Bonum Certa Men Certa

Using OSI Endorsement and Linux Deals to Promote Lock-ins

"We're Novell and OSI pals, so how can't we be 'open'?"

Outside the United States, which Microsoft virtually owns, OOXML has a hard time finding acceptance. In spite of all the deception, including dishonest and incomplete press releases, technical panelists are able to interpret the reality. OOXML receives mockery. Here is the latest from China:

We are calling on the government to veto the OOXML format at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).” The OOXML format is a file specification released by Microsoft in December last year for its Microsoft Office 2007 suite. It is currently in a fast track standardization process with the ISO and will be subject to voting next month. Unlike the current ISO digital document standard ODF (Open Document Format) and China’s national standard UDF (Unified Office Document Format), Microsoft’s OOXML format can only be run on a Windows platform.

It is also criticized for containing many proprietary technologies that can only be fully supported by Microsoft’s Office products.


Knowing how much control Microsoft has in China, heavy lobbying there is only a matter of time. We should keep our eyes open (and Bob might receive some anonymous comments). With so much resistance across the world, Microsoft resorts to changing the theme of the story and painting it all with the brush of "Open Source".

Sam has explained -- essentially by citing yet another OSI/Microsoft analysis -- how Microsoft's involvement in Linux companies and the Open Source community can be used as an illusion that Microsoft has itself become a big fan of openness, transparency, collaboration, and standards. But an illusion is just an illusion. You can put lipstick on a pig, wrap it up with a red dress and then take it out for dinner, but the pig is still a pig, not a girlfriend. Microsoft's attempt to embrace 'the other side' is a destructive and self-serving one. By embracing those who sidle with openness they hope to destroy truly open rivals and promote their lock-ins instead. Watch Silverlight. Behold GNOME/Mono (.NET) entanglements, not just in Novell's Linux. It will get only worse. In Sam's own words:

Getting Microsoft software licenses OSI-approved and similarly getting Microsoft's proprietary document formats approved at ISO are like painting an old Chevrolet.

[...]

This may be enough to satisfy the enterprise customer that he is achieving something different. Clearly, the substance is no different: it's a lock-in in sheep's clothing.


There is more on this serious issue over at Libervis. Microsoft bends the definition and value of "open source" and knowingly forgets all about cross-platform, freedom, and real standards, as opposed loose and expensive "interoperability" or even broken "translators".

Of course, they are not [Shared Source licenses not open]. Other Shared Source licenses may very well be too restrictive to be considered Open Source. But, Microsoft may conveniently divert the attention from this little detail to the fact that *some* of Shared Source licenses are Open Source.


Remember that the whole thing is a shrewd publicity stunt. It is a shame that OSI board members such as Matt Asay are too blind to see this, let alone react responsibly.

Matt Asay has just blogged and responded to Groklaw's criticisms. It is understandable that OSI must operate without discrimination (not even when Microsoft is involved). However, as we already know, Microsoft is good at exploiting loopholes and weaknesses in systems which assume that everyone is a gentleman, not an aggressive sociopath.

Microsoft abuses weak systems and it has it has no shame or guilt when doing so. It did this to the GPLv2 when it signed a deal with Novell. It also did this in ECMA, whose system appears to be broken by design (money and egocentric ambitions are its motor).

As Bob reminded us a couple of days ago (and Rob said last week, the context being Massachusetts), a reform is needed to prevent further and future abuse in the ISO.

What I predict we will see will be widespread re-evaluation of national standards body membership and voting rules. I think we’ll witness a normalization of procedures and all have a better idea of the point of those procedures. That is, we want the creation of high quality standards and not just more standards. Quality is more important than quantity.


In other news from the same blog, there is a great new opportunity for ODF. So let's finish this item on a brighter note.

Wow, consider that, ODF possibly continuing to evolve to handle new project management requirements. Any estimates from readers as to when we’ll have an XML spec for project management from Microsoft show up on ECMA’s doorstep for standardization? Or, how about everyone just works together starting RIGHT NOW to extend ODF to handle this functionality?


Those who do it first cannot necessarily capitalise on de facto 'standards', but it is worth a shot.

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