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OpenDocument News: Europe gets involved, DigiNews Summary, and Spreadsheet Formulas
Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 07:00 PM EST

Lots of interesting things are happening in the OpenDocument front. There's more details about the new anti-trust complaint in Europe against Microsoft, and reports on ODF progress on accessibility and spreadsheets, and a new OASIS committee to work to encourage adoption of ODF.

You probably saw Andy Updegrove's article "It's Now a Two Front War: The ODF Allies Launch an Offensive in Europe" when we put it in News Picks, in which he says "it would seem that [Microsoft's] opponents are mounting a significant offensive". He cites a news report in ZDNET.UK:
Of late, things have been becoming active again in Europe on this front, and this week things took a novel turn when the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) complained to the European Commission that Microsoft was guilty of violating antitrust law because it had refused to support the OpenDocument Format, among other infractions. As reported yesterday by Graeme Wearden at ZDNet.Uk.com:
"We are at a crossroads," said ECIS in a statement. "Will one dominant player be permitted to control those conditions, or will the rules that guarantee competition on the merits prevail, to the benefit of all?"

ECIS called on the EC to take action against Microsoft. It cited the software giant's refusal to use the OpenDocument standard or release details of its .doc, .xls and .ppt file formats, which prevents the makers of other productivity suites from being fully interoperable with Microsoft Office.

More details on the complaint from Hispanic Business News:

ECIS lawyer Thomas Vinje described parts of the complaint in a telephone interview. Among the group's allegations:
*Office incompatibility. Microsoft has not done enough to make Office compatible with similar offerings, such as OpenOffice and StarOffice. Its PowerPoint slide software, for example, often fails to work smoothly in non-Microsoft programs, the complaint says.

*HTML replacement. Vista uses a technology called XAML that could give Microsoft an unfair advantage in Web page image displays. Microsoft may be maneuvering XAML to become a replacement for Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, the standard software language used to create Web pages, Vinje said.

*Bundling anew. Vista will also come with Windows digital rights management (DRM) technology. DRM can be used to restrict access to business documents. Microsoft could unfairly popularize its DRM system in much the same way it came to dominate Web browsers and media players, by including it free with Windows PCs.

Meanwhile, Peter Quinn has been touring Europe, talking with various government officials about the dangers of losing Europe's cultural heritage.

OpenDoc Prescription a Bitter Pill for Microsoft in Massachusetts by Richard Entlich (Cornell University), published in RLG DigiNews (Feb. 15, 2006, Volume 10, Number 1, ISSN 1093-5371), summarizes what's been going on in OpenDocument and Massachusetts. There are a few terminology nits; he uses the term "open source format" where most would say "open format" or "open standard", and uses the term "OpenDoc" when "OpenDocument" is the usual term. But those are nits; the article has a good sweeping overview of what happened and why, and includes a wonderful chronology that summarizes the events over years. This is written from the viewpoint of those who archive and retrieve information -- without them, key information would be lost, yet their concerns are still not noted often enough in the general press.

The only areas in OpenDocument that have ever been noted as issues were accessibility for the disabled and spreadsheet formulas. To be fair, this isn't just an issue with OpenDocument; Microsoft's formats have similar issues. So let's look at how things are faring in those two areas.

First, accessibility. The Microsoft Office formats (both the binary and new XML formats) have never been reviewed or fixed for accessibility to my knowledge; typically vendors reverse engineer Microsoft Office to make it accessible, after Microsoft releases the product to market, and they don't get to fix any problems in the formats, obviously, unlike OpenDocument. Microsoft's draft XML specification doesn't define spreadsheet formulas either; it's no better than OpenDocument in this area then, I gather.

Curtis Chong, president of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science and a key expert on accessibility, acknowledges that the accessibility of Office-based solutions is largely due to the "heroic" efforts of third party software developers whose software routinely breaks every time Microsoft upgrades its software because of the way that software relies on interfaces to Office and Windows, many of which are not well-documented or not documented at all. Here's what he said: "such access as we have [in Microsoft Office] relies heavily upon the unsung and heroic efforts of a handful of small companies whose software must often steal and scrape such information as they can... Moreover, whenever Microsoft decides to come out with a new version of Office or Windows, screen access technology developers and the blind community must race to keep up. If they do not, such access as we have enjoyed could evaporate literally overnight."

