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MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement
Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:38 AM EDT

Microsoft says it won't support the OpenDocument format in Office 12. So there. That is their response to Massachusetts' ratification of and proposal to support OpenDocument.

OK. Be that way.

A spokesman claims it's because "the Office 12 formats pay special attention to compatibility with older document versions, [and] other formats do not concern themselves with this important issue."

Heh heh. They'll have to do better than that.

Another excuse is that they don't want to lose certain features, like video. They support plain text, don't they? Come on, Microsoft. Get real.

We all recall frustrating struggles trying to open our own documents saved in early versions of Word, having to search with Google to figure out what convoluted steps we needed to take to be able to open and read them in later versions of Word. So we know precisely how much backward compatibility means to Microsoft.

Of course, now we just open everything in, or at least that is what I do.

Another Microsoft employee, Brian Jones, is blogging on the topic also. He says he was "stunned" by Massachusetts' announcement. A lot of thoughtful comments were left on his blog, trying to explain it to him. He has answered them, in part, today and promises more to come. What he has said so far is that he doesn't know if Microsoft's XML license is GPL-compatible. I suggest he is high enough in the Microsoft food chain that he can ask, though, nu? That's if Microsoft's lawyers are not too busy blankety-blank killing off Google. In case they are just buried, I'll tell Brian: It isn't compatible with the GPL. You need to fix that.

He disingenuously points out that is under the LGPL, so he alleges he sees no problem:

Some folks seemed to think that the licenses for our formats were crafted to block out our competitors, but that couldn't be further from the truth. If you look out at the market place, there are a number of similar products, and the main ones (WordPerfect; Lotus; OpenOffice; etc.) should all be able to use our licenses and documentation to build in support for the Office XML formats. There have been several postings asking about whether our license for the Office XML schemas is compatible with the GPL. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to understand all the intricate details in these licenses, but people seem to be interested in my opinion, so I’ll share it. OpenOffice is covered by something called the Lesser General Public License or LGPL. . . .

To me, this language says that it would be totally possible for someone to develop a “library” that can handle transformations between Office and OpenOffice documents. It also says to me that it doesn’t matter whether that library is covered by the GPL or the LGPL. The LGPL language seems to encourage free software developers to link in these libraries to give them “an advantage over competing non-free programs.”. . .

Again, I’m not expert, but the Microsoft license seems to say that you can use the Office XML specs to develop programs that can read and write Office XML files.

Ah, those Microsoft smoothies. Hahahaha. "Nothing could be further from the truth." Stop! Brian, you're killing me. Let me catch my breath a sec before you say another word.

They must send all their executives to the same PR school. Either that or it's simply amazing that they all just happen to talk the same way, just like Bill, about how "great" and "exciting" it is to get critical comments from a world aggrieved by their behavior. But let me straighten out my curled lip and hold back my tongue, ignoring what looks to me like hypocritical pretense, and just calmly explain to the *real* Brian Jones what the issues are:

  • Linux is under the GPL.
  • Approximately three-quarters of all FOSS software is too.
  • That isn't going to change.
  • Your XML license is not compatible with the GPL. Think sublicensing. Think attribution requirement.
  • You have a patent gotcha in your XML license.
  • There is no guarantee of what the future holds.
  • No one should have to take out a license from you to use an "open" standard.

I could go on, but it seems like make-work. Others are explaining it to him on his blog, and he selectively answers, as if he doesn't hear or comprehend what they are so clearly saying.

We care about interoperability. So do businesses. So does Massachusetts. In fact, that is their goal. They would like anyone to be able to open and read and use documents, no matter what operating system they are using. Is that Microsoft's goal? If not, that is the problem, Brian.

Massachusetts has concerns about the openness of Microsoft's license, which Eric Kriss explains:

Eric Kriss, Secretary of Administration & Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, told CRN on Friday that Massachusetts had concerns about the openness of Microsoft XML schemas as well as with potential patent issues that could arise in the future.

