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Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 06:30 AM EST

Here, thanks to jtiner, is the transcript of Microsoft's Alan Yates' remarks at yesterday's meeting regarding ODF/MS XML in Massachusetts. The audio from Dan Bricklin is here, if you wish to follow along. Yates also spoke in the Q & A session, if anyone is in a position to transcribe that part too.

I notice three salient things, from my point of view. You may notice other points, particularly if you are technical experts, but here's how it struck me.

First, what Microsoft is asking for is that Massachusetts adopt two standards, to "open up" to that. Yates says that Microsoft has never spoken against ODF, that what Microsoft is proposing is more choice and greater competition than the current Commonwealth policy provides. They want to be included too. It's just a question of two types of business models, Microsoft's, which he describes as a model based on "the magic of software," and IBM's, based on "the magic of services." On that basis, he says public policy shouldn't favor one business model over another, that public policy shouldn't choose software.

But ODF isn't a business or a business model, nor is it Open Source. It isn't a software application you can purchase. It's a format. Massachusetts didn't choose Open Source software. It chose OpenDocument Format, which is an open standard, which anyone can support in its software products, including proprietary companies like Microsoft. For him to make such as statement indicates to me that he either doesn't understand what ODF is (unlikely) or he hopes the audience doesn't or he's trying to move the conversation to a topic he'd prefer to talk about. Whatever the motive, the effect is misrepresentation.

Second, instead of talking about data retention and preserving documents into the future, which is what Massachusetts said it wanted, he in essence tells them they should want other things, things he thinks will lead them to Microsoft, like *backwards* compatibility and value. While this might be a suitable presentation to give to a prospective business customer, Yates is talking to a government agency, one that already has told this vendor what it needs and what its priorities are. They don't want to be locked into just one vendor's products. They want to be able to access documents for a hundred years, without having to worry about changing technology or proprietary extensions or having to depend on, or having to pay, a single vendor to be able to access their own documents.

Furthermore, Massachusetts didn't say they require just any old standard. They stated they require an *open* standard. Open formats, open standards. Does anyone seriously suggest that Ecma offers that? And what about proprietary extensions? Reread the terms Microsoft proposed to Ecma, as well as their FAQ. Notice any language about extensions? From the FAQ:

Anyone is free to work with a subset of the specifications, and anyone is free to create extensions to the specifications. A 'conformant' use is simply one that does not modify the specification. Of course subsets and supersets may create incompatibilities with other uses of the specifications and we want to provide some guidance on this topic in the future, but this will be guidance and not a mandate.

Is that what Massachusetts asked for? Incompatibilities? If anyone is free to create extensions, that means Microsoft can create extensions. I take that language as a declaration of intent. Will their proprietary extensions be covered by the covenent not to sue? If not, what will the practical effect be? Openness?

Compare ODF, with a snip from Bob Sutor's prepared remarks offered at the meeting and now available on his blog:

The world is changing: there are technological advances, new market conditions and a new era of productivity, innovation and wealth creation. What this based on? The World Wide Web, which, as you may know, is based on real open standards, many of which were created under the auspices of the W3C based across the river in Cambridge.

The web and the open standards that make it possible are not under the control of any single vendor and have enabled economic development and innovation --- great new ideas --- we could not have foreseen even ten years ago.

Similarly, we are now at the cusp of unlocking a new level of innovation, by unlocking documents. The ODF open standard --- which is modern, technically elegant, implemented and maintained by multiple vendors and interested parties, with no proprietary extensions (what I like to think of as vendor-added "gotchas" that break your ability to share documents), and, I want to stress, is available today --- can be the driver of the new generation of innovation, efficiency, and cost savings.

ODF enables real choice because it is not tightly linked to any one vendor's implementation. It keeps the control of the software to use it with the Commonwealth NOT a vendor.

The Commonwealth has chosen an option that is available today -- that will help it preserve its documents for generations, increase efficiency and flexibility, give it choice and control, and decrease costs. It will also drive great new ideas that, frankly, we can't even foresee today, just as we couldn't see everything the Web would bring us in 1995. These are some of the advantages of using truly open, non-vendor controlled standards.

Third, he speaks about "choice and technology neutrality" to improve competition so that there will be, he suggests, lower costs. How do you get lower costs than free of charge? Software that supports ODF is available at no cost at all. You are facing retraining no matter what you choose, I'm told, including Microsoft's next software offering, so that isn't a factor in this picture, I wouldn't think. So how can Microsoft offer lower costs? This isn't a matter of competition leading to lower costs, then, as I see it.

"Commercial software can be quite, quite, quite open, just as Open Source software can be quite open," he says. First of all, Open Source software can be commercial too. Ask Red Hat and Novell and Mandriva. So he posits a false dichotomy. The correct comparison is between proprietary software and Open Source. Proprietary software is never as open as Open Source software. If it were, it wouldn't be proprietary. Therefore, if what you desire is openness, Microsoft is always second-best to Open Source.

Let's talk a bit about backwards compatibility. First of all, is it true that only Microsoft's XML can accurately represent Microsoft formats? How do file conversions work, after all? Isn't it that the backward compatibility is in the conversion layer between the binary formats and the XML formats, not in the XML formats themselves? The conversion layer is not being submitted to Ecma or made available to anyone else, is it? Royalty-free? Open to the GPL?

Further, Microsoft could have joined the ODF Technical Committee at OASIS, but they chose not to. Why? If interoperability is your goal, and openness, with no barriers, then it makes perfect sense to merge the two standards, as Tim Bray already has suggested, instead of having them compete. If Microsoft opened up to allow it, by providing documentation of their binary formats, ODF could be modified to meet Microsoft's needs.

Because we know Microsoft could have worked to ensure that ODF could be backwards compatible with their formats, why didn't they? Why don't they now? Why doesn't Massachusetts ask them to? Is it that no one else can do it, or is it that they *want* to be the only ones that can do it? And if that is the explanation, what does that tell you? What would be the result if only Microsoft is able to offer true and complete backwards compatibility? Would it still be an open standard in effect, or an anticompetitive weapon? "Competition between standards, we believe, is a very good thing," Yates says. Good for whom? Other than Microsoft, who benefits from competing standards?

