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A Few Facts As Antidote Against Microsoft's anti-ODF FUD Campaign
Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 02:39 PM EDT

The best antidote against FUD is facts. FUD only works when people don't know any better. So, given some recent anti-ODF FUD in the air, I thought it would be useful to provide some facts.

First, I'd like to show you who voted Yes to approve OpenDocument v1.1 as an OASIS Standard in January of 2007. ODF v1.2 is already being adopted by some now, of course, as development has continued, but Microsoft chose to stick with v1.1, so let's do the same. I think you'll find the list dispositive as to who is sincere in this picture. Next time you read some criticism of ODF, then, you can just take a look at the list and ask yourself what it tells you. And if you are a technical person, here's ODF v1.1, so you can compare any claims of deficiencies. Here's Groklaw's chronicle of the OOXML/ODF saga, where you can find many resources, including a chronology of events from 2005 to the present.

ODF v1.1 is the version that Microsoft chose to "support" in its latest Office SP2, which Rob Weir pointed out doesn't seem to actually achieve interoperability, when others -- even Clever Age, which Microsoft funded -- do. In fact, it seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Rather than fix the problems that have surfaced by responding to what is essentially a bug report, Microsoft chooses to attack the messenger and ODF, going so far as to call for Rob Weir to step down as co-chair of the ODF Technical Committee. Is the penalty for disagreeing with Microsoft a smear campaign and loss of a job? I remember what Tim Bray told us happened to him:

In 1997, as a result of signing a consulting contract with Netscape, I was subject to a vicious, deeply personal extended attack by Microsoft in which they tried to destroy my career and took lethal action against a small struggling company because my wife worked there.
To his credit, he continued to criticize OOXML, the process, even after that, but not everyone would. I remember the attack on Peter Quinn too, when he dared to choose ODF for his group in Massachusetts. And I certainly know what I've been put through since starting Groklaw. Why is it even appropriate for Microsoft to try to get anyone removed from any job or position because of criticism of their software or standard?

No. Really. I'd like Microsoft to explain that to us. I think they owe everyone an explanation.

But let's get to the facts. Let me show you who voted Yes, who voted No, and who Abstained, shall I, when ODF v1.1 came up for a vote in January of 2007? I have compiled a list to publish here, to make it easy for you, but do feel free to check my list against the OASIS list.

Here's who voted Yes:

AOL, Adobe, AMD, AmSoft systems, AmberPoint, ABA, Argonne National laboratory, Ars Aperta, Axway Software, Beijing Sursen International, CSW Group, Changfeng Open Standards Platform Software, Commonwealth of MA, Comtech Services, Cordance, EMC Corporation, France Telecom, Fujitsu, GS1 US, GM, Gesellschaft fur technische Kommunikation, Google, HP, IBM, IEM, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34, Idiom Technologies, Intel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Jotne EPM Technology, Justsystem Corporation, LA County Information Systems Advisory Body, LMI, MTG Management Consultants, Maricopa County, Miley Watts, NIA (National Information Society Agency), National Archives of Australia, National Center for State Courts, Netherlands Tax and Customs Administration, Neustar, Nokia, Novell, OIOXML eBusiness Standardization Group, Open Applications Group, Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc., Oracle, Ping Identity Corporation, Property Records Industry Assn., Public Works and Government Services Canada, Red Hat, Siemens AG, Simula Labs, Society for Technical Communications, Software & Information Industry Association SIIA, Sun, TAC AB, Boeing, The OpenDocument Foundation, US Dept. of the Interior, US IRS/ Internet Development Service, USAMC Logistics Support Activity, U. of CA, Berkeley, Verva-Swedish Administrative Development, Warning Systems, Inc., and XMetaL.
Here's who Abstained:
No one.
Here's who voted No:
No one.
Here's who didn't vote, among others:
Microsoft
There was one comment, from Harm-Jan van Burg, the Netherlands:
I hope that the efforts to find solutions for a true and open documentformat that includes Microsoft will continue.
I take that to mean there were efforts under way already. Would you say that the list of those who voted Yes is made up of technical nincompoops? Is that Microsoft's position? Now, why is it significant that Microsoft didn't bother to vote? Because now, years later, a Microsoft employee is claiming that a problem in ODF was known in 2005, and ODF should have fixed it for v1.1. Some questions arise:

Could Microsoft have said so in 2007? Yes.

