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Reactions to MS's "Glimmer of Openness" & a Little Water Under that Bridge
Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:34 PM EST

More Massachusetts news from Andy Updegrove. You'll find there reactions from Sun in a letter to Secretary Thomas Trimarco, cc'd to MA Governor Romney ("While Microsoft has promised to eventually submit Office 12 to a standards body, the Commonwealth must act on existing open standards to best serve its future needs for document exchange") and IBM's Bob Sutor ("...by standardizing its formats in ECMA, Microsoft should be giving up the right to include proprietary extensions of the spec when it creates its implementations. Repeat after me: NO PROPRIETARY EXTENSIONS"), Larry Rosen ("I was delighted..."), and an intriguing quotation from Adam Farquhar of the British Library:
If you're not worn out yet and missed my blog post from earlier today, check out this quote from Adam Farquhar, previously quoted in Microsoft's Ecma press release as an XML Reference Schema supporter:
Early in November, Microsoft announced a project to digitize 100,000 rare and out-of-print books from the British Library collection. [For more information, see the NewsBreak at http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb051121-2.shtml.] Farquhar says that that effort is not directly related to the Open XML announcement: “Some people think we are adopting Microsoft formats as our standard for digital preservation. This is not right; we are striving to make sure that content we receive in MS formats will be preserved.” He continued: “What format will we deliver? We deliver a lot of articles and in many formats. We deliver content in PDF, Office Open, ODF, TIFF — whatever format the customer wants.”

Well. That's different than what Microsoft represented, isn't it? Updegrove:

In short, the British Museum is not recommending the XML Reference Schema as an exclusive solution, but giving a sigh of relief that if Microsoft has decided to offer some sort of methodology to permit long-term preservation.

Unfortunately, it takes time for news such as this to make its way into the marketplace, if it ever becomes widely disseminated at all. In Massachusetts, the flow of high-quality, timely information is particularly important, because the legislature will decide in the not too distant future whether the ITD's ODF policy will live or die (sadly, the same may apply to the ITD's chief, State CIO Peter Quinn, if his opponents have anything to say about it).

How soon could a decision be made by the Legislature? My most recent information is that passage of the bill in question is unlikely before the end of the year, but this should not be regarded as conclusive. Of note in this regard is the fact that another public discussion will be held on December 6, this time convened by Senator Hart, and (this time) including advocates on both sides of the issue

The bottom line is that OpenDocument has already been approved as a standard and is already supported by several products. The Microsoft effort, by their own estimate, will take a year. Some analysts are already questioning whether Microsoft's format will ever be really open:

... Gary Barnett, a research director at analyst firm Ovum, said on Tuesday he doubted that the move would result in the format becoming "truly open". "It's a tactical move by Microsoft to give its proprietary document formats a glimmer of openness," Barnett claimed. He added that Microsoft is only entitled to describe its file formats as open if it "gives up control of its formats to a standards body that is accessible".

If Microsoft maintains control over its XML-based file format it will be able to arbitrarily change the standard when it wants, enabling it to keep ahead of any competitors that wish to implement the standard, according to Barnett.

Mark Taylor, executive director of the Open Source Consortium, agreed that Microsoft's move was not as open as it might first appear. He said that Microsoft appears to want to extend its "Office monopoly into the XML age. If the intention is to really play nicely with others in the open standards game, then why patent applications in this area?"

Microsoft must be puzzled. Why is it almost no one trusts them, even when they do something that on its face looks good? Here they've announced a patent covenant for their XML, and we're all out here with our magnifying glasses looking for gotchas. But let's face it. There's a lot of water under this bridge. The burnt child dreads the fire and all that. We remember Netscape and Java and everything, all those tricky Microsoft gotchas. It's hardly irrational to look for more. *Not* looking for them would be irrational, given the history. In fact, let's review a little Microsoft history.

We remember when Microsoft joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international consortium which develops Web standards and guidelines, to build consensus around Web technologies such as for HTML. Despite being a member, Microsoft developed their own proprietary HTML extensions anyway, their own little tweaks and twists, on the specification, which degrades the display of a good deal of the web by other browsers, simply because Microsoft won't follow the standard themselves, or maybe worse. They hold a dominant position in terms of numbers of users. You know, that old monopoly thing. So it's a meaningful negative effect. So just joining a standards group doesn't necessarily mean Microsoft will play fair. Remember this little incident in 2001?

