decoration decoration
Stories

GROKLAW
When you want to know more...
decoration
For layout only
Home
Archives
Site Map
Search
About Groklaw
Awards
Legal Research
Timelines
ApplevSamsung
ApplevSamsung p.2
ArchiveExplorer
Autozone
Bilski
Cases
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Contracts/Documents
Courts
DRM
Gordon v MS
GPL
Grokdoc
HTML How To
IPI v RH
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
Lodsys
MS Litigations
MSvB&N
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
ODF/OOXML
OOXML Appeals
OraclevGoogle
Patents
ProjectMonterey
Psystar
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v IBM
SCO v Novell
SCO:Soup2Nuts
SCOsource
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Transcripts
Unix Books
Your contributions keep Groklaw going.
To donate to Groklaw 2.0:

Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Contact PJ

Click here to email PJ. You won't find me on Facebook Donate Paypal


User Functions

Username:

Password:

Don't have an account yet? Sign up as a New User

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.


What's New

STORIES
No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


Sponsors

Hosting:
hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

Webmaster
Rob Weir's OOXML Update, Part III - Making OOXML Conform to Office 2007
Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 10:38 AM EDT

Rob Weir has an eye-opening report on how the Microsoft-stuffed committee implementing fixes to OOXML is extending the "standard", which turns out to be not exactly standard, to better conform to Microsoft Office 2007, and without following usual procedures. That is utterly backwards. Normally, vendors work to make their products conform to the standard, and it's very unusual for a "standard" to be made to conform to one vendor's proprietary product. I want to reproduce the article here, because it is an object lesson, a timely one.

Some are saying that MySQL should be placed in a nonprofit organization rather than allow Oracle to purchase it. However, note, please, how Microsoft took over a nonprofit organization with mere numbers. So it's too easy for most nonprofits to be stuffed with an entity's operatives, who then do the will of whoever placed them there. Numbers almost always win in a nonprofit. Taking over Oracle would not be so easy. So as you read what is happening currently with OOXML, extrapolate please to other situations, because Microsoft left us a template on how some can take over an nonprofit organization so that it advances proprietary interests. Could that happen with MySQL? I don't see why not.

Here's the essence of the article, for those in a hurry:

In this Part I'll look at how Microsoft is using their dominance in SC34 to push through hundreds of changes and additions to OOXML, in a misuse of a procedure intended for correcting drafting errors, to make OOXML "conform" to Microsoft's monopoly product....

It doesn't matter what WG4 previously told SC34, or what JTC1 Directives say, if ISO/IEC 29500 does not match what Microsoft Office actually writes out, then this is by definition a drafting error, and the standard will be "corrected" to conform with MS Office. Let that sink in for a little, until you realize how backwards this is....

For most standards, multiple vendors work together to improve interoperability and to increase their conformance with the standard. But with OOXML a single vendor stuffs the committee and works to make the standard better conform to Microsoft's monopoly product.

So although Microsoft Office does not conform to ISO/IEC 29500 today, I have no doubt that within a few months it will fully conform. But not a single line of code will have changed in the Office product. Office 2007 will be retroactively made to conform to ISO/IEC 29500. What will happen is the standard will be modified to match that single vendor's products, by misapplication of an ISO procedure intended for fixing minor drafting errors.

So why go through all this trouble? I believe this is all about getting the OOXML standard "corrected" so Microsoft can push for it to get it officially adopted around the world. The only reason they've held back so far is because MS Office does not actually implement ISO/IEC 29500 today. So it would have been counter productive for them to push for official adoption. However, once this oversight is remedied, by changing the standard to match their product, then watch out.

The side effect, perhaps unintended, is that the OOXML standard is thus clearly marked to be unstable and unsuitable for adoption or implementation.

