windows Mobile 7 has been subjected to another major delay, as revealed by a Microsoft executive a few weeks ago (there was another major setback for the Xperia X2, which runs the atrocious Windows Mobile).

According to another new report:

Windows Mobile 7 definitely delayed to 2011

[...]

After speaking with multiple sources, we’re now certain that we won’t be seeing Windows Mobile 7 before World Mobile Congress in Barcelona in February 2011.

In order to “freeze the market”, Microsoft will present something soon, just as it presented Vista 7 one year ahead of its release (to bribed bloggers and journalists only). This is an exercise in freezing the market:

It’s official — or at least “semi-official.” The long awaited Windows Phone 7 is apparently set to be shown at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.

The other source says that it will only come (in final form) one year later. This is typical. And since a Microsoft executive rules out the possibility of this being released in the first half of 2010, the former source (“multiple sources”) seems more credible.

Technically speaking, Windows Mobile is a piece of junk. Even some of Microsoft’s most ardent supporters hate it and complain about it openly. Here is a major Windows Mobile bug that we wrote about before:

And guess what? Microsoft admits that not only Windows Mobile is affected:

Microsoft responds to 2016 SMS bug; not just cell phones affected

The saga of the Year 2016 text message bug continues. While there’s not an official fix as of yet we, do have a workaround (download here). And we just received an official statement from a Microsoft spokesperson:

“Microsoft is aware of reports that phone messages received after 1/1/2010 may be dated 2016. These reports have not yet resulted in widespread customer inquiries; however, we are working closely with our manufacturing and mobile operator partners to investigate the cause and correct the issue as appropriate.”

Compare the trouble and vapourware from Microsoft to what the New York Times writes about Google’s Linux-powered new phone (which Microsoft executives are already mocking in public):

Reader Responses to Review of Google’s Nexus One

[...]

The most plausible theory, though, is that Google’s Android phone software is a more open and hackable operating system than the proprietary software on the iPhone,

This is why, despite the control from Google, Android phones are worth promoting. Google assists those who want to root their phones and even offers applications (in its marketplace) that require rooting. To iPhone, this is antithetical.

There is more to be said about the New York Times and Android. “I just finished reading John Markov’s [New York Times] article here,” said one of our readers and contributors who yesterday reported on the story about Android and Rubin.

“It validated a lot of my hunches about Rubin,” he argues, “but there’s a lot of Microsoft spin to it. Markov seems to have talked to Rubin. He white washed the Microsoft tension to focus on cell phone hand set vrs telco and presents Microsoft as a company no different from others.”

“Rubin spent all of his savings creating Android after getting kicked out of Danger.”
      –Site contributor
We happen to have exposed Markov’s bias before. He routinely omits Microsoft’s blame when it comes to Windows flaws and he doesn’t even mention Windows at all. Linux Today complained about this bias of his even more formally. At one stage he responded to Carla, the managing editor.

“A couple of interesting new things are presented,” said our reader, “Rubin spent all of his savings creating Android after getting kicked out of Danger. There’s also an interesting story about a robot at Danger getting p0wnt and Rubin being blamed for it.

“Microsoft spin is rampant. Markov misunderstands Magic Cap, which was dependent on networks and other computers for processing tasks which could be returned as results after days or weeks of working. Especially frustrating is Markov’s misunderstanding or deliberate misrepresentation of the destruction of Netscape. It’s my understanding that Netscape made its money on server sales, not browsers and that Microsoft ruined them by making IE non standards compliant and sabotaging Netscape, Java and a host of other better technology. Markov echoes the usual fallacy, “Microsoft successfully cut off Netscape’s air supply by giving away its Explorer Web browser as part of the Windows operating system,” that paints Microsoft as a bearer of gifts.”

“In the future, Microsoft wants Windows to run everything, from PCs to phones to cars to appliances. This is a terrifying prospect. If it happens, I’d be far more afraid that machinery everywhere would grind to a halt, planes would fall out of the sky, and civilization would crumble as a result of crummy embedded Windows design than any Y2K problem.”