And is backwards compatibility actually desirable in this instance in all respects? If you ensure backwards compatibility to security-challenged binaries, aren't you dragging into the future all the security headaches that have made using Microsoft software a malware nightmare for so many for so long?

Finally, consider if procurement based on a desire for compatibility with current products is anticompetitive on its face, since it ipso facto favors an existing vendor, one that in this case is a monopoly already. If your goal is to stimulate competition in the market, as Yates proposes as a goal, following such a policy ensures the opposite result, I would think. Consider this point raised in the white paper, "Free/Libre and Open Source Software: Policy Support - FLOSSPOLS, Open Standards and Interoperability Report":

Software buyers' preference for interoperability can conflict with implicit or explicit criteria for software purchasing, in particular whether new software is compatible with previously purchased software. Buyers who use the latter criterion rather than a general requirement for open standards or vendor-independent interoperability in effect remain locked in to their previously purchased software.

Preferring "compatibility" may even violate public procurement principles, since a preference - explicit or implicit - for "compatibility with previously installed software" favours the single supplier of that software, if it is based on proprietary or semi-open standards. An explicit preference, instead, for interoperability with open standards as defined in this paper does not favour a single supplier of technology and is therefore far more in keeping with public procurement principles. This may also be more in keeping with public procurement law.

Here is the transcript. If you notice any errors, please let me know so I can perfect it.


Alan Yates: Thank you very much. Thanks Tim. I am very glad to be here. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here and speak on behalf of Microsoft because a) this is a very healthy public debate. It is a very important issue for a variety of, for millions and millions of companies around the world and public sector organizations, and I do hope to clear up some of, at least some of the misinformation, misperceptions, misunderstandings that has happened over a period of time, over the course of the questioning.

First of all, I will say that part of my job is to go around the world and to take a look at public policy and how it's evolving and work with public sector organizations to, as they make hard decisions around technology, and what I have seen over and over and over again is very similar to what John talked about in terms of the principles that public sector organizations are choosing. They're choosing to go with choice and technology neutrality as their primary focus in order to improve competition and the competitive environments so that they can lower cost. That's number one. But number two, they are also very, very focused on not doing anything that would compromise the delivery of value at the end of the day to their constituencies. So I guess I would, I would add to John's list of interoperability, access and control, choice, and innovation. Really around that last part, delivering value to your constituents at the end of the day is really one of the fundamental tenets of public sector organizations and agencies. Can, you know, have different sets of requirements over longer per... over long periods of time that require different choices to be made to deliver value. So, I would balance the remarks so far by saying: let's also think about keeping the focus on value.

Public sector organizations around the world that sort of balance this notion of absolute competition, choice, around their technology decisions along with being able to choose technology that gives them the most value for the money, those two things work together to be very powerful. And I would say that when you, when you focus on those two things together, you can tend to avoid a number of problems. Some of them are problems that Bob and, and Bob talked about and I think that you'll find it surprising to say that I'm not going to be arguing particularly with what Bob Sutor, Bob talked about in terms of openness.

What I'm really going to be talking about is Massachusetts actually opening up to more choice and more competition than the current policy has. That's, I think that's the fundamental decision that's before us. Can Massachusetts open up to more choice, additional standards, in order to enable greater value over a period of time? And by doing that, by enabling more choice over a period of time, you avoid the industry warfare that tends to jerk governments around from one month to the next month, to one debate to the next debate to the next debate.

Secondly, it avoids public policy sort of sitting at a craps table, trying to choose a technology and hoping that the technology is the right one, that somehow you land on the right technology to solve the problems today and tomorrow.

Third, we find quite often that policy can be used, if these principles aren't followed, policy can be used to establish political agendas. In Brazil, for example -- I was just in Brazil last week -- and a public sector CIO came to me and said, "Gosh, I've been forced to use these certain products for political reasons, and basically it's not working. I've now tried to revamp everything and gone back to the original products that were commercial software products and things are much more efficient, much more cost effective , etc, etc. But my government was choosing my software for me." Public policy shouldn't do that.

Next, public policy shouldn't necessarily favor one business model over another. Commercial software can be quite, quite, quite open, just as Open Source software can be quite open. They're simply different business models. One business model relies more on the magic of software, if you will, and one business model relies more on the magic of services, if you will, gluing disparate parts together through professional services to make it all work together. Two different business models. Governments should be open to both and to whatever else rolls down the street next. And by essentially enabling more choice, more competition like this, we feel that you avoid creating problems that sort of more narrow choices, uh, create problems like additional cost, problems like conversion cost, problems like one product may not have the accessibility features that another product may have, etc. So, again, my message is to open up to more choice.

I will say that we've been very gratified by the positive reception to our recent announcement of moving the Office OpenXML formats into a standards organizations, ECMA International, to make them utterly, completely, perpetually open by any measurement of openness at that point. When we started on this path a couple of years ago, actually, at Microsoft, we felt that there was a unique opportunity. Finally, after years and years and years of documents being small black boxes that, you know, you really couldn't open or you might corrupt the file, you might destroy the document, you might destroy the information in it, all of a sudden, XML technology has enabled us to be able to make documents and the information in documents transparent.

And instead of having documents on your desktop and information systems that can't speak together, all of a sudden there is a common language. It's called XML, that can, you can use to bridge that gap and create a common information system, if you will. We saw this nice, big opportunity that we think is not at all just a Microsoft opportunity. It is an industry opportunity. It's an industry for very small developers, It's an opportunity for growth for big line of business systems like SAP and Seibel. It's an opportunity for companies like IBM that provide services, for organizations to make interoperability work. It's an opportunity, over all, to spur innovation at a completely new level.

The, so, in getting to that point, in getting to the point where documents can be opened, documents can be XML centered, however, there are significant technical challenges. There are challenges in terms of performance. No one wants to have to open a spreadsheet that takes three minutes to open instead of what people are accustomed to today, two seconds, three seconds to open a spreadsheet.

There are plenty of problems that arise in terms of making sure that all the billions of documents that exist out there are not lost. In fact, the value that's delivered in those billions of documents in the past can be carried forward into this new open XML environment. So that was a key criteria for us as we developed our approach to OpenXML.

