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OOXML: An Obscured Business Suggestion & Microsoft Fined Again
Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 08:50 AM EST

Microsoft's Jason Matusow has posted a blog entry that I suggest epitomizes his company's style in trying to force the world to swallow Microsoft's OOXML. I'd call it a FUDsicle. First, Matusow attacks Google because it said yesterday that "OOXML doesn't meet the criteria required for a globally-accepted standard." He casts aspersions on their motives, as usual.

Then, surprise, surprise, he suggests we all should read Patrick Durasau, whose rather sudden turnabout on OOXML has some jaws dropping, tongues wagging and lips curling. Mine for sure. Despite the mysterious sudden change, did you know he *still* says that he prefers ODF and considers it superior? He just wants us all to help Microsoft get its act together and "co-evolve". You know what's wrong with that idea, the two-track, may-the-best-standard-win idea? Many things, but one is because Microsoft is a monopoly, and it will cut off ODF's air supply.

Durasau didn't however endorse OOXML. He just says Microsoft has improved as to openness and should be given credit. You think the EU Commission might have something to do with that new "openness"? Let's credit the correct entity. I guess you saw that the EU Commission just fined Microsoft ... again... over interoperability. Here's video [registration required] of Neelie Kroes, and here's the EU Commission press release. If this is what it takes to get Microsoft to open up a tiny bit -- and I believe it is still treating the GPL as unworthy to interoperate equally in its OSP and its recent patent pledge -- how much do you trust it to fix things in OOXML? Should you put faith in such a pledge and vote Yes on the basis of a Microsoft promise to fix it all later? Consider the source. Consider the history.

And let's define the word "openness" a bit more carefully. Can you think of any way to make the ISO BRM now going on in Geneva any *more* closed and private and cut off from public scrutiny or input? If this ISO BRM process is openness incarnate, how do you define that word 'open'? We have no way to know what is going on in that closed and sealed room. The process seems as closed as Microsoft's software, particularly when you contrast it with the earlier ODF process.

A snip from the Eu Commission's press release:

Today’s Decision concludes that the royalties that Microsoft charged for the information licence – i.e. access to the interoperability information - prior to 22 October 2007 were unreasonable. Microsoft therefore failed to comply with the March 2004 Decision for three years, thereby continuing the behaviour confirmed as illegal by the Court of First Instance. Today's Decision concerns a period of non-compliance not covered by the penalty payment decision of 12 July 2006 (see IP/06/979) starting on 21 June 2006 and ending on 21 October 2007. The Decision does not cover the royalties for a distinct patent licence.

The Commission has based its conclusions as to the unreasonableness of Microsoft's royalties prior to 22 October 2007 on the lack of innovation in a very large proportion of the unpatented interoperability information and a comparison with the pricing of similar interoperability technology.

Microsoft's problem isn't technical or financial or a matter of skill. It's attitudinal. Microsoft, from what I see, doesn't want to be interoperable with the GPL, their principal competition, or with ODF unless someone forces them. And that's not a problem we can fix for them. If they desired true interoperability, not customer lock in, they'd embrace ODF and work out one standard we could all use, no matter what operating system we use. Think about the obvious goal of Microsoft's current patent strategy. It's the same song, to me. The GPL is being squeezed out, if Microsoft gets its way, and we all get squeezed for money whether we use Microsoft software or not.

There's an ECIS statement [PDF] that sums it up nicely:

Commissioner Kroes is to be commended for her perseverance over the last three years in the face of Microsoft's footdragging and appeals to the Court of First Instance.

Responding to continuing scrutiny by competition authorities and the September judgement by the EU's Court of First Instance, Microsoft announced last week new promises to promote interoperability with its products. As the Commissioner said, similar statements in the past have proven to be empty gestures with no real impact on competition and consumer choice.

In response to complaints from ECIS and others, the European Commission and other competition authorities are continuing to investigate Microsoft's ongoing anticompetitive practices regarding a range of products including Vista, Office 2007, Internet Explorer, e-mail and collaboration software and the .NET framework.

Ongoing means ongoing. I consider this the complete answer to Durasau's call for credit to go to Microsoft.

Getting back to the Matusow blog, note this touch, and tell me that it was inadvertent:

Google has decided to join the OpenDocument Foundation and has announced that they are of the opinion that ODF should be the only format and that national standards bodies should vote no to Open XML.