In contrast, OASIS has been working diligently for some time and has a group working to reach the goal of making sure that there are no accessibility issues in OpenDocument.

Another front has been opened with regards to standardizing spreadsheet formulas. Microsoft's draft XML specification doesn't define spreadsheet formulas either. OASIS has now set up a group to specify how to exchange spreadsheet formulas, filling in the last piece of the puzzle. On Feb. 6, 2006, the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee agreed to set up a formula subcommittee; you can see its charter. They've been gathering members; corporate representatives include include Sun (who support OpenOffice.org's and StarOffice's Calc), IBM (who support Lotus 1-2-3 and IBM Workplace), and Novell. Both KDE (KOffice' KSpread) and GNOME (Gnumeric) are represented, and several power users are on-board as well to represent the user community. The sentimental favorite, though, is probably Dan Bricklin, who has announced that he's interested in joining the group. Bricklin co-developed VisiCalc (the original spreadsheet program), and is currently developing the leading-edge program wikiCalc (which combines Wiki and spreadsheet capabilities). The formula group's website is already up.

The OASIS formula subcommittee has also received, as a contribution, a draft specification called "OpenFormula". OpenFormula has been in development for over a year by a group who were concerned about this gap in all office document specifications. OASIS describes the OpenFormula contribution this way (in part):

"OpenFormula is an open format for exchanging recalculated formulas between office application implementations, particularly for spreadsheets. OpenFormula defines the types, syntax, and semantics for calculated formulas, including many predefined functions and operations, so that formulas can be exchanged between applications and produce substantively equal outputs when recalculated with equal inputs. Both closed and open source software can implement OpenFormula."

OASIS hasn't decided what to do with that contribution yet, but the simple fact that it's available to OASIS suggests that the spreadsheet formula group will be able to make rapid progress.

Finally, OASIS is now forming an "OpenDocument Format Adoption TC", which is to encourage faster adoption of OpenDocument. Its stated purpose is to:

"...create awareness and demand for a new class of applications and solutions designed specifically to support and leverage OpenDocument XML. The Adoption Committee will dedicate its energy and resources to create wide scale understanding of the benefits of OpenDocument format support within organizations and governmental bodies through education and promotion. The Adoption Committee will align and support the activities of the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee by providing market-based requirements. These requirements will help guide future development of the OpenDocument specification by the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee....

Working together, members of the OASIS OpenDocument Format Adoption Committee will provide expertise and resources to educate the marketplace on the value of the OpenDocument format, increasing the demand for ODF-conforming products, and expanding the OpenDocument community of users, suppliers, and developers."

They are asking folks interested in joining to sign up, and the first meeting, a teleconference, will be on March 28. They add: "To monitor the work of this Committee without actively participating in it, you may join as an Observer." Either way, instructions are here.


  


OpenDocument News: Europe gets involved, DigiNews Summary, and Spreadsheet Formulas | 101 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off topic here please
Authored by: Chris Lingard on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 07:08 PM EST

Please post in HTML and put in those links, instructions at the end of the posting page. If you cannot post in HTML, post in anyway.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Here Please!
Authored by: Dijital on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 07:10 PM EST
And makes links all clicky-like!

---
- Armando -

"mv sco /dev/null"

[ Reply to This | # ]

GO Dan, GO!
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 07:22 PM EST
The spreadsheet was the "killer app" for me (excluding games of
course).

[ Reply to This | # ]

A nit by any other name...
Authored by: brian on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 07:44 PM EST
"There are a few terminology nits; he uses the term "open
source format" where most would say "open format" or "open

standard", and uses the term "OpenDoc" when
"OpenDocument"
is the usual term."

Even though it may be a nit it is an important nit. "open
source format" != "open format" because an "open
format"
has no requirement to release source like open source
does. Calling it "open source format" implies that anyone
using it must disclose source for their implementation
which is an idea pushed by MS to try to shoot down Open
Format. "OpenDoc" instead of the proper "OpenDocument" is
less of an issue for me.

We should gently correct those making this error because
in my view it only plays into MS's game.

B.

