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Microsoft API Pledge Worse Than Useless, Real Standards Needed

Steve Ballmer license
Image from Wikimedia



A couple of days ago we showed why OOXML is nothing but a patent trap. All these overly hyped promises of openess and interoperability are nothing but smoke and mirrors. They are intended to confuse journalists, wrestle with antitrust regulators and create false hopes which may or may not lure innocent developers in (before Microsoft starts stabbing them in the back).

Here is another important reminder from The Register:

Royalties charged by Microsoft on Windows APIs and protocols are the next hurdle the company must clear in its wooing of open source developers.

Leading open source figures have questioned charges Microsoft makes on its protocols and APIs, with a call to clarify whether Windows server, client and application APIs and protocols that Microsoft has pledged to "open" will come free of charge, and how payments - if levied - would be collected.


The FSFE is meanwhile working to ensure that real (and free) standards get embraced rather than the cheese in Microsoft's mouse trap. Yes, it's important to stress that Microsoft is open... open like a bear trap. The EU Commission faltered before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], so a warning is truly needed. From the mailing list:

New petition calls for Open Standards in the European Parliament

Brussels – 6 March 2008.

At a time when the EU Commission investigates the anti-competitive behaviour of a market-dominant player, the European Parliament (EP) still imposes that same specific software choice on both the European Union's citizens and its own MEPs. OpenForum Europe, The European Software Market Association, and the Free Software Foundation Europe today launched a petition to call on the EP to use Open Standards so that all citizens can participate in the democratic process.


Speaking of open standards, recall yesterday's post about Microsoft excluding ODF and GNU/Linux. We mentioned a broken ODF plug-in and a reader of ours, SubSonica, wrote in to say this:




Microsoft has released a plugin to add ODF support in office.

Although it is said to be "free software" it is curious the clause that is included into the installer.

So much for Microsoft alleged "openness" and "new strategy":

"WARNING: This computer program is protected by copyright law and international treaties. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of this program or a portion of it, may result in severe civil or criminal penalties, and will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible under the law."

You can see an screenshot of the installer here:

http://www.versvs.net/anotacion/software-libre-segun-microsoft

Microsoft's ODF installer
Image from versvs.net (original URL above)



P.S.: The plugin is not working on Windows XP+Office XP. I have read accounts that it also fails to work properly on Office 2007...




Based on what we posted yesterday (about Ars Technica's experience), this is correct. Might this be the rumoured support which sources spoke about prematurely? If so, then again, it's worse than useless and it does more harm than good. Microsoft might, after all, give the impression that ODF is inherently broken and impossible to work with, at least in Microsoft Office. The company has already given a bad name to Open Office [sic], hasn't it? History calls.

"We recommend that we *informally* plant the bug of FUD in their ears. “Have you heard about problems with DR DOS?”"

--Brad Silverberg, Microsoft

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