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Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
Monday, October 03 2005 @ 09:56 PM EDT

Microsoft's Brian Jones continues FUD, FUD, FUDing about OpenDocument format and Massachusetts on his blog. There is a new wrinkle I'll tell you about. But my theme for today is: why can't Microsoft get its FUD into the 21st century?

First, for some reasons why OpenDocument format is so appealing to governments, and a bit on why Microsoft's just announced support for PDF in Office 12 won't be enough to qualify for inclusion under the Massachusetts Open Format requirement, even if that turns out to have been Microsoft's hidden agenda, here's an article by David Wheeler, "Why OpenDocument Won (and Microsoft Office Open XML Didnít)". Here are just three paragraphs:

Microsoft is predictably howling about this news, saying they are a ďbit stunnedĒ and that the results were ďunnecessarily exclusiveĒ. Microsoft better be prepared to be more stunned. Government officials in Massachusetts, Europe, and elsewhere, have been repeatedly telling Microsoft to stop posturing and actually meet their customersí needs for complete interoperability, with no restrictions. Yet Microsoft has steadfastly refused to meet their customersí needs, and theyíve done it so long that customers have abandoned their format. (Microsoft says they're open, but people who have independently evaluated the situation have determined that it's not true.) I suspect Massachusetts is only the first of many; governments around the world are working out their standards, preparing for the leap to XML-based office formats. The rest of industry is likely to follow suit, because they have many of the same needs and desires for long-lived documents and competitive suppliers. The best information available suggests that everyone is switching to OpenDocument, for all the same reasons, leaving Microsoft with a proprietary format no one wants to use. . . .

Microsoft has historically changed direction when it needed to embrace a standard, and they can easily do it in this case. For example, around 1995 it suddenly and finally embraced the Internet standards, dropping its own networking standards that no one wanted. I think (and hope) that good sense will prevail on Microsoft in this case too -- in other words, that theyíll embrace OpenDocument and continue to sell products. If you can only read one other piece on this topic, take a look at ZDNet's "Microsoft must drop its Office politics", which is a good article. ZDNet concludes "Microsoft has a very simple path open to it ... include OpenDocument compatibility in its software. ... it either adopts the industry standard or gets locked out. It may not like this -- it prefers to use this logic to cow its competitors -- but it should have no reason to avoid a level playing field." . . .

In many ways this decision was fairly obvious. OpenDocument appears, at this point, to be the way to go, with no realistic alternative, for any government. The only real contenders were:

1. Microsoft Office binary format, the current common interchange format. But this is being abandoned by Microsoft, fails to exploit the newer XML technologies (thus giving up their advantages), and because itís undocumented itís causing continuous information loss. Just try to read Office documents from 10 years ago -- youíll often fail. Now remember that governments need them in future centuries. Theyíre not meeting the need, so an alternative is needed.

2. Going with Microsoft Office XML, which as shown below, doesnít meet government minimum requirements such as allowing any supplier to implement it. And implementations arenít even available yet, though at this point that probably doesnít matter any more.

3. OpenDocument, the only official standard. Itís already implemented by multiple vendors (including some at no cost), and itís the only one that really meets government needs... and with a massive lead time to boot.

Other formats arenít really competitive. PDF is a very useful display format, but it has a different purpose -- while itís great at preserving formatting, it doesnít let you edit the data meaningfully. HTML is great for web pages, or short documents, but itís just not capable enough for these kinds of tasks. And so on. Both HTML and PDF will continue to be used, but they cannot be used as a complete replacement; people need what OpenDocument (or its Microsoft competitor) provides.

So, as he says, it looks like Microsoft gambled and lost. And supporting PDF won't save them. PDF is good, but it's good for documents that are read-only. It provides a way to save documents, like court documents, for example, that preserves the original look of the document perfectly. But if you want to edit the document, maybe by multiple people, which is typical for a government, PDF doesn't cut it for you. Microsoft is also only supporting PDF one way. You can save as PDF, but you won't be able to open in Office 12. Jones explains in a comment:

In response to the questions around what level of support there will be, I'll first say that the functionality is for the "publish" scenario. We will not support opening the PDF files, just generating them. I understand that two-way support would be even better, but the majority of the requests we got was for the ability to publish, and folks weren't as concerned about opening them.

So, what does this mean? To me it says Microsoft still needs to support the OpenDocument format to be considered for future implementation by Massachusetts. There's no workaround that I can see. They may think they've found a crack in the Massachusetts edifice. Jones hints as much:

The PDF support will be built into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, OneNote, Visio, and InfoPath! I love how well this new functionality will work in combination with the new Open XML formats in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. We've really heard the feedback that sharing documents across multiple platforms and long term archiving are really important. People now have a couple options here, with the existing support for HTML and RTF, and now the new support for Open XML formats and PDF!

That fairly screams, "Let us in!" But here is the problem. Instead of walking through the front door, they are trying to slip in the back door. Their "Open" XML format is still a patent-encumbered proprietary format that GPL'd software can't use, so what difference will it make that Office 12 will be able to save as PDF? Also, exactly what does Microsoft mean by PDF? And if they have "really heard the feedback", why refuse to just support OpenDocument? That is what I've been hearing folks clamor for.

You know why? Because they are still stuck in 20th century thinking. They still gravitate to tricks and spin. You know, the good old days, when the competition would stand still to be knocked out by the big bully, Microsoft, and their anticompetitive tricks worked. They haven't yet upgraded to the new world.

Jones says the decision to support PDFs is due to strong customer demand. He also tells us and asks us to believe that all customers seem to be asking for is to be able to *save* documents in PDF. No one much wants to be able to open them, according to his account.