And here is a list of the various possibilities for the future:
So Microsoft is now off extending OOXML, and this whole ISO escapade with OOXML seems for naught....In any case, the future looks like something like this:

  • ISO/IEC 29500:2008's future is uncertain. If the whole i4i patent thing goes against Microsoft, the standard will probably need to be withdrawn.
  • ISO/IEC 29500 with Corrigenda and Amendments will eventually line up with Office 2007 SP2 sometime in 2010/11.
  • But before that happens, Office 2010 will ship with hundreds of extensions that are not described in ISO/IEC 29500 but are documented in proprietary "implementation notes" on Microsoft's web site.
  • "Office 15" will ship sometime around 2013. It will have further proprietary extensions to ISO/IEC 29500, also not standardized. Office 15 will still be supporting "transitional" OOXML, just like Office 2007 and Office 2010 did. "Transitional" OOXML is the variation that has all the deprecated crud, like VML and "DoItLikeWord95" in it.
  • "Office 16" will ship sometime around 2016. It will finally support the "strict" schema of ISO/IEC 29500, but with 3 generations of proprietary extensions layered on top of it. And that assumes ISO/IEC 29500 actually still exists. In 2015 — 5 years after its last amendment — it will be up for "periodic review" in ISO and may be withdrawn if it appears to have been abandoned by Microsoft.

The pattern is clear: OOXML will be extended by Microsoft much faster than it will be standardized and corrected by ISO. This will make the ISO version of OOXML, currently not supported by Microsoft, even more irrelevant in the future.
Now do you see why allowing a standard to include proprietary extensions was such a mistake? And do you see why Microsoft wanted that? The result, as I see it, is a proprietary "standard" only Microsoft will benefit from, and more lock-in, the very thing standards are supposed to prevent.

Here is the complete article:

***********************************

The Final OOXML Update: Part III


~ Rob Weir, An Antic Disposition

This is Part III of an 5-part series on the state of OOXML today. Previous to starting this series, I had not posted about OOXML in over a year. Part I showed how Microsoft, despite their promises that control of OOXML would be handed over to an independent, international committee, have instead stuffed the committee that maintains OOXML (JTC1/SC34/WG4) with Microsoft employees. And in Part II I looked at how the final published text of OOXML failed to account for all BRM decisions, and described the steps that ISO was taking to remedy this obvious procedural flaw.

In this Part I'll look at how Microsoft is using their dominance in SC34 to push through hundreds of changes and additions to OOXML, in a misuse of a procedure intended for correcting drafting errors, to make OOXML "conform" to Microsoft's monopoly product.

Let's start by taking a look at the OOXML defect log [PDF] that SC34/WG4 uses to track their large list of errors and omissions discovered in the published standard. This defect report currently amounts to over 800 pages, longer than the entire ODF 1.0 standard. But it is well worth downloading and browsing through.

Some of these changes will be made in Technical Corrigenda while others are proposed for Amendments. What is the difference? SC34/WG4 itself made the distinction clear, in a presentation (N 1187 for those with access) it made to the SC34 Plenary in Prague, where it outlined its practice for deciding which changes would be made in corrigenda versus amendments:

All of the following criteria should be met for the defect to be resolved by Corrigendum:

1) WG 4 agrees that the defect is an unintentional drafting error.
2) WG 4 agrees that the defect can be resolved without the theoretical possibility of breaking existing conformant implementations of the standard.
3) WG 4 agrees that the defect can be resolved without introducing any significant new feature.

Unless all the above criteria are met, the defect should be resolved by Amendment.

These are reasonable criteria and no objections were made when these guidelines were presented to SC34.

A key procedural point is that in ISO/IEC it is the JTC1 NBs who are the consensus body that has the authority to create international standards. All ballots which create or substantial modify standards must be approved by JTC1. This includes DIS ballots, FDIS ballots, FDAM ballots and DTR ballots. So standards, technical reports and amendments are ultimately approved or disapproved by JTC1 NBs. Although subcommittees in JTC1, such as SC34, provide the technical expertise and author and review work, they are not the standardizing authority. The exception that proves the rule is with corrigenda, which are authored and approved entirely at the SC level. However, this small area of autonomy in defect correction comes with carefully delineated bounds. A SC can author, approve and publish corrigenda by itself, but only to make corrections.