"What we've backed away from at this point is the use of a proprietary standard and we want standards that are published and free of legal encumbrances, and we don't want two standards," Kriss added.. . .

Earlier this year, in a document describing its work on open standards, the Commonwealth said that "the Microsoft "Patent License" for use of Office schemas has not been accepted as satisfactory by all parties, even if it eventually proves to satisfy the requirements of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To some, the exceptions to the 'royalty-free license ... to make, use, sell, offer to sell, import, and otherwise distribute Licensed Implementations solely for the purpose of reading and writing files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas' are problematic, as are the terms of use," said the Commonwealth.

In the past, the issue of patent infringement has been used by Microsoft as a criticism against open source. . . .

"Someday, for all countries that are entering the WTO [World Trade Organisation], somebody will come and look for money owing to the rights for that intellectual property," Ballmer reportedly said.

Don't expect praise and acceptance from anyone as long as Microsoft is holding patents over the heads of the FOSS community and threatening us with patent infringement lawsuits by "someone" "someday", and then including patent wording in your licenses that seems to us to match the threat. Got it?


MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement | 343 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Authored by: raiford on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:46 AM EDT

- this space intentially left blank -

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:46 AM EDT is under the LGPL as of Sep. 2.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement
Authored by: entre on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:47 AM EDT
Great comments PJ

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: raiford on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:48 AM EDT

It turns out you have to wait 45 seconds between posts...

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement
Authored by: aug24 on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:50 AM EDT
As pointed out on /. earlier today, it's an out-and-out lie anyway. OOo does
support multimedia embedding, using an open format.

MS is FUDding at max here.


You're only jealous cos the little penguins are talking to me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:54 AM EDT
Working at Microsoft apparently corrupts people. What I find troubling is that
these days it is seems to be accepted as normal that you leave your integrity at
the door when you join a large corporation.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Guess what?
Authored by: inode_buddha on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:55 AM EDT
Guess *whose* older document versions they are paying attention to?

Those who have been around the business probably saw this one coming from a mile
away. Hey, live by the sword and die by the sword, IMHO.

Copyright info in bio

"When we speak of free software,
we are referring to freedom, not price"
-- Richard M. Stallman

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:55 AM EDT
Can someone explain in detail how the licence term on one thing interfere with
the licence terms on another thing? I still don't get it.

The format and the loader are differently owned differently and implemented

Why on god's Earth does a loader licence need to work with a format licence?

C#/XML Programmer

(I use the term "loader" to avoid confusion with the XML
"parser", which is another component lower down in the stack, usually
a commodity one.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

I love the smell of panic in the morning
Authored by: overshoot on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 10:06 AM EDT
Dang, they're flailing. I haven't seen Microsoft so totally at a loss for
coherent response in more than a decade.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Told to say this or just clueless?
Authored by: frk3 on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 10:18 AM EDT

"...If you look out at the market place, there are a number of similar products, and the main ones (WordPerfect; Lotus; OpenOffice; etc.) should all be able to use our licenses and documentation to build in support for the Office XML formats...."

The key phrase is "...should be able to use our licenses and documentation...."

I suspect that some of what this guy said is what he was told to say, however, that phrase shows me he has absolutely no clue what he is talking about.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Waiting for the regional smack...
Authored by: Guil Rarey on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 10:19 AM EDT
Okay, any guesses how long until the "Stallman is from MIT and MIT is in
Massachusetts and they're all a bunch of long-haired smelly commie freaks so go
figure and what they think doesn't count and don't you want an All-American
red-blooded office suite, anyway" FUD comes out from Microsoft?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Demand still is the key to what features go into a product...
Authored by: eibhear on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 10:31 AM EDT


This article from in November 2004 quotes Steve Vamos, Microsoft Australia's managing director as telling the world that:

I don't agree that just because a (competing) product has a feature that we don't have, that feature is important... It is not. It is only important if it is a feature the customer wants.
I don't believe it is a true statement that IE doesn't have the features that our customers want. We take user feedback very seriously... If you have that feedback, then you should feed it back to us because we will feed it to the product team.
when discussing firefox's features, especially its tabbed browsing capacity.