So, call me cynical, but might Microsoft want to make sure everyone has to buy their Office product in order to open documents saved in "their" version of PDF? You think? And if Microsoft responds to customer demand, why refuse to respond to the obvious demand to support OpenDocument format? If you wish to read Jones' list of reasons why Microsoft won't, so far, do so, here you go. The ZDNET article Wheeler references sums up Microsoft's reasons like this:

These boil down to 'we do more than you can and you'll never catch up, so why should we let you try?', which either shows a stunning lack of appreciation of how open standards work in the real world, or visceral fear caused by understanding this all too well.

Still stuck mentally in the good old days, when brute force was enough, Microsoft suddenly finds itself up against a wall, in a new situation but trying to cope with a skill set that is no longer effective. It's change or become irrelevant. Why can't they see it? For the same reason they didn't understand the Internet until it was almost too late for them. Microsoft sees the world as a map of which Redmond is the center. If it isn't happening at Microsoft, it can't possibly matter. That is their mindset. Success, particularly financial success, can do that to you. But FOSS doesn't play by Microsoft's rules nor can it be killed off by MS's old game plan. Microsoft's dilemma is that it wants to appear open without actually *being* open. It imagined we were such dopes, we'd never even notice the difference.

We do notice. You probably saw the classic FUD from James Prendergast, "Massachusetts Should Close Down Open Document," which I earlier wrote about. I love that crazy title, I must say, because it strikes my funny bone that Prendergast, and moneybags Microsoft peeking over his shoulder, doesn't know that you can't "close down" a standard. OpenDocument format is an OASIS standard, and no one can close it down. It may develop and morph along over time, but Massachusetts lacks the power to close it down. So does Microsoft.

Fox News has now published a notice informing its readers of James Prendergast's affiliation with Microsoft, and Fox acknowledges it "should have been stated clearly in the article" that ran on September 28. Fox has also disclosed the affiliation at the end of the original article. Additionally, Fox says it is compiling the best responses that it received to publish a rebuttal. Did it do that because it woke up wanting to do right, or was it because it got letters, polite, fact-filled letters, that clued them in that a lot of people saw through the game?

Yes. It's a metaphor, the Prendergast-Fox episode. It's a metaphor for Microsoft's 20th century FUD. I am reminded of something I believe John Kennedy said, after he became president, that he was surprised at how many things a president *can't* do and *can't* make happen in a democracy. It's the same with Microsoft. There are some things that money simply can't buy and influence on high can't arrange, because people get in the way. You know, people. As in democracy? As in the Internet? As in bloggers, for example.

See what I mean about Microsoft's old-fashioned FUD? It just falls flat, or its pants fall down. Is that the outcome Microsoft was hoping for? To be tactful, I'll call it classic FUD. But it's clear this company has not yet grasped that the Internet makes it impossible to control the media any more, or the message, because people don't get their news and information just from Fox and equivalent news sources any more. In fact, as this episode illustrates, it can happen that the reader knows a great deal more than the media and instructs them. Heaven knows there has been tremendous effort put into trying to control the media, so as to spin the news in the direction various groups think is in their best interests. But us plain folks, the people, just said, "P.U. I am fed up with spin. Let me see if I can find a blog somewhere to tell me the real story, the plain facts. Then, I'll go to Google and see if I can find any other original source materials, so I can figure out the truth myself." People are sick of controlled media, no doubt about it, and that is part of what is fueling interest in blogs. Folks were just starving for reliable information, and they are even willing to listen to someone with a personal point of view, so long as they know what it is up front, and they can check all the facts for accuracy.

The classic media method is to have a bias, but try to hide it from readers. The Prendergast matter is a good example of that style. Microsoft's "Get the Facts" Department of Silly Studies is another. It's all so 20th century over. Why? Because in the Internet age, you will always get caught when you spin. Always. We have Google to thank for that, in part, actually, if you stop and think about it, which is why I believe they should be given a special pass from Congress to collect the world's books to make them searchable. It's too wonderful a project to allow a few copyright holders to shut down something as truly valuable to the world as Google Print Library. I don't think the courts will rule in favor of the Author's Guild anyway, for reasons I explain in my article on LWN (sub reqd), but you never know for sure, so the obvious solution is for Congress to categorize Google Print Library as a library, with the special rights that libraries enjoy under copyright law. They are a library. They are a library in the digital age. It's time to reflect in the law what a digital library needs to function.

Sun Steps Up to the Plate and Hits a Home Run

But back to the 20th-century thinking of Microsoft, as reflected in their FUD. Microsoft's Brian Jones tried to do a little classic FUD about Sun Microsystems, as part of his useless but never-ending PR campaign against Massachusetts' decision to require OpenDocument format. And he ended up caught with his pants down, of course. What did he expect? Microsoft's problem is that it imagines all of its employees are the brightest and the best, so if they spin, we won't notice being spun. And it hasn't faced a bitter pill: people don't trust Microsoft to tell the truth any more. Here's one reason why, something Jones wrote on September 22:

While weíre on this topic, I think itís important that you all take a look at the comparable situation with Open Document. A lot of folks just seem to assume that since itís a standard, there are no IP issues and everything is very straightforward. Well, take a look at this: http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/office/ipr.php Sun seems to be saying that it may have IP in the Open Document spec. While Sun says it is willing to provide a royalty-free license, one would still need to ask Sun for a license. The license is not posted. It would be interesting to see, and I'll probably try to see if I can find it. The statement on the site alone reveals that at a minimum, they have at least one condition Ė you have to give Sun a reciprocal license.