---
#ifndef IANAL
#define IANAL
#endif

[ Reply to This | # ]

OpenDocument News: Europe gets involved, DigiNews Summary, and Spreadsheet Formulas
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 08:08 PM EST
>"It's Now a Two Front War: The ODF Allies
>Launch an Offensive in Europe"

And the evil side will try to control the ocean
using submarine patents.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Peter Quinn: Can I donate to your expenses?
Authored by: bbaston on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 11:03 PM EST
Unlike Microsoft, Mr. Quinn, might you need a little pocket change from the community?
"Meanwhile, Peter Quinn has been touring Europe, talking with various government officials about the dangers of losing Europe's cultural heritage."
Seems only yesterday when PJ bashfully added a donation button to her site...

---
Ben, Groklawian in training
IMBW, IANAL2, IMHO, IAVO
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold
Have you donated to Groklaw this month?

[ Reply to This | # ]

OpenFormula uses GrokLaw as a resource
Authored by: WhiteFang on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 11:42 PM EST

From page 129 of the Draft:

Rationale: Users want to be able select any implementation; unnecessary constraints are not acceptable.An Economic Basis for Open Standards by Rishab Aiyer Ghosh discusses the need for open standards further. Groklaw summarizes that paper.

I thought that was rather neat myself. :-)

---
DRM - Degrading, Repulsive, Meanspirited
'Nuff Said

[ Reply to This | # ]

In other news:
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 26 2006 @ 12:19 AM EST

该团体认为,根据2004ñ 80;欧盟的反垄断裁决对ô 94;软采取的限制措施,õ 17;须快速、完全地执行ʍ 07;例如微软的Office软件,就 ;不允许竞争对手的产品 ;与 Windows系统兼容,妨碍了竞& #20105;。该团体的律师托马& #26031;-文杰(Thomas Vinje)称,这阻止了竞争产&# 21697;获得完全的互操作性&# 33021;。这次ECIS的投诉领域ߎ 2;欧盟2004反垄断裁决的涉&# 21450;范围不同,ECIS也是计࠵ 0;向欧盟提供支持的两ߑ 0;行业团体之一。 news.fjii.com



La denuncia supone un punto de inflexión por ser la primera que se presenta en Bruselas contra Microsoft después de la condena de 2004, una decisión que se considera como "precedente". En ella el "ECIS lamenta profundamente que la aplicación de la ley antimonopolio parezca ser la única forma para detener el continuo comportamiento anticompetitivo de Microsoft", según ha explicado el presidente del grupo, Simon Awde. expansiondirecto



"ECIS lamenta profundamente que la aplicación de la ley antimonopolio parezca ser la única forma para detener el continuo comportamiento anticompetitivo de Microsoft", dijo Simon Awde, presidente del grupo, que solicita a la CE que ponga término a esas prácticas. Consumer.es



"ECIS hluboce lituje, že jediným způsobem, jak zastavit neustálé protikonkurenční chování Microsoftu, je využití účinných antimonopolních zákonů," řekl předseda sdružení Simon Awde. Podle něj je nutné, aby se Microsoft začal okamžitě řídit nařízením komise z roku 2004. Digiweb.cz



Autre opposant du géant américain, le Comité européen pour des systčmes interopérables (ECIS), qui regroupe des entreprises comme IBM, Nokia, Oracle ou Sun Microsystems, estime que Microsoft n'a pas laissé d'autre choix ŕ la Commission que de poursuivre la procédure indiquée pour non-respect de ses décisions, selon Simon Awde, président d'ECIS. Le Soir



ECIS preto žiada komisiu, aby praktiky Microsoftu zarazila, pretože členov združenia poškodzujú. "ECIS hlboko ľutuje, že jediným spôsobom, ako zastaviť neustále protikonkurenčné chovanie Microsoftu, je využitie účinných antimonopolných zákonov," povedal predseda združenia Simon Awde. Podľa neho je nutné, aby sa Microsoft začal okamžite riadiť rozhodnutiami komisie z roku 2004. pocitace.sme.sk



"ECIS lamenta profundamente que la aplicación de la ley antimonopolio parezca ser la única forma para detener el sostenido comportamiento anticompetitivo de Microsoft," sostuvo Simon Awde, presidente del grupo, en un comunicado. mundoenlinea.cl



- ECIS beklager sterkt at kraftige inngrep med konkuranselovgivning fremstĺr som den eneste mĺten ĺ stoppe Microsofts konkurransevridende oppfřrsel, skriver Simon Awde, formann i ECIS i en pressemelding. Digi.no