Paul Somerson, PC Computing

‘Microsoft Press’ Spreads Delusions About Microsoft’s Position in the Market

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers, Windows at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: More about lies regarding the market share of Microsoft; monopoly abuse in Korea leads to Internet Explorer (and by inference Windows) dependency

THE CULTURE (or cult) of lies is a self-defensive one. Microsoft loves to lie about the market share of GNU/Linux on the desktop but sources outside Microsoft (which are tied to Microsoft) are helping the myths be spread. We have just caught the ‘Microsoft press’ making the following fallacious statement:

IIS is a vital program to Redmond; at any given time, it’s either the No. 1 or No. 2 Web server in the world in terms of conducting Web traffic.

It’s never #1. Apache is by far more dominant and even Netcraft statistics belittle the abundant use of Apache [1, 2, 3]. As we showed earlier this morning, IIS is a choice for those who prefer to be vulnerable and helpless (no patches).

Microsoft is generally losing impact on the Internet, especially to companies like Google (and to Mozilla on the Web browsers front). This trend is a lot more pronounced outside the United States, but even the warped numbers from a company that’s paid by Microsoft (mostly US IP addresses) show that Internet Explorer is losing market share. Versions 7 and 8 did not save this Web browser.

Where Microsoft’s Internet Explorer manages to keep market share is where ActiveX and other Microsoft ‘extensions’ have ruined the Web. Korea is a good example of this [1, 2, 3, 4]. This predatory lock-in is not only helping Internet Explorer over there but Windows and Windows Mobile too. From the Korea Times:

Microsoft Monoculture Going Mobile?

[...]

The current law states that all encrypted online communications on computers require the use of electronic signatures based on public-key certificates. And since the fall of Netscape in the early 2000s, Microsoft’s Active-X controls on its Internet Explorer (IE) Web browsers remain as the only plug-in tool to download the public-key certificates on computers.

It’s like another Korean war, this time with digital warfare for colonisation (post-Japanese and post-American, although many US army bases remain there, spread extremely densely). Korea found Microsoft guilt of monopoly abuse twice last year [1, 2]. The Korean giant Samsung was additionally pulled into Microsoft’s patent racket. How much more abuse can they tolerate?

The Lover That Wasn’t: Microsoft Upsets Its Own VARs

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft as a Trojan horse in a new book; Microsoft is screwing its partners again

THE image above is of a real product and the image at the bottom is the cover of a book called “Geeks Bearing Gifts”* — a book which has just been reviewed by Free Software Magazine (it was published in 2009). There are some brow-raising parts in there, such as:

Chapter 10 was a well-written summary on the Free Software and Open Source movements and the rise of GNU/Linux. It highlights Richard Stallman’s founding of the Free Software movement and laments that the term “Linux” is used to refer to the whole GNU/Linux operating system. A somewhat balanced view of the difference of opinion between the Open Source and Free Software movements is provided. The GNU GPL (General Public License) is called viral and draconian, but soon after, Nelson points out that “open source” has created various “shadings, alternatives, and complexities”.

Microsoft is said to have given a “gift” to some companies which it calls “partners”. Microsoft constantly stabs is partners in the back and this one from last week’s news seems like no exception.

VARs Irked By New Microsoft Customer Satisfaction Policy

January is traditionally a time when Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) Gold partners re-enroll in the software giant’s partner program. But what is normally an uneventful process is taking on new significance this year as Microsoft is now requiring VARs to take part in customer satisfaction surveys in order to stay in the program.

[...]

The problem is that many solution providers view customer satisfaction as something for which they should be solely responsible. VARs also aren’t very gung-ho about sharing their customer contact data, even when a third party is handling the survey. Although VARs understand why Microsoft is doing this, they’re not happy about it.

“Microsoft’s heart is in the right place, but they shouldn’t make it a requirement,” said Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Fairfax, Va.-based Gold partner.

So even “Gold partners” are unhappy. Who would have guessed?
____
* This is a slight deviation from “Greeks bearing gifts”, referring to a myth which teaches about the danger of trusting a helping help from an enemy.

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