I try to keep an open mind, so I read the statement, and all I saw was the standard OASIS language of the day, 2002:

Statement regarding IPR, submitted by Sun Microsystems, 11 December 2002 Sun Microsystems, Inc. ("Sun") will offer a Royalty-Free License under its Essential Claims for the OpenOffice.org XML File Format Specification. One precondition of any such license granted to a party ("licensee") shall be the licensee's agreement to grant reciprocal Royalty-Free Licenses under its Essential Claims to Sun and other implementers of such specification. Sun expressly reserves all other rights it may have.

The definitions of "Essential Claims" and "Royalty-Free License" in effect for the foregoing statement are those found in the W3C Patent Policy Framework dated 16 August 2001, located at http://www.w3.org/TR/2001/WD-patent-policy-20010816/.

That doesn't say what Jones said it does. Not by a mile. Yet Jones followed up with more FUD on September 23:

2. The OpenDocument format has IP and needs to be licensed from Sun.

Dennis points out the following in his comment:

Thanks for pointing out that Sun has a patent license agreement that applies to the OOo format.

Actually, because of the Sun reciprocity requirement (although the Sun OASIS notice is pretty muddled and mixed up with the W3C approach in an ambiguous way), I think that would be a tough pill for Microsoft to swallow in supporting OOo directly in Microsoft Office. The Microsoft royalty-free license seems more straightforward in that regard.

It is true that there is a license behind the OpenDocument format that no one has really talked about. This link says it all: http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/office/ipr.php. Have many folks explored what is behind this license and how compatible it is with existing licenses including the GPL? IBM also seems to be pushing Open Document as part of an pattern it has followed in which they use the open source community to drive its corporate agenda. What is IBM's position on IP rights?

The link says it all, all right. It says Jones is spinning, if you know how to read it. Perhaps Jones was hoping no one could. But as you can see from the comments, few were fooled. It probably helped that Sun's Simon Phipps placed this comment:

Sun is not asserting it has IP, your reading is wrong
Tuesday, September 27, 2005 7:27 PM by Simon Phipps
I respond to your comments about Sun's alleged IP here: http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/webmink?entry=fud_and_the_lost_argument

To summarise: the statement at OASIS does not indicate that Sun is asserting IP. It dates from before OASIS had a royalty free IP policy and it merely indicates that if Sun /did/ find it had IP it would license it royalty free, in the way that's generally accepted by companies engaging in standards bodies. Your headline assertion number 2 is thus dead wrong.

And it's insulting. Only a person who has not participated in, or has no interest in, or does not know the first thing about, or is trying to deceive others about, open standards can imagine that in this day and age, after two years of participating in an open standards development process, bringing a specification all the way to an accepted Standard, a company can in fact say "hey, we never disclosed this but wouldn't you know... we do have essential claims and now you have to get a license from us!".

To do so would be deeply dishonourable, and your implication that Sun's staff would do this is an insult.

Dishonorable conduct is not unthinkable from corporations. Microsoft already taught us that lesson, sadly, which is why Brian Jones' reassuring words don't reassure his readers, but the explanation is accurate to my reading as to what the wording means. But then Sun did something truly commendable. They sent a new statement to OASIS, which not only proves Mr. Jones to be inaccurate in what he was claiming about the old one, but clears the air thoroughly, and for this they should be commended. Here is the Sun statement that appears now on OASIS:

Sun OpenDocument Patent Statement, submitted by Sun Microsystems, Inc., September 29, 2005

Sun irrevocably covenants that, subject solely to the reciprocity requirement described below, it will not seek to enforce any of its enforceable U.S. or foreign patents against any implementation of the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 Specification, or of any subsequent version thereof ("OpenDocument Implementation") in which development Sun participates to the point of incurring an obligation, as defined by the rules of OASIS, to grant (or commit to grant) patent licenses or make equivalent non-assertion covenants. Notwithstanding the commitment above, Sun's covenant shall not apply and Sun makes no assurance, covenant or commitment not to assert or enforce any or all of its patent rights against any individual, corporation or other entity that asserts, threatens or seeks at any time to enforce its own or another party's U.S. or foreign patents or patent rights against any OpenDocument Implementation.

This statement is not an assurance either (i) that any of Sun's issued patents cover an OpenDocument Implementation or are enforceable, or (ii) that an OpenDocument Implementation would not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third party.

No other rights except those expressly stated in this Patent Statement shall be deemed granted, waived, or received by implication, or estoppel, or otherwise.

Similarly, nothing in this statement is intended to relieve Sun of its obligations, if any, under the applicable rules of OASIS.

I read it and saw that they are absolutely not claiming any license requirements such as Jones pretended to see in the original wording, and I see clearly that there is no requirement to contact Sun to seek a license to use OpenDocument. It's a clear promise not to asserts patents at all on any implementation of the OpenDocumentFormat Sun participates in developing. Period. If you bring a patent infringement action over the OpenDocument Implementation, then Sun's promise ... well, as they say in New York, just fuggeddaboudit. It's universal, covering any enforceable patent, not just "Essential Claims." It's an excellent example of the defensive use of patents. It's a fine and complete answer to the Microsoft FUD. Thanks to Sun, we can be sure that OpenDocument format is unencumbered, and in a way that Microsoft can't match, or at least has not matched. I'd love to see Microsoft match this promise on its "Open" XML, wouldn't you? For that matter, I'd be happy if every corporation would follow this Sun template. It is FOSS friendly, there are no worries about sublicensing, and to sum up, it's a green light to develop software on the OpenDocument OASIS Standard. What's not to like? I have looked and looked, and I see no down side.