So if we look at JTC1 Directives 15.4.2.2, we read (with my emphasis) "A technical corrigendum is issued to correct a technical defect.... Technical corrigenda are not issued for technical additions which shall follow the amendment procedure...". And in 15.4.1 "technical addition" is defined as: "Alteration or addition to previously agreed technical provisions in an existing IS."

So amendments, which require approval by JTC1, are used for altering or extending the provisions of a standard, while corrigenda are used to correct errors introduced in drafting or publication. This dichotomy is common in other standards organizations. For example, in OASIS, a technical committee is able to approved and publish "Approved Errata" but these are restricted to changes that do not break conformance of existing implementations. Anything beyond that is considered a substantive change to the standard and requires review approval by the OASIS membership.

Clear enough? In fact, in many cases WG4 appears to follow this important distinction. Some of the proposed changes are simple and benign. For example, some BRM issues were fixed, but in being fixed caused informative example markup in the standard to be incorrect. A quick fix of these items via corrigenda is most welcome.

However, in other cases (in fact most of the cases), the Microsoft-dominated WG4 appears to have overstepped the permissible bounds for corrigenda, and indeed gone far, far beyond what it stated it would be doing in corrigenda. Let's look at a few examples.

(Sadly, the general public is not given access to the text of the draft corrigenda (the DCOR) but those on the inside can follow along by reading N 1252 in the SC34 document repository.)

Let's start by looking at items 16, 17, 36, 52, 53 and 133 in DCOR for ISO/IEC 29500 Part 4. These make changes and additions to the WordProcessingML schema. Deletions are noted in red strikethroughs, and additions in blue:







This is not correcting a drafting error. This is not correcting a publishing error. This is a substantial addition to the schema as you can see above.

It is argued, in the defect log, that this change is needed because, without it, ISO/IEC 29500 cannot represent change tracking in mathematical equations. However, this is exactly the type of change that WG4's guidelines and JTC1 Directives exclude from corrigenda and place into amendments. The schema of OOXML is certainly an "agreed technical provision of an existing IS". So how can adding math change tracking support to the schema be anything other than an "addition to previously agreed technical provisions"? And how can anyone in WG4 believe that adding dozens of lines to the schema can be done "without the theoretical possibility of breaking existing conformant implementations of the standard"? What about, for example, applications that were programmed to use the published OOXML schema, such as any application that uses a validating parser, or an schema-directed editor, or a program that generates code stubs from the schema, or does XML-to-relational DB mapping? Not only is there a theoretical possibility of breaking such applications, there is a theoretical certainty.

(Ironically, it should be noted that Microsoft was very keen to beat up on ODF for not having change tracking for mathematical equations, all while hiding the fact that OOXML lacked complete support for this feature as well.)


Another example, #122 in the DCOR.




It changes a type in chart, from a byte to an int and in doing so extends its allowed range considerably. How did anyone think that this was a change that was "without the theoretical possibility of breaking existing conformant implementations of the standard"? Isn't there enough theoretical and practical expertise in WG4 to know that changes like this break compatibility?

For this change the rationale in the defect log explains the logic of it:

The standard states that the ST_Period simple type uses the XML Schema ST_Period data type and supports a range 2–255.

These observations are incompatible with existing documents and should be updated to reflect such prior art.

And so on and so on. If you search through the defect log, you will see the phrase "existing documents" used dozens of times. That appears to be how many discussions in WG4 end. It shuts down debate like an appeal to "national security" or "executive privilege", arguments that trumps all others. It doesn't matter what WG4 previously told SC34, or what JTC1 Directives say, if ISO/IEC 29500 does not match what Microsoft Office actually writes out, then this is by definition a drafting error, and the standard will be "corrected" to conform with MS Office. Let that sink in for a little, until you realize how backwards this is.

