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To read comments to this article, go here
Novell Forking OpenOffice.org
Monday, December 04 2006 @ 01:09 PM EST

Well, if there are any Novell supporters left, here's something else to put in your pipe and smoke it. Novell is forking OpenOffice.org.

There will be a Novell edition of OpenOffice.org and it will support Microsoft OpenXML. (The default will be ODF, they claim, but note that the subheading mentions OpenXML instead.) I am guessing this will be the only OpenOffice.org covered by the "patent agreement" with Microsoft. You think?

Note the role Novell played in Massachusetts also in the ODF story in News Picks. I think it's clear now what Microsoft gets out of this Novell deal -- they get to persuade enterprise users to stay with Microsoft Office, because now they don't "need" to switch to Linux. And they don't need to leave Microsoft products to use ODF. So, while Novell may call this "Novell OpenOffice.org" I feel free to call it "Sellout Linux OpenOffice.org". Money can do strange things to people. And Microsoft knows it.

I think Novell needs to change its slogan now. They describe themselves in the press release like this:

"Novell, Inc. delivers Software for the Open Enterprise™"

They've even trademarked the phrase, so we may assume that back in the day, that was their goal. Back to the drawing board. May I suggest this as more appropriate now?

"Novell, Inc. delivers A-Hint-Of-Not-Really-Open-Software for the Not-Much-Interested-in-Leaving-Microsoft Enterprise"

In my eyes, Novell is forking itself out of the FOSS community. Here's the press release, to memorialize this day in FOSS history, and so you can reach your own conclusions.

Update: A witty anonymous reader suggests this new name for Novell's edition of OpenOffice.org: PatentOffice.org.

And David Berlind asks an interesting question:

Going back to the issue at hand — office suite support for both ODF and OOXML — now the only question is when Microsoft will support ODF in earnest in Microsoft Office, if it ever will.


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

Novell Boosts OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office Interoperability

Novell to support Open XML format to advance document interoperability

WALTHAM, Mass.—04 Dec 2006—Novell today announced that the Novell® edition of the OpenOffice.org office productivity suite will now support the Office Open XML format, increasing interoperability between OpenOffice.org and the next generation of Microsoft Office. Novell is cooperating with Microsoft and others on a project to create bi-directional open source translators for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office, with the word processing translator to be available first, by the end of January 2007. The translators will be made available as plug-ins to Novell’s OpenOffice.org product. Novell will release the code to integrate the Open XML format into its product as open source and submit it for inclusion in the OpenOffice.org project. As a result, end users will be able to more easily share files between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org, as documents will better maintain consistent formats, formulas and style templates across the two office productivity suites.

“Novell supports the OpenDocument format as the default file format in OpenOffice.org because it provides customer choice and flexibility, but interoperability with Microsoft Office has also been critical to the success of OpenOffice.org,” said Nat Friedman, Novell chief technology and strategy officer for Open Source. “OpenOffice.org is very important to Novell, and as our customers deploy Linux* desktops across their organizations, they're telling us that sharing documents between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office is a must-have. The addition of Open XML support reflects Novell's commitment to providing enterprise customers the tools they need to be successful, from the desktop to the data center.”

Chris Capossela, corporate vice president, Microsoft Business Division Product Management Group, said, “This is further evidence to our mutual customers that Novell and Microsoft have the same commitment to document interoperability and customer choice for document technology. As a leader in the open source community, Novell can help us make sure the Open XML translation technology works well across different applications and platforms. Novell has already provided contributions to the Ecma Open XML standard, and this commitment to support the Open XML format via their product makes it work for customers.”

The Open XML format is an open standard file format for office applications that can be freely implemented by multiple applications on multiple platforms. The Open XML format was originated by Microsoft and standardized by the Ecma International organization’s technical committee, TC45. It is presented for Ecma General Assembly approval on December 7, 2006, with the intention to offer the specification for formal ISO/JTC1 standardization. Open XML is the default format for the recently released Microsoft Office 2007. The Open XML format is also available through free updates to past Microsoft Office versions.

With an estimated 100 million users, OpenOffice.org is a full-featured, open source office productivity suite with word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database applications. OpenOffice.org currently supports the OpenDocument (ODF) file format, which is an ISO-standardized, XML-based file format specification for office applications maintained by the open source community. The OpenDocument format ensures information saved in spreadsheets, documents and presentations is freely accessible to any OpenDocument-supporting application. OpenOffice.org is available free of charge at http://www.openoffice.org. Novell provides and supports OpenOffice.org for both Linux and Windows* as part of its SUSE® Linux Enterprise Desktop and Novell Open Workgroup Suite offerings, respectively.

The open source Open XML/ODF Translator project can be viewed at this internet location: http://sourceforge.net/projects/odf-converter.

Novell is a member of and an active contributor to both the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications Technical Committee, the body that manages and publishes the OpenDocument standard, and the Ecma International Technical Committee (TC45) that develops, manages and publishes the Open XML standard. Novell is the second-leading contributor to the OpenOffice.org project.

For more information on the broader partnership between Novell and Microsoft, visit http://www.novell.com/linux/microsoft and http://www.microsoft.com/interop/msnovellcollab.

About Novell

Novell, Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL) delivers Software for the Open Enterprise™. With more than 50,000 customers in 43 countries, Novell helps customers manage, simplify, secure and integrate their technology environments by leveraging best-of-breed, open standards-based software. With over 20 years of experience, 4,700 employees, 5,000 partners and support centers around the world, Novell helps customers gain control over their IT operating environment while reducing cost. More information about Novell can be found at http://www.novell.com.

Novell and SUSE are registered trademarks trademarks of Novell, Inc. in the United States and other countries. *Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. All other third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


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