Last week, people who tried to visit MSN.com with a non-Microsoft browser found themselves locked out. Although Microsoft's own Internet Explorer easily accessed the popular site, other browsers--such as Opera, Mozilla, Amaya and some versions of Netscape--received error messages and recommended that people "upgrade" to Internet Explorer.

The purpose of standards is so that everyone can speak the same "language," so to speak. Remember when that airplane crashed, because the air traffic controller and the pilot didn't speak the same language? The Web is international. It's just a lot of computers all over the world trying to interact. Without an agreement on how to meaningfully and seamlessly do that, the value of it goes down, which means that by doing what it did with HTML, Microsoft devalued the Web for everyone else, while enhancing its own market position. Just a few little extensions, and gotcha.

Think that's ancient history? W3C has a validation service, where you can go this very day and check your HTML for errors. Here's the W3C's validation report on msdn.microsoft.com: "Failed validation, 68 errors....This page is not valid HTML 4.0 Transitional". There are more than 68 errors, but some are duplicative. Is it because Microsoft doesn't know how to write HTML? They joined W3C. They know how. They don't care.

Here's another example, the report on another Microsoft page, one from their XML Development Center ("The language of information interchange"), with Ray Ozzie's name on it, on their RSS specification "Simple Sharing Extensions for RSS and OPML," at http://msdn.microsoft.com/xml/rss/sse/: "Failed validation, 97 errors. . . . This page is not valid HTML 4.0 Transitional." Well, W3C should know.

By the way Microsoft's copyrights in this specification were licensed with fanfare under a liberal Creative Commons license, which drew praise from some, but skepticism from others.

So, ironically enough, Microsoft presents information on its RSS "sharing extensions" using HTML that can't pass W3C's HTML validation. That worries some people, as do the "extensions" to RSS.

Why does it matter? What happens if your HTML doesn't validate properly? I'll let W3C explain:

What is Markup Validation?

Most pages on the World Wide Web are written in computer languages (such as HTML) that allow Web authors to structure text, add multimedia content, and specify what appearance, or style, the result should have.

As for every language, these have their own grammar, vocabulary and syntax, and every document written with these computer languages are supposed to follow these rules. The (X)HTML languages, for all versions up to XHTML 1.1, are using machine-readable grammars called DTDs, a mechanism inherited from SGML.

However, just as texts in a natural language can include spelling or grammar errors, documents using Markup languages may (for various reasons) not be following these rules. The process of verifying whether a document actually follows the rules for the language(s) it uses is called validation, and the tool used for that is a validator. A document that passes this process with success is called valid.

With these concepts in mind, we can define "markup validation" as the process of checking a Web document against the grammar (generally a DTD) it claims to be using....

Is validity the same thing as conformance?

No, they are different concepts.

Markup languages are defined in technical specifications, which generally include a formal grammar. A document is valid when it is correctly written in accordance to the formal grammar, whereas conformance relates to the specification itself. The two might be equivalent, but in most cases, some conformance requirements can not be expressed in the grammar, making validity only a part of the conformance....

Why should I validate my HTML pages?

One of the important maxims of computer programming is: Be conservative in what you produce; be liberal in what you accept.

Browsers follow the second half of this maxim by accepting Web pages and trying to display them even if they're not legal HTML. Usually this means that the browser will try to make educated guesses about what you probably meant. The problem is that different browsers (or even different versions of the same browser) will make different guesses about the same illegal construct; worse, if your HTML is really pathological, the browser could get hopelessly confused and produce a mangled mess, or even crash.

That is, of course, what happens to browsers that compete with Microsoft when they try to display pages written in Microsoft's proprietarily-twisted HTML. Users who don't know that it is Microsoft's HTML causing the problem are likely to think it's their browswer's fault, and switch to IE, imagining it's "better". You think it is deliberate?