"E' un peccato che l'unico modo per fermare il reiterato comportamento anti-concorrenziale di Microsoft sia il ricorso a una stretta applicazione delle normative antitrust", afferma in un comunicato Simon Awde, il presidente di ECIS. A suo avviso, le pratiche commerciali del colosso dei software "rischiano di impedire ad aziende e consumatori di scegliere liberamente i propri software". computer.virgilio.it



Ecis stelt dat Microsoft zijn monopolieposities de afgelopen tijd heeft versterkt. Bij de klachten over programma's als Microsoft Office is het besluit van de Europese Commissie uit 2004 niet van toepassing. Dat besluit ging vooral over het besturingssysteem Windows, waarover Microsoft volgens de Commissie meer informatie moet verstrekken aan concurrenten. Volgens Simon Awde, voorzitter van Ecis, vertoont Microsoft nu ook op een toenemend aantal andere terreinen 'gedrag dat de concurrentie hindert'. Volgens hem zijn de nieuwe praktijken net zo strafbaar als het gedrag van Microsoft dat de Commissie in 2004 veroordeelde. Microsoft reageerde gisteren niet op een verzoek om een reactie op de klacht. Het Financieele Dagblad



ECIS' complaint targets areas not covered by the EU's 2004 antitrust ruling, which found Microsoft had abused its position as a market leader by bundling media software into its near-ubiquitous Windows desktop software and squeezing rival media players out of the market.

Vinje said the group had sent the commission "lots of binders" detailing evidence and analysis from prominent economists covering issues such as bundling and Microsoft's refusal to supply interoperability information needed to make rival products work with Windows.

The 2004 ruling primarily addressed media player and server software. Vinje said the complaint was wide-ranging, covering both existing and future products, but he would not elaborate beyond saying Office was among them.

"If Microsoft had complied with respect to the 2004 decision, we would not have to file a complaint," he said. "They have replicated this behavior." Law.com



A group of Microsoft Corp.'s rivals filed a complaint with the European Commission on Wednesday, alleging its business practices threatened to deny a real choice among competing software products. Turkish Daily News



欧洲互用系统委& #21592;会(ECIS)在声明中称,微 6719;滥用自身在软件市场 0340;垄断地位,限制了个 0154;和企业用户选择的权 1147;。ECIS成立于1989年,主要 5104;员包括IBM、诺基亚、甲 骨文、Sun和RealNetworks,大多是& #24494;软在各个市场的主要& #31454;争对手。ECIS请求欧盟ë 45;微软展开调查,终结ô 94;软的不当业务模式。

  此前,欧盟曾应RealNetw orks等公司的要求对微软 637;开调查,并于2004年3月裁 ;定微软垄断罪名成立。 ;欧盟对微软处以4.97亿欧 0803;(约合5.88亿美元)的巨额ņ 02;款,同时要求微软在Ē 31;洲推出去除媒体播放Ý 20;的Windows,并同竞争对手ࠤ 9;享通信协议相关技术߼ 9;息。目前微软已经满ห 5;了前两项要求,但在ࠤ 9;享技术信息的问题上ࡧ 6;欧盟存在严重的分歧Ӎ 0;如果欧盟最终裁定微๗ 9;未能完全执行反垄断ඬ 9;决,微软将面临每天200 万欧元的罚款。

  ECI S在起诉书中称,微软反 ;竞争商业行为所涉及的 ;领域正在不断扩大。ECIS 0027;席西蒙-阿瓦德 (Simon Awde)表示:“要终止微软的&# 21453;竞争行为,我们只能&# 37319;取法律途径。”ECIS辩护ô 59;师汤玛斯-温杰(Thomas Vinje)在接受国外媒体采访&# 26102;表示:“我们的文字处& #29702;、电子表格和演示软& #20214;仍然无法与微软Office完 0840;兼容。” Zol.com.cn



ECIS는 MS에 대해 법적 조치를 취하도록 EC에 요구하고 있다. 이 단체는 MS가 오픈도큐먼트 표준을 채용하지 않는 것이나, ‘.doc’, ‘.xls’, ‘.ppt’의 각 파일 포맷의 가세한 항목을 공표하지 않는 것도 언급하고 있다. MS는 이러한 행위에 의해 생산성 패키지 제품 벤더 각 사는 ‘MS 오피스’라는 완전한 호환을 실현하지 못하고 있다고 한다.