You know how you can tell the difference between a real blog and a corporate blog? Both will be wrong sometimes. Just like all media outlets, blogs make mistakes sometimes, because mere humans write them. But a true blogger tells you about the mistakes openly and honestly. On a corporate blog, it's more likely to be silence. I haven't seen Brian Jones acknowledge this Sun statement on his blog, or publish a correction to the entries that made the false accusation about OpenDocument being encumbered with Sun IP. So, we'll wait and see whether Mr. Jones acknowledges that he was flat out stone cold wrong or if there is continued silence. So far, not a word about Sun's statement can I find on Brian Jones' blog. Do you really think it's because he doesn't know about it?

I saved the worst for last. Jones on Massachusetts and why he thinks it went the way it did:

Massachusetts is obviously an interesting case and our competitors are having a lot of fun trying to turn this into a bigger story, but from what I've heard, I think some officials at the State were duped. There is no question that this licensing stuff can be really confusing. Just a few months ago, a government official from Massachusetts took a hard look at the Office XML program and publicly stated that his office found it to be "open" and fully consistent with the State's policies. Look here: (http://www.governmentciosummit.ca/GovernmentCIOLeadershipSummit page 23). For the most part, that announcement sort of inspired a yawn around here because our program had already been out for a year and had received a lot of good feedback from other governments. What happened after that? Well, the guy was deluged by lobbyists and influencers who told him that was a bad decision. People told him that the licenses were full of ghosts and scary shadows and bogeymen who would be bad for Massachusetts. It was tough to resist this line of argument because IBM/Lotus and Sun have a big presence in his State. The official himself had also been the CEO of an open source company just before taking office. So, just before he left office (yes, he just took off), he fired off his shot gun with this new policy while running out the door without really thinking through all the implications. Starting to get a picture of what happened? It's actually even a bit uglier that than, but I won't bore you with the details.

Anyway, that's life and we're going to work through the issue. We're already taking an open approach, so we are fundamentally supporting the vision of governments that are interested in open formats. There are also a bunch of smart people in Massachusetts who are trying to do the right thing and we want to work with them in a constructive way. That's our plan.

Could he get more insulting? The government of Massachusetts got confused about licenses, because licenses are over their heads? Is he joking? You heard the meeting. Did the Massachusetts lawyer sound confused? Did Eric Kriss? Did any of them? And they got duped by evil "lobbyists and influencers" who deluged them with ghost stories and tall tales? Microsoft? Complaining about lobbyists? Puh-lease. Lobby is Microsoft's middle name. And anyway, even if it were true that Massachusetts was deluged with comments from the public, isn't the government supposed to listen and respond to such comments? Just as Microsoft's spokesman, in the same breath, tells us that Microsoft gave in to public requests and will now support PDF format, he criticizes the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for doing the same thing, listening to its "customers," its constituents. And the next insult is that Kriss used to be the CEO of an Open Source company, so he just flipped the switch on his way out the door without really thinking. Notice Jones doesn't mention Kriss' name? I think it's probably to protect Jones from being sued.

It's Microsoft to a T. They do not hesitate to try to destroy reputations, with the same insouciance that they display when trying to destroy competing companies. And that, at the very bottom of it all, is Microsoft's fundamental problem. It suffers from a lack of public trust. That is because we have all watched its ethics on display. It is like the famous T shirt says, "Open Source. It's the difference between trust and antitrust."

Linux will continue to grow, and open formats and standards will continue to be adopted in part because we don't trust Microsoft. FOSS will win because of its values. It represents ethics, values. One thing Stallman was right about from the beginning: it's not just about better code, as important as that is. It's about better values, higher ethics. What businessman wouldn't want to do a deal with someone he knows he can trust to say what he means and to mean what he says? It is the one thing Microsoft can't compete against, no matter what it tries from its play book. In fact, every dirty trick it tries will simply reinforce the impression that Microsoft doesn't offer the trust level you find in Free and Open Source software. And that is why, unless Microsoft picks up on the ethics of FOSS, instead of just pretending to be "open", it is ultimately going the way of the dodo bird.


  


Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing | 316 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections, if any
Authored by: chaz_paw on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 09:59 PM EDT
To help PJ

---
Proud SuSE user since 07/26/04

Charles

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT stuff here [N/T]
Authored by: fLameDogg on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:10 PM EDT
.

---
fD

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
Authored by: mossc on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:16 PM EDT
The issue of trusts reminds me of one of my favorite tshirts from VALinux.

"Open Source - the difference between trust and antitrust"


[ Reply to This | # ]

Good on Sun
Authored by: fLameDogg on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:17 PM EDT
It's only in their own best interest, of course, as it is mine; helping to
ensure that the world's vital information isn't locked into a proprietary
format. (I would add, especially in the case of a Microsoft format.) Still,
I'm happy to say good for Sun in this case.

---
fD

[ Reply to This | # ]

At one time MS defined "open" ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:24 PM EDT

... in an article (years ago in, as I recall, Digital Review when it was still newspaper-sized [1]) as being able to buy a PC from a number of different hardware vendors and run Windows on it. If memory serves, the person quoted in the article was none other than Bill Gates. So I'm not surprised to find that Microsoft has a rather distorted view of what constitutes an open system, open standard, or open anything for that matter. It comes from the top.