I invite you to go back to the defect log [PDF] and search for "BRM". You will find several oddities. For example, among these proposed changes are some that actually reverse BRM decisions. Yes, you heard me correctly. SC34/WG4, the Microsoft-dominated committee that maintains OOXML, is undoing various BRM decisions that enabled OOXML to be approved in the first place. Why? Well, of course, to make the standard conform more to Microsoft Office.

For example, take DR 09-0159 "General: Unintended incompatibilities between Transitional schema and Ecma-376" or DR 09-0275 "BRM: serial date representation" with this comment:

Although this text is in accord with the detailed amendments resolved at the BRM, it is against the spirit of the desired changes for many countries. We believe that due to time limitations at the BRM, this change was made without sufficient examination of the consequences, and was made in error by the BRM (in which error the UK played a part).

(Norbert Bollow, a member of the Swiss NB, has some good analysis of the return of the leap year bug in spreadsheets. And Jomar Silva with the Brazilian NB tracks some additional breaking changes on a wiki.)

Ah, So WG4 is now interpreting the "spirit of the BRM" through their shamanic communion with the ISO Weltgeist, and each time their oracle come back with the same response: "Change OOXML so it 'conforms' to Microsoft Office 2007". How convenient for Microsoft.

For most standards, multiple vendors work together to improve interoperability and to increase their conformance with the standard. But with OOXML a single vendor stuffs the committee and works to make the standard better conform to Microsoft's monopoly product.

So although Microsoft Office does not conform to ISO/IEC 29500 today, I have no doubt that within a few months it will fully conform. But not a single line of code will have changed in the Office product. Office 2007 will be retroactively made to conform to ISO/IEC 29500. What will happen is the standard will be modified to match that single vendor's products, by misapplication of an ISO procedure intended for fixing minor drafting errors.

So why go through all this trouble? I believe this is all about getting the OOXML standard "corrected" so Microsoft can push for it to get it officially adopted around the world. The only reason they've held back so far is because MS Office does not actually implement ISO/IEC 29500 today. So it would have been counter productive for them to push for official adoption. However, once this oversight is remedied, by changing the standard to match their product, then watch out.

The side effect, perhaps unintended, is that the OOXML standard is thus clearly marked to be unstable and unsuitable for adoption or implementation. With 800 pages of defects and more being found, and a Microsoft-dominated committee that changes the standard with no objective technical justification, the exact contents of the OOXML standard is tentative, uncertain and temporary. Four corrigenda documents and two amendment documents are currently being balloted, including many breaking changes. More corrigenda and amendments are on the way. There is no provision for a version attribute or any other indicator to declare which of the multiple incompatible versions of the standard a document conforms to. What competitor would risk implementing the standard, knowing that Microsoft dominates WG4, which has shown it is willing to change the standard at Microsoft's whim? The risk is simply too large. A competitor would simply be putting their head in the lion's mouth.

And at the same time WG4 rushes to make OOXML conform to Office 2007, Microsoft is moving on with Office 2010, now in technical preview. Office 2010 will be extending OOXML in hundreds of places. Where is SC34 in this? Where is the new work proposal for OOXML 1.1? Where the are discussions? The drafts? None of this exists. If Microsoft wanted to, they could have submit these changes to SC34 at the recent meeting in Seattle, but they preferred to reserve discussion of the Office 2010 changes for a private meeting in Redmond the day after the SC34 Plenary ended, a snub to SC34 and their fictional control of OOXML.