Could it have voted No? Yes, it could.

Could it -- to really stretch out -- have offered to help fix it, so that "solutions for a true and open documentformat that includes Microsoft" could be successful? Yes. It could.

Or did it take advantage of what it read in 2005 to send out Office SP2 in a form that is reportedly less interoperable, relying on being able to claim that it's not their fault, but that ODF v1.1 is imperfect and it's not Microsoft's fault if following an imperfect standard leads to imperfect interoperability?

Ask yourself: what are standards for? What is the entire point of them? Is it not interoperability? Let's review the OOXML purpose statement, written by Microsoft:

ISO/IEC 29500 defines a set of XML vocabularies for representing word-processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. On the one hand, the goal of ISO/IEC 29500 is to be capable of faithfully representing the preexisting corpus of word-processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations that had been produced by the Microsoft Office applications (from Microsoft Office 97 to Microsoft Office 2008, inclusive) at the date of the creation of ISO/IEC 29500. It also specifies requirements for Office Open XML consumers and producers. On the other hand, the goal is to facilitate extensibility and interoperability by enabling implementations by multiple vendors and on multiple platforms.
But, you may say, how can you blame anyone for following a standard and ending up with non-interoperability if the flaw is in the standard? If the "flaw" is known since 2005, and everyone else has figured out a way to deal with it to achieve interoperability, or chose to support v1.2, how can you *not* blame them? They do write software, do they not? Is that not the business they are in? And did they not swear to high heaven that interoperability was their sincere goal? Since they are and were a member of OASIS during the development of v1.1, did they not have ways to help out and make sure the "flaw" was fixed instead of remaining silent until 2009, and mentioning it to justify their flawed product?

But did Microsoft really follow the standard to the letter? Rob Weir points out this, and since I've provided the link to ODF v1.1, you can check his words:

Excel 2007 SP2 does not write out document[s] that conform to the ODF 1.1 standard. The ODF 1.1 standard requires cell and cell range references to be in a particular notation. Excel does not adhere to the required notation. See any document written out by Excel 2007 SP2 and compare to the ODF standard, sections 8.1.3 and 8.3.1.
Jomar Silva, who attended the BRM for Brazil and is with ODF Alliance, read Weir's article and here is his description of what Weir found:
The technical details are all on Rob’s blog, but in summary, when opening an ODF spreadsheet (.ods file) using Office 2007, it simply removes all existing formulas without telling anything to the user, leaving only the values in cells (results of formulas evaluation, previously stored in the document). If a user wants to test the ODF support in Office, and without giving due attention, save an existing spreadsheet, will overwrite the document removing all the formulas (as if you were writing a table). I saw absurdities in life, but nothing compared to this.

When using Office 2007 to generate a new worksheet, the formulas will be stored in a way that only will be understood by Office 2007 (or by CleverAge, an MS Office plug-in to support ODF, developed as Open Source and sponsored by Microsoft), eliminating the possibility that any other existing application could be used to usefully read the document.

While the first problem simply throw out all the business intelligence inside the spreadsheet (formulas), the second locks in the user on Office 2007 forever (we have seen this movie before…).

The justification that could be used by Microsoft about it, is the lack of spreadsheet formula definition in ODF 1.0/1.1. Interesting to note that in ODF 1.2 (which is developed with the participation of Microsoft) this problem has been resolved with the creation of OpenFormula).

Silva did some tests of his own:
As I don’t have a computer with Windows and I don’t have MS Office 2007 to test, I did some tests with SP2 through the exchange documents with friends who have Office 2007 with SP2 installed and here are my 2 cents for all the tests that are appearing (and being published every second on the Internet):

Microsoft Office 2007 does not support encryption (password protection) in ODF documents !