And then finally, we did want to make sure that the technology was open to everyone. And our earlier attempts at making it open to everyone, we listened very carefully to the feedback, actually, from all around, the Massachusetts decision about what are the nuances of licensing. The licensing area in, in technology, right now, is evolving quite, quite rapidly. So, we came up with, and in fact, we, you know, very liberally borrowed from Sun, and Sun's approach with the OpenDocument format, to come up with what we think is a way to both acknowledge intellectual property and the existence of intellectual property so not to blow up intellectual property but to make absolutely, utterly, totally clear that anyone, open source developer, anyone, can use the technology.

Now, there will still be many lawyerly debates and whatever, about one license not quite working here or there, whatever and that's a good discussion to have, a good debate to have, and, bottom line, Microsoft feels that we have made enormous strides in order to come up, really innovation with Sun around a licensing approach that essentially says you won't ever be sued for using this technology. Whether it's a subset, whether it's a superset, whether it's an extension, whether you're just using part of it, whether you're using the whole thing, doesn't matter, you, you know, you can use this technology with no concerns.

So, with that, I would just like to summarize by saying Microsoft has never argued, you know, really, against the OpenDocument format in any way, shape or form. Microsoft is really concerned about Massachusetts opening up to more choice, more competition. Competition between standards, we believe, is a very good thing in this rapidly evolving area of technology and by doing so, Massachusetts will, in fact, be a leader around the world in spurring this new level of innovation that's possible around documents. Thank you.


Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript | 275 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
corrections here
Authored by: webster on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 06:50 AM EST

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 06:50 AM EST
Alan Yates:
"Competition between standards, we believe, is a very good thing in this rapidly evolving area of technology..."
Competition between standards is not the aim. Competition between software is the aim.

Which is achieved by using a standard. One standard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Repost: MS' intent
Authored by: Winter on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 07:05 AM EST

Late in the last article, I posted my opinion on the intent of MS. It might be of interest for this article too.

In An Economic Basis for Open Standards, by Rishab Aiyer Gosh it is quite extensively explained that you have to control rights in a market to capture and monetize the network effects of a standard.

Several administrations, eg, the EU, have made it clear that there will NOT be a standardization for anything that is not "open" and recognized by a standards body (ISO for the EU). Therefore, MS was forced to drop all legal threats.

It is important to look at what they didn't do. They did not install an open stewardship comittee to oversee the development of the standard. It is still completely under their control. Even ECMA will not be allowed to change anything in the MS Office 12 standard. Thats why they claim that ODF is a SUN only standard with no outside input. If they don't, their own standard will be tainted.

This possibly points towards a new strategy. MS has developed the MS Office 12 standard as an XML wrapper around the old MS Office binary memory dump formats. (I saw an MS blog comment post claiming that the ODF was a memory dump of, a case of a wolf crying wolf). MS Office 12 XML is a recursive dump of their internal (compiler specific) memory lay-out (Document Object Model). This makes transitions from the old binary files "easy". However, it makes life really miserable for everyone who uses a different DOM or a different compiler. Moreover, the format is unreadable. You have to model the document loading to get an idea of what actually happens. And it includes a lot of opportunities for unspecified binary blobs.

What is even worse. MS Office 12 XML breaks EVERY existing XML standard. Be it Dublin Core, Xforms, and even the container ZIP is non-standard. So none of the existing tools will be of any use with MS' format. The example discussed in the format comparison show a lingering problem with MS' XML. XML was constructe to allow hiearchically structured annotated data communication. This implies that a tag affects its daughters etc., but not it's nieces and aunts. The bold tag in the example, however, seems to work by changing the face of tags following it's (grand-)parent in the original document. So there exists a rather complex dependency on the order in which the compiler dumps the tags. It is like the GOTO statement in computer code: Dispicable except in extraordinary circumstances. Anyone trying to implement this will have to second guess the working of MS' software and compiler. And both are proprietary and secret.

In short, while apparently laying down its legal arms, MS seems now to bet on leveraging their existing base of MS formatted documents. After an easy conversion to the new XML standard, it will take the competition years to get this spaghetti mess properly implemented. And given the possibility of adding proprietary extensions build into the standard, at that time new documents will have been locked in again into MS software.

Summary, MS has been forced to stop their legal threats, but is still controlling a standard that is custum made to fit its OWN, proprietary and secret, code base. They can still expect to retake legal controll over their documents at a later stage by the customary proprietary extensions.

Btw., software patents are intended to replace the now illegal tarif barriers and import quota. Expect to see them challenged as protectionist tools at future WTO meetings.


"news is what someone, somewhere, wants to
suppress; everything else is advertising" Anonymous Journalist

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic here please
Authored by: Chris Lingard on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 07:07 AM EST

Try to post in HTML, and put in those links.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 07:18 AM EST
I will try to answer this:
Let's talk a bit about backwards compatibility. First of all, is it true that only Microsoft's XML can accurately represent Microsoft formats?

Probably. Considder doc-, xls- and ppt-files ability to store Visual Basic macros, this will probably be possible in Office XML too, but this feature may not have been deemed appropriate for equivalent ODF files, afterall the security implications of such a feature are considderable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS refuses to adapt ODF, "exclusion"
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 07:20 AM EST
Message to Yates:

1) The market sets a standard.
2) Vendors implement this standard
3) Vendors get "included" on the free market created by the standard
4) All vendors can compete on said market.

Now, you tell me you want to be included on the market. What is stopping you
from adapting the ODF standards set by the state of MA? You refuse to implement
ODF due to "lack of customer demand" (I gather the demand from the
state of MA does not qualify as "customer demand", maybe MA is too
small a customer?). Your perceived exclusion is of your own making. Hence you
yourself are in a position to fix this perceived exclusion: implement ODF.

But wait.. it wouldn't be that adapting ODF would make Microsoft subject to
free, open competition on the ODF market that you refuse to implement ODF, Mr
Yates? No.. can't be. I company holding a monopoly position like your employer
woulld never, ever try to maintain its monopoly position, oh, no.. such a
company just adors making itself vulnarable to open competition.. such a company
just loves giving up its monopoly position., just loves it..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
Authored by: blacklight on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:28 AM EST
First, what Microsoft is asking for is that Massachusetts adopt two standards,
to "open up" to that. Clearly, Microsoft does not want to understand
that Microsoft does not get to decide what qualifies as an open standard. And
Microsoft's behavior amounts to special pleading, and demanding as a right the
privilege to be an exception to rules that apply to everyone else.