So Microsoft is now off extending OOXML, and this whole ISO escapade with OOXML seems for naught. (I hear also that Microsoft is also backing off the submission of their Extensible Page Specification (XPS) to ISO as well, saying that "an Ecma Standard is good enough".) It appears that Microsoft got what they wanted from ISO and is moving on. Who said it would last more than a night? As my grandmother used to say, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"

In any case, the future looks like something like this:

  • ISO/IEC 29500:2008's future is uncertain. If the whole i4i patent thing goes against Microsoft, the standard will probably need to be withdrawn.
  • ISO/IEC 29500 with Corrigenda and Amendments will eventually line up with Office 2007 SP2 sometime in 2010/11.
  • But before that happens, Office 2010 will ship with hundreds of extensions that are not described in ISO/IEC 29500 but are documented in proprietary "implementation notes" on Microsoft's web site.
  • "Office 15" will ship sometime around 2013. It will have further proprietary extensions to ISO/IEC 29500, also not standardized. Office 15 will still be supporting "transitional" OOXML, just like Office 2007 and Office 2010 did. "Transitional" OOXML is the variation that has all the deprecated crud, like VML and "DoItLikeWord95" in it.
  • "Office 16" will ship sometime around 2016. It will finally support the "strict" schema of ISO/IEC 29500, but with 3 generations of proprietary extensions layered on top of it. And that assumes ISO/IEC 29500 actually still exists. In 2015 — 5 years after its last amendment — it will be up for "periodic review" in ISO and may be withdrawn if it appears to have been abandoned by Microsoft.

The pattern is clear: OOXML will be extended by Microsoft much faster than it will be standardized and corrected by ISO. This will make the ISO version of OOXML, currently not supported by Microsoft, even more irrelevant in the future.

  


Rob Weir's OOXML Update, Part III - Making OOXML Conform to Office 2007 | 190 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here
Authored by: PolR on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 11:06 AM EDT
Only if needed.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT Here
Authored by: PolR on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 11:08 AM EDT
Instructions on how to post in HTML and how to make clickable links are found
below the comment box.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspicks here
Authored by: PolR on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 11:09 AM EDT
Please quote the news pick title in the comment title so we know what you talk
about.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rob Weir's OOXML Update, Part III - Making OOXML Conform to Office 2007
Authored by: PolR on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 11:15 AM EDT
Some are saying that MySQL should be placed in a nonprofit organization rather than allow Oracle to purchase it. However, note, please, how Microsoft took over a nonprofit organization with mere numbers.
There are already plenty of nonprofits owning important FOSS software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rob Weir's OOXML Update, Part III - Making OOXML Conform to Office 2007
Authored by: wvhillbilly on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 11:21 AM EDT
Looks like all the same tactics M$ used in ramming OOXML through in the first
place. Stuff committees and manipulate, manipulate, manipulate.

If I were someone looking for a standard for office applications, I'd consider
OOXML to be poisoned stew and look elsewhere, like ODF.

---
Trusted computing:
It's not about, "Can you trust your computer?"
It's all about, "Can your computer trust you?"

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Office Road Map to World Domination
Authored by: cjk fossman on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 11:45 AM EDT
Appears to come to fruition in 2016, when Office 16 ships in full support of the
ISO/IEC29500 schema.

IMO, converging massive ISO 29500 with the bloated beast that is MS Office would
be a daunting task, even for a competent and disciplined organization.

I doubt MS has the technical chops to pull it off without angering loads and
loads of users. I'm not even sure they have the attention span to try.

For proof, check out Vista. Throw in the "isolated" problems people
are having moving from Vista to Windows 7. Add the admitted nightmare of moving
from Windows XP to Windows 7.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rob Weir's OOXML Update, Part III - Making OOXML Conform to Office 2007
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 11:48 AM EDT
"it's very unusual for a "standard" to be made to conform to one
vendor's proprietary product"

Actually this is how most standards are created - as many people in the
standards process (especially the ANSI INCITS committees) would say: "a
standard just documents what vendors have been shipping in products for the last
year".

As a long time member (1990 to present) of the ANSI committees that develop the
ATA/ATAPI (that's the real name of the hard disk drive interface widely known as
IDE) I can say this is the way at least 50% of the features in this interface
came to be standardized. Once a manufacturer ships a new feature to a few
important customers then everyone wants that feature and then it gets added to
the next version of the standard. The whole standards development process can
take several years during which time products are shipping with the proposed but
not standardized feature.