Google joined the ODF *Alliance* in July of 2006, not yesterday, and not the OpenDocument *Foundation*. It said it joined the ODF Alliance "and many other experts in our belief that OOXML doesn't meet the criteria required for a globally-accepted standard." Isn't it Matusow's job to know things like this? Even if he doesn't, shouldn't he fact check? Or does he do it on purpose? I don't know, but in the interests of truth and so no one is misled, here's precisely what Zaheda Bhorat, Open Source Programs Manager at Google, wrote on the Official Google Blog yesterday:

The subject of open document standards grows in importance not only for the technically-minded, but for anyone who uses a computer to work on editable documents. Across the board, standards are crucial. They ensure that the devices and technology you use today will continue to work tomorrow, that your DVDs will play in your player, that your calls will go through to any network, and that your documents will be accessible from whichever system you choose today and in the future.

Google supports open document standards and the Open Document Format - ODF, the recognized international standard (ISO 26300). ODF is supported and implemented across the globe, and its communal creation and iteration has helped ensure the transparency, consistency and interoperability necessary in a workable standard.

Currently, the technology industry is evaluating a proposed ISO standard for document formats. Given the importance of a workable standard, Microsoft's submission of Office Open XML (OOXML) as an additional international standard has caught the attention of many. In September 2007, the original request to ISO was defeated. After further technical analysis of the specification along with all the additional data available on OOXML, Google believes OOXML would be an insufficient and unnecessary standard, designed purely around the needs of Microsoft Office.

We join the ODF Alliance and many other experts in our belief that OOXML doesn't meet the criteria required for a globally-accepted standard. (An overview of our findings and sample technical issues unresolved are posted here.)

As ISO Member bodies around the world work on possible revisions of their vote previously submitted, the deadline of March 30th approaches fast. I invite you to pay close attention, and heed the call of many for unification of OOXML into ODF. A document standards decision may not matter to you today, but as someone who relies on constant access to editable documents, spreadsheets and presentations, it may matter immensely in the near future.

As you can see, Matusow mangled it. It would be rather difficult to join the OpenDocument Foundation, since after that "organization" of three did their sudden turnabout on ODF that had tongues wagging and lips curling -- and Microsoft quoting, now that I think of it -- they shut down and disappeared into the mists. Now, Matusow knows the difference between the ODF Alliance and the OpenDocument Foundation, since he used to highlight the Foundation quite a lot on his blog pretty much the same way he now pushes Patrick Durasau's NewThink. And when Google made its statement yesterday, taking a firm stand that OOXML is not worthy to be made a standard, when it mentioned the ODF Alliance, it provided a link, so I'd say, being a blogger myself, that Matusow has absolutely no excuse. That's why I wanted to reproduce it here, for his benefit and in the interests of truth. As opposed to truthiness and marketing.

By the way, here are all the members of the ODF Alliance. It's quite impressive, don't you think? They started with only 36 members. Now there are so many, I couldn't count them accurately by hand because I kept losing my place, so I had to copy and paste the list into my text editor, so I could get it to count them accurately for me. The ODF Alliance now lists 506 members. Yes. From all over the world, and they are by no means all vendors. You see cities and libraries and LUGs and nonprofit organizations, all of whom care about openness and true interoperability and accessibility a hundred years from now. Microsoft tries to spin this as a market share battle between IBM, and now Google, and Microsoft, but it's not. The ODF Alliance reflects a much broader and deeper international interest in ODF. I don't care about market share or about who uses Microsoft products. I just don't want to have to. But I care about ODF. At the end of this article, I will reproduce the ODF Alliance list of all members by country, so you can see how broad its membership is and how varied.

The world cares about ODF. And no one pays us to care or offers us perks if we will show up and join organizations or vote a certain way. Do you really think the City of Largo cares about market share? The Jaspal Kaur Public School in India? OLPC Nepal? They are ODF Alliance members. Why? Certainly not because of market share. That is, I think, the principal difference between OOXML and ODF. There are important reasons to want ODF, to comprehend the value of a single standard, that have nothing at all to do with money, for those whose minds have more than one track.