Second, Microsoft's emphasis on backward compatibility is rather sudden, given
Microsoft's historical strategy of obsoleting support for their old formats in
order to compel their customers to buy the version of Microsoft Office they are

Third, while Open Source can be considered a different business model, ODF is
not a product: it is a standard that is open enough that both Open Source and
proprietary vendor outfits can implement. Customers are still free to choose
from whom they want to get a product that is compliant with ODF - A standard is
not open unless anyone who has the technical capability can implement it. In
order words, introducing business models into this discussion is irrelevant,
unless the topic is Microsoft's intense desire to shut out Open Source.

As for Yates' statement that competition between standards is a very good thing:
if a standard does not fulfill requirements, then it is not acceptable or
eligible. Period. What we have seen from Microsoft so far is Microsoft's attempt
to run roughshod over MA's openness requirements, followed by Microsoft's
attempt to do an end run around MA's openness requirements, and now followed by
Microsoft's attempt to get away with deliberately ignoring MA's openness
requirements. This behavior is one more demonstration that Microsoft's minions
are little more than monopolists who act like losers. Given this kind of
corporate culture, it is only a matter of time before Microsoft as a publicly
owned corporation will be a loser in the marketplace.

Know your enemies well, because that's the only way you are going to defeat
them. And know your friends even better, just in case they become your enemies.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
Authored by: willyyam on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:36 AM EST
Yes, two standards sounds wonderful. Oh, and can you cut that 2 by 4 to 785 for
me? And I need a two cubit lenth of wire. Yeah two standards sounds fabulous,
but maybe we should table this discussion. How about we bring it up at the
meeting on Thermidor 2, at 2pm? Great...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Just what does two standards mean?
Authored by: LouS on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 08:48 AM EST
What would it mean to have "two standards"? Some documents would be
MS XML and some in ODF? So I would have to have two word processors in
order to be sure I could edit any given document. Or a word processor that
handled both, but then what advantage is there in having two standards?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why not two standards ...
Authored by: Hobbletoe on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:02 AM EST
For the simple reason that you don't want to support two separate standards. MS
wants their own standard that they will undoubtedly add extentions too so that
only their software will be able to read it correctly. Granted, someone will
crack it and add it to any number of open source document processors, but that
will take time. Time that MS will use to build more extentions. Only MS will
be able to fully utilize their "standard".

On the other hand, we have ODF that everyone can implement now. No extentions
or any convents not to sue. MS has said that they will not support ODF and are
waiting for third party folk to provide support for them.

Now from a technical point, I don't want to support MS (for Word XML or
whatever) and another document processor (for ODF). Nor do I want to
"patch" every machine with MS on it with software from a third party
just so I can have one document processor for both standards. Two standards
would lead to more applications to support (different processors, file
converters, ...) which leads to the need for more technical support, which leads
to a greater cost.

The point of one standard is to support as few products as possible, while
providing all of the support that is needed.

Hobbletoe Clubfoot

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:22 AM EST
Two standards is just another way of saying that
NOBODY tells BG what to do.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Yates is very easy to counter
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:23 AM EST
One does not have to look very far to see what problems two
standards can cause. "NASA" chose to deal with two standards
(english and metric measurement) when designing the mars polar lander. The
result was a million pieces of junk scattered across the red planet. The other
result was a loss of millions of tax dollars and wasted man hours.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Yates' quotation
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:34 AM EST
Commercial software can be quite, quite, quite open, just as Open Source software can be quite open.

If Yates had said "Commercial software can be quite open", I might have been inclined to take his statement at face value, meaning that some people believe OSS can be open and some people believe commercial software can be open, and both beliefs are true.

If he had said "Commercial software can be quite, quite open", I would have thought that he was emphasizing the openness of commercial software as opposed to open source, because although most people are ready to believe that OSS can be open, too many people believe that commercial software can not be open.

By saying "Commercial software can be quite, quite, quite open", Yates has convinced me that he himself has trouble accepting the concept that commercial software can ever be as open as OSS, although he would be perfectly content to let me be gulled into believing that.

Or as J. Cochran could have said, "If it's got a triple 'quite', it's probably not right!"


[ Reply to This | # ]

2 standards? oh wait, you mean double standards n/t
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:36 AM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's problem.
Authored by: Sunny Penguin on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:38 AM EST
If MS does not support ODF in MS Office, then they lose business in MA; If MS
does support ODF in MS office, they will completely lose the "lock-in"
for Office users.

I do not know which one MS is more afraid of.

"Numerical superiority is of no consequence. In battle, victory will go to the
best tactician."
~ George Custer (1839-1876)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's "Magic"
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:40 AM EST
"One business model relies more on the magic of software, if you will, and
one business model relies more on the magic of services."

By "magic" he means "productive of money", but to someone
less informed (like hopes his audience is) he would lead them to think that Open
Source apps are somehow not "software", but something else, something
a bit satanic perhaps. The word "software" has a feel-good sound and
he wants to dissociate it from open source.

We know, we know, open source is nothing to do with ODF and we are weary of
re-iterating it; but he couples them anyway.

The man is a salesman, pure and simple. Notice he starts with platitudes to
lull us into agreement :

"... healthy public debate ... very important issue ... for millions and
millions of companies around the world ... I do hope to clear up ...
misunderstandings ... around the world ... I have seen over and over and over
again ... public sector organizations are choosing ... choice and technology
neutrality ... primary focus ... very, very focused ... delivery of value ...
the end of the day ... delivering value ... fundamental tenets of public sector
organizations ... deliver value [hey, that's 3 times now] ... the focus on

- and then reminds us he is talking for Microsoft so we tend to think of
Microsoft as the sensible side etc etc. Is there anyone still so naive in this
21st century as to fall for this sales talk?

My experience of the "magic" of MS software is its uncanny ability to
turn a perfectly ordinary session into a blue screen of death, for reasons
beyond logical explanation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 09:44 AM EST
MS really got a nerve to say "choose Microsoft for backwards
compatibility". They created the problem in the first place, now they spin
the continuation of the problem as a fix.