Hale (old ATA/ATAPI guy)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Case for the defence: Microsoft are doing right
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 12:52 PM EDT
They've already bought what they wanted: an approved standard. So what's the
benefit now to the standard actually conforming with their de facto
implementation?

I'd say that there's no benefit, and there's actually benefit to them in
pickling the standard in aspic and having it fall further behind Microsoft
Office's output, since that makes their competitors' jobs harder.

By updating the standard to match the de facto output, they're doing... wait for
it... the right thing.

You may now denounce me as a shill, but while you're doing so, can you list how
updating the standard actually benefits Microsoft?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Carefully Choreographed rug-pulling via ISO standards
Authored by: hAckz0r on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 02:53 PM EDT
Step 1) Wait for a single competitor to discover some missing/incorrect XML
schema handling while trying to load a True(tm) Microsoft OOXML file. Complains
to ISO...

Step 2) Update the ISO Spec to identify the way MS Office actually handles the
data.

Step 3) The entire industry of competitors now updates their own product to
dance around the identified problem, all while carefully trying to subdue the
complaints from their own customers. The newly generated incompatibilities with
older visions of existing data files haunts them for years to come. These code
changes and utility patches to fix the mis-created data files must now be
documented, or the product must be extended (bloated) to accommodate all
possible permutations of back-dated OOXML schema standards modifications.

Step 4) Profit.



---
DRM - As a "solution", it solves the wrong problem; As a "technology" its only
'logically' infeasible.

[ Reply to This | # ]

You are surprised because? OOXML - Making OOXML Conform to Office 2007
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 03:07 PM EDT
"It doesn't matter what WG4 previously told SC34, or what JTC1 Directives
say, if ISO/IEC 29500 does not match what Microsoft Office actually writes out,
then this is by definition a drafting error, and the standard will be
"corrected" to conform with MS Office. Let that sink in for a little,
until you realize how backwards this is...."

That was the whole point of the exercise anyway, codify a defacto standard. It
is saying that one product has a large enough share of the market, in whatever
it is, that that item becomes the standard to which everything else is
measured.

When they get done, they should have very good documentation on MS Office. And
Microsoft didn't have to do all the work either.

Don't forget the RAND on their patents.

By the way, I must thank the group of industrious people working on Open Office.
Documents that would not open with my older version, 2.0 open very nicely with
the current version. A big thank you to you all, and well done. Of course you
already knew you did a great job, but here is a comment from Joe User, a member
of the great unwashed massses.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rob Weir's OOXML Update, Part III - Making OOXML Conform to Office 2007
Authored by: ThrPilgrim on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 03:12 PM EDT
And how can anyone in WG4 believe that adding dozens of lines to the schema can be done "without the theoretical possibility of breaking existing conformant implementations of the standard"

Thats easy. There are no existing conformant implementations, so you can do what you want without braking any :-)

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

embrace...extend...EXTINGUISH!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 05:10 PM EDT
ISO is irrelevant. All hail Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Doesn't ISO have any procedural oversight?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 06:30 PM EDT

Isn't there anybody at ISO who has the authority to decide that a committee is violating the procedures and should be suspended?

There's supposed to be a "Technical Management Board". ( link). Does it actually do anything? How does anyone complain to it?

Or is the ISO Technical Management Board also stuffed/fixed?

[ Reply to This | # ]

MySQL is completely different, PJ
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 06:44 PM EDT

So as you read what is happening currently with OOXML, extrapolate please to other situations, because Microsoft left us a template on how some can take over an nonprofit organization so that it advances proprietary interests. Could that happen with MySQL? I don't see why not.

Ownership of MySQL is not so important, because the code itself is released under the GPL. If an owner did something really nasty, it would just be forked, as XFree86 was forked to create Xorg (which AFAIK all or most distros now use).