You know why I care? I want to be able to share documents with my mom, and I know my mom can't figure out any of the translators, so it's hopeless unless people take into consideration us little people and not just the wishes of a certain large US vendor in the Northwest. Someone left a comment on Groklaw once about a family that experienced a death in the family, and they tried to quickly work up a document to notify everyone and to plan the funeral. One family member wrote up a draft, and then sent it to everyone for input. They couldn't get their software to interoperate, and everything ended up messed up, and it was simply impossible to get the job done quickly enough. That shouldn't happen. It doesn't need to happen.

So I care about the world not being locked in because I've experienced those types of struggles myself. I'm tired of being locked out, too, because I don't use Microsoft products. If I want to visit the BBC or the US Library of Congress, I shouldn't have to buy Microsoft's proprietary products. No government entity should tell citizens what software vendor they have to use as a condition for access, I don't think. And I care about being able to use GNU/Linux and my Mac without all the hassles. I should have a free choice to use whatever software I enjoy and prefer without a penalty. We can all use the Internet successfully, despite using a wide variety of operating systems, so it certainly can be done.

I'm tired of Microsoft's dirty tricks too, actually. Why can't Microsoft compete fairly, with decency? What place do smears have in a standards process? Did you read the News Picks item by Tim Bray on what Microsoft did to him and his wife years ago because he dared to support Netscape?

...[I]n 1997, I was sitting on the XML Working Group and co-editing the spec, on a pro bono basis as an indie consultant. Netscape hired me to represent their interests, and when I announced this, controversy ensued. Which is a nice way of saying that Microsoft went berserk; tried unsuccessfully to get me fired as co-editor, and then launched a vicious, deeply personal extended attack in which they tried to destroy my career and took lethal action against a small struggling company because my wife worked there. It was a sideshow of a sideshow of the great campaign to bury Netscape and I’m sure the executives have forgotten; but I haven’t.

Why is Microsoft allowed to do things like that, assuming it's true? What effect does it have on the marketplace? Do you imagine I don't think about consequences to me when I write an article like this? Is that right? Should I have to worry about what they might do to me in retaliation? I've already met my life's quota of smears and intimidation from SCO, thank you very much, so I have a basis to measure just how bad it can get. Is that how it's supposed to be? Seriously. And just what role, if any, did Microsoft play in the SCO story? If regulators wish to open up the marketplace to competition, how about starting with intimidation and the smear campaigns? I know it's wrong, and you know it's wrong, and yet it happens over and over and over. Remember Peter Quinn in Massachusetts? How many CIOs decided it was too dangerous personally after that to choose anything but Microsoft? Have you seen the personal attacks lately on Rob Weir? On Andy Updegrove? And now it's Google's turn to be slimed. And so, tired as I am and poor as I am and scared as I am and unconnected to the powers-that-be as I am, with nothing to gain and so much to lose, here I am still with my little antiFUD arrows, because I deeply care about ODF and openness, enough that I continue to speak in spite of everything.

Durasau's pretense that Microsoft has become a poster child for open standards development [PDF] doesn't pass the laugh test. It's embarrassing. I remember everything Microsoft pulled to try to get OOXML approved the first time. Microsoft's behavior has been unusual in the standards world, I've read, and it was so Microsoft. Of course, Durasau may be using a different ruler to measure by, since it was he who wrote a letter to Standards Australia recommending Rick Jelliffe, who is regularly hired by Microsoft for various tasks, and writing, "I think any national body would welcome Rick's informed and balanced approach over the 'any answer so long as it is no' one that some have advocated with regard to DIS 29500." Balanced is the last word that would spring to my mind. What is this? The Stockholm syndrome or something? Lightning struck Patrick On the Road to Geneva? What bothers me a lot about that is that Australia abstained in the first vote, because, they claimed, there was no consensus. Now, for the BRM, who do they send? Folks who represent the full spectrum of views? Pardon me for concluding that this means the fix is in. At a minimum, it shows a disregard for the appearance of fairness.

By the way, I hear Durasau's the one who started the new trend of calling OOXML 'Open XML', which is a travesty worthy of 1984. Up is down, and black is white, and closed is open. But what is so odd is that he is the guy who wrote not that long ago that the name Office Open XML was "misleading". He added, "The use of 'Open' is deeply problematic as every ISO standard is as 'open' as any other ISO standard. It is a marketing buzz word and does not belong in the title of a proposal that may become an ISO standard. An alternative name, one that accurately reflects the purpose of the standard, would reflect the rules that are applied to all other ISO standards."