Yet, a couple of months later, it was announced that Internet Explorer version 7 will have tabbed browsing. I wouldn't at all be surprised to find out that the new features for IE7 will be there not because the customer asked for them specifically, but because instead of asking for them, the customers are just abandoning IE.

When it comes to the crunch, Microsoft will probably be able to implement and release an OpenDocument reader and writer extension of Office 12, Office XP, Office 2003, etc. in a matter of a few months. All it will take is for MA's decision to capture the imaginations of other organisations.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Backward Compatibility? My foot!
Authored by: ile on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 10:45 AM EDT
It is ages since I have used word for anything (my line of work means either
plain text or TeX (BTW great improvements in Kile, if you use KDE; I do
recommend it even over Emacs now)), but I remember being the computer officer in
my graduate college and having nightmares about version compatibility for Word
documents. Most of my mates did not seem to realize that the computers at the
department and those at college did not necessarily have the same version of
Word (for Mac), and started raging and fuming when their careful paginations and
formatting went down the drain when moving back and forth (which was necessary
since college printers were unable to produce good enough copy for submission of
Master's and PhD theses). And it was not simply the failure of my fellow grad
students to look for a Save As button; the quirkiness of the bl**** program was
simply stupid.

I guess that's what really set me off against MS and why I won't touch MSWindows
or Vista with a bargepole unless forced to.

So giving that as an argument _for_ MS' XML schemas is not simply irritating: it
is insulting.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement
Authored by: gbl on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 10:48 AM EDT
The really important point that Microsoft seem unable to comprehend is that Massachusetts has (correctly in my opinion) decide that they need their documents to be readable over time as well as across platforms.

One of the problems with Microsoft is that while they usually can import old Word files, you don't always get what you expect. The layout may change in ways that might be important in a legal document.

If you love some code, set it free.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's problem.
Authored by: Jaywalk on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 11:27 AM EDT
Microsoft says it won't support the OpenDocument format in Office 12. So there. That is their response to Massachusetts' ratification of and proposal to support OpenDocument.
A lot has been made of Microsoft's Windows monopoly. However, the strongest monopoly Microsoft has is not on the operating system. It's not all that difficult to bang out a new OS that runs on the x86 hardware Windows uses. Microsoft's stongest monopoly is in office software. Any large company has over a decade of old documents churned out in various versions of Word and Excel and coverting such a legacy to new formats is a daunting task. By keeping Word locked in to proprietary formats, Microsoft hopes to keep users feeding Microsoft's coffers.

In the end, the plan will fail. As Linux continues to gain traction, Microsoft will have to make the decision on whether or not to let its patent portfolio go by the boards or start suing customers. And SCO has provided an clear lesson in the results of doing that.

===== Murphy's Law is recursive. =====

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement
Authored by: pfusco on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 11:35 AM EDT
I just clicked on the "support" link in the main story and it took me
to an Administration log on screen. Is this a boo boo?

only the soul matters in the end

[ Reply to This | # ]

How about other legacy formats?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 12:22 PM EDT
Could someone explain how the patent gotcha works in more detail?

My CEO was interested in this story (our entire business is selling to the
government and building software we sell to the government). But he's
suggesting that even if MA used the microsoft standard they still wouldn't be
locked out.

His reasoning is that much of our work involves extracting sucking data out of
old legacy systems and loading it into our new system - and that future office
suites (and indeed our own product that we're currently selling) could simply
read the Microsoft XML and import or convert the data as we do with a bunch of
other legacy databases. Until now we didn't realize that the data in these
legacy formats might be patent encumbered.

Does this suggest that it might be illegal to extract data from old legacy
systems? It's hard to ask the vendor, because in many cases the original
vendor is long gone and noone remains to even ask about the licensing rights to
access that data.