Or remember what happened to WordPerfect? You can read about it in the current Novell v. Microsoft antitrust litigation. Here's Novell's complaint, and here's just a small part of what they are alleging:

55. A top Microsoft executive wrote that Microsoft should "smile" at Novell, falsely signifying Microsoft's willingness to help the two companies' common customers integrate their various products, while actuaIly "pulling the trigger" and killing Novell. Indeed, Microsoft's Chairman and CEO, Bill Gates, instructed his executives to develop plans to retaliate against Novell for its cooperation with the government authorities investigating Microsoft. As explained below, Microsoft fulfilled these instructions by withholding technical information about the ever-changing functions of Windows, including the integrated browsing functions in Windows 95, and by excluding Novell's office productivity applications from the major channels of distribution and other potential platforms....

71. During the development of Windows 95, Microsoft's executives schemed to integrate the browsing functions into Windows 95 in a manner designed to cause the maximum possible damage to competitors. ... For instance, Microsoft intentionally made the use of any browsing technology other than Microsoft's browser a "jolting experience" for its own Windows customers, solely to create the false impression that other browsers were not effective. ...

72. As a result of Microsoft's integration of the browsing functions into Windows, ISVs needed documentation of the browsing extensions to design their applications to perform the most basic file management functions. Microsoft initially documented the browsing extensions in the beta releases of Windows 95 and otherwise appeared to cooperate with ISVs in developing applications for release with Windows 95....

73. Microsoft "evangelized" the benefits of using the browsing extensions. In the early stages of developing WordPerfect for Windows 95, Novell thus devoted significant resources to ensuring compatibility with and otherwise exploiting the benefits of Windows' integrated browsing functions. Further, as encouraged by Microsoft, Novell expended additional resources to expand upon the extensions, providing still greater functionality for its own customers and potentially for other ISVs and their customers. ....

74. In an e-mail dated October 3, 1994, however, Bill Gates ordered his top executives to retract the documentation of the browsing extensions, but only until Microsoft's own developers of the Office suite of applications had sufficient time to work with the hidden extensions to build an insurmountable advantage over competitors such as WordPerfect. Gates further explained that without this advantage, Office could not compete with the major ISVs.

75. In public test versions of Windows 95 released a few months before the final product shipped to consumers, ripped out these programming interfaces without warning to Novell. After Microsoft withdrew the documentation of the browsing extensions, Novell was suddenly unable to provide basic file management functions in WordPerfect; in many instances, a user literally could not open a document he previously created and saved. Indeed, WordPerfect could no longer use the functions that Novell had innovated atop the extensions, while Microsoft Word could still take advantage of such innovations.

76. When Novell asked Microsoft why it removed the Explorer interfaces and browsing extensions, Microsoft claimed that it did not have the time and resources to complete their development. But in fact, the Explorer interfaces and browsing extensions had been complete and functional before Microsoft removed them. ...

77. Thereafter, when Microsoft released Windows 95 and Office 95, at virtually the same time, Microsoft suddenly reversed course and documented the programming interfaces. Doing so voided the alternatives that Microsoft previously forced Novell to expend an entire year developing and, at the precise moment when WordPerfect needed to enter the market, forced Novell to spend additional time designing basic functions of WordPerfect all over again. . . .

83. In addition to withholding technical information, Microsoft created and controlled new "industry" standards and established unjustified certification requirements to delay the release of Novell's applications and to impair their performance for Novell's customers.

84. First, as discussed above, Microsoft excluded from the markets the "OpenDoc" technology for sharing information among applications, by using its monopoly power to force a different standard upon the industry. . . .

85. Microsoft responded to this competitive threat by preventing CIL from making OpenDoc compatible with Windows 95. For example, Microsoft routinely required all ISVs to execute nondisclosure agreements as a condition of receiving the information they needed to develop their applications. These agreements, however, contained terms that uniquely targeted ISVs who were members of CIL, by preventing their employees who worked on OpenDoc from receiving Windows 95 betas or specifications, which effectively prevented CIL from initially developing OpenDoc for Windows 95. In addition, Microsoft required ISVs working with a Windows 95 beta to agree that they would not work on OpenDoc for two years. While Microsoft eventually dropped this requirement, its impact had immediate anticompetitive effects on OpenDoc's development.