What happened to those rules? If "Office Open XML" is misleading, is "Open XML" better? Yet he calls his latest paper "Confusion, Standards and OpenXML." I'll say. Confusion indeed. NewSpeak, where everything Microsoft does is "good enough". Here. Read it for yourself [PDF]. Maybe you can figure out such a flipflop.

That reminds me, speaking of a lack of openness, did you see that Microsoft now is redefining what an "open source project" is? Their patent pledge is deeply, deeply offensive to me, and watch out for the tilted OSP. The laughable OSP. Without a public pledge from Microsoft that the GPL is also covered, how do you know if it is or not? I'd guess not. So, is it a "standard" if an entire swath of vendors, who happen to be the only real competition Microsoft has left who are still standing, can't safely use it? Why doesn't Microsoft make such a pledge? Just tell us straight up if the GPL is covered or not.

I got some spam today, as I do every day, invariably written with Microsoft software I can't help but mention, and the opening words sum up the whole MSOOXML saga:

Although the internet is a very hard place to meet people because you don't know who to trust, what to believe and what not to. I have an obscured business suggestion for you.
An obscured business suggestion. That's it. OOXML in a nutshell.

Current Members of the Alliance:

Dagda Team
Fundación Vía Libre
Pixart SRL
Sílice S.A.
Alma Technology
APPS Global Pty Ltd
Creative Contingencies Pty Ltd
De Bortoli Wines Pty Limited
Friends of OpenDocument, Inc.
Internet Vision Technologies
Linux Australia
Open Legal Practice Standards Collaboration Org
Open Source Industry Australia
Open Source Law
Sustainable Software Pty Ltd
Systec IT
Warpspace IT
City of Vienna - ICT
Bangladesh Linux Users Alliance
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communicatio
Bangladesh Open Source Network
The OSS Movement
Bureau van Dijk Electronic Publishing
European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS
Internet Society Belgium
GED Goiânia Serviços Informatizados Ltda
18 de Abril Alimentos Ltda
2MI Tecnologia
Abrigo Tecnologia
BitLight - Soluções em Tecnologia
Caixa Econômica Federal
CBMES - Corpo de Bombeiros Militar do Espírito Sa
DBA Company Informática Ltda.
Digitar Soluções
Espírito Livre
FAMEG - Metropolitan College of Guaramirim
Freedows Consortium Tecnologia S.A.
Freestore Tecnologia
Futuro Sistemas
Guimaraes Technology
IBAMA - Inst. Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente
Instituto de Governo Eletrônico, Inteligência Ju
Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia da Informação
JrLinux Informática
JSK Consultoria e Treinamento
Movimento Software Livre Paraná - MSLPR
Qualiom Sistemas Computacionais
SEA Tecnologia
Secretaria da Educação do Estado do Paraná
Secretária Municipal de Educação de Cariacia
Serviço Autonomo de Água e Esgoto
Sou Livre
ImanTouch Cameroon
Adlib Software
Compugen Inc.
Cowichan Valley Linux Users Group
Deep Vision, Inc.
Dougan Consulting Group
Gardien Virtuel
Mountain Linux Users Group
Open Enterprise Solutions
Prezencia Web Services
Victoria Linux Users Group (VLUG)
Beijing Co-Create Open Source Software Co.,Ltd.
Beijing Jiaotong University
Beijing Redflag CH2000 Software Co., Ltd
China Standard Software Co.,Ltd. (CS2C)
ChinaSoft Resource Corporation
Institute of Software, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Southwest Jiaotong University
Chinese Taipei
Institute for Information Industry
Openpower Information Co.,ltd
OSS Integral Institute Co., Ltd. ( OSSII )
Illuminance Technologies
Hrvatska Udruga Linux Korisnika
Czech Republic
All Stars s.r.o.
Izy CG, s.r.o.
Notes CS
OSS Alliance
QCM, s.r.o.
Spoleènost pro výzkum a podporu (Open SourceOSS
Østjyllands Linux-brugergruppe
BellCom Open Source A/S
Danish Open Source Society (DOSS)