This would put us in a very hard place, because the government customers simply
tell us to get the data and utterly refuse to believe that they may not be
allowed to ("Whadda mean that xxx county is not allowed to access it's
criminial information history!?!?!")

Seeing how many legacy systems are out there (yes, including old .doc files), it
seems scary that the government may not be allowed to access their data.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 12:32 PM EDT

``A Microsoft executive said last week, after the report was released, that Microsoft will not support OpenDocument in its next version of Office 12 as it believed the format to be inferior and said is not compatible with older versions of Office...''
(from URL=thi s ZDnet article)

Inferior? How?

Strongly reminiscent of Microsoft's excuse of why they never included proper CSS support in IE: CSS was, somehow, ``inferior''.

Inferior to Microsoft's proprietary software offerings, that is. ``Inferior'', to Microsoft, means:

  • Not Invented Here
  • We don't control it

Any other explaination by Microsoft is (IMHO) a lie.

I am strongly in favor of Massachusetts's adoption of this standard. I only hope that my home state (Illinois) will do the right thing and follow their lead.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Self-contradictory (as usual...)
Authored by: nickieh on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 01:16 PM EDT
MS' own back-compatibility is doubtful (can Office 2000 open an MS-XML doc?),
and MS was *ON* the OpenDocument committee. Are they saying they deliberately
recommended a shoddy format, or that they're too important to live up to it?
Which is it?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Correction. - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 06:57 PM EDT mocks MS response
Authored by: TheOldBear on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 01:16 PM EDT
The online comic is worth a look.
I'm surprised no one else has posted a link

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement
Authored by: pbx on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 01:22 PM EDT
Another amazing bit of FUD on this from a MS spokesperson quoted in the Boston Globe: "We do not believe . . . that the answer to public records management is to force a single, less functional document format on all state agencies."

Central control! State-mandated document formats! They're definitely only a couple steps away from calling it communism.

When I blogged it here my response was "whatever," but I like some of the more sophisticated dismissals above.


[ Reply to This | # ]

What if the Constitution was saved in .DOC?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 02:28 PM EDT
I applaud the Mass. decision.

What if the consitition were written in .DOC? That is hardly and open
government. Our founders wanted an open government, subject ti public oversight
and inspection. Locking government documents up behind for-pay software and DRM
would have surely drawn the ire of the founding fathers.

"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the
sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures." -
Declaration if Independence

Today we could tack on:
"He" has required us to use insecure, closed, expensive devices and
software to read our own laws.

Unless our government is willing to provide every person a PC, Windows, and MS
Word, then our government is not free, open and all men are not equal. For only
those with the money to afford such devices will be afforded the ability to
oversee and interact with the government. Surely the first step from
eliminating the poor from their government is through making intracting with the
government too cumbersome or expensive.

While it is impractical to demand that every governmental document be done or
paper, it can be that we can print the documents on completion. We can then
either distribute electronically or physically. While the physical method is the
historical way, for those afforded the ability to use the eletronic way (for
review, further distribution or manufacture) these electronic processes must
remain open so that independent and free distribution is still possible.

On the subject of public access libraries, such facilities are not available
24/7. I doubt the founders would have crafted our documents in public libraries
between the hours of 9 and 5, to share a computer and a copy of MS Word.

No free and open government of the people should subject its subjects to patents
or licensing to participate in the processes of governance.

[ Reply to This | # ]

McNealy’s Doomsday Weapon: Meet
Authored by: SilverWave on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 02:54 PM EDT

McNealy’s Doomsday Weapon: Meet

Scott McNealy and old Sun HATED Microsoft.

And although the theory has been advanced that the donation of OpenOffice to open source community was a practical matter, it’s hard to see that it was anything other than a spoiler.

The interesting part is that it was such an effective spoiler!

MS Office is a cash cow for Microsoft and if you wanted to hurt Microsoft this was the place to aim at.