[1] -- That was before they went all glossy-paged and largely content-free. Which was just before it disappeared. There... I've gone and admitted that I'm an old timer.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:33 PM EDT
There are also a bunch of smart people in
Massachusetts...
And the insinuation is??

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wouldn't you love
Authored by: chaz_paw on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:41 PM EDT
to be a fly on the wall at MSLand? Nothing works anymore. :-)

What happened to SCO- "The Light of Day brought to you by Groklaw'- has
happened to Microsoft. PJ, you are very right about the internet changing how
people get and exchange information.

Personally, I can't see MS changing; but if they don't they are history. I think
"Vista" will be a very large flop- think Microsoft Bob!

I can never be a true geek like brook, but I am Windows free, and I do have SuSE
10.0 pre-ordered.

FUD is bad.
Life is good.

---
Proud SuSE user since 07/26/04

Charles

[ Reply to This | # ]

So now MSO will write PDFs... when will they *read* them?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:42 PM EDT
KOffice reads and edits many PDFs, as do a steadily increasing number of other office suites. We have the official word above that MS Office 12 won't read PDFs.

So... what did Microsoft keep saying about Open Source when it first hit their radar? Something about tail-lights?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google should not get a copyright exemption
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:46 PM EDT
See today's press on the Yahoo, UC, etc. opencontentalliance-dot-com. Google
Print books will not be available to other search engines. Requiring authors to

opt-out is overreaching. Fair use does not include making complete copies of
books, even if only "snippets" are displayed. Google is not planning
on sharing
ad revenue with authors.

Regards,

Mark Wilson

[ Reply to This | # ]

Phipps must not have a good memory...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:51 PM EDT

... to write:

``Only a person who has not participated in, or has no interest in, or does not know the first thing about, or is trying to deceive others about, open standards can imagine that in this day and age, after two years of participating in an open standards development process, bringing a specification all the way to an accepted Standard, a company can in fact say "hey, we never disclosed this but wouldn't you know... we do have essential claims and now you have to get a license from us!".''

He apparently forgot all about the Rambus fracas from a few years ago. A classic submarine patent stunt if there ever was one. Perhaps ``this day and age'' began after that case faded from the technical world's collective memory. In this limited case, I'm willing to cut Microsoft's people a little bit of slack if they suspect a little sly slipping into a standard of a company's IP to garner some future licensing fees. But that's not enough to outweigh the overall tone of this buy's blog postings. He hasn't just been drinking the Microsoft kool-aid, he's sloppy drunk on it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
Authored by: jplatt39 on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:54 PM EDT
Very interesting. I do have some concerns about your comment that "the Internet makes it impossible to control the media any more" and your persistent references to Microsoft as "20th Century". First have you read The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction? Don't be put off that it's Marxist: when I was a young man he was being recognized as prescient, and Illuminations where I read it first was introduced by Hannah Arendt.

The media was uncontrollable long before the internet showed up: in fact, even those of us who are progressive may sometimes wish it were less so, but the truth is before there were computers there were mimeo machines and microphones and even typewriters and carbon paper (especially in the eastern bloc). I have just discovered independent radio around here on a more organized basis than I had before, and I'm so glad it's not extinct. I have to question whether computers have changed much.

I also have to question whether this FUD was ever respectable in the twentieth century. I remember some World War I vets, of mostly conservative views, who were very suspicious of big corporations. We lived at the end of it and missed such episodes as the suppression of the wobblies, the Sacco and Vanzetti affair, and of course the depression. It's only in this century I'm hearing defenses from otherwise intelligent people of the concentration of the media in a few large corporate hands as "free speech" (it was Trust building where I grew up) or this Microsoft stuff. Just thought I had to say that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Brian Jones invites us to comment
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:57 PM EDT
He ends by stating
Also please tell me about your experience if you do have converters that you built for Office 2003 XML and how we can make things easier to build.
Taking him at his word - here is my wishlist.
  • Licensing any patent interest that Microsoft may have on the same terms that Sun has just done with ODF. That way those building converters can do so without fearing a patent infringement suit.
  • Removing the blatent `GPL killer' terms from licensing for the format. That way those who wish to build a document converter into a GPL application can do so.
  • Fully documenting ALL features of the format accurately and publishing this in up to date form on the internet. So that those building a converter can be confident that they have access to all neccessary information and that hidden and undocumented features will not break their applications.
  • A guarantee that all future changes and extensions to the format will continue to be be fully and publicly documented. That way those building a converter can be confident that changes cannot be made which will break their applications in future.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

  • Signs of MS ==> Dodoland
    Authored by: WhiteFang on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 11:12 PM EDT
    Signs that Microsoft is heading the way of the DoDo.

    1} Trust and Microsoft just doesn't go together. I recall the first time I got
    really angry with Microsoft was reading the emails which came out during the DoJ
    trial. My senses of 'fair play', 'honesty', 'professional ethics' all felt
    violated. People aren't stupid forever. Burn / hurt people and your customers
    enough, and people will simply stop doing business with you.

    2} Before, I used to think MS was simply did stupid things. I still think MS
    does incredibly stupid technical things, but many times they aren't mistakes.
    They are deliberate. Not supporting OpenDocument is one of them.

    3} Look at the programming model the company followed until very recently. And
    to use the Wall Street Journal to spin the change to a new developement model as
    a plus while convieniently ignoring 20plus years of incredibly bad development
    policy in beyond ballsey. Telling us that they've switched to a new programming
    model is supposed to make us feel better? What it really says is that all
    current Microsoft products are, under the 'hood', nothing but bug-ridden total
    crap.