Den danske UNIX-systembrugergruppe, DKUUG
Golden Planet
IT-Politisk Forening, IT-POL
iZone Development
KLID - Linux trade association of Denmark
Skåne Sjælland Linux User Group, SSLUG
Technical University of Denmark - Copenhagen
The Association of Open Source Suppliers and Vendo
Linec Soluciones Informáticas
COSS - The Finnish Centre for Open Source Software
Norfello Oy
Tokavuh Technologies oy
Alka France
Anaska Formation
Ars Aperta
Association Lune Rouge
Economie Numérique Conseil
Nuxeo / inDesko
Pilot Systems
.riess applications gmbh
2shape GmbH
Abshoff, Agricola, Prager & Venn GbR -
agelis Energieberatung
Axiros GmbH
City of Freiburg
City of Schwaebisch Hall
consultores GmbH
DLPS Desktop Linux Projects and Services GmbH
EDS Germany
FEB Radebeul
Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure
GFU Cyrus AG
Individuelle Internet Loesungen | sbihl
itemis GmbH & Co. KG
Linux Solutions Group e.V.
Odendahl SEPT-Solutions
sn@p consulting
Software AG
tarent GmbH
Coeusoft SA
BalaBit IT Security Ltd
ELTE IKKK Adaptive Software Center
Linux Industrial Association (LIPSZ) - Hungary
Mithrandir Kft
Open SKM Agency Kft.
Open Society Archives of the Central European Univ
Rivendel Kft.
Software Competence Center of the Hungarian Govern
Szabad Szoftver Intézet - Hungary
University of Szeged, Dept. of Software Engin
Adept Softwares Pvt. Ltd.
ApiAp - Association of Public ICT Tools Access Pro
Asia OSPA Forum
Bhagnari & Co
Centre for Development of Advanced Computing
Edujini Labs Pvt Ltd
Haselfre Solutions
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)
Informedia Technologies (Mysore) Private Limited
Jaspal Kaur Public School
Management Development Institute (MDI)
Mediasoft Solutions Private Limited
National Institute for Smart Government
Nitin Goyal
OpenLX (Indserve Infotech Pvt. Ltd.)
Orion eServices Private Ltd
Tenth Planet Technologies
Tetra Information Services Pvt. Ltd
Xensoft Labs
Advanced Information and Communication Technology
Sharif FarsiWeb, Inc.
e:volve computers & technology
Local Government Computer Services Board
Patchcom Services
Propylon Ltd
Associazione Culturale Revolutionary Mind
ChannelWeb S.r.l.
DIDASCA - The First Italian Cyber Schools for Life
OpenContent s.n.c.
Servizi Informatici
Sp-Process SPA
TorLUG - Tor Vergata Linux User Group
Justsystem Corporation
Middle East - Institute of Certified E-Commerce Co
Kyrgyz Republic
Kyrgyzstan National Information Technology Center
Atviras kodas Lietuvai
Skaitmeninio sertifikavimo centras, UAB
Free Software Macedonia
Ministry of Finance -- Republic of Macedonia
Interunix Networking Solutions Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia
MNCC ODF Special Interest Group, Malaysia
MNCC Open Source Special Interest Group
QubeConnect Sdn Bhd
Asociación Mexicana Empresarial de Software Libre MEXICO
OLPC Nepal
New Zealand
Egressive Limited
The New Zealand Open Source Society
eZ systems as
Linpro AS
Opera Software ASA
Copyleft Solutions
Emergen Consulting
Free and Open Source Software Foundation of Pakist
Linux Pakistan
Open Source Resource Center
Xnet Solutions
Gordon College
Norwegian Mission Alliance Philippines
Philippine Linux Users' Group
University of the Philippines Java Research & Deve
University of the Philippines Linux Users' Group
UP Manila National Telehealth Center
ACS Technologie Teleinformatyczne Sp. z o. o.
All Stars Sp. z o.o.
Altar sp. z o.o.
Centrum Tlumaczen Specjalistycznych
extranet internet creator
Nowe Leki
OpenOffice Polska
Powiatowy Urzad Pracy w Brzesku
T3 Software Development
UBIK Business Consulting
Ux Systems
Administração Central do Sistema de Saúde (ACSS
Angulo Sólido
ANSOL - Associação Nacional para o Software Livr
Caixa Mágica Software
Carvalho Azevedo & Martins Braz
DigiUtopikA Lda.
dri - consultoria informática LDA
FLOSSE - Associação de Desenvolvimento Pelo Soft
IFILP-TEC — Área Técnica do Instituto de Forma