I have to admit that Sun may have been better off, from a business point of view, just looking after their interests instead of conducting a war against Microsoft… but the result still stands.

When you look at this strategy it is breathtaking.

:: Sun did not have an office suite, so no harm to their business.

:: It was dual licensed, so they could make some money off StarOffice or at least include it as part of a bundle.

:: The open source community would help with development and even if Sun’s policy changed at some later date the code was free and could not be recalled. (McNealy’s Doomsday Weapon)

There has been a lot of talk about commoditising software and this is exactly what has happened here Sun has made a commodity out of Office suite software. Microsoft cannot be pleased!

How do you beat Free? (OpenOffice has a 10 -14% market share and aim for 50% )

Well you could try locking your users data to a propriety format, but as you see in pj’s post some customers may not be to happy about that!


“Historical background: StarDivision, the original author of the StarOffice suite of software, was founded in Germany in the mid-1980s. It was acquired by Sun Microsystems during the summer of 1999 and StarOffice 5.2 was released in June of 2000. Future versions of StarOffice software, beginning with 6.0, have been built using the source, APIs, file formats, and reference implementation. Sun continues to sponsor development on and is the primary contributor of code to CollabNet hosts the website infrastructure for development of the product and helps manage the project. “Link

“March 19, 2004 OpenOffice Market Share Nears 14.3%, Study Indicates” Link

Here is a link to the stats of downloads etc. Link

“Sometime in early April 2005 we passed 40 million downloads.”

“Reports by groups like IDC, Gartner, to name but two, suggest that can lay claim to a good percentage of the overall office suite market. We would guess it's close to 10 percent but we can't say for sure”

Hiser is nothing if not ambitious for his product. He says a “50% global office suite market share is a reasonable or natural minimum target market share objective, say, for the 10-year span.”

Sam Hiser, marketing lead for Link

Meet Sun's open-source ambassador: Link

Citizen Microsoft: Link

MS Office under siege : Link

Microsoft's Sacred Cash Cow: Link .

"They [each] put in one hour of work,
but because they share the end results
they get nine hours... for free"

Firstmonday 98 interview with Linus Torvalds

[ Reply to This | # ]

Due Diligence?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 03:23 PM EDT
Isn't it a matter of due diligence to ensure that company or state documents
remain recoverable for a long time? Surely, knowingly using a storage format
that might render your documents irrecoverable not technically but legally,
would amount to neglect of duty.

How would US corporate law view this aspect?

[ Reply to This | # ]

A (US) legal question
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 05:11 PM EDT
If a company patents a 'format' does that not mean they are patenting the method
by which that format is produced? Is it then likely that the method by which the
data is recovered again is unpatentable on the grounds that; as the method by
which the format is produced is public knowlege (being both published and
protected by the patent), the method required to recover the data is both
obvious and trivial.

In effect the company is trying to cover an obvious and trivial process by
tacking it on the end of an otherwise valid patent.

A non-software analogy: a company invents and patents a novel latch for use in
its own products. The patent describes the method required to close the latch
(push, twist-clockwise, pull) it also describes the method to open it (push,
twist-anticlockwise, pull). Can it now sue a servicing company for patent
infringement because they are opening the latches?


[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's biggest challenge : ETHICS
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 05:25 PM EDT
Microsoft's biggest challenges isn't OO. It's ethics. Don't take my word for
it, try the NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers). I doubt M$ has
any NSPE members.

Here are the 5 "fundamental canons" of engineering practice: see how
many you think M$ could claim to honor:

1) "Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public".
That one gets shot down straight away with this latest blast from M$.

2) "Perform services only in areas of professional competence". Yeah,
well, so much for that one too. Unless you count "professional virus and
worm enabler" as a title worth holding, though M$ is certainly
"competent" there.

3) "Issue only objective and truthful public statements". With a FUD
machine like they have? Gimme a break.

4) "Act professionally for each client as a faithful agent". Well,
unless Bill needs a new pair of boxers this week. Or a new jet. Or a new
house. Or a new island. Or .....