86. Further, Microsoft unilaterally announced that OLE would be incorporated directly into Windows, instead of existing independently of the operating system as a technology to be adopted or rejected by ISVs, depending on their assessments of its technical merit. Microsoft then required OLE-compatibility as a condition of Microsoft's certification of an application's compatibility with Windows 95. This certification requirement was a significant barrier to entry into the applications markets, because Microsoft represented to the industry that any application lacking the certification could not be trusted to run on Windows 95. By exploiting this barrier to entry, Microsoft forced ISVs to make their applications OLE-compatible. Furthermore, Microsoft ensured that only applications using its tools, and not those of its competitors, would reach customers. This anticompetitive behavior by Microsoft is similar to the behavior described in the Government Suit with respect to Microsoft's efforts to force ISVs to use Microsoft's implementation of Java. "Specifically, in the First Wave agreements that it signed with dozens of ISVs in 1997 and 1998, Microsoft conditioned early Windows 98 and Windows NT betas, other technical information, and the right to use certain Microsoft seals of approval on the agreement of those ISVs to use Microsoft's version of the Windows [Java virtual machines] as the 'default.'" Findings of Fact ¶401.

87. There was no valid technical or business reason for requiring OLE- compatibility as a condition of the Windows 95 certification; OpenDoc was even more capable of providing the same linking and embedding functions, and in the absence of the certification requirement and other anticompetitive acts, OpenDoc and OLE would have continued to compete on their technical merits. Indeed, Microsoft initially announced that applications using OpenDoc would be deemed OLE-compatible, and would receive Microsoft's certification for Windows 95, because OpenDoc was a "superset" of OLE, meaning it provided every function of OLE, and more. Later, after Novell, other ISVs and CIL were far advanced in their efforts to develop and use OpenDoc, Microsoft announced that applications using OpenDoc would not receive automatic certification, and might not receive certification at all.

88. Seeing that Microsoft's anticompetitive acts would ensure the demise of OpenDoc, ISVs were left with no choice but to adopt Microsoft's proprietary OLE protocol as the de facto industry standard for linking and embedding. Even after making OLE the industry standard, however, Microsoft still withheld specifications and final, debugged versions of OLE until after Microsoft released its competing applications. Microsoft's anticompetitive acts concerning OLE further increased the "time-to-market" lead that Microsoft's office productivity applications unlawfully achieved over Novell's applications.

89. Second, Microsoft required office productivity applications seeking Windows 95 certification to be compatible with the very different Windows NT, which is an operating system for larger and more powerful computers that are used as "servers" to link numerous PCs (and peripherals) across an organization into a network. There was no justification for this requirement. Further, Windows 95 and Windows NT were so dissimilar that an application running on one system could not run on the other without substantial modification. Novell expended significant development resources to make its applications compatible with Windows NT, resulting in further delay in the release of Novell's applications for Windows 95.

90. Third, Microsoft unilaterally made the proprietary Rich Text Format ("RTF") of Microsoft Word the standard file format for text-based documents in applications developed for Windows. Upon capturing the standard, Microsoft strategically withheld the specification to injure competitors, including Novell.

So, as you can see, any announcement from Microsoft about standards comes in a context. Do you see why some are saying that there must be no proprietary extenstions in Microsoft's XML?

Or let's go back in time a bit and read the Caldera Statement of Facts in the DR DOS case, the section called FUD Drip Feed. That case settled prior to a court ruling, so keep that in mind as you read, but it was settled with money from Microsoft going to Caldera. A lot of money. You can read in the document numerous allegations of tricks Microsoft employed to make sure its competition was always a dollar short and a day late, such as by not providing them betas to work with in a timely manner. And here's one of my favorite paragraphs:

32. The "death spiral" is somewhat of a term of art at Microsoft. On October 18, 1991, Mike Maples enquired of several executives: "I would like to ask you to invest half a day with me following Comdex. What I would like to brainstorm is how to push Excel over the top and Lotus out of business." To which Silverberg replied: "I'd be glad to help tilt lotus into the death spiral. I could do it friday afternoon but not saturday."... At a management conference in June 1992, one of the "6 Core Strategies to build share" included "Drive competitors into a death spiral," complete with objectives and tactics. ... Ironically, other discussion there focused on "Our Image" and how to overcome the industry perception of "Microslop," "Microshaft," and "Microsleaze."