I generated a simple text document (.odt) in ODF using OpenOffice and saved it with password protection. I sent the document (and password) to several friends and the result was the same: MS Office cannot open the document because it is password protected (some of those friends also have installed on their computers other tools that support ODF and on 100% of those tools it worked).

I also asked them to generate a document in Office 2007 with password protection and send me, but they said that when trying to do this, MSOffice presented a warning message saying that you cannot use password protection using the ODF format.

I would really like to find a good technical explanation for this, since the encryption and password protection are fully specified in ODF 1.0/1.1 (item 17.3 of the specification), and they are using existing algorithms, very familiar to any developer.

How is that failure ODF's fault?

If, instead, you insist that Microsoft did follow the standard to the letter, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, I would still ask you this: since when is that their purpose in life, their MO? If it were, why is OOXML a standard that allows for undocumented extensions? And have you looked at how they have extended other standards, like HTML, in the past? Well, up to the present actually, which is why Opera brought a complaint against Microsoft to the EU Commission. So who is fooling whom? I live with the results of Microsoft extending the HTML to suit themselves. It's annoying. So my lip curls at the idea that Microsoft suddenly finds it necessary to follow a standard, flaws and all, even when it had to know what the results would be and when it had a choice that would have worked perfectly well.

See what I mean? You can draw any conclusions for yourselves, but for me, it seems a cynical move. A lot of knowledgeable folks voted to approve this standard, knowing it would continue to be developed, as standards are. I do note that just before the release of Office SP2, there was a wave of criticism of ODF by Microsoft-leaning standards people, in preparation, I now conclude, for what they thought would be a successful FUD attack after its release. They knew, I guess, that interoperability wouldn't be achieved, and the plan was to blame ODF. I gather the larger strategy is this: to release their own version of ODF, so to speak, in a de facto way, and tell everyone out there that since interoperability is impossible, the best thing is to just use Microsoft products, with PDF for governments to choose for saving documents. It's a monopoly move, in my eyes, and it might have worked in the olden dayes, when Microsoft was King. But this is the age of the Internet. You can still pull clever tricks, of course, and heaven only knows you can FUD to your heart's content, but you will get caught in the spotlight.

As for calls by Microsoft to change the leadership of the ODF Technical Committee, may I remind you of Microsoft's Windows Evangelism memo that surfaced in the Comes v. Microsoft antitrust litigation? Here's the exhibit as PDF. It outlines how to find and put into place a "pliable" moderator. And here's what it said:

Our mission is to establish Microsoft's platforms as the de facto standards throughout the computer industry.... Working behind the scenes to orchestrate "independent" praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy's, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. "Independent" analyst's report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). "Independent" consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). "Independent" academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). "Independent" courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.

I have mentioned before the "stacked panel". Panel discussions naturally favor alliances of relatively weak partners - our usual opposition. For example, an "unbiased" panel on OLE vs. OpenDoc would contain representatives of the backers of OLE (Microsoft) and the backers of OpenDoc (Apple, IBM, Novell, WordPerfect, OMG, etc.). Thus we find ourselves outnumbered in almost every "naturally occurring" panel debate.

The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select [the] panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. Since you can’t expect representatives of our competitors to speak on your behalf, you have to get the moderator to agree to having only “independent ISVs” on the panel. No one from Microsoft or any other formal backer of the competing technologies would be allowed -just ISVs who have to use this stuff in the “real world.” Sounds marvellously independent doesn’t it? In fact, it allows us to stack the panel with ISVs that back our cause. Thus, the “independent” panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you’ve got a major win on your hands.

Finding a moderator is key to setting up a stacked panel. The best sources of pliable moderators are:

-- Analysts: Analysts sell out - that's their business model. But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.

-- Consultants: These guys are your best bets as moderators. Get a well-known consultant on your side early, but don't let him publish anything blatantly pro-Microsoft. Then, get him to propose himself to the conference organizers as a moderator, whenever a panel opportunity comes up. Since he's well- known, but apparently independent, he'll be accepted – one less thing for the constantly-overworked conference organizer to worry about, right?

Now, this was talking about conferences, but you can extrapolate, I think, and compare it with what you've seen and are still seeing in the still ongoing OOXML saga.