5) "Avoid deceptive employment solicitation acts". Oh, I'm sure Dr.
Lee will have something to say about this one.

NSPE reword these, but the results are no less devastating to Microsoft. Here
are the Eleven Professional Obligations of Engineers, from the NSPE code of
ethics (no comments this time, feel free to see if you can conjure up a way M$
can meet any of them though):

a) Be guided by the highest standards of integrity in all professional

b) Strive to serve the public interest at all times.

c) Avoid all conduct or practice which is likely to discredit the profession or
deceive the public.

d) Do not disclose confidential information regarding the business affairs or
technical processes of present or former clients without their consent.

e) Do not be influenced in professional duties by conflicts of interests.

f) Uphold the principle of appropriate and adequate compensation for those
engaged in engineering work.

g) Do not attempt to gain employment, or advancement or professional engagements
by untruthfully criticizing others or by other improper methods.

h) Do not attempt to injure maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the
professional reputation of others.

i) Accept responsibility for professional activities.

j) Give credit to those to whom credit is due, and recognize the proprietary
interests of others.

k) Cooperate in extending the effectiveness of the profession by exchanging
information and experiences with others, and provide opportunities for
professional development.

How about you? Most FOSS people I know try to do exactly these things, though
they may never have heard of NSPE. But I am completely unable to see how
Microsoft comes close to honoring even one single point from this list of
common-sense ethics statements.

Kinda makes ya wonder.....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Get the fork...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 05:55 PM EDT
Why doesn't MS just hang up a big sign that says:
    We don't get it
Because that's what it means when their guy says this:
    Again, I’m not expert, but the Microsoft license seems to say that you can use the Office XML specs to develop programs that can read and write Office XML files.

Hello? MS? I don't want to have to be an expert; I don't want to have to *ask* an expert; I don't want to have to *hire* an expert; I don't want to have to even wonder, if my documents are really mine or not.

Hey Bill, here's some free legal work for 'ya -- try this for a EULA:

    Whatever you create with this software product is your property. You can do whatever you like with it. We will never sue you or charge you to access or modify your own documents in whatever way, from whichever vendor, you see fit.
Sign that, Bill, and I might think about buying your software again.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 06:11 PM EDT
I wonder if it would be possible for citizens to sue local, state and the
federal government for not using open formats?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Check your facts...
Authored by: jpbakke on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 06:45 PM EDT
I feel the need to post a few problem issues with the initial post.

"Linux" (the system) per se is not under the GPL. "Linux"
(the system) is made up of a large heterogenous collection of programs. Most
under the license terms of GPL, others are under similar licenses, etc, but not

The Linux "Kernel" (which I assume you mean by the simple term of
"Linux"), or heart of the operating system is under the GPL version 2
license but to clarify questions, in the kernel license is an explicit statement
by Linus that he does not consider "user space" programs (i.e.
applications) are restricted by the kernel licensing. That means that companies
and people can develop closed-source applications that run on Linux without

But these applications have to link to the standard C/C++ runtime libraries on
Linux. In order to avoid the GPL restrictions (requirements if you don't like
that wording) the runtime libraries are under the LGPL license which allows
linking and use of the library without requiring your application to use a GPL
compatible license. Otherwise it would be pretty much impossible to create a
commercial non-GPL application that could even run on Linux. A significant
number of other core libraries are also published under the LGPL for this same

If Brian Jones is correct (and he may not be) that Microsoft has provided LGPL
libraries to access their document format, this would imply that an open-source
project (GPL or otherwise) could be written to manipulate and access the MS
Office file formats. Of course, this assumes that Microsoft hasn't twisted the
standard LGPL to their causes. And of course this assumes that Microsoft put
all of the necessarily features into their library to allow full functionality
when dealing with their documents via the library.