    4} Vista will fail for several reasons. I believe one of the primary reasons
    will be it's simply too expensive. People & corporations will need too much
    in the way of new hardware to upgrade. In the real world, I expect most SMEs if
    not nearly all of them to hang onto their old equipment until it dies rather
    than upgrade. Even large corporations will find the hardware and software
    upgrade to be painful.

    ad infinitum.

    Will MS change? No. Any change which requires modification to corporate behavior
    will simply be resisted till MS is dead.

    That's my considered opinion. YMMV. All the usual displaimers apply.

    ---
    emerge addict since Gentoo version 1.2, 2002.
    warning: value of "Trust Microsoft" always fails.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Modest opinion
    Authored by: bbaston on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 11:21 PM EDT
    From one Groklawyer* to another, I believe that Bill Gates himself has told Steve Ballmer to tow the line on XML from here to eternity. Still, Microsoft will cave with support for real and unencumbered XML.

    Why am I so sure? I remember the early Internet battles when Microsoft caved, and the opposition wasn't nearly as empowered as it is today. If Ballmer remains at Microsoft thereafter (post XML fiasco), take my modest opinion as a little less modest.

    * Groklawian perhaps, but Groklawyer is what PJ has trained us to be.

    ---
    Ben
    IMBW, IANAL2, IMHO, IAVO
    imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold
    Have you donated to Groklaw this month? See bio for Copyright.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Sun v. Microsoft
    Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 11:34 PM EDT
    Sun is a confusing, entertaining, arrogant, contradictory company, which usually
    gets it wrong first but then gets it right later, often to their financial
    detriment.

    Given the criticism they got for an number of their recent past decisions
    including OpenSolaris, their "open sources" license and the decision
    to license something from SCOG. I am happy to see PJ acknowledge that the
    sometimes they get things right.

    I have long believed that Sun would eventually get it right. I am hopeful the
    future will show more positive things from Sun.

    ---
    Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

    "I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
    Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
    Authored by: dmarker on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 12:18 AM EDT

    I can recall only too well the virulent attacks by MS on Sun when Java was being
    introduced. One constant attack theme was Java being interpreted & runs
    slow. This attack was mounted by the same company that ran interpreted Basic on
    8086 & 20x86 based PCs - and ran well enough to build an empire on back when
    clock speeds for these chips were under 66mhz.

    At the same time MS was attacking Java with specific attack themes, Gates &
    crew were working on their own interpreted VM based languages. Gates well
    understood the value of VM based application languages in a future SOA world. He
    also understands that without a VM based set of app languages that MS could miss
    out on the future GRID opportunity that is designed to allow application load
    balancing across heterogeneous hardware architectures especially as gigabyte
    networks evolve. We have heard that MS is building GRID enablement into
    Windows.

    I long ago concluded that when MS attacks are most virulent, the target is
    probably by far the better design/direction. MS often hide their
    intentions/weaknesses with raucous public attacks. MS criticism of the
    Massachusetts decision appears to follow this pattern.

    Cheers
    Doug M

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    exbrace extend extinguish.
    Authored by: Franki on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 12:20 AM EDT
    What is to stop MS from just offering opendoc in office, and then just doing
    their usual embrace extend extinguish thing and butcher their own version of
    the standard and add all sorts of non open "features" ? They have
    after all done that many times before.

    Eventually people would get used to these additions and they would only be
    available on the MS version.

    just revisiting history.

    rgds

    franki

    ---
    Is M$ behind Linux attacks?
    http://htmlfixit.com/index.php?p=86

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS logic faulty - They already support other formats
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 12:36 AM EDT
    If MS says they won't support OpenDocument because it doesn't support all the
    features that MS XML supports, then why do the support other formats?

    I remember my boss saying that he got MS Office with his new laptop and because
    no one else (200+ people) couldn't read his documents, everyone else had to
    switch. I loved WordPerfect but I was forced to switch. MS purposefully chose
    to make their formats incompatiable and did a poor job of reading / writing WP
    formats. Did you know that you could buy a book from WordPerfect for ~$20 that
    contained the WP format?

    MS had no excuse not to get it right. It was obviously the same tactics they
    are using here.

    When WP was more popular, Word supported their formats. When Word went GUI
    first and started gaining market share (plus the "free" Office on
    laptops), they started making the format incompatiable to cause people to
    abandon the "lesser" product.

    Just as I can buy any car I want and share the road with other cars, I should be
    able to choose my word processor and share my documents with other word
    processors.

    Don't get me wrong, I think Word is a good (not great) word processor. For the
    most part, I don't mind using it but I always want to have a choice.

    JamieR

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I have said it before, I will say it again.
    Authored by: Mecha on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 01:02 AM EDT
    Sun Microsystems is playing both sides to their advantage. Sun would be very
    happy with both Microsoft and Linux gone from the equation. In order for that
    to happen they need to pick and choose their battles. At times they need to go
    against Microsoft (i.e. OpenDocument), other times they need to partner with
    Microsoft and go against linux(i.e. helping fund SCO indirectly). To Sun's
    credit I think they are doing a very good job. Do I like that at times they are
    not very FOSS friendly? Nope. Their support of and for OpenDocument will no
    doubt provide them with more orders of StarOffice because it should help level
    the playing field.

    ---
    ************************************************************

    I am not clever enough to write a good signature. So this will have to do.