  


A Few Facts As Antidote Against Microsoft's anti-ODF FUD Campaign | 284 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here Please
Authored by: fettler on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 03:26 PM EDT
If found.

---
I've been eating Parkin - that's why I am so brown

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-Topic Thread
Authored by: tuxi on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 04:00 PM EDT

Post your off-topic items here! (For clickies, remember to post html.)

---
tuxi

[ Reply to This | # ]

There's only one way to fix this
Authored by: GuyllFyre on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 04:17 PM EDT
To be safe, you have to nuke them from orbit.

[ Reply to This | # ]

[NP] Discuss Groklaw News Picks
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 04:20 PM EDT
Discuss Groklaw News Picks here. Please mention which News Pick you are commenting on.

Thanks.

---
"Then you admit confirming not denying you ever said that?"
"NO! ... I mean Yes! WHAT?"
"I'll put `maybe.'"
--Bloom County

[ Reply to This | # ]

IMHO this is one potential upside of Oracle buying Sun
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 04:27 PM EDT
Oracle's pretty good at this game too, with well connected lobbyists, lots of
experience with standards committees, etc.

Hopefully with Sun's office suite in their hands, Oracle + IBM can effectively
stand up to Microsoft's dirty tricks.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rob Weir's has replied too
Authored by: PolR on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 04:32 PM EDT
Rob has written a follow-up on this same topic. He detail exactly how Microsoft formula syntax is non conformant. Here is a snippet:
  • Symphony 1.3: =[.E12]+[.C13]-[.D13]
  • Microsoft/CleverAge 3.0: =[.E12]+[.C13]-[.D13]
  • KSpread 1.6.3: =[.E12]+[.C13]-[.D13]
  • Google Spreadsheets: =[.E12]+[.C13]-[.D13]
  • OpenOffice 3.01: =[.E12]+[.C13]-[.D13]
  • Sun Plugin 3.0: [.E12]+[.C13]-[.D13]
  • Excel 2007 SP2: =E12+C13-D13

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which one of these seven is wrong and does not conform to the ODF 1.1 standard.

Rob is quoting the text of the ODF 1.1 standard, showing that the square brackets and the dot surrounding the cell address are compulsory syntax.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Method in attack
Authored by: pcrooker on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 08:47 PM EDT
I've noticed that when attacking someone, Gray Knowlton and Doug Mahugh make an
exaggerated point of being "civil" and then poo-pooing others'
negative comments. As though blatant attacks on someone's integrity or
professional conduct is all OK provided they are couched in neutral terms.

I wonder if OASIS or some other body could sue Microsoft as did Sun when
Microsoft tried to extend Java?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wow
Authored by: josmith42 on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 11:18 PM EDT
I could post what I thought after reading the Microsoft memo, but PJ would
probably have to delete it since it would be about 99% profanity.

Here's the non-profane version: Microsoft is EVIL. Someone has to take them
down, whether it be the government, Google, somebody. When a memo like that
"surfacing", 2 questions:
1. How many other memos like that don't surface?
2. Why can't anyone nail Microsoft when a memo like that exists? This was from
2007, and still The Monopoly is allowed to continue. WHAT????

---
This comment was typed using the Dvorak keyboard layout. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

At least now we know interoperability will not happen.
Authored by: kawabago on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 12:23 AM EDT
We can use this to our advantage. We can now prove that Microsoft cannot offer
interoperability or document archiving in useful standard formats. Microsoft has
just cut itself out of the office software market and we should capitalize on
it.

It's a golden opportunity for open source and standards, I hope it isn't
wasted.

[ Reply to This | # ]

They do write software, do they not?
Authored by: kozmcrae on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 12:35 AM EDT
Well yes, but only 1 in 9 Microsoft employees are coders. The rest are involved
with sales in one way or another.

---
It all started with Lynda Carter playing Wonder Woman in the '70s. Now I'm a
Heroine addict.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Few Facts As Antidote Against Microsoft's anti-ODF FUD Campaign
Authored by: ThrPilgrim on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 08:17 AM EDT
I wonder if we can get them on false advertising. :-)

---
Beware of him who would deny you access to information for in his heart he
considers himself your master.