[ Reply to This | # ]

    Look at the wookie....
    Authored by: frk3 on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:00 AM EST

    This is a wookie:

    "Commercial software can be quite, quite, quite open, just as Open Source software can be quite open," he says. First of all, Open Source software can be commercial too. Ask Red Hat and Novell and Mandriva. So he posits a false dichotomy. The correct comparison is between proprietary software and Open Source. Proprietary software is never as open as Open Source software. If it were, it wouldn't be proprietary. Therefore, if what you desire is openness, Microsoft is always second-best to Open Source.

    The debate is not over commercial software and open source software, period. This is just misdirection, is completely irrelevant to the debate. It may be what MSFT and Mr. Yates want the debate to be about, but it just isn't.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Can future MS-DRM block access to these xml files?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:04 AM EST
    Just wondering; how will DRM handle these XML files?
    Micorsoft can encrypt these files with some DRM scheme and still claim they are
    open, since the underlying 'unencrypted' file remains unnaffected.

    Since DRM is MS roadmap, did anyone take this matter in account?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    How many?
    Authored by: kozmcrae on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:33 AM EST
    If two standards are better than one, then 12 standards would be really great.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Smells like LDAP
    Authored by: Observer on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 10:53 AM EST
    (*sigh*) The more things change, the more they stay the same. The ability to add extensions to "Open XML" smells an awful lot like what Microsoft tried to do with LDAP. There was (is) an open specification. When Microsoft implemented LDAP, they did accurately implement all the parts of the standard, but then they tried to add in proprietary "extensions". The effect was that, even though the implementation complied to the standard, you were still locked into using Microsoft software end-to-end.

    This will happen with documents too. As soon as the "standard" is accepted (or, if you count the binary formatting part of the document, even before it is accepted), they will start adding in bits and pieces here and there. The office software may be capable of producing purely 'conformant' documents, but no one will think about it, and documents submitted will quickly become polluted with non-conformant parts, making it impossible for any other software to properly render the document.

    So, the format is technically "Open", but none of the documents themselves are.

    The Observer

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Multiple standards ...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:00 AM EST

    ... means that the public will still be stuck using Microsoft Office for some documents and an other document processing (or viewing) program for other documents.

    This benefits me, as a non-Microsoft software user, how? My household has six Linus-based systems and a single Windows-based system. That Windows-based computer is soon to become a Macintosh. What good does having multiple standard do me as a citizen if I'm bound to a particular vendor's software product in order to access documents that my local government publishes? Documents that are published, I should add, using my hard-earned tax money. Government should not be in the business of enhancing the financials of a specific private sector software vendor. Period. Microsoft can take their "value" arguments and hit the road. This is NOT a TCO problem that governments are trying to address.

    I'm a pretty reserved sort of person but the day my state, local, or federal government mandates that I have to use Microsoft products in order to access public documents is the day I start firing off FAXes to every government office I can find a FAX number for, picketing in front of government offices, starting a petition for a class action lawsuit, whatever it takes.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:19 AM EST

    Two standards:

    1. Proprietary Non-MS file formats (WordPerfect, Lotus WordPro, etc.)
    2. and OpenDocument Format
    ... Hmmm, I'm ok with that.

    BUT WAIT, what about all of my (La)TeX documents, and my SGML docs, and my gleebshnortkle files?!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Other Propietors to MA: How About 5 Standards?
    Authored by: webster on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:36 AM EST

    1. If M$ succeeds than every other propietary software maker will have a right
    to open one of their standards and be included on the state list. The State
    can't discriminate. The state will then have to say if you send us a document
    it can be in standard A, B, C, D, or E, but you must also send the document in
    A. Since they will all be open and interoperable, they will not be able to
    complain about the state priority preference A. The state will not want to bear
    the cost burden of converting all their standards to format A.

    2. Mr. Yates, isn't adopting multiple standards a backwards step? Doesn't
    multiple standards defeat the very purpose of standards? Would you recommend
    that highway signs in the state could have EITHER miles (Springfield),
    kilometers (Cambridge) and cubits (Worcester)? Don't answer! Candor is not on
    your job description.

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

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Benefit of the Doubt?
    Authored by: Prototrm on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:36 AM EST
    Removing my tinfoil hat for a moment, I'm thinking that Microsoft may have
    another reason for wanting their XML format to be considered a
    "standard" document format.

    It seems to me that the Microsoft format is designed around the C++ classes used
    by the MS Office software. If this is the case, Microsoft may be facing a rather
    ugly conversion process to load and save an ODF file. We already know that
    Microsoft follows the Kitchen Sink software design philosophy, so their Office
    code is probably a large and complicated mass, with significant portions tied
    very closely to Windows code (sharing a good bit of it, too, I imagine). You
    don't make any fundamental changes to something like that. You want to keep as
    many of the classes intact as possible, and avoid adding duplicate code if you
    can. It appears to me that ODF is different enough from the Microsoft XML that
    you'd need a whole set of new C++ classes in order to support the conversion

    It's possible that Microsoft's primary justification for not implementing ODF is
    not vendor lock-in, but avoiding all that extra code it would have to write and
    debug. We know how slow their development cycle is now with the existing code.
    They probably don't need more delays. They have enough new code to debug
    already, adding all those unnecessary changes their marketing department claims
    will sell more units (like the new interface). They just don't see file formats
    as a selling point, so why bother? Why can't the world just accept Microsoft's
    solution and get back to Business As Usual?

    Now putting my tinfoil hat back on...

    I don't think Microsoft's executives see a need for any other company's computer
    products but theirs. Competition in the industry only serves to confuse the poor
    users, after all. It would be so much simpler for everyone if it could just be

    As for open standards, Microsoft products are the de-facto standard, right?
    Aren't those products available to everyone? Why anyone would have a problem
    buying those products is beyond said executives.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Isn't Microsoft only doing what it must?
    Authored by: dobbo on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 11:53 AM EST

    Microsoft have given convents that they will not sue anyone who develops code that infringes their IP in implementing MS-XML. Didn't Microsoft have to do this? Ecma requires that any any IP included in a standard up for ratification be available to all equally. They don't say how it is made available, but they do say that it must be fair.