I'm an avid reader of this site and hate Microsoft as much as many developers
do, but I think its less than responsible of this site to run off on a rant
against a Microsoft employee who is trying to be open with the public. Not
everyone in Microsoft is completely brainwashed or a part of their PR machine.

To be clear, I am not, never have been, a do not expect to ever be a Microsoft
employee or contractor.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Hey! What About Gnumeric and AbiWord?
Authored by: rweiler on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 06:55 PM EDT
Are they supporting the OpenDocument Format, and if not, why not? How about

Sometimes the measured use of force is the only thing that keeps the world from
being ruled by force. -- G. W. Bush

[ Reply to This | # ]

Our product is superior, you should use it.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 07:20 PM EDT
That's what I haven't heard. Has Microsoft given any good reasons that their
format is actually better?

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement
Authored by: webster on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 08:17 PM EDT
M$ understands all of this stuff perfectly. There is nothing they do not
understand about it. They must beat this back or it will create competition and
jeopardize their monopoly.

If M$ were to adopt this standard or truly open up one of thier standards, it
would immediately be adopted by everyone with the assurance of eternal
compatibility with new versions of all office utility programs. Anyone would be
able to compete with M$ in providing programs that produced these formats. M$
would have to lower their price to compete or create great new features that
make a difference to most people.

So since M$ can't lock Massachusetrts in, they are going to lock them out. They
say they will not adopt the standard. They must destroy it by isolating
Massachusetts. If it does not catch on, they will still enjoy their monopoly in
the rest of the world.

They are spreading FUD and distortions on purpose. They know what they are
doing. The speakers know that they speak blatant lies, but they know most
people are windows users who don't care or understand and don't want to begin.

>>>>>>> LN 3.0 >>>>>>>>>

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MS' problem with OASIS formats?
Authored by: Dr.Dubious DDQ on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 09:24 PM EDT

So, let me see if I understand this...

  • Microsoft is a Member of the OASIS organization
  • Microsoft refused to participate in the standard development
  • After the standard was developed, then Microsoft came up with their own embraced-and-extended (and incompatible) version of the standard and called it "open"
  • Their excuse for not playing well with others in this case was, effectively..."Because nobody else wanted to specially tune the open, vendor-neutral file format to store MS Office 97 documents"????

Am I interpreting that correctly?...

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MS to MA: "We're bigger than you are"
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 10:22 PM EDT
Consider that Microsoft has more cash on hand ($36 Billion : reference) than the state government of Masachusetts spends in a year ($26 Billion : reference). And Microsoft will fight tooth and nail against this kind of precedent being set. If this is a fight that money can win, I would be betting on Microsoft to turn the decision around in an upcoming round. Maybe saying they will "buy votes" is too crude, but it isn't far out of their style to point out to legislators how many of their constituents' jobs depend crucially on MS patronage, or similar bully tactics.

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David Berlind weighs in
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 10:38 PM EDT
David Berlind thinks Microsoft is going to lose on this one: link

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Breaking the M$ Monopoly
Authored by: wtansill on Tuesday, September 06 2005 @ 11:49 PM EDT
About the time that the M$/DOJ antitrust suit was in full swing I mentioned over
on SlashDot that litigation in this case was the wrong way to go about fighting
MS. The way to break the MS monopoly is, as Mass. is showing, is to decree an
open standard, and then stick to it. If the federal, state and local
governments all decided to support an open standard, the M$ stranglehold would
(potentially) crumble. Not only would the various government offices use an
open format, but everyone wishing to do business with them would switch over as
well rather than attempting to maintain two different document formats.

This won't work in all cases, to be sure, but where there are mature, widely
supported standards available (TCP/IP vs. SNA, Ethernet vs. Token Ring, HTML
vs?), government is foolish to support a proprietary format instead absent a
very compeeling reason.

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MS response doesn't add up
Authored by: Syron on Wednesday, September 07 2005 @ 01:47 AM EDT
Just in case anyone missed this, Microsoft claims they increase compatibility by ignoring the OpenDocument format.