Intraneia - Sistemas de Informação, Lda.
OpenQuest - Sistemas de Informação, Lda
Radio Popular, Electrodomesticos, S. A.
S&T -Sistemas e Tecnologia Informática,Lda
TintaDigital STI
TQuadrado, Lda.
Zero Paper Solutions
Geseidl Euro Finance Consulting SRL
Sarminfo SRL
SC Liant Ist SRL
SC Lightway Software SRL
Zando Computer SRL
Center for System Administration
Infra-Resource, Ltd.
NC LUG - North Caucasus Linux User Group
Project Kalpa
Linux User Group of Novi Sad
Linux Users Group Belgrade
Linux Users Group, Singapore
linuxNUS - National University of Singapore Linux
NovaGlobal Pte Ltd
Resolvo Systems PTE Ltd
Comsultia, Ltd.
SKOSI (Slovak Open Source Initiative)
LUGOS (Linux User Group Of Slovenia)
South Africa
CompUnite South Africa
Saturn Laboratories
Asociación de Usuarios de GNIX (AGNIX)
Integra Soluciones Avanzadas, S.L.
Junta de Andalucía
Junta de Extremadura - CIDT
OPS! Consulting
Planeta Olea SL
Siltex International SA
TESI Tècnica del So i la Imatge S.L.
Tuxum Secure Systems
VIRTUA, s.l.
Sweden webbdesign
DL2 Consulting AB
Endoc AB
Eolin KB
IXT Sökmotoroptimering & webbdesign
KBT Information
MobilityGuard AB
SEO Logik AB
Vizi Sverige AB
Zebra Garden
Ark Linux
Huanga IT Solutions AG
Linform LLC
ncode solutions gmbh
Puzzle ITC
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
Swiss Open Systems User Group (/ch/open)
Wescom GmbH Informatik Luzern
UNDP-APDIP International Open Source Network
The Netherlands
Auton Rijnsburg BV
BsOOo.Nl - Business Support Nederla
Free Knowledge Institute
Internet Society Netherlands
Leonardo Communications
Nederlandse Linux Gebuikers Groep
OpenSesame ICT
Paul Snijders Automatisering
Squirrel Consultancy
The GravityZoo Company
Vadesta B.V.
Van Bussel Document Services
Virtual Angle B.V.
United Arab Emirates
Dynamic Engineering
United Kingdom
3BView Ltd
Avanquest UK ltd
Bow Street Warehouse
Bristol City Council
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Clark Marketing Ltd
Cognitran Ltd.
Corrilan IT Consultancy Ltd
CSW Group Ltd.
EasyLink Services Corporation
EDL Systems
Interition Limited
Jamma IT
Magnate IT
Open Society Institute
Open Systems Management Ltd.
OpenDocument Fellowship
OpenForum Europe
Oxford Archaeology
SalePlane Ltd.
The ICT & Security Company (ICTSC LTD)
United States
Access Foundation
Aero Systems Corp.
American Library Association
Amphora Research Systems
ATR, Inc.
Blue Ferret Communications
CIGNEX Technologies, Inc.
City of Bloomington
City of Largo
Compro Computer Services, Inc.
Computer & Communications Industry Association
Development InfoStructure (Devis)
Dream Prints, Inc.
DynaWerx Inc.
Elevated Technology
EMC Corporation
Essential Information
Firelead Affiliate Network
Free Standards Group
Fullmoon Software
Fusebox Inc
Genii Software Ltd.
Google Inc
Green Banana, Inc.
GTW Associates
Humanetrix Foundation Inc.
Indy Associates
IP Justice
Janmedia Interactive
Jena Technologies LLC
JM Field Marketing
Linda Hall Library
Login, Inc.
Mark Watson Consulting Services
Massachusetts High Technology Council
Massachusetts Network Communications Council
Matthews Computational Systems
Metztli Information Technology
Natural Concepts
Nimble Services, Inc
Open Design Alliance
Open Interoperative Document Initiative
Open Office Technology, Inc.
Open-Xchange, Inc.
Optio Software, Inc.
OSDL (Open Source Development Lab)
PersonnelWorks, LLC
Power Management Concepts, LLC
Public Knowledge
Red Hat, Inc.
Relational Semantics, Inc.
Reliable Information Systems
Ruffdogs, Inc.
Silver Strand Solutions
Software & Information Industry Association SIIA
StreamServe, Inc.
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Technetra Corporation
The Knowledge Trust
The Open Source Technology Alliance
Torchlight Technologies
Transtronics, Inc.
Tycho Softworks
uberOffice, Inc.
Unisys Corporation
Uptime Computing
Workmode, Inc. Inc.
Woven Thorns Productions