[ Reply to This | # ]

fired for criticizing Microsoft
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 08:19 AM EDT
Lets not forget Dan Geer ..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft doing it again
Authored by: kh on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 09:01 AM EDT
While we watch, Microsoft is yet again trying on it's old tactic of
"Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" .

Thanks PJ for throwing light on their activities. How many people can stand up
to a company who is worth as many billions as Microsoft. Or perhaps I should
say, how many people together, will it take to stand up to company like
Microsoft.

Doing this is just so important. I hope you keep doing it. And I hope we will
all keep supporting you in whatever ways we can.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Few Facts As Antidote Against Microsoft's anti-ODF FUD Campaign
Authored by: jsusanka on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 09:03 AM EDT
this odf release was nothing but an attempt to make nice with the european
union.

microsoft will never change period end of story.

that will be what takes them down.

corporations really need take a look at their computer purchasing practices.

I am given a laptop that is a piece of junk and is under 500 hundreds dollars
but yet the corporations pay thousands of dollars for crappy windows software to
go on the crappy laptop.

does that makes sense? pay barely anything to get bad hardware but then pay
thousands to get even worse software.

the major corporations really need to stop being taken out to lunch by these
vendors and get some ethics in purchasing computers.

how about spending all the money you do on bad software and buying great
hardware and then use better software on the desktop for free by utilizing
linux.

these corporations really need to take a second look at what they computer
buying practices are and maybe have some kind of external audit. and stop the
lunches, the crappy free so called learning sessions (which are nothing but
commercials), free sporting event tickets, and start spending money wisely.



---
# Adware
http://jsusanka.bezoogle.com/pp/adware/

# Anti-Spyware
http://jsusanka.bezoogle.com/pp/anti-spyware/

[ Reply to This | # ]

Has anyone noticed what the Microsoft plug-in really means?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 09:29 AM EDT
CleverAge = See -- leverage

msfisher @ work so not logged in

[ Reply to This | # ]

MSODF, the Cloud, & Business Ethics - an essay
Authored by: Gringo on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 10:03 AM EDT

We are at a critical juncture with information technology, where much of the actual computing is moving from platforms directly under the control of the user, to "The Cloud". This trend, which became widespread with RIAs (Rich Internet Applications, ie: Adobe Flash, Silverlight), will continue to expand and merge with "Cloud Computing" (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft's Azure Services Platform). The advantages of this trend should be obvious – simple appliances such as the Net Book or even cell phones such as the iPhone, Windows Mobile Phones or even the OLPC will increasingly be able, via utilizing "Cloud" resources, to take on tasks formerly reserved for the desk top computer. In the process, the desk top – and its OS – will become increasingly irrelevant.

The browser is the gateway to this brave new world of cloud computing. Whoever controls the Gateway controls the Cloud. We are at the dawn of Browser Wars II, a war that will be fought so intensely than the First Great Browser War waged between Microsoft and Netscape will look like a school yard brawl in comparison. Too late we are pondering whether we would be able to move our applications or data easily from one cloud to another. The clear trend is that we will have islands of proprietary clouds. Once you are locked into one, there will be no turning back. All your data and applications will be imprisoned in that cloud. If there is one thing that we can count on, it is that Microsoft will do whatever it takes to move its monopoly over to the Cloud. It is imperative to their very survival as a corporation, and they are clearly aware of that. Bit by bit, Microsoft is leading Windows users via Internet Explorer to Windows Live, which will eventually offer more and more services until finally it blurs the line of where the desk top ends and the Cloud begins. Final destination – having your data and applications forever trapped in the Microsoft Cloud.

From this perspective, it could be expected that they would gladly pay billions in fines to the EU if that is what it takes to, for example, maintain Internet Explorer's dominance. The fact the Windows 7 express install will ignore the user's preferences and make IE the default browser is just a tiny example of things to come. Windows 7 is downloadable for free, and we can expect that millions will download and install it – and the vast majority will likely choose the express install option as opposed to the complicated custom install. These millions will suddenly have the latest IE shoved in their face. What a marketing opportunity. Wouldn’t Opera, for example, love to have an opportunity like that!

