Bonum Certa Men Certa

Anti-standards Roundup: GNOvell and Microsoft OOXML

OOXML Suppets



On the eighth day, in order to combat ODF, God created OOXML and then created puppets

It is curious to see different people's reaction to the GNOME-Novell/OOXML situation. Some have concluded, based on a recent article from iTWire, that even the father of Free software has grown tired of the stance taken on OOXML. It's just one among a bunch of picks from the news:

Richard Stallman dislikes Miguel, New York's project World Domino calls for your participation and SCO owns us. Find out how xml helps us to be faster and better informed than Doug Mahugh.


We've inquired about this only to be told: "What is behind this whole thing? Why is everybody behaving in such a craven manner? There has to be something more than what we know at present. I mean, we can bid goodbye to FOSS altogether if this continues."

This was said in reference to Novell (and the GNOME Foundation). By all means, we intend to spend some time over the holiday researching this issue and looking at whatever evidence is available and hasn't been explored thoroughly. Time permitting, more compelling facts are yet to be collected. There are things which those who are involved are not tell us, so we must find out for ourselves.

Microsoft's stance on standards is far more obvious than Novell's. It's not always so openly available, but the courts have done a lot of work exposing the culture inside the company.

Six public facts about Microsoft and standards as collected by Rui Seabra and a friend.

[...]

Fact 1: Bill Gates wanted to subvert ACPI so it would only work well with Windows, as it's documented on proof 3020 of “Comes vs Microsoft”:

[...]

Fact 2: Microsoft tried to sabotage the Java programming language, introducing in the market a product based on Java but with dependencies on its Windows platform.

[...]

Fact 3: Microsoft introduced proprietary extensions in HTML and aggressively induced its partners to use such extensions in order to monopolise internet browsing software (item 322, for instance):

[...]

Fact 4: Microsoft tries to exclude Free Softwares potential of competitiveness by making protocols proprietary (pg. 24 of PDF, 22 of the page numbering).

[...]

Fact 5: Microsoft was considered guilty of abusing its monopoly restricting interoperability information.

[...]

Fact 6: Microsoft didn't want to participate in ODF development (just like in Internet access, they understood the importance of standards late in the game) and only because of that it didn't oppose, at the time, its adoption as an ISO standard:


”Not even Microsoft Office 2007 complies with OOXML.“A lot is down to ISO at the moment, but its spine is lost. It's not even clear if it'll ever be in charge of OOXML, if accepted. In any event, and regardless of the outcome, it barely matters who controls OOXML because Microsoft has stated that it probably won't even comply with its own broken specification. It never did. Not even Microsoft Office 2007 complies with OOXML.

At the moment, there are several things happening at once. Only one of them is Microsoft's gaming of the ISO process. If that succeeds or even if appears to be delayed indefinitely, Microsoft will start tying OOXML into various software products, services, and Web site in which they have partial or full ownership, if not a complete monopoly. Consider for example: Live Spaces, Facebook, Windows mail clients. Speaking of mail clients, here is a quick memo for Novell and/or its clients:

Your GroupWise client has a highly critical security flaw (one among several new ones).

Critical: Highly critical Impact: System access Where: From remote Solution Status: Vendor Patch


As another vector of OOXML penetration, let us quickly mention SharePoint [1, 2, 3], which is tightly related to OOXML. It's just one among other technologies in this new proprietary stack. The same goes for Silverlight, which Microsoft will try to spread through its services. At least one film (Jackass 2.5) and one promo (Halo 3) are available in Silverlight only.

Whether or not OOXML is pounded through ISO or not, the plan is to keep it from spreading and intercepting its adoption. The actions of the GNOME Foundation have been extremely unhelpful in that regard. We need to keep increasing the use of ODF. We needn't acknowledge any inevitability.

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