    Here Microsoft has a problem. It already has agreements with IBM, Sun, and others to use each other's IP. As IBM, Sun (and others) both develop software how could Microsoft meet the Ecma's RAND rule if it didn't offer the convent to all?

    I can't see Sun not implementing MS-XML for StarOffice. Any application that wants credibility needs to be compatible with the market leader in that space, especially if the market leader has a virtual monopoly. And I'm sure and the other commercial office suit vendors will do the same. But StarOffice is the interesting one, because code from StarOffice migrates to OpenOffice over time under (from Microsoft's perspective) the dreaded GPL.

    So why is Microsoft releasing MS-XML up for standardisation? I think it is because they need to. Big clients, like the Commonwealth of MA, are demanding the advantages that standardisation bring. Without the ability to wave the International Standard's flag MS-Office would loss market share quicker.

    So why didn't they just announce that that would be implementing ODF? I hear you ask. I can only think that Microsoft's analysis showed that with MS-Office implementing a different standard Microsoft can differentiate their office suite from the rest, and therefore reduce the migration away from MS-Office by their loyal customers.

    I'm sure at some point Microsoft will add ODF support to their office suite. But I am also sure that they will only do so when not having ODF support is seen as costing them more sales that having it. There is one thing I expect Microsoft to do at all times - maximise their profits.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: jbb on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:19 PM EST
    Alan Yates said:
    ... I do hope to clear up some of, at least some of the misinformation, misperceptions, misunderstandings ...

    I think there was a problem with the transcription here. Those words should have been spelled:

    • MSinformation,
    • MSperceptions,
    • MSunderstandings.

    Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: jsusanka on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:21 PM EST
    I was going to use some quotes from the article and comment on them but I ended
    up quoting the whole thing.

    So I just want to know how can yates sleep at night spewing out this nonsense.

    It isn't about competition - and no one is telling anybody to use any software.

    I especially like the brazil example - wonder how much the lunch was that this
    guy told yates about his situation in brazil. better yet it was probably lunch
    and dinner.

    it was most likely a vp or ceo or something that was so used to his illegal copy
    of excel and now he actually has to learn something new (oh my god) or yet even

    this is about CITIZENS being able to read THEIR documents without having to buy
    one piece of software.

    why can't microsoft just see that - competition should have nothing to do with
    this - it is a standard that is open to everyone which fosters more competition.

    this guy is really a slime ball - the worse kind - the wolf in sheeps clothing.

    one other thing his ecma approved open standard is another wolf in sheeps
    clothing. it is NOT open and leaves a lot of open ends.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:29 PM EST
    Another two standards:

    US - drive on the right
    UK - drive on the left

    Very uncompatable!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Beta vs. VHS - that will benefit everyone!
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:56 PM EST
    Which is the basic argument Microsoft is making here. Two standards only
    confuses users and hinders standards adoption, until one of the standards
    eventually wins out. Which is what happened with Beta vs. VHS and what
    Microsoft wants to happen here.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:08 PM EST
    Occam's Razor

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    If it's all about competition....
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:09 PM EST
    Now seems like a good time the ask why MA's public records are written in
    German. After all, competition is a good thing, hence competition in languages
    must be a good thing. I believe German was a second runner up for the country's
    common language. Why not have public records in German now? Or some in English
    and some in German? It seems to me the state is stifling competion. OK. OK.
    German was already beaten down in the country. How about Spanish? There is
    still go good size spanish speaking population around in the country.

    I believe MA should accept competing standards in document formats ... and they
    should publish the policy in Spanish! Or German!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    It's just a matter of time now....
    Authored by: frk3 on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:18 PM EST

    I am certain, soon, we are going to see more and more studies from companies and government organizations that have switched completely from MSFT Office products and files to OpenOffice (and other products) and ODF format.

    At some point, the cost of upgrading all users to the new Microsoft Office suite, compared to translating existing files over to ODF, as needed, and getting people using OpenOffice, will make it a no brainer.

    MSFT's days in this battle are numbered, and MSFT knows it.

    Part of their stategy has been to get Office used in the Office so that people are familiar with it and *have to have it* for home use also. But this is gonna change.

    MSFT is headed towards a business cliff, so to speak. They are doing everything they can to figure out how best to hang on (once they are over the cliff) so that they can hold on as long as possible (i.e. revenues continuing to maintain and be slightly above current levels).

    They are doomed, how long it will take, dunno. But, IMHO, they probably would have been better off separating into an OS and Applications companies like one of the original monoply abuse remedies proposed.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Message to Microsoft's Yates' about MA:
    Authored by: clark_kent on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 01:47 PM EST
    You have got a lot of nerve to ask about having two standards, since Microsoft was so passionate about killing off competition in the early-to-mid 90's from Wordstar, Wordperfect (and Office Suite), Lotus 1-2-3, and Pocketbook Writer for the Commodore 64 and 128, just to name a few.

    You want fair? You don't know what fair is... I say toast Microsoft NOW!!!!!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    It's a classic con job
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 02:19 PM EST
    Everything Microsoft is doing relative to ODF and Massachusetts makes perfect
    sense if viewed in the context of a confidence job. The con is that their
    "open" format actually is open in a way that meets the Commonwealth's
    specifications, when, in fact, it clearly is no such thing. Or, alternately,
    that theirs is effectively the same, but different. In fact, who can tell what
    it is that they're actually advocating? They keep everyone guessing by using
    obscure language and constantly changing their line. One can expect the
    MS-as-con-artist to say anything they think will persuade people that they are
    not just putting up a show of being open, all the while being extremely careful
    to avoid giving away anything that would have the effect of actually yielding
    their proprietary control.

    Perhaps the most important element of any con job is to draw the marks'
    attention away from the main point so they won't even think about the ruse. MS
    natters endlessly about business models, competition, market forces, backward
    compatibility, openness--anything to avoid the main point in the hope that no
    one will notice that the emperor has no clothes. As PJ has pointed out, those
    things are irrelevant and misleading. I submit that they are raised solely for
    purposes of diversion and obfuscation, and any discussion of them beyond that
    point probably is wasted effort.