Microsoft is not known for peaceful coexistence. So, you will have to forgive us if some of us are allergic to Microsoft promises of cooperation and openness. There is some history here.

Let's end with Tim Bray, who asks the obvious question ("Why Should There Be Two?") and has a very sensible suggestion:

The ideal outcome would be a common shared office-XML dialect for the basics—and it should be ODF (or a subset), since that’s been designed and debugged—then another extended vocabulary to support Microsoft features , whether they’re cool new whizzy features or mouldy old legacy features (XML Namespaces are designed to support exactly this kind of thing). That way, if you stayed with the basic stuff you’d never need to worry about software lock-in; the difference between portable and proprietary would be crystal-clear. And, for the basic stuff that everybody uses, there’d be only one set of tags.

This outcome is technically feasible. Who could possibly be against it?


  


Reactions to MS's "Glimmer of Openness" & a Little Water Under that Bridge | 247 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off Topic Here:
Authored by: pfusco on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:45 PM EST
For those who expect the best in Blog entertainment

---
only the soul matters in the end

[ Reply to This | # ]

US LOC to build World Ditigal Library
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:48 PM EST
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1892040,00.asp

Library of Congress Plans World Digital Library


By Eric Auchard, Reuters
November 22, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters)-The U.S. Library of Congress is
kicking off a campaign on Tuesday to work with other
nations' libraries to build a World Digital Library,
starting with a $3 million donation from Google Inc.


Librarian of Congress James Billington said he is looking
to attract further private funding to develop bilingual
projects, featuring millions of unique objects, with
libraries in China, India, the Muslim world and other
nations.

_______________

Maybe the nut cases in the author's guil will now ser the
Library of Congress. Now that would be interesting. Just
think of the ways that LOC could and would change the US
P&TMO regulations in response.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions to MS's "Glimmer of Openness" & a Little Water Under that Bridge
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:51 PM EST
PJ Please remove the parent post as I goofed and posted
twice.

Thanks

The Author

PS I did correct the title in the second posting.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This page has 10 errors.
Authored by: JScarry on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:57 PM EST
Not to nit-pick. But this page isn't valid HTML either, though most of the
errors
are minor.

[ Reply to This | # ]

so what if it doesnt validate?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:57 PM EST
Validation is only a guidline. Google and yahoo's sites don't validate either.
Neither does groklaw. I don't think it means you are against standards.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What bill??
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 08:14 PM EST
"How soon could a decision be made by the Legislature? My most recent
information is that passage of the bill in question is unlikely before the end
of the year..."

Hasn't the decision been made *already* and in favor of ODF? What bill is he
referring to? And who is even in a position to overrule what Quinn and his team
had decided?


Soooo much controversy!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why so negative GL?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 08:21 PM EST
Most of the attention here is not positive or forward looking. Why be so
obsessively anti-Microsoft? They may be turning over a new leaf. Let's wait
and see what happens. Maybe the governments should just declare them the one OS
of technology and tax them for world health care. That wouldn't be bad.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw fails W3C Validation too
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 08:23 PM EST
" Failed validation, 208 errors. This page is NOT Valid HTML 4.01
Transitional."

Web pages should follow the W3C recommendations, but people in glass houses
shouldn't throw stones.

-linuxrocks123

"There's not need for red-hot pokers. Hell is -- other people!"
-Jean-Paul Sartre

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thus saith The Propietor, Microsoft
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 08:31 PM EST
The only difference I see is that Microsoft 'spoke'. Meaning to say: Today, the
proprietary nature of their file format(s) is just the same as it was before
Microsoft spoke.

Next month will be the same, as will the succeeding months.

Maybe someday, they will release something. And if they do you probably won't
like the fine print and stipulations.

Lots of actions taking place simply because Microsoft spoke, IMNSHO.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't forget Blue Mountain Arts
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 08:42 PM EST
E-greeting card firm wins Microsoft case

[ Reply to This | # ]

Senator Hart - is the one to write to!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 09:18 PM EST

Re: “Of note in this regard is the fact that another public discussion will be held on December 6, this time convened by Senator Hart, and (this time) including advocates on both sides of the issue” Senator Hart is having a hearing (both sides of the story this time)!