    *****************

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    "It's Microsoft to a T."
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 01:06 AM EDT
    This is totally offtopic, but "It's Microsoft to a T." made me think... the last letter of "Microsoft" is a "t," so "It's Microsoft to the T." fits really well... i.e. it's Microsoft right through, from beginning to end.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
    Authored by: rp$eeley on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 01:13 AM EDT
    Thanks very much, PJ. It really makes for some enlightening reading. Given MS's
    history, it makes one wonder about their eventual demise. Will they go down for
    the last time while still wearing their black hat? Or will they go down for the
    last time immediately after switching to a white hat? Only time will tell, I
    guess.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Watch out for the end play...
    Authored by: paul_cooke on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 01:51 AM EDT
    Microsoft will just render it all irrellevant by having WIPO adopt Microsoft's
    "Open XML" as the standard document interchange format for
    intergovernment communication and trade between companies. They've got enough
    friends up at that level to be able to pull it off.

    ---
    Use Linux - Computer power for the people: Down with cybercrud...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Sorry to disagree with you PJ...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 02:00 AM EDT
    ...'And that is why, unless Microsoft picks up on the ethics ... FOSS, instead
    of just pretending to be "open", it is ultimately [is] going the way
    of the dodo bird.'

    I hope that is exactly what happens.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Nice Troll - Authored by: mondo on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 11:11 AM EDT
    Other governments want open standards
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 02:06 AM EDT
    Over on the Lamlaw site, Lewis is looking for individuals to support an
    initiative to lobby state governments to adopt open standards (following Mass.
    lead). Visit his site if you are interested in working on the initiative.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
    Authored by: Zarkov on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 02:26 AM EDT
    [i]...You know why? Because they are still stuck in 20th century thinking....
    [/]

    It strikes me that M$'s thinking became entrenched by the very thing
    that made them successful.... Being first to market with a commoditised
    computing porduct for the masses...

    Back in the mid eighties and early
    nineties, very few people knew how to install and configure a PC, in fact very
    few ever got their hands on one. M$ were able to put the shrink wrap out
    there and expect people to buy it because there was nothing else that wasat the
    technical level that the user base of the day could fathom.

    Now however,
    children are raised to a level of technical competence from primary school, what
    was once the domain of the UberGeek is now mainstream ho-hum. Microsoft have
    failed to grasp the impact of the maturing of the technical competence of thier
    market.

    These days the average teenage kid can rebuild a PC on a Saturday
    morning and have it running on-line games in the afternoon. And when they do,
    they are likely to want to be able to configure it to maximum performance for
    their particular purpose.

    By sticking to their rigid 'one size fits all - let
    us tell you what is good for you and you'll pay till it hurts', attitude M$
    has allowed itself to become an anachronism in a fundamentally different society
    than that which spawned it.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FUD 2.0
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 02:50 AM EDT
    * I fear that MS has lost the battle. Using Office is like betting on a dead
    horse.
    * I'm uncertain about MS future. MS makes most money on their dedicated office
    suite (140% of their net profit comes from office if I'm not mistaken). So if
    they lose that income, what hope is there for a financial healthy MS?
    * I doubt if MS has any innovative powers left (even if they had any). They seem
    to adopt PDF and never mention Metro anymore. No innovation, no future.

    Spread the word

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Are you sure?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 02:59 AM EDT
    "We have Google to thank for that, in part, actually, if you stop and think
    about it, which is why I believe they should be given a special pass from
    Congress to collect the world's books to make them searchable."

    So let me get this straight. You think it a good thing for other peoples work
    to be searchable using Google, but Groklaw should not be. I think I know what a
    lot of people will call this attitude.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Open PDF
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 05:46 AM EDT
    "He also tells us and asks us to believe that all customers seem to be
    asking for is to be able to *save* documents in PDF. No one much wants to be
    able to open them, according to his account."

    Actually that's something I've wanted to be able to do in OOO as well, even
    editable if possible. I don't know if it's possible but if so I never found out
    how.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS must be losing its grip...
    Authored by: seantellis on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 07:23 AM EDT
    ...if they can't even get the uncritical Fox News to swallow their FUD.

    ---
    Sean Ellis (sellis@geo-removethis-cities.com)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Its not trust that Microsoft lacks..
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 07:36 AM EDT
    its morals, trust simply follows suit.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Riddle me this...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 08:57 AM EDT
    Q: What can unseat an 800 pound corporate gorlla?
    A: 1600 pounds of government consumer fire ants.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • A: 800.. - Authored by: jesse on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 10:59 AM EDT
      • A: 800.. - Authored by: rcsteiner on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 12:02 PM EDT
        • Kinky... - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 05 2005 @ 07:21 AM EDT
        • Note to US readers - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 05 2005 @ 04:55 PM EDT
    Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 09:24 AM EDT
    "Linux will continue to grow, and open formats and standards will continue
    to be adopted in part because we don't trust Microsoft. FOSS will win because of
    its values. It represents ethics, values. One thing Stallman was right about
    from the beginning: it's not just about better code, as important as that is.
    It's about better values, higher ethics."

    This is exactly why I chose open source. I am so sick of these so-called CIO's
    that come from marketing and think they can run an IT department because they
    are excel pros.
    They think because they can sign million dollar contracts with Microsoft and put
    the deal on a powerpoint presentation that they can run an IT department

    This is the same kind of management IT mentality crap from Microsoft. It is time
    that ethical, smart, and honest long haired smellies take back their IT and run
    it the way it is suppose to be ran.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • IT Operations... - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 03:52 PM EDT
    Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 09:25 AM EDT
    Here's an interesting question: why build PDF export into Office instead of into Windows? All they have to do is write a printer driver that generates PDF, and then all Windows apps will be able to use it. (Such printer drivers already exist; there was one on the Win98 laptop I bought in 1999, and now there's PDFCreator, under the GPL.)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Been saying it for over 10 years now
    Authored by: ray08 on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 10:00 AM EDT
    M$ is their own worst enemy! They are doing what the DOJ and T.P. Jackson
    couldn't: putting themselves out-of-business!