OOXML: An Obscured Business Suggestion & Microsoft Fined Again | 192 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here, please
Authored by: chaz_paw on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 08:54 AM EST
Corrections here. please

Proud Linux user since 07/26/04
Registered Linux user #422376


[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-Topic Thread here
Authored by: chaz_paw on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 08:56 AM EST
Off-topic links and discussion are welcome here.

Proud Linux user since 07/26/04
Registered Linux user #422376


[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Discussions here.
Authored by: Erwan on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 08:57 AM EST
Don't forget to quote the aticle title.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Well Done Neelie Kroes.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 08:57 AM EST
More power to your elbow!!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Well done, PJ!
Authored by: grouch on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 09:43 AM EST
Three cheers, PJ, for this excellent, timely work!

Archives are at stake on one side and monopoly money on the other. I know which one I care more about.

-- grouch

"People aren't as dumb as Microsoft needs them to be."
--PJ, May 2007

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML: An Obscured Business Suggestion & Microsoft Fined Again
Authored by: TemporalBeing on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 09:50 AM EST
Microsoft's problem isn't technical or financial or a matter of skill. It's attitudinal. Microsoft, from what I see, doesn't want to be interoperable with the GPL, their principal competition, or with ODF unless someone forces them. And that's not a problem we can fix for them. If they desired true interoperability, not customer lock in, they'd embrace ODF and work out one standard we could all use, no matter what operating system we use. Think about the obvious goal of Microsoft's current patent strategy. It's the same song, to me. The GPL is being squeezed out, if Microsoft gets its way, and we all get squeezed for money whether we use Microsoft software or not.
There's really a simple math here. The MS Windows and MS Office provide over 66% of the income for Microsoft. Most of the rest of company either barely turns a profit, or just eats money. So they need Windows and Office for the company to survive. ODF is a threat to that. If they can't stranglehold the market to using Office, then they lose one of the primary reasons for people to use Windows. So to lose MS Office is to lose MS Windows is to lose the company. (The other component is ExchangeOutlook integration that so may companies rely on. But that'll change. For example, there's OpenExchange by HP, which is basically Exchange on Unix. So it's more a matter of having an equivalent client to Outlook for managing all the stuff together. But the market will fix that if Windows/Office starts to topple.)

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Way to go Anti-Competitive Commission
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 09:55 AM EST

That is sweet:

The Commission has based its conclusions as to the unreasonableness of Microsoft's royalties prior to 22 October 2007 on the lack of innovation in a very large proportion of the unpatented interoperability information and a comparison with the pricing of similar interoperability technology.
At a guess, I'd posit the Commission:
  1. Paid for a copy of the MS interoperability information.
  2. Paid for at least two other interoperability specs.
  3. Compared the sets.
Now, they didn't necessarily actually do that. It's just my guess based on the conclusion about over-pricing the "innovative IP".

If they actually did do that, that is very sweet. MS actually has an opponent over-seeing them that's actively looking into the details rather then just listening for opinions.


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ISO BRM 'closed' process
Authored by: mcinsand on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 12:10 PM EST
>>The process seems as closed as Microsoft's software,
>>particularly when you contrast it with the earlier ODF

Not only is the process as closed as MS' software, but, based on how thoroughly
MS gamed it last year, the ISO BRM process works about as well as MS software
(not very well).

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What if Microsoft had adopted ODF
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 12:24 PM EST
I see many people calling for Microsoft to adopt ODF as a fully supported format
for their Office products. I disagree with this stance completely.

We should remember that when Office was developed ODF was still very much an
immature standard. In fact, the ODF standard is still an immature standard that
does not provide the tags needed to represent most office files.