This Senator Hart is the one that was a key Senator as part of the group that was to oversee the digital process from the legislative side.

If you want to contact someone who is going to be at “point” regarding the ODF and Mass Data Standards efforts this is the Senator to attempt to get into a conversation with.

This is Senator Hart!

Any Harvard Alumni want to give him a friendly call!

This Senator seems well educated and seems to be one that will grab the issue and get a result. My bet is that Senator is not his last step on the move to higher office. My bet is that he will be fair!



[ Reply to This | # ]

hmmm.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 10:27 PM EST
http://validato r.w3.org/check?uri=http://www.groklaw.net

[ Reply to This | # ]

My prediction
Authored by: billmason on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 11:27 PM EST
Ever since Microsoft's announcement about their newfound "openness"
I've been wondering what's the catch. Many others have as well. Reading this,
it finally dawned on me. I should have seen it earlier. I guess I learn
slowly, but at least I can say I'm in good company; namely, the entire software
industry.

Here's the catch: the document standard is open, not the office suite. This has
been a recurring mistake throughout this saga. The media keeps confusing the
two. It may not own the standard, but it can do whatever it wants with its
Office suite. And that's the whole point, no? To use Microsoft Office?
Otherwise, why bother with their document standard? ODF works just fine and is
implemented by several office suites already. If it weren't for the desire to
use MS Office, and the death grip it has on the market, this whole thing would
be moot and Microsoft's newfound "openness" would be met with a lot of
shoulder strugging.

"One of the important maxims of computer programming is: Be conservative in
what you produce; be liberal in what you accept."

Microsoft always does the opposite. Office 12 will be liberal in what it
produces, and conservative in what it accepts. The competing office suites will
be stuck in a game of "chase the changing standards" just as Novell,
Caldera, Netscape, and all the other competitors have done, eventually to their
demise.

It's one thing to interoperate with Microsoft's XML format. It's an entirely
different thing to interoperate with Microsoft Office. Yet that's what everyone
really wants out of this whole mess.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Fox and the Scorpion
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 11:44 PM EST
One day, a fox and a scorpion had to cross a river.

The scorpion looked at the fox and asked: "fox, can you carry me on your
back across the river? I can't swim."

The fox replied, "Not a chance, as soon as we get in the water you'll sting
me in the back, and I'll drown"

The scorpion promised not to sting the fox, and the two started across the
river.

Half way across, the scorpion stung the fox in the back. With his last breath of
life, the fox asked, "why did you do that, now we are both going to
die"

The scorpion replied: "its in my nature"

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why is MSXML specified the way it is?
Authored by: taxman on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 04:02 AM EST
A disturbing thought occured to me. After reading the article provided by Alex Hudson, J. David Eisenberg, Bruce D'Arcus and Daniel Carrera, it seems obvious to me that the MS format is neither efficient, readable or easy to implement. It is also a break in style from typical markup languages (SGML, HTML).

So why has Microsoft made this type of implementation? The first thought may be that this is just a typical over-complicated result of a large SW development organization. But is that really so?

Microsoft has applied for a patent on their office XML implementation. Had they choosen a type of implementation following the trend of HTML/OpenDocument, there would have been too many examples of prior art for this to be patentable.

So, my nagging question is this: Has Microsoft knowingly choosen a bad format, just to be able to patent it? If so, legal matter aside, they are hurting their customers to maximize their own position in the market.

When Ecma International and ISO are evaluating Microsoft's submission of this standard, I hope they are questioning the rationale of the key design issues behind Office Open XML.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions to MS's "Glimmer of Openness" & a Little Water Under that Bridge
Authored by: soronlin on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 04:15 AM EST
The ideal outcome would be a common shared office-XML dialect for the basics—and it should be ODF (or a subset), since that’s been designed and debugged—then another extended vocabulary to support Microsoft features , whether they’re cool new whizzy features or mouldy old legacy features (XML Namespaces are designed to support exactly this kind of thing). That way, if you stayed with the basic stuff you’d never need to worry about software lock-in; the difference between portable and proprietary would be crystal-clear. And, for the basic stuff that everybody uses, there’d be only one set of tags.