From their clearly unethical behaviour in getting MSOOXML rammed through the ISO to their latest efforts to break ODF via the tried and true "embrace, extend, extinguish" technique, it is obvious that we can no longer tolerate anticompetitive behaviour from Microsoft. It is clear that we cannot count on the US government to rein in Microsoft, who has become an instrument of their foreign policy, and any action in the EU will not necessarily benefit consumers in North America or elsewhere. In any event, there are limits to what the EU can accomplish in the short term. Technology moves faster than they can respond.

It occurred to me that MSFT shareholders need to take some responsibility for Microsoft's actions. I considered if some kind of campaign could be devised to communicate directly with these share holders, who run the gamut from private individuals who have a few shares in their 401K, on through the giant pension management funds who control large blocks of MSFT shares. Who all these share holders are, from the smallest to the biggest, must be on public record somewhere.

I input "Ethical Companies" into Google, looking for organizations that promote ethical corporate behaviour, and came up with a link to a list of World's Most Ethical Companies. Not surprisingly, Microsoft is not on that list. Now, I don't know who publishes this list (who they are) so I am not in any way endorsing it, but they do have an interesting graphic showing how their list of ethical companies outperforms the S&P by a wide margin. This is food for thought!

Next I found Microsoft Vendor Code of Conduct (URL was so long it wouldn't work when pasted here). This is a document that details what conduct Microsoft expects of its venders, and there is clearly a laudable expectation of exemplary ethical behaviour on Microsoft's part. Of course, to an extent that is self serving. I too would hope that if I had companies representing me and my products that they would behave ethically – especially towards me! However, since this document is more aimed at venders, I continue to search to find Microsoft’s corporate statement.

I found "Microsoft Standards of Business Conduct" and it is an interesting read. It begins with an address from Steve Bulmer himself, saying "Microsoft aspires to be a great company…". It is interesting that of all the infinite way to begin an address on business conduct, Bulmer first wants to assure us that above all else, Microsoft is ambitious. Reading this epitome one comes across a few gems, such as, "We recognize our right and responsibility to lobby on behalf of issues that affect our company and business operations. We conduct our lobbying activities in compliance with applicable laws and regulations governing these activities." Now does this sound like a statement on ethics to you? To me it sounds more like a self-serving rationalization for obeying the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. However, it is not my intention to pick apart their statement on their standard of business conduct or quote it out of context. What I would point out is that it seems many things Microsoft does appear to be in direct conflict with their statement.

I am wondering if a practical approach to changing Microsoft’s anticompetitive behaviour many lie in approaching shareholders and confronting them with this behaviour, and asking them to either dump MSFT or demand better behaviour from the company they are part owners of?

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Few Facts As Antidote Against Microsoft's anti-ODF FUD Campaign
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 02:17 PM EDT
"MSOffice presented a warning message saying that you cannot use password
protection using the ODF format."

Should read:

Microsoft Office does not support password protection using the ODF format.

I know that is what the observer wrote. The problem is with Microsoft's warning
message.

Piece of ... Microsoft software. Why bother?

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Few Facts As Antidote Against Microsoft's anti-ODF FUD Campaign
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 04:41 PM EDT
The list of votes is kind of misleading: more entities did not vote than voted,
and plenty of competent entities didn't bother.

Rob Weir's results are informative in another way, too: Sun has started using
ODF 1.2 already, despite the fact that it's still a draft, so Sun's code may be
(and, knowing how draft standards tend to go, probably is) producing documents
which will violate the standard when it actually comes out. I may just still be
bitter from having written a bunch of code for a draft version of EJB at some
point that was implemented by BEA Weblogic at the time, but turned out not to
work with the final version, but I think it's pretty likely that no
implementation of ODF 1.2 will be able to conform to the final specification and
be able to read Sun's current documents.

When ODF 1.1 came out, it was explicitly specified that it said nothing about
the formula language and that that would be left for a future specification
(which is OpenFormula). There's a de facto formula language that everybody other
than Microsoft uses, but it's not standardized.