Consequently, had Microsoft adopted ODF two years ago when the development of
their new office product line peaked they would have had to significantly extend
ODF in order to support the functionality in their products. Thus, instead of
screaming "No OOXML" we would be screaming "embrace, extend,

I am therefore quite pleased that Microsoft chose to develop their own format,
because this has given time for the ODF camp to further develop ODF. The work
have unfortunately progressed slowly which means ODF still needs to pass through
a couple of revisions before it becomes practically usable (as a standard).
Don't believe me, check the fidelity, or lack thereof, between software products
that support ODF, such as koffice, OOo, Staroffice etc.

So at the end of the day, calling for Microsoft now to abandon their XML file
formats and adopt ODF seems a bit unfair to me. The FOSS community and ODF camp
have benefited greatly from Microsofts non-involvement in the ODF development.
However, I would like to see Microsoft adopt ODF, when it is ready (as a
standard), as a fully supported file format.


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Groklaw in ODF Alliance?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 12:58 PM EST
Seems to me if it's financially feasible that Groklaw could be a member of the
ODF Alliance too.

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It's All In A Name
Authored by: sproggit on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 02:42 PM EST
As Marketing Droids the world over occasionally learn to their cost, it is
possible to select a name for a product that has unexpected [ occasionally
hilarious and rarely offensive ] consequences if used in other countries.

So maybe Microsoft's problem isn't just the intentional obfuscation inherent in
their standard [sic], maybe the problem is partly related to the name?

I've noticed over the years that we have a habit of being a helpful lot here at
Groklaw, so I thought I'd suggest that we have a go at coming up with some
alternative acronyms for their proposed new standard. I'm sure we could think of
something applicable. Here's are a few simple suggestions to get us going. I'm
sure other regulars can come up with more and better helpful ideas...

They could go with a retro theme:

B.E.F.O.R.E - Binary Extensions For Overcoming Resistance Everywhere.


N.I.G.H.T.M.A.R.E. - Not Independent, Generating Huge Textual Monoliths,
Accentuating Random Errors

or maybe

S.H.A.M.E.L.E.S.S. - Simply Harmful Application Markup Extensions Loaded by
Extremely Suspect Software

or how about

S.C.O.S.O.U.R.C.E. - Suspect, Complicated Office Standard Offering Unlimited,
Recursive Computer Errors.

No... wait... I think that's in use somewhere else. So let's try this instead.

B.I.L.L.G.A.T.E.S. - Binary Interfaces, Loosely Linked, Generating Abnormal
Terminations on Every System.

Any more, anyone?

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OOXML: An Obscured Business Suggestion & Microsoft Fined Again
Authored by: marcosdumay on Wednesday, February 27 2008 @ 03:01 PM EST
"Brazil: 18 de Abril Alimentos Ltda"

Wow, that is a food company so small that all the links Google gives to it are
from the ODF alliance and one small contract with the government.

I guess really anyone can be part of the ODF Alliance :)

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Interesting members from Brazil
Authored by: DarkWalker on Thursday, February 28 2008 @ 08:18 AM EST
For those that don't speak portuguese, the Brazilian list have some very
interesting members besides the usual suspects:
- Brazilian army (EXÉRCITO BRASILEIRO).
- The firefighters corp for at least one state (CBMES).
- One of the biggest Brazilian banks (Caixa Econômica Federal).
- IT agencies at the federal (Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia da Informação)
and state (CELEPAR) levels.
- The federal agency responsible for monitoring and protecting natural
ecosystems (IBAMA).
- Education agencies at both the state and city level (Secretaria da Educação do
Estado do Paraná, Secretária Municipal de Educação de Cariacia).

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Re: Microsoft's "Openness"
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 28 2008 @ 12:41 PM EST

I recall an article in one of the trade rags of the '80s where Bill Gates was asked about "open systems". His remark was that "open systems" meant that you could go to any hardware vendor and buy a system that would run Windows. I believe that when Microsoft says anything about open systems, even today, that's still the way they view things.

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> We can all use the Internet successfully,...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 28 2008 @ 08:53 PM EST
...despite using a wide variety of operating systems...

The problem is that M$ doesn't *want* us to be able to do that.

> Why can't Microsoft compete fairly, with decency?

What makes you think M$ even groks the meaning of the word compete^Hition?

> Why doesn't Microsoft make such a pledge? Just tell us straight up if the
> GPL is covered or not.

Because they are trying to trick the open source community to do their
programming work for them, before they turn around and sue those same people.

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