This outcome is technically feasible. Who could possibly be against it?

Me for one.

That is exactly what embrace, extend, extinguish looks like. Microsoft can call their file formats ODF, and nobody else can use them. And you can bet that they will try as hard as they can to call their native format ODF, and to make it as hard as possible to use the base dialect. See the Sun vs. Microsoft Java case.

Or maybe, just maybe, Microsoft plays fair and provides two different file formats. Have you seen that nice dialog that pops up in OO when you save a file in a non-native format? "Your document may be hosed if you save in that format. Why not save in our nice, powerful format that lets you do all the pretty stuff." (I paraphrase).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Again, something I noticed
Authored by: archonix on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 05:56 AM EST
I posted this one as a reply to a thread, but I think it needs to be seen here
at the root. I've seen several people point out that Groklaw doesn't flly comply
with the W3C spec, and then try to twist this in to some sort of means to doubt
the veracity of Groklaw itself. Or just hint at the possibility. Or just place a
doubt in the reader's mind...

Is someone desperate? :)

---
Graham's Diets:
This week I 'ave been mostly eatin' sour grapes!
--
http://unoriginalmuse.blogspot.com/
Unoriginal Muse: Sometimes I don't complain about th

[ Reply to This | # ]

The British Library
Authored by: Chris Lingard on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 05:56 AM EST

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest libraries. Here are some facts and figures

Here is the press release about the collaboration with Microsoft. Microsoft and the British Library work together to make 25 million pages of content available to all.

Please note the statement

The system will use open standards, allowing the Library to adapt to future shifts in storage, preservation and access technologies.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reposts from yesterday
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 07:45 AM EST
A couple of my comments got no replies yesterday. The first was a bit of a rant but I have asked some questions that I would like to have answers for: Covenant Regarding Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas

The second was OT to the story and OT to this one. But I would like to hear what anyone else thinks about it: I may be parnoid but...

Alan(UK)

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Reactions to MS's "Glimmer of Openness" & a Little Water Under that Bridge
Authored by: jsusanka on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 07:55 AM EST
" 55. A top Microsoft executive wrote that Microsoft should
"smile" at Novell, falsely signifying Microsoft's willingness to help
the two companies' common customers integrate their various products, while
actuaIly "pulling the trigger" and killing Novell. Indeed, Microsoft's
Chairman and CEO, Bill Gates, instructed his executives to develop plans to
retaliate against Novell for its cooperation with the government authorities
investigating Microsoft. As explained below, Microsoft fulfilled these
instructions by withholding technical information about the ever-changing
functions of Windows, including the integrated browsing functions in Windows 95,
and by excluding Novell's office productivity applications from the major
channels of distribution and other potential platforms...."

this is excellent - I hope novell spends every dollar they have going after them
and doing something about microsoft.

anybody who critizes Novell's management for not supposedly winning the office
wars with word perfect just has to look at this and see what they were up
against.

this nonsense by microsoft has to be stopped. if it was any other industry it
would be put to a stop.

novell played fairly and ethically and look what that got them. I just hope
some honest and ethical judge sees this and takes the appropriate action.


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Correcshuns go here.
Authored by: JThelen on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 09:34 AM EST
Of course, with the obligatory misspelling in the Title.

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So what's the story here?
Authored by: sgsax on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 11:03 AM EST
At the risk of sounding like a troll, here goes...

I honestly don't see why so much attention has been brought to this issue.
Microsoft has a long history of "embracing and extending" software
technologies. They call it "embrace and extend", I call it
"absorb and break". So what if they want to call their new .doc
format markup an "open standard", when everybody knows it is not now
actually a open standard, nor will it ever be one. This is the way it has
always been, it is the way it always shall be. Microsoft will continue to
create closed document formatting "standards", and the open source
world will continue to reverse-engineer it so that open source products will
continue to interoperate with them.