Recall the htt p:// article:

Alan Yates...told CRN last Friday that Office 12 would not support OpenDocument because "the Office 12 formats pay special attention to compatibility with older document versions, [and] other formats do not concern themselves with this important issue."

They keep trying, but it's not hard to see their real intentions. I can open Office documents in OpenOffice, but friends/coworkers can't open OpenOffice formats in Office and they want to make darned sure it stays that way. They correctly assume most people won't dump Office, so they force people away from competitors by not including support.

For example, suppose I had to turn in a paper for an assignment. I attend one of the largest universities in the United States, and to the best of my knowledge every computer lab relies on Office. There's no way I'd risk my grades by using formats most of my instructors don't know how to open. As great as OpenDocument format is, I can't risk using it. Fortunately there's also PDF.

I'd also like to point out that the only version of OpenOffice that supports OpenDocument format is still in beta. :-/

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Open Access - Digital Preservation and other good reasons not to use MS Office
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 07 2005 @ 05:28 AM EDT
I responded to the MS blog with some comments:

There are many institutions around the world, especially in the areas of
scientific endeavour, and in the Library community, doing much work long term
preservation of digital content - and they will only use fully OPEN standards.
All these people realise that you cant put some document into a long term
repository if it is .doc or .xls etc

However as I noted on Groklaw previously, a recent article in LinuxFormat or
LinuxUser & Developer (cant remember which) by an open source developer
lambasted the Open Document standard as verbose crap, and totaly unusable for
the individual concerned to develope XML for spreadsheets.

So not only do we need to work with Govts at levels - perhaps there is an
anti-trust issue with the MS stance somewhere ? but we also need to ensure the
OASIS body, which has also been criticised in the past, works with all
stakeholders to develope a good quality standard.

Just my two pennies worth from the UK


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MS Responds - What history teaches us.
Authored by: Ken.DiPietro on Wednesday, September 07 2005 @ 08:10 AM EDT
Many years ago there was an incredibly powerful company named Wang computer. In
fact, as memory serves, they were the dominant supplier of computers to law
offices among many other vertical markets.

At one time they were asked why they didn't design their computers to
communicate with everyone else. Their response was that it was up to the rest of
the industry to figure out how to communicate with their equipment.

I think we can all see how successful this position was - well, perhaps,
everyone except Microsoft.

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Opinion of an columnist...
Authored by: pointwood on Wednesday, September 07 2005 @ 08:16 AM EDT
This guy seriously don't get it:,1895,1855876,00.asp

"Part of the reason for this is that most businesses, including the state
of Massachusetts, already have a set of file formats that work just fine and
provide a migration path as technology changes. These are the Microsoft formats,
which may not be open but are so widely used that it's been many years since
I've run into someone who had trouble opening a Microsoft document.

And if WordPerfect and OpenOffice will also open Microsoft files, you can't say
the formats are closed very tightly. I'd make the case that Microsoft formats
are "open enough" for government work. Or anybody else's. Mr. Quinn,
of course, would disagree.

I find it hard to imagine that a set of files written in OpenDocument today will
be as easy to open in 20 years as files written in Microsoft data formats. I'd
be surprised if there were an OpenDocument format in two decades, unless it
gains Microsoft's support."

There're a nice conspiracy theory in there as well, so I recommend reading it
all if you want to read something amusing :)


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Authored by: Matt C on Wednesday, September 07 2005 @ 09:21 AM EDT
"having to search with google" .. kind of a pot shot there?

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MS Responds to MA/OpenDocument Announcement
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 09 2005 @ 12:48 AM EDT
Microsoft is so full of it. they want nothing but to lock people into their
crap software. now they are going to lock people in with iptv and their
wonderful codecs and drm whenever they can.

why can't fricken people see this - they are out to lock people in to their
standards pure and simple and they will do anything to keep people from
competing with their lockin. i.e. patents, drm in iptv, drm in their codecs.

they are just so full of it they are just talking out of their backside.

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