We do have an interest in some big company like Oracle owning it, because the excellent documentation is not under any kind of free license. What this means in practice is that only the owner can update the documentation.

But even this would not be an insuperable block to forking. MySQL can be made very compliant to the ANSI SQL standard by correct choice of config options. So a lot of the documentation could be replaced by "See the ANSI standard. Make sure your my.cnf file contains a line saying 'sql-mode = ansi' ".

MySQL is useful because it conforms to the ANSI standard and because it has a storage engine, InnoDB, that conforms to database principles. It isn't any kind of standard in itself.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Appeals court refuses to stay decision in SCO Group case By Tom Harvey
Authored by: cxd on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 10:34 PM EDT
Well here it is the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that the 10th is denying the stay requested by Novell. link

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rob Weir's OOXML Update
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 10:42 PM EDT
This document (these documents?) show that MS still doesn't "get" the
internet. They (the docs) will be around for a loooonnnng time somewhere and
are not complimentary to MS. They stand as a monument to MS bad behaviour.
History will take note of them.
But what can MS do? Sue to silence a competent critic? I don't think so. A
court case along those lines would bring a lot more publicity, none of it
favourable. And a lot of capable lawyers would almost certainly be marshalled to
the defence so victory would be unlikely (I dare to say).
The only way for MS to stop this sort of informed critism is to stop providing
the critics with such damaging ammunition.
Can they really believe that they can stand against the ever increasing weight
of bad karma they are creating?
They really are a corporate disgrace and I wonder how investment funds view
their conduct? Some investment funds claim to only invest in
"ethical" companies.
They can have as many trolls as they like but people who really think for
themselves see through the shallow, factless and contradictory rubbish trolls
publish.

Chris B

[ Reply to This | # ]

Happens even in Unicode
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 28 2009 @ 11:57 PM EDT
The bugs in Microsoft applications do turn up as standards even in Unicode.
There was a posting in Google groups on this subject some time back.

[ Reply to This | # ]

shamanic communion with the ISO Weltgeist
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 29 2009 @ 04:54 AM EDT
Anyone who thought the BRM might have produced some
workable result can now see it all being washed away under
the Redmond water torture, drip, drip, drip, ...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Defines “Sunday” as the first weekday
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 29 2009 @ 05:03 AM EDT
I thought the first day of the week was defined by $LOCALE
Oh, sorry, Posix compliance isn't on the table ...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Difficult to take over a non-profit?? Hmm.... not quite so.
Authored by: paivakil on Thursday, October 29 2009 @ 07:35 AM EDT
However, note, please, how Microsoft took over a nonprofit organization with mere numbers. So it's too easy for most nonprofits to be stuffed with an entity's operatives, who then do the will of whoever placed them there. Numbers almost always win in a nonprofit
Is the FSF / GNU project at a risk of being taken over like this? Are you saying that the guys who have assigned their copyrights to the GNU project are at a risk? I feel that you are over-generalising; to a large extent, it depends on how you design the nonprofit.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Everyone is missing the most important point
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 29 2009 @ 09:02 PM EDT

This is not meant as criticism of Rob or PJ, but there are other issues
involved, which will make Microsoft's work on DIS29500 mote in a short time.

What it comes down to is money. Microsoft's most profitable division is the
Business division. That's right. They make more money off of applications that
run on Windows, specifically Microsoft Office, than they do off of Windows. If
you don't believe, check their most recent quarterly filing in the SEC web
site.

Microsoft at the present time is facing competitive pressure, that they've never
before faced, and since they aren't used to competitive pressure, they are
handling the situation badly. Rather than producing an Office Suite that blows
away the competition, instead they are panicking and trying to lock their
customers in. While they are doing this, Apple's IWork, Google Docs, Open
Office, KOffice, Word Perfect Office, and other applications are taking market
share away from them, by producing and selling reasonably priced alternatives
(or giving them away).