    This is precisely what SCO has been doing for years now to try to obscure the
    fact that they have no evidence and no case.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What is a Standard? Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 02:27 PM EST
    Perhaps a different perspective will help Groklaw readers understand, not
    necessarily agree with, but understand the issues as viewed by a corporate
    entity such as Microsoft.

    Several years ago, there was the issue of using electronic messages to
    communicate business information between different businesses. This was an age
    where the data might be ASCII or EBCIDIC. Where it might be on a high order
    byte or a low order byte machine. Where it might be on a Digital Equipment
    machine, and IBM machine, Data General or whatever. Standards for communicating
    between different systems did not exist. A group of vendors and interested
    companies got together and developed something called the Electronic Data
    Interchange standard, sometimes known as X12.

    Now the interesting thing about this "standard", is it layed out what
    a document may look like, and what a document must contain, for something such
    as an advanced shipping notice, which was essentially an electronic document
    that was sent from a supplier to a customer to tell the customer what had been

    When you look at the standard, you will find a number of items which are
    required, and other items which are optional. Some of the optional items, if
    present, have required fields, and optional fields.

    In order to really communicate between a supplier and a customer, which optional
    items are required need to be nailed down. Generally the customer is considered
    the nine hundred pound gorilla, because it is the customer who is putting up the
    bucks to buy something. So even though there is a standard document, generally
    speaking each customer will generate a specification, which lists which things
    they require. Making sure that the requirements for each customer are met is
    what keeps consultents and programmers busy taloring documents for all those

    Now to relate this to MA. MA, in my view is the customer, the 900 pound
    gorilla. It is perfectly all right for there to be two document format
    standards. However it is also perfectly all right for MA to say, *THIS* is the
    standard we are selecting for formatting documents for long term accessability.
    Since MA is the 900 pound gorilla, it is the responsibilty of those doing
    business with MA to provide documents in that selected format. If you are
    writing software to format documents for long term accessability, then you make
    sure your software conforms to that standard, if you want MA, and entities
    doeing business with MA to be your customer. If you think it will be too much
    work to have your software do that particular job, then obviously you don't want
    to sell to that group of customers.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Let's focus on the real issue.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 03:53 PM EST
    There is so much talk in many of these replies about being able to open the MA
    documents in free software (OOO) or MSFT Office.

    I think the one thing that needs to come to the top above everything else is
    that MA wants all of it's public documents in an "open standard"
    format that is available for any person, conpany, or organization to use. The
    IT standard that has been proposed says nothing about any vendor or supplier.
    It just says that it must be able to save in the open standard they specified.

    If you go back to the "if it is said enough it becomes fact" line od
    thought... then that is what should be done. Keep stating and reminding
    everyone that this is not about one product or another. It is about being able
    to save your documents in the format that the state of MA requires. Tha is

    As long as each of us loses focus on what the issue really is, then the
    naysayers will succeed in having this standard removed.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OK, 2 standards: ODF and Wordperfect 5.x
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 03:55 PM EST
    I just noticed that my copy of MS Word can read and write documents in
    Wordperfect 5.x format. Couldn't Corel submit this format as a standard and make
    this problem go away? Microsoft would have to remove existing functionality to
    claim that they couldn't support it.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What about ASCII
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 04:20 PM EST
    Isn't that a standard that FOSS and Microsoft both support?

    True there is no "formatting", but the information shared (text) is

    Thre already are multiple standards that are supported. I don't know that ASCII
    is open, but it is clearly inadequate for the task at hand.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 05:07 PM EST
    Finally, after years and years and years of documents being small black boxes that, you know, you really couldn't open or you might corrupt the file, you might destroy the document, you might destroy the information in it, all of a sudden, XML technology has enabled us to be able to make documents and the information in documents transparent.

    This gives the impression that, just because it is "XML", programs can somehow magically read and write these files without errors, or that errors in the file format won't affect how programs read and display them (or further create new errors).

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: mrcreosote on Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 06:16 PM EST
    Sad, really. Mr Yates doesn't realise that "The great thing about standards
    is there is so many to choose from" is meant to be a joke.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why Microsoft fears ODF
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 16 2005 @ 12:24 AM EST
    It is actually quite easy to understand why Microsoft is doing the standard
    tango in regards to ODF.

    Recall that MS's vision of the future is one governed by DRM not just for
    content, but for software as well. Thin clients, subscription models, and new
    hardware that will enforce the market they want, is their goal.

    MS has been pushing their trusted computing initiative for a while now,
    carefully slipping various pieces of its infrastructure into place in the guise
    of this or that necessary piece of technology - much as a person plays chess.
    Passport will be your windows account in the future, linking to your
    subscriptions for software, your document storage vault, and your payment
    methods. Likewise, MS has pushed for web services, and developed DRM technology
    that can limit usage of software (not just content) at the application
    developer's discretion. Policy servers run by the developing software house will
    use web services in encrypted XML formats to authorize or deny your ability to
    open the software, create, save, or view documents on any possible criteria. If
    your computer cannot be validated by the operating system and hardware (google
    fritz chip, although it goes by a differnet name now) you will not be able to
    access any software or content on your computer that requires a valid trusted
    computing environment. Documents and other content will be locked up in such a
    way that only authorized applications can view them.

    This last is a particular reason why Microsoft MUST fight the evolution of
    powerful and capable open standards for document formats - it is essential to
    their DRM dreams.

    This is the world Microsoft wants. This is why they are dancing like crazy now.
    This is why they fear ODF.

    - Lauriesman

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 16 2005 @ 03:58 AM EST
    Yates: "Competition between standards, we believe, is a very good thing"

    I am from the engineering world, working in a calculations department calculating the strength of engine parts like crankshaft and connecting rod.
    Just 2 weeks ago I had to experience the disadvantage of two competing standards: The systems of units (SI vs American).

    Being from Europe, I am familiar with the System International (SI) system of units. The unit of a flywheel inertia is kgm².
    As we had to use the flywheel of a supplier from the USA, we got the flywheel inertia either in the unit lbmft² or lbffts² (which are even 2 different values).

    I had to convert the flywheel inertia, because I am doing all calculations in SI units. The conversion of units has two disadvantages:
    - You have to do the work.
    - You can make an error.