    And cudos to Sun for giving up any rights to Opendocument. Maybe FOSS can start
    trusting them a little more. But, notice this, it takes time to reestablish lost
    trust, and only time (with good behavior) can do that. On the flip side, the
    lost trust for M$ is so far gone, all eternity would be needed to reestablish
    it.

    Now, if Schwartz can keep his mouth shut, stop attacking RH and just compete in
    the market, Sun's image will get better.

    ---
    Caldera is toast! And Groklaw is the toaster! (with toast level set to BURN)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Think the Author Makes a Mistake
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 10:43 AM EDT
    "Microsoft sees the world as a map of which Redmond is the center. If it
    isn't happening at Microsoft, it can't possibly matter."

    I really disagree with the second sentence. It's not that it doesn't matter,
    but they don't want it to matter and are willing to work hard to try to ensure
    it doesn't matter.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 10:44 AM EDT
    Everytime I read another article like this one, I hear dancing in Santa Clara
    and chairs being thrown in Redmond. I never thought I would see this time where
    the internet paradigm shift would be too big for even Microsoft's FUD to
    survive.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Some Musty Old MS FUD Fails & Sun Does a Very Fine Thing
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 10:45 AM EDT
    Only a person who has not participated in, or has no interest in, or does not know the first thing about, or is trying to deceive others about, open standards can imagine that in this day and age, after two years of participating in an open standards development process, bringing a specification all the way to an accepted Standard, a company can in fact say "hey, we never disclosed this but wouldn't you know... we do have essential claims and now you have to get a license from us!".

    And didn't I read somewhere about M$ being part of the group writing new USB standards and trying to use those standards to make USB on Linux useless by incorporating their version of DRM in the standard? Anyone who has better recall of this than I do, please clarify.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The ciosummit PDF mentioned by Brian Jones
    Authored by: David on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 11:47 AM EDT
    Just for reference, the PDF mentioned by Brian Jones, "Peter Quinn - The Policy, Planning, and Pragmatic Reasons for the Massachusetts Move into Open" is from a presentation.

    Page 23, which Mr. Jones implies (or perhaps I just infer) shows "...a government official from Massachusetts took a hard look at the Office XML program and publicly stated that his office found it to be "open" and fully consistent with the State's policies", does nothing of the sort.

    Here is Page 23:
    -------------------------------------------------

    Lessons Learned, cont.

    • Demonstrated sustainability will get people to listen:
      • Microsoft changes their Office 2003 license:
        • Patented XML documents can be opened and read by any reader
        • License is now in perpetuity
    • Not all Open Source products can operate at the Enterprise level

    -------------------------------------------------

    I'm not surprised that "...that announcement sort of inspired a yawn..."

    ---
    WARNING: You are logged in to reality as root....

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    On free software and trust
    Authored by: billyskank on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 11:56 AM EDT
    I've been thinking about this, and I have started to think that things are
    backwards to the way some of us are accustomed to think.

    It is people like Microsoft who urge us to trust them. Trust them with our
    data; don't worry, we wouldn't try to roll you over.

    But free software doesn't require any trust on our part. We know that we have
    certain rights when using free software because the licence says we do. Authors
    of free software don't ask us to trust them, they say "don't take my word
    for it. Check out the licence terms! You can't go wrong." And we can't
    go wrong. Free software is for the hard-headed, which is exactly the way to
    survive in a deeply cynical world.

    In a sense, it's a shame that such a thing as free software needs to exist, but
    that seems to me to be the reality of our world.

    ---
    It's not the software that's free; it's you.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Open Source, Trust and...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 02:38 PM EDT
    My experiences w/ various systems early on was that some vendors treat their
    customers like criminals, kind of like what we've been getting from the RIAA and
    MPAA as well as M$.

    (Should we be paranoid over how both the RIAA and MPAA are "in bed"
    with Microsoft?)

    In any case, feeling like a valued customer instead of a shoplifter is something
    that has been more and more lacking in these days where companies are treating
    IP as more and more of a tangible "good".

    I'd like to suggest that the greatest strength of FOSS isn't merely the trust,
    but the fact that the audience is allowed (if not encouraged) to participate!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A footnote on patents
    Authored by: ansak on Wednesday, October 05 2005 @ 09:23 AM EDT
    I just wanted to highlight one (longish) sentence from PJ's original post. You want to know the best way companies who hold software patents that might hinder open-source development can show themselves to be F/OSS friendly (and therefore, ultimately user-friendly)? Here's how it's done:
    Sun irrevocably covenants that, subject solely to the reciprocity requirement described below, it will not seek to enforce any of its enforceable U.S. or foreign patents against any implementation of Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 Specification, or of any subsequent version thereof ("OpenDocument Implementation") in which development Sun participates to the point of incurring an obligation, as defined by the rules of OASIS, to grant (or commit to grant) patent licenses or make equivalent non-assertion covenants.

    Get on standards committees, by all means. Influence the committee to include the things that have delighted your customers (and only after that, your salespeople). But let the standards be open (post-RAMBus debacle open) and pledge not to pursue patent litigation against those implementing the standard, as Sun has just unequivocally done for OpenDoc. (but when, oh when, will they do so for Java?)

    That's how we'll know you aren't a bully. That's how we'll know you can be trusted.

    cheers...ank

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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