  ECIS의 회장인 사이먼 어드(Simon Awde)는 “MS의 거듭되는 반독점 행위를 막을 수 있는 방법이 법적 제재를 집행하는 것뿐이라는 것이 매우 유감이다”라고 말했다. EC 관계자는 언론에 이 고소에 대해 조사를 진행하고 있음을 밝혔다. ZDnet.co.kr



The firms who have lodged the complaint are part of a group called the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (Ecis), which was formed in 1989. Ecis says limits placed on Microsoft after the 2004 case, and now under appeal by Microsoft, need to be fully enforced. "Ecis deeply regrets that strong antitrust law enforcement appears to be the only way to stop the sustained anti-competitive behaviour of Microsoft," Simon Awde, chairman of the group, said in a statement. BBC



A EUROPEAN lobby group backed by Microsoft’s key rivals yesterday called on the European Commission to open a fresh investigation into the group’s business practices.

The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), which is backed by IBM, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and RealNetworks, filed a complaint with the competition regulator claiming that Microsoft’s business practices “threaten to deny enterprises and individual consumers real choice among competing software products”. The Times



IBM, Red Hat, Sun gang has the hump

ECIS chairman, Simon Awde, said it "deeply regrets" that "strong antitrust law enforcement appears to be the only way to stop the sustained anti-competitive behaviour of Microsoft." The Inquirer



Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OpenDocument News: Europe gets involved, DigiNews Summary, and Spreadsheet Formulas
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 26 2006 @ 04:35 AM EST
Curtis Chong, president of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science and a key expert on accessibility, acknowledges that the accessibility of Office-based solutions is largely due to the "heroic" efforts of third party software developers whose software routinely breaks every time Microsoft upgrades its software because of the way that software relies on interfaces to Office and Windows, many of which are not well-documented or not documented at all. Here's what he said: "such access as we have [in Microsoft Office] relies heavily upon the unsung and heroic efforts of a handful of small companies whose software must often steal and scrape such information as they can... Moreover, whenever Microsoft decides to come out with a new version of Office or Windows, screen access technology developers and the blind community must race to keep up. If they do not, such access as we have enjoyed could evaporate literally overnight."

how very true... and also how deceitful of Microsoft to use the accessibility concerns to derail the ODF initiative in Massachussets...

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Curtis Chong echange is not so positive
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 26 2006 @ 06:52 AM EST
As much as David Berlind tries to spin it, Curtis Chong really does not commit
to anything. He wants the MA deadline extended and that's all he cares about (if
that means making sympathetic noises to get FOSS advocates out of his back he'll
do it). I fear David involved himself too much to realise it.

The killer question David failed to submit is: "Do you realise the only
contender to OpenDocument is the format of a Microsoft Office version not
released yet, and do you expect this version to be PWD-friendly before 2007?
(and if the answer is yes, how, and why does not this apply to one of the ODF
suites)".

If the jan 1 2007 is unrealistic for OpenDocument, I fail to see how he can
expect Microsoft Office to pass the bar.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OpenDocument News: Europe gets involved, DigiNews Summary, and Spreadsheet Formulas
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 26 2006 @ 05:40 PM EST
I think --- though IANAL so I do not know --- that there are at least two things that need addressing
  • If you are someone like Google, who makes a business from indexing piles of documents on the Internet, you would like to know that your indexer can 'understand' the document in the same way that a Microsoft Word user would.
  • If you are an individual, looking at migrating between a PC and (say) a Sony Playstation 3, you would like to know that you will be able to continue to access your documents when you start using the Playstation (with its Linux and any word processor you can find, for example OpenOffice, but any one available on Playstation would do)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

Oh dear
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Thursday, March 02 2006 @ 10:52 AM EST
"...create awareness and demand for a new class of applications and
solutions designed specifically to support and leverage..."

Oh dear. The leverage word. As a verb.

I make it a hard and fast rule that whenever I come across the leverage word, as
a verb, I immediately stop reading at that point. That is my primary management
BS filter kicking in. It weeds out 90% of all uninteresting, unimportant
documents and an even higher proportion of ridiculous mission statements, PR and
such like.

And I have no intention of changing it. It works for me.

---
SCO: hunting for snarks in an ocean of sharks
---
Should one hear an accusation, first look to see how it might be levelled at the
accuser.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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