    Life for all would be much easier if all could agree to work with one system of units (= one standard)! Competing Standards are not good, competition with products based on one standard are good.

    PJ has permission to use the text of this post for everything she can think of.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 16 2005 @ 05:42 AM EST
    "Competition between standards, we believe, is a very good thing"

    Yeah, we all saw how 'nice' that worked out for Html and CSS

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Counter to MS tactics - insist on 2 formats everywhere
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 16 2005 @ 05:56 AM EST
    Try to make it illegal for any government department or (state, federal or
    local) or school or university or any public institution at all (such as
    library, hospital, emergency service, etc, etc) to accept or distribute
    electronic documents/information in just the one standard format.

    Try to make it an absolute must that all public institutions and even places or
    work accept all electronic material in any approved standard format.

    Insist on it as your inalienable right that you may use ODF format (for whatever
    purpose, at home, at work or at school) and that you cannot be forced in any way
    to use MS formats if you do not want to.

    Challenge your local politician to champion this right on your behalf. Promise
    to vote for any politician that adopts this cause. Begin a mass letter-wriiting

    In a democracy - insist on your right to choose.

    In a free market - insist on your right to freely choose from a number of
    products, not just the one.

    Accept nothing less.

    MS will only prevail if the people let them.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: Rascalson on Friday, December 16 2005 @ 06:51 AM EST
    I question whether Peter Quinn said exactly what the globe is saying he said
    ,"But Massachusetts' chief information officer, Peter Quinn, who's leading
    the drive for the new data standard, said the Microsoft proposal will probably
    meet the state's demands". They did not put that in quotes and what they
    did put in quotes, ''I don't see how you can get hung up about it," he
    said.", seems kind of disconnected from what the paragraph was talking
    about? Is anyone else sceptical on the Globes writing of this or is my Sn hat
    on to tight? Could we get clarification that he did actaully say that? I only
    question it because the Globe is the only one attributing that particular
    statement to him.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Nugget of Truth!
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 16 2005 @ 09:22 AM EST
    Second sentence of Yates's concluding paragraph:

    Microsoft is really concerned about Massachusetts opening up to more choice, more competition.

    Sometimes a quote becomes more accurate when taken out of context.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft confuses standards
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, December 16 2005 @ 09:30 AM EST
    Microsoft confuses standards with "technology", "policy", "business models", "magic", "small black boxes", "spreadsheet", "intellectual property":

    Microsoft confuses standards

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: Jimbob0i0 on Friday, December 16 2005 @ 01:40 PM EST
    Here's somethign that amazed me after experiancing MS's "export to
    html" ability in MS Office...

    In 2.0 I just did an export of a document to xml.

    This document had a auto-generated TOC (clickable) and the document was properly
    styled for headers etc.

    The XML document formed passed w3c validation for xhtml1.0 strict and was easy
    enough to read that I could change styles to move things round and manipulate
    stuff myself by hand.... WOW

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The benefits of two standards - Tell that to Nasa
    Authored by: Wesley_Parish on Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 06:34 AM EST

    Wasn't it NASA that had two measurement standards - metric and imperial?

    Perhaps Alan Yates could be so kind as to explain the benefits of this?

    Earlier this year, for example, NASA discovered that a mix up between metric and imperial units led to the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter mission.

    Miles or Kilometers?
    NASA's $125m mission to study the climate on Mars was destroyed in 1999 when a navigation error caused the Mars Climate Orbiter to undershoot its target altitude by 90km (54 miles). Rather than entering Mars' atmosphere at its target altitude, it came instead to within 60km of the planet's surface. The spacecraft, traveling at speeds of around 16,000kmh, was consequently torn apart in the atmosphere. The minimum survivable altitude was 85km - Dang! Missed by that much! A review board found the navigation error was caused when some of the spacecraft's commands were sent in imperial units rather than metric.

    I n 1999, a mix-up over the use of metric and imperial units sent the Climate Orbiter probe too close to the Martian surface, causing it to burn up in the atmosphere.

    Well, Alan Yates, the whole world is watching. You don't want to flunk your grand show, do you? Please explain to us poor ignorant savages why it was good for NASA to use simultaneously two different measurement standards; and how the simultaneous use of two radically different XML file format standards, one semi-open, one completely open, is such a good idea.

    Enquiring minds want to know!

    finagement: The Vampire's veins and Pacific torturers stretching back through his own season. Well, cutting like a child on one of these states of view, I duck

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Let's Keep The Focus On Value
    Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 17 2005 @ 11:03 PM EST
    Yates says: "Can, you know, have different sets of requirements over longer
    per... over long periods of time that require different choices to be made to
    deliver value. So, I would balance the remarks so far by saying: let's also
    think about keeping the focus on value."

    Keep the focus on value? Tell me where there is value to a consumer in causing
    the price of a computer to be more than DOUBLED by selecting an office suite?

    I was looking at Dell's website (Canadian) on Dec. 16 for a very basic system
    for a relative to do nothing more than some office applications, email and web
    surfing, maybe print a few photos, and possibly some minor database stuff too.
    The Dimension 1100 was available for $399 CDN. If you were to select Office
    Professional Small Business Edition as your office productivity suite (which
    includes M$ Acce$$) the additional cost is - $490! Almost $100 more than
    the price of the computer!

    Yes, let's keep the focus on value. I'm more than glad to get OOo and MySQL and
    make donations to them for their fine work and be satisfied that I am getting
    not only a top-notch office productivity suite which supports completely open
    standards, but an enterprise class DBMS as well.

    Value, indeed!

    Armando (not logged in!)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 18 2005 @ 10:12 PM EST
    I wouldn't worry about MS XML pushing ODF out of the picture. Technically MS XML
    is lousy. No corporation or organisation other than MS can easily make tools
    that author this format (or convert it to PDF).
    By comparison, ODF is trivial to transform to PDF and so on.

    So therefore in effect, all the Microsoft positioning and smoke and mirrors will
    come to nothing. They might as well have asked Ma. to post .Doc files on their
    web site.

    In my view the development of ODF represents the dawn of a new age in the office
    software world. No longer will lock-in work. This is like when TCP-IP blew away
    NetBEUI and IPX.

    Technically, ODF is just so superior to the competitio, it won't fail.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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