If anything's suspicious, it's that the standards for this stuff were supposed
to come up for a vote months ago, and it hasn't happened.

[ Reply to This | # ]

if your goal is to destroy a standard:
Authored by: kh on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 04:52 PM EDT
From Rob Weir's follow-up:
... if your goal is to destroy a standard, then you will create a non-conformant, non-interoperable implementation, automatically download it to millions of users and sow confusion in the marketplace by flooding it with millions of incompatible documents.
Says it all really.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The fundamental question
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 09 2009 @ 02:55 PM EDT
Forget the antitrust crimes, forget the lame excuses, forget the vote stuffing
and ballot rigging, forget the bought-off politicos who support them, this
article points to the ONE question you MUST ask yourself about MS Office:

If Microsoft is *so* incompetent that it cannot do properly what 50 other
companies have done (interoperate with the ODF standard), then WHY, OH WHY would
you trust them to program ANYTHING else correctly?

Are you SURE you want to trust YOUR data to MS Office?

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A Few Facts As Antidote Against Microsoft's anti-ODF FUD Campaign
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 12:57 PM EDT
But it is just plain wrong that the formula is required to be in the suggested
ODF "." syntax, according to the ODF standard. People should read it.
ODF 1.1 doesn't even provide a formal (e.g. BNF) or informal grammar for it that
is anywhere near complete: how can any actually adopt a syntax that doesn't
actually exist? Just make something up?

In fact, ODF s8.1.3 says "Formulas allow calculations to be performed
within table cells. Every formula should begin with a namespace prefix
specifying the syntax and semantics used within the formula."

So a developer can use their preferred or traditional *syntax* if they wish, as
long as they label it with the namespace prefix (ODF doesn't even specify if
there has to be a namespace URL), and be completely conformant. It is then up to
other vendors to recognize it, which will cause a lag in interoperability in the
short-term. But that as much as ODF 1.1 provides.

For interoperability, we should be looking at Postel's law: being conservative
in what you send and generous in what you receive. Being conservative in ODF
8.1.3 terms means that vendors should (the spec does not say 'must' or 'shall')
at least clearly label their syntax and semantics: not using the prefix would
not be conservative. And conservative may certainly mean that the syntax you
choose would be the one you expect to be most widely implemented: but you might
be wrong. Being generous means that all vendors should try to import their
rival's syntax and semantics.

That is the interim situation until Open Formula and ODF 1.2 become standards
(indeed, until the major software delivery cycle after that.) Until then, this
is all just different vendor's dialects: Open Office is being very naughty for
claiming conformance to standards that have not been finalized yet: drafts
change, sometimes even unexpectedly at near their release. The save dialog boxes
should say "Draft ODF 1.2" for example, even if they are tracking the
draft well, which I have no reason to doubt.

For Postel's law, I don't think you can fault MS for *generating* clearly
labelled and documented formula in what was until recently the most commonly
implemented syntax. But I think it still can be criticized for not *loading* the
incoming "." notation formula (or at least the formula in .notation
that are not also compatible with the traditional formula language.) They could
just try it as the last thing on their import chain, for example.

Any of the vendors, Microsoft or Sun or Koffice or any of them, need to at least
follow Postel's law and tweak their implementations so that they recognize and
load the most important syntaxes of their rivals, no matter what syntax they
generate. This looks like being the case for the rest of 2009 at least.

Cheers
Rick Jelliffe

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A Few Facts As Antidote Against Microsoft's anti-ODF FUD Campaign
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 01:55 PM EDT
Facts are a great antidote, thank you Groklaw, but never forget the power of
creating and sustaining FACT communities over FUD groups.

I hope Groklaw can keep the open source movement strong through some coming
insidious threats and sophisticated attacks.

The FUD machine has evolved to INSIDIOUS PULL DOWN.

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Counter-examples needed
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 11 2009 @ 08:07 PM EDT
It would be interesting to collect circumstances where in the past MS toed a
different line than they are touting now.

Are there instances in the past where they argued for example that standards are
continually undergoing revision and therefore they should be permitted to extend
an implementation and let the standards catch up to them?

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