It is simply unreasonable (not to mention inconceivable) to think that Microsft
will _ever_ play fair in this game. They haven't yet, so why would anyone think
they would start now? So they have deep pockets and large influence on
government bodies. Where's the news there? Most large companies in the US do.
Was the MA govt. bold in stepping up and saying they weren't going to be bullied
anymore? Yes. Is anyone really surprised that once Microsoft stepped up the
intimidation and greased the right palms that they caved and reversed
themselves? I should think not. Is anyone really surprised that there is a
smear campaign against the leaders of the "anti-Microsft, pro-OSS"
faction of the MA govt.? I should think not.

Frankly, I'm not all that concerned with the underlying mechanism of how my
documents are formatted. Yes, I prefer it when my documents are not easily
corrupted (as Word .doc files are wont to do). Yes, I prefer to be able to
exchange files with non-OSS users. But whether it's done with one
"standard" or another, I really don't care. Software is continually
changing. In a couple of years, this "debate" will be meaningless.

I'm the type of OSS user that doesn't care how something works, so much as it
just works. I've been using linux and OSS going on five years now. I have not
once hacked any code. I prefer the tools that OSS can provide so I can get my
job done. I appreciate the fact that there are people who like to tinker with
this stuff. But as for myself, I just want stuff to work.

I guess what I'm really saying here is that yeah, Microsoft is pulling some
nasty tricks. But is that really anything new? I'm just not seeing the
"news" in this story.

Seth

---
The beatings will continue until morale has improved.

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Reactions to MS's "Glimmer of Openness" & a Little Water Under that Bridge
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 11:27 AM EST
Well of course Novell won't mention anything about Mac OS in their suit since
it's not relevant, so I thought I'd add this small tidbit. At the same time that

MS was playing all those games against OpenDoc on the Win 95 side, they
were heavily courting developers on the Mac side to get them to use OLE as
well. The pitch, of course, was the cross-platform nature of the product. They
provided version 1 and betas of version 2, but once they killed OpenDoc they
never bothered to release version 2 for the Mac. They *finished* it; it was
included as part of the MS Office suite on the Mac, but they just never
released headers and documentation so that other Mac developers could use
it. So, no OLE support for the Mac...

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Open Source Lawyer Endorses MS ECMA Standard
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 12:44 PM EST
Larry Rosen, the attorney that wrote the book on open source licensing and the man who was the Open Source Initiative's first general counsel and secretary, has endorsed the new MS XML standard:

ZDnet

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Reactions to MS's "Glimmer of Openness" & a Little Water Under that Bridge
Authored by: Nick Bridge on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 06:11 PM EST
"This outcome is technically feasible. ... "
Unfortunately, MS does not play well with others. The kind of cooperation this
would require will never be forthcoming from Redmond. Ever. Period.
Go home Microsoft, and take your ball - we don't want it.

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Reactions to MS's "Glimmer of Openness" & a Little Water Under that Bridge
Authored by: enigma_foundry on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 06:15 PM EST
Or remebe what they did with their web safe fonts? Pulled them once they did not
need open web standards anymore.

---
enigma_foundry

Ask the right questions.

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Sony today, MS yesterday
Authored by: tz on Wednesday, November 30 2005 @ 11:28 AM EST
Then again, there's that logic bomb they put in the Windows 3.1 beta to crash DR
DOS.

I thought of that v.s. the current Sony rootkit.

Why don't big corporations get criminal penalties for these things?

Will MS Office 15 crash if it doesn't see some hidden and useless sublety in the
XML, e.g. two spaces before a close tag, which only MS products will write?

MS may now be open, but only in the sense of the mouth of a shark. It would be
unwise to enter.

Abandon IP, all ye who enter here.

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Reactions to MS's "Glimmer of Openness" & a Little Water Under that Bridge
Authored by: FrnchFrgg on Friday, December 02 2005 @ 11:31 AM EST
Just to be really fair, I tried to validate a lot of pages from the Microsoft's
website, and very few validate. In fact, very few even have a DOCTYPE. Having a
great validating home page is a thing, having a site that truly validates is
another.

A good example : the "Get the facts on Windows & Linux", for
example.

That said, errors on Groklaw mainly come from Charset errors, lack of escaping
some ampersands, and a few manual errors.

Perhaps some volunteers can gather to "fix" Groklaw ? (preferably by
using solutions that would ease maintaining it fixed)

---
_FrnchFrgg_

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