As a result Microsoft is faced with damaging erosion to their profitability, at
a time that their flagship product, the Windows Operating system, is also having
problems.

The attempt to get governments to accept the ISO29500 standard is one part of
trying to stop the erosion. If Microsoft can trick governments into accepting
the standard, they hope to be able to lock these governments into a Microsoft
only standard. The problem here, is of course that at present, Microsoft Office
is not compliant with the standard, so they wish to ensure that at some future
point Office will be ISO29500 compliant.

But as Rob said, they probably won't be able to manage this until 2016 at the
earliest. This doesn't help the current losses they are suffering in market
share. For example Apple used to ship Macs with a demo version of Office
installed, and I'm told that they no longer do this. And why would they? They
sell their own, competing product, IWork. Oh, if you want Office installed, they
will do so, and will charge you $100.00 more than they will charge you for
IWork.

This is why Microsoft was so intent on wiping out Gnu/Linux netbooks. Every
Netbook that didn't have Windows, couldn't run Office. And since Office is their
Cash Cow, this was insupportable.

With the ARM powered systems that are now on sale in certain places, the
situation is even worse. Desktop Windows is designed around the X86 CPU series,
and won't run on ARM. Windows CE, which will run on ARM, has been neglected over
the last several years. At one time it was possible to buy WinCE devices that
were like our current Netbooks, but a lot more expensive. All of the work on
Windows CE which has occurred recently has been targeting "mobile"
devices, i.e. cell phones and the Zune, and may not be compatible with keyboard
powered devices. Microsoft used to offer a version of Office for ARM devices,
whether it has been updated, or could be updated in time of be of any use in the
Netbook market is questionable. Another issue is price - can Microsoft sell an
$800.00 version of Office for use on a $300.00 ARM Netbook? I don't think so.

Since over 50% of Microsoft's profits come from Office, any drop in sales of it
is a cause for concern. Microsoft thinks that ISO29500 is the answer to the drop
in sales, rather than providing a product that everyone wants. They are wrong.
ISO29500 will end up being a distraction. While they are working on the
specification, they won't be working on improving the product. For that matter,
they may not have anyone in management who's got the vision, or capability to do
so. Maybe Melinda Gates will have to take over the Business division, if
Microsoft wants to survive.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rob Weir's OOXML Update, Part III - Making OOXML Conform to Office 2007
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 30 2009 @ 01:22 AM EDT
Are "standards" really worth the time and effort?

Let me explain... STANDARDS are developed and published by government recognized
committees such as ANSI, INCITS, ISO, and many more. SPECIFICATIONS are
developed by non-government sponsored, usually industry sponsored,
organizations. And industry sponsored organizations frequently include the
customers of the resulting products.

If you look around the computer industry most of the popular and widely used
things were developed by industry sponsored organizations: PCI, PCMCIA,
CompactFlash (CF), MultiMedia (MMC) and Secure Digital (SD) cards, USB, Serial
ATA, and the list goes on and on. The things are described by Specifications
(not Standards).

Both types of organizations suffer the same problems - the biggest problem being
that a single company or a very small group of companies can (and do)
effectively control the operation and results of the group. But Standards
organizations can be subject to political non-technical control. And Standards
committees can frequently be side tracked by well meaning experts with wonderful
theories but little experience making products that customers really want.

So while it is a noble goal to have approved and published Standards before
anyone make a conforming product that very rarely happens. You can waste a huge
amount of time and effort trying to get a standard completed and by the time it
is done no one cares. An industry sponsored organization can frequently produce
better results in less time. This is why industry sponsored specifications are
generally more successful and usually more widely adopted.

In my opinion you can complain endlessly about companies that have products that
don't conform to standards but most likely few customers really want to wait for
some standards committee to complete a standard. If you have a motivated
industry group they can usually complete and publish a Specification very
quickly.

Hale (old ATA/ATAPI guy)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
Comments are owned by the individual posters.

PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )