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Microsoft Government Politics

Possible Manipulation of OOXML Process In Poland 94

Posted by kdawson
from the politicizing-the-technical dept.
michuk writes "IBM's representative for KT182 (the committee empowered to vote on OOXML in Poland) accused the committee's chair of intentionally manipulating the process. A letter from the president of the body overseeing KT182, sent a month ago to the committee chair for distribution to all committee members, was never distributed. The letter recommended that, if consensus were not achieved on the OOXML vote, then Poland should abstain. This follows up my recent report on the OOXML process in Poland (also covered by Groklaw), it looks like things are going bad this time, at least as bad as in October." The EU is already investigating the Polish process based on complaints last fall. Is anyone tracking all of the allegations and investigations surrounding OOXML?
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Possible Manipulation of OOXML Process In Poland

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  • Same in Germany (Score:5, Interesting)

    by am 2k (217885) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:02AM (#22892592) Homepage

    Heise reports that the vote process in Germany was manipulated, too, although on a more obvious level:

    link [heise.de] (German only, sorry)

    The members of the German institute for norms (DIN) were basically unable to vote "no", only "yes" and "abstain" were allowed.

  • by should_be_linear (779431) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:19AM (#22892722)
    Format name itself is cheating and (deliberately) confusing, to begin with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by loftwyr (36717)
      It's actually Office Open XML
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Still deliberately named to confuse. If there's one thing Microsoft can do well, it's marketing.
      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        Yes but supposedly even Microsoft is confused by that sometimes.
    • by maxume (22995)
      I'm pretty sure Open Office was named well after Microsoft Office. That's seems to be pretty similar to what you are complaining about. Microsoft probably would have been well served to have used a less generic name, but the virtues of naming such a produce 'Office' are evident in its widespread use.
      • ...That's seems to be pretty similar to what you are complaining about...

        Not really.

        Microsoft Office
        Open Office

        - not confusing.

        Office Open
        Open Office

        - confusing

        Why do you think Microsoft left the word Microsoft out of the name?

        • by maxume (22995)
          Microsoft used a generic name so they don't have much to complain about, but I imagine that leaving Microsoft out of the name was more about Office branding than it was about encouraging people to conflate their standard with something called "Open Document".
          • Microsoft used a generic name so they don't have much to complain about...

            You're right, Microsoft don't have anything to complain about, they did it on purpose.

            ...leaving Microsoft out of the name was more about Office branding than it was about encouraging people to conflate their standard with something called "Open Document".

            I don't think so, their office software is already branded, MOXML would have complimented that branding.

  • by Adaptux (1235736) * on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:32AM (#22892836)
    IBM's representative accused the committee's chairman of intentionally manipulating the process.

    The problem with this kind of accusations is the lack of clearly-defined norms regarding how the process is supposed to be run.

    Unbiased observers exist only as a theoretical approximation, not in practice, anyway. The next problem is that it is quite natural for any chairperson to see one side as the aggressior and the other side as the victim, based upon which it is quite natural for just about every decent-minded person to want to help the victim. The problem in this conflict is that both sides are making arguments to show themselves as the victim, while very few people are have the skills and knowledge to determine on the basis of objective moral criteria (which are relevant in this complex situation involving technology as well as economics), so that for most people it will again depends on their bias whom they will see as the aggressor and whom they will see as the victim.

    The only way out is to have more formalized, standardized processes for dealing with conflict situations so that the chairpersons don't have vast amounts of power to interpret the rules to favor the outcome which they personally think is right.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:35AM (#22892870) Homepage
    It looks as if the UK is going to do the same, in spite of the technical committee being against it.

    I sent the following yesterday to:
    Mike Low <mike.low@bsi-global.com>
    Jean Stride <Jean.stride@bsigroup.com
    Adrian Stokes <Adrian.Stokes@cat-ltd.demon.co.uk>

    I have not received a reply.

    UKUUG is seeking a member who will represent them on the tech advisory committee as our current rep no longer has the time.

    **** email sent ****

    I am writing is my capacity as Chairman of the UKUUG [ukuug.org] (UK's Unix & Open Systems User Group).

    I was appalled to hear it rumoured that the BSI is intending to approve the fast tracking of the
    Microsoft sponsored OOXML format (DIS29500) while there are still so many outstanding questions
    about the draft standard. In this letter I make no comment about the long term suitability
    of OOXML as an ISO standard, my main issue today is that fast tracking it is wrong.

    An ISO standard should be well defined and capable of multiple independent implementations.
    The whole point is to allow users of the standard to have products from different vendors
    work together just as well as a product from a single vendor. If an ISO standard is
    insufficiently precise to allow this then the reputation of ISO as a standards setting
    body will suffer severely; with a consequential effect on International trade.

    With this in mind, if BSI approves the fast tracking of OOXML it will do severe damage
    users' confidence in standards in general and to the reputations of those organisations
    who have approved this broken standard: BSI and ISO.

    Technical people will regard standards less highly leading to a long term
    erosion of use of standards. Do you personally want to be responsible for this ?

    I thought that BSI meetings were open, but now find that they are secret. I find this
    astounding, it makes me wonder what really happens in those meetings. Will you publish
    unedited minutes and allow independent observers in the future ?

    The last time that this was aired in public, I remember a BSI member commenting that the number
    of comments about this was unprecedented. This shows that there is a great public interest
    in this issue and that fast tracking would not meet public approval; people will wonder
    who you represent and whose interests you serve.

    On the standard itself: I am aware that some of the problems have been addressed, but that
    there are large numbers of other ones that are still contentious. There are many parts
    that are not properly defined. For these reasons OOXML is not fit for purpose as it stands.
    It is possible that these problems may be fixed by the standard being fully discussed,
    IE the fast tracking is not appropriate for OOXML.

    I call on BSI to act in the interests of the UK public and say 'No to fast tracking of OOXML'.

    If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Regards

    • There's a mention here in the register [theregister.co.uk]

      Quote:
      "
      Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh has tabled a parliamentary question expressing his disappointment at the BSI's apparent change of heart: "I am deeply concerned that some national bodies have considered approving DIS29500 'in their national interest'. It is not in the interest of the UK or any other country for DIS 29500 to be published as an international standard in its present form as there are a significant number of unresolved issues, including incompati
    • by seanellis (302682)
      Here's my shot at fame and stardom...

      ---

      Mr. Low, Mrs. Stride, Mr. Stokes,

      In recent days, it has been reported that the BSI is likely to approve DIS29500 (OOXML) for ISO fast-track approval.

      As a previous and current participant in international standards processes, I would like to convey my disappointment in this decision. The BSI's raison-d'etre is to promote and protect British interests in the software world, and I fail to see how adopting OOXML does this.

      OOXML is simply too large, and has too many techni
  • by jw3 (99683) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:40AM (#22892906) Homepage
    Naaah, I think that this is not intentional. It's just the typically polish manner of doing things: let them drown in the chaos. Do you know that our former prime minister stated recently (http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/03/official-polish.html [wired.com]) that he opposes the idea of voting over internet because people use internet mostly to watch pornography while drinking beer and voting should be a serious issue? And our president doesn't want to sign a treaty that he himself has designed a few months ago? (details:http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1205847121.22/ [eubusiness.com])

    I mean, come on. Don't take them seriously. The person responsible for distributing the e-mails will be sacked (just in a few months).
    • by qazsedcft (911254) on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:30AM (#22893426)
      ...or that the president used pictures of a Canadian gay marriage in his speech on national television for homophobic propaganda purposes, and then denied being aware of it.

      Yeah, politics in Poland are more than just a little fucked up. Same as usual.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rbanffy (584143)
      "he opposes the idea of voting over internet because people use internet mostly to watch pornography while drinking beer and voting should be a serious issue"

      I oppose the idea of voting through the internet because it would be a nightmare to ensure the confidentiality of the votes, to say nothing about the accuracy of the whole process.

      Having been part of the development team of one of the Brazilian electronic voting ballots I can tell there is a very thick layer of regulations, protocols and processes arou
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:00AM (#22893136)
    Also on groklaw:

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080328090328998 [groklaw.net]

    "Jomar Silva, a delegate from Brazil, which voted No, has now done what he said he would do and has posted what he saw and heard at the BRM. It is a deeply shocking tale of maneuvering the delegates to vote against their will by presenting a kind of Sophie's Choice of options, all designed, according to what I gather from his account, to get a positive result for Microsoft."
  • by phoenix.bam! (642635) on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:02AM (#22893154)
    This seems like pretty big trademark infringement. All the stories I see it is easy to confuse OpenOffice's xml format and Office Open XML format. Isn't the entire point of trademark to guarantee consumer confidence in the brand they are using? Someone know of a release by the OpenOffice team as to why they haven't brought a lawsuit about?
    • by OmniGeek (72743) on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:28AM (#22893392)
      See, the name isn't EXACTLY the same, so trademark infringement would require the danger of "confusing similarity" in the minds of the target market. Now, anyone with two brain cells to rub together can easily tell that the two are nothing alike; the Open Document Format used by OpenOffice.org is exactly that - a high-quality, open document format - whereas OOXML is a massive pile of bovine waste products.

      No one with a good understanding of the situation could EVER mistake OOXML for EITHER a high-quality format OR an open format. See, it's quite elementary! ;-)
      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        Trademark confusion is about the label on the box, not the content. You get a box that you think contains openoffice and only when you look inside do you realize it's actually something else.
      • by richlv (778496)
        what about lindows or lin---s ?
  • by pieterh (196118) on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:24AM (#22893362) Homepage
    NoOOXML.org has been actively reporting on the process and tracking irregularities [noooxml.org] since last June or so. The list is very long and we're still collecting information.
  • grrrr. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:28AM (#22893398)
    deeply flawed meetings with deeply flawed decisions about a proposed deeply flawed standard that exisits solely to further the commercials aims of one particular company.

    in the meantime it risks destroying the credibilty of a mahor standard body (to further the commercial aims of one company).

    and, of course, it reduces the possible impact of a simpler, superior standard (to further the commercial aims of one company).

    the more I read about this the madder I become.

    there is an old saying if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it is probably a duck. the simplest explanation in all cases points beck to some seriously disturbing manipulation by one particular company - and the brazen bare faced manor in which it is done is simply breathtaking. sure there is nothing *illegal* in padding up membership of committees to get the votes that you want - but by any measure it is underhanded and a dirty tactic.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TropicalCoder (898500)

      deeply flawed meetings with deeply flawed decisions about a proposed deeply flawed standard

      I am deeply concerned about this...

  • by Tom (822) on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:28AM (#22893400) Homepage Journal
    If I had 1% of every dollar that changed hands from microsoft to some member of some national standards comittee over the past weeks, I'm pretty certain I could stop working - for life.

    It is obvious that the whole process has been abused. If ISO were still capable of reasonable action, they would halt the entire process and conduct a thorough investigation before continuing.

    Alas, as ISO is a comittee-driven organization, and too many of the comittee members have been bought, excuse me "convinced", to be a little more microsoft-friendly, that won't happen.
  • I did not read the OOXML proposal, I understand that there has been numerous remarks on the technical ground only. Those comments have been partly addressed by Microsoft and therefore another round of discussion on this proposal is in order.

    What astounds me is that there is so much shadowness, hidden agendas, personal interests, overt corruption and manipulation in the process! I mean, what do these people evil people think will happen if OOXML becomes an ISO standard? Do they have vested interests in Mi

    • I did not read the OOXML proposal, I understand that there has been numerous remarks on the technical ground only. Those comments have been partly addressed by Microsoft and therefore another round of discussion on this proposal is in order

      Why should the rules be different for OOXML? Other standards, including ODF, were approved with numerous technical comments only partly addressed. That's the normal procedure. The remaining issues get addressed in future versions, after people have experience using the standard.

    • FIPS-151 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by argent (18001) <peter@slasCOUGAR ... ga.com minus cat> on Friday March 28, 2008 @11:15AM (#22893926) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft has a history of satisfying standards on paper in ways that are completely useless for anyone to actually use. Remember FIPS-151? It was supposed to make an easily implemented open operating system API (POSIX) a requirement for US federal government computing systems. Microsoft's implementation of POSIX allowed them to pass that checkmark, but it wasn't actually useful because they restricted POSIX-using applications. Even IBM's mainframe operating systems had more useful POSIX implementations than Microsoft.

      Bad implementations of standards prevent the adoption of real standards.

      Ironically this bit them later on, so they ended up buying a company (Softway Systems) that had extended the POSIX subsystem and removed the restrictions because they actually found they needed a working POSIX environment themselves. This totally bailed them out after they had twice failed to convert Hotmail from FreeBSD to Windows NT.
  • Others manipulation (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:29AM (#22893416)
    0) Bill Gates contacted the president of Mexico and ask to approve ms-ooxml
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080327104739103 [groklaw.net]

    1) Finland change is vote from Abstention to Yes without voting
    http://www.groklaw.net/comment.php?mode=display&sid=20080327104739103&title=Finland+Changes+Vote+to+%26quot%3BYes%26quot%3B+after+Questionable+%26quot%3BConsensus%26quot%3B&type=article&order=&hideanonymous=0&pid=682930#c682940 [groklaw.net]

    2) Polish NB Chairwoman has changed the voting rules for the email ballot to "If you don't vote, it is counted as a YES", and she has threatened to sue committee members if they spread accusations
    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-49455/polish-chairwomen-distributes-microsoft-propaganda [noooxml.org]

    3) Romania voted Yes. There is strong suspicion of ballot-stuffing and the Romanian Standardization Organization has so far refused to offer any information other than the vote distribution.
    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-49319/romania-votes-yes-again-ballot-stuffing-lack-of-transparencyro [noooxml.org]
    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-47722/last-minute-committee-stuffing-in-romania [noooxml.org]

    4) Cuba voted No in September but that its vote was counted as Yes
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080324121844682 [groklaw.net]

    5) Brazilian representative alleges that he believes Microsoft has itself violated the "Law of Silence". It relates to Microsoft's claim that 98% of issues were resolved at the meeting, which he says is inaccurate, but his question relates to why Microsoft can talk about the BRM and no one else can. The Brazilian delegate has written to ITTF
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080324220213437 [groklaw.net]

    6) Belgium: Yes man invade Technical Committee
    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-48345/belgium-also-stuffed-with-microsoft-business-partners [noooxml.org]

    7) Pakistan and Egypt stuffed?
    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-48053/pakistan-and-egypt-stuffed [noooxml.org]

    8) USA: The Yes men are back for voting in the United States. OOXML was adopted 17 votes against 4, thanks to Microsoft and their 11 Business Partners.
    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-46044/committee-stuffing-also-in-the-united-states:11-microsoft-business-partners [noooxml.org]

    9) German vote Yes: only Yes and Abstain vote admitted. Without very strong pressure from Microsoft Germany would have voted "ABSTAIN", with 9 to 8.
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080327231223154 [groklaw.net]
    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-49525/limited-choice-at-german-din [noooxml.org]

    10) Sweden: the vote is annulled because one member vote two times. No new vote will be cast because there are no time for a new vote (sorry no-link)

    11) ISO has violated WTO rules accepting ms-ooxml as possible standard. Tineke Egyedi, president of the European Academy for Standardisation, is critical of OOXML being
  • by Tom (822) on Friday March 28, 2008 @10:36AM (#22893486) Homepage Journal
    Actually, when you think about it, it's a win-win situation - for microsoft.

    Either, they get OOXML force-fed to us all, damaging ODF.

    Or, their methods will corrupt and destroy faith in the standards process itself. Now ask yourself what one important backbone of Free Software is. That's right - standards. Interoperability is why Free Software can work with each other and we can build global systems out of it.

    So, in either case, MS has successfully damaged an important asset of those they consider their enemies. They can't lose.

    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      IMO standards are an asset of the people and an individual doing great damage to the people deserves having the people do great damage to it. I really have very little tolerance for individuals who damage a common good for personal gain. Waterboard 'em.
    • by rtb61 (674572) on Friday March 28, 2008 @11:12AM (#22893888) Homepage
      Actually they can and are losing, they are being exposed as a blatant corrupt corporation, willing to destroy any business, government organisation, international standard, or individuals in order to maintain and extend their monopoly.

      This overt criminal behaviour will force regulators to come down hard on M$ where and when ever they can.

      It also makes it impossible for governments or government departments to recommend M$ software with out being also being seen as corrupt.

      Yet again M$ is doing more damage to itself then FOSS ever could.

      • by Temujin_12 (832986) on Friday March 28, 2008 @12:11PM (#22894562)

        Actually they can and are losing, they are being exposed as a blatant corrupt corporation, willing to destroy any business, government organisation, international standard, or individuals in order to maintain and extend their monopoly.
        I've been following this whole process for 6 months now and I have to say that this was the final straw for me.

        I have already vowed to never use Vista (XP is the last MS OS for me). But this has pushed me over the edge. I have a few Windows programs that I really enjoy using that don't work in Wine, but I don't care any more. MS will not only never get another cent of my money but I am going to purge them completely from my life. Over the next few weeks I am going to remove XP from my computer (100% *nix now), never use the Office suite (Open Office and IMAP), and look for opportunities to inform others about their choice in OS and software.

        I'm not alone either. As I've been tracking this I've been politely forwarding information to friends and family, several of which have started expressing interest in using *nix or other MS alternatives. My wife, who runs her own business, has now stated that as soon as professional Adobe products are ever available on *nix platforms then she will remove MS as well (she already chooses Thunderbird/Lightning) over Outlook. My children are more familiar with a *nix system than they are Windows system (my son loves the Tux suite of games as well as Gcompris).

        My efforts are just a drop in the sea, but my immediate friends and family are now at least are aware of the choice they have. And I think that this realization of choice is what MS fears the most.
        • by Tom (822)

          My wife, who runs her own business, has now stated that as soon as professional Adobe products are ever available on *nix platforms
          They are. The Unix(tm) in question is OS X 10.5

          Time to put your money where your mouth is.
          • Good point. Sometimes I forget that OSX is built on a Unix core. Next time design machines are due for an upgrade I'll mention that.
            • by pallmall1 (882819)

              Sometimes I forget that OSX is built on a Unix core. Next time design machines are due for an upgrade I'll mention that.
              You might want to consider that Apple voted in favor of OOXML [computerworld.com].

              Apple is very committed to the vendor lock-in strategy.

              Just like the ISO.
      • by TropicalCoder (898500) on Friday March 28, 2008 @12:14PM (#22894584) Homepage Journal

        I believe that Microsoft has miscalculated. I am sure they developed their strategy a long time ago when they decided to embark upon this misadventure with OOXML. At that time, "standards" was a pretty obscure and esoteric topic that few people besides the experts ever considered. Of course they must have calculated that they may upset a few people in the regular course of things, but I am sure they never predicted the scrutiny by hundreds of thousands of non-experts the world over as they are receiving now. Who would have?

        Corporations, even evil ones, are very conscious of public perception. Why else would they spend millions of dollars on public relations? Make no doubt about it - Microsoft must be very concerned right now about how this has turned out, in regards to the negative publicity and ill will it has garnered. It will be a hollow, Pyhrric victory for them if OOXML gains ISO status.

        I have no doubt they may have even factored the cost of potential fines from the EU. What's another billion dollar fine when the stakes of the game for Microsoft are so much higher than that? However, I bet they never figured on the massive outrage that they have generated. That can not be so easily fixed by simply paying a fine and being done with it. On top of their misfortunes with Vista and a pending class action suite and the bad publicity that will bring, they must be very concerned. There is no telling where all this bad karma will lead them. Such uncertainties are very bad for business. Microsoft miscalculated when they embarked on the "Vista Ready" program, and they miscalculated when they embarked up the OOXML campaign. Their leadership is floundering. With threatening technological changes on the horizon like growing storm clouds, they are in navigating in troubled waters without a moral compass to guide them.

  • Don't defend MS here (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday March 28, 2008 @11:14AM (#22893914)
    Before someone gets on a rant how we're all persecuting MS, some facts on the matter. OOXML was fast-tracked through the process. That means member countries were only given 30 days to review 6000+ pages of highly technical documentation. After the review, OOXML received a large number of comments. Every proposed standard has issues and OOXML was no exception. Despite a large number of flaws, MS has only vaguely promised to fix them and pushed to make OOXML standard regardless of the issues. They haven't actually fixed them or presented a plan to fix them. Some of the technical major flaws:
    • MS standards instead of approved standards.
      MS uses their own DrawingML instead of SVG, their MS Math instead MathML, Dark Blue is coded as 000080 and not 00008B (SVG and ISO), MS country codes instead of ISO country codes, etc. Some of them are documented; some are not. However none of them are approved standards themselves. This means that in order to use OOXML completely, software must use MS standards. For things like DarkBlue and country codes, this is plain silly. Why should everyone in the world conform to uses MS standards when the ISO standard already exists.

      Also using MS standards excludes any platform/software MS chooses to exclude including Linux, OS X, BSD, etc. For example the recommended format for DrawingML is Windows Meta File(WMF) which is Windows only and there are no plans to port it to another format or platform.

      Besides being anti-competitive, the use of undocumented MS standards can be dangerous. For example, OOXML uses MS hashing and cryptographic functions which are not documented or approved or tested. Are these functions safe and effective? No one but MS knows. Again, there is an existing ISO standard on hashing and cryptographic functions.
    • MS inconsistent nonstandard units instead of standard units.
      OOXML uses units like English Metric Units (EMU) and "twips" (twentieths of a point). While somewhat defined, neither of them conform to any country's known units of measurements. Also in OOXML, different parts uses different units without any explanation. For example, some parts use twips while some parts are defined in points, half points, pixels, etc.
    • Undefined elements
      Many parts of the specification have undefined terms like the style "basicThinLine" (1 pt line?) and "plainText" (ASCII, UTF8?) . If software wanted to render a basicThinLine or use plainText, it would be up to interpretation to what that meant.
    • Inconsistent naming of elements
      XML should be human readable but OOXML is littered with abbreviated, unclear element names like scrgbClr, algn, blurRad, dir, dist, rotWithShape.
    • Poor international support
      Many parts of OOXML are written from a Western viewpoint of languages and customs with little consideration of other cultures. There are numerous examples where OOXML does not support Unicode which means only Latin based languages can fully implement OOXML. This affects all non-Latin based alphabets: Cyrillic (Russian, Belarussian, Ukranian), Middle Eastern (Arabic, Farsi), Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean),etc. For example, OOXML does not support RFC 3987 which means no Chinese characters in web addresses. Some functions are Western only: Networkdays() returns Saturday and Sunday as weekends which is true for the US but not Muslim countries.
    • Proprietary Stuff
      autoSpaceLikeWord95, footnoteLayoutLikeWW8,mwSmallCaps, etc. Most of these are not documented. Even if they were, they require emulation of a MS product. That unfortunately brings MS patents. If another software emulated autoSpaceLikeWord95, MS could sue them for patent infringement, and MS has only promised that they will not to sue. Legally, their promises mean nothing, as they can go back on their word at any time.
    • IBM has only promised not to sue over their ODF patents. Sun has only promised not to sue over their ODF patents. If you actually compare the language of all the patent pledged involved with OOXML, and those with ODF, you'll find that they are pretty much the same. Microsoft's and IBM's, in particular, are remarkably close in what they allow and what they disallow. Here are the relevant licenses [nyud.net] on one page, side-by-side, for convenient comparison.

      • I understand what you are saying here... while there is no reason for concern about promises not sue on the ODF side, there is deep and well deserved mistrust of any "promises" that come from Microsoft because of their blatant underhanded dealings in the past, for which they have been convicted and fined in courts of law. I agree with you on that.
      • IBM has only promised not to sue over their ODF patents. Sun has only promised not to sue over their ODF patents. If you actually compare the language of all the patent pledged involved with OOXML, and those with ODF, you'll find that they are pretty much the same. Microsoft's and IBM's, in particular, are remarkably close in what they allow and what they disallow. Here are the relevant licenses on one page, side-by-side, for convenient comparison.

        OOXML has a large number of technical flaws which MS has no

        • As far as I know IBM has never threatened Linux developers with ambiguous claims of patent infringement

          On the other hand, Microsoft has never ACTUALLY sued anyone over patents. IBM has.

          And not just hardware patents. They've sued [ibm.com] over software patents.

          Assuming that IBM is just automatically going to be nice, and so letting them get away with a patent license you think is bogus, does not strike me as wise.

          • IBM sues Amazon over patents. So what? I never read that they had a promise with Amazon not to sue. They have promised not to sue Linux programmers, and until they do, I believe them at their word. MS has promised not to sue over their patents and at the same time threaten Linux programmers that they are infringing without ever really telling them which patents they are infringing. Do I fully trust IBM? No, but I trust them more than MS. That is the question for me: Who do you trust more?
          • by pallmall1 (882819)

            On the other hand, Microsoft has never ACTUALLY sued anyone over patents.
            No, Microsoft uses proxies like SCO to sue others.
      • by AJWM (19027)
        IBM has only promised not to sue over their ODF patents. Sun has only promised not to sue over their ODF patents.

        These promises are legally binding. If IBM or Sun were to attempt to sue someone over these (alleged) patents, the defendant could raise the defenses of promissory estoppel and laches.

        On the other hand, Microsofts promises to fix MS-OOXML are empty. What are you going to do, sue them if they don't? Similarly, Microsoft's "promise" about not suing over use of their patents to implement MS-OOXML
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Friday March 28, 2008 @11:35AM (#22894156) Homepage
    Especially considering that trademarks need to be actively defended. Even Patrick Durusau refers to Microsoft's format as OpenXML. OfficeOpen is just OpenOffice reversed. They are in the same product space. I'm sure Microsoft wouldn't allow an operating system called 'Pro XP Windows'
  • Should read "Probable"...
  • OK, this is probably just nuts, and a result of posting in the morning before having any caffeine to boot my brain, but a weird theory just came to mind. I'll present it for the general amusement and ridicule of the Slashdot crowd.

    A lot of complaints about OOXML are over things that it did the same as, or better than, ODF. For example, one of the complaints was that it did not fully specify how to do password hashing. But ODF is even less forthcoming in this regard. It just says that you should hash an

    • by spitzak (4019)
      You have got to be kidding.

      Your only concrete example is that one of them says what contries "Hijri" is used in and ODF does not?

      That might explain some of the 6000 pages that they manage to use about 40 times as many letters to say the same thing by adding words like "specifies that the" and "shall be uesd" and a list of countries that serves ZERO purpose in figuring out what "Hijri" means.

      I grant you that ODF is probably a horrible format, but it is obvious that OXML is much much worse.
      • by spitzak (4019)
        Furthermore ODF referse to another ISO specification to define what "Hijri" means.

        And I just tried using the word "Hijri" and that all-so-wonderful list of countries to find out what Hijri means. Guess what: it was INSTANTANEOUS for the word "hijri". A search with that list of countries found a lot of stuff about oil and wars but failed to find a single pointer to how they do their calendar.
    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday March 28, 2008 @01:25PM (#22895610)

      A lot of complaints about OOXML are over things that it did the same as, or better than, ODF. For example, one of the complaints was that it did not fully specify how to do password hashing. But ODF is even less forthcoming in this regard. It just says that you should hash any password you store in the file. It doesn't say what hash you should use, or tell you how to record in the file what hash is used so others can figure out how to process the file. But because of these complaints about OOXML, it now specifies password hashing in enough detail that you can implement it from the spec and referenced documents.

      In a standard, you have to be careful in specifying "what to do" as opposed to specifying "how to do it". In the case of password hashing, ODF does not specify which method you should use. It leaves that up to each implementation because each country has different standards. ie. Japan: (MD5, RIPEMD-160, SHA1, SHA256, SHA384, and SHA512),US:(SHA1, SHA224, SHA256,SHA384, and SHA512) . OOXML on the other hand introduces new, never tested, undefined MS-only methods that are required. Are these MS function safe and free of holes? Are they patented (which means you have to pay MS to use them)? No one really knows.

      A second example: calendars. OOXML was dinged for not giving a precise reference for each supported it calendar. It just had a list of calendars, and for each a short description. But ODF was even terser. It just, in one sentence, gives a list of the names of the supported calendars, with no reference at all. But because OOXML was dinged for inadequate calendar specs, OOXML now for each gives a precise reference. For example, all you'll find in ODF about the hijri calendar is that one word in that list (and I think there is one example document fragment where it has that word in it). In OOXML now, it says this about the hijri calendar.

      Again, same problem. ODF, like a good standard, references other approved standards. OOXML tries to introduce their own standard. For example, the function Networkday() returns Saturday and Sunday as weekends. This is true in Western cultures only. So this function is flawed for Muslim countries for example. But if you accept OOXML, you have to accept a flawed implementation of a function.

      A lot of third party programs and sites are starting to support OOXML, whereas ODF doesn't seem to be growing much beyond OpenOffice and the other free office suites.

      I don't know about programs in development but ODF has lots of released software that supports ODF. [wikipedia.org] Name one released application that supports OOXML: Not even Office 2007 fully implements OOXML.

      Reading blog entries from people who have tried to implement OOXML and ODF, I see that the OOXML ones are having an easier time. The ODF ones are more likely to run into something that is underspecified or ambiguous (at least if they are sticking to the standard, rather than working from 1.2, which is not a standard yet)

      One of the main issues with OOXML is that it contained many proprietary Windows-only, undefined APIs. So Windows programmer might use autoSpaceLikeWord95 but really has no idea what it actually does. So many non-Windows programmers may avoid OOXML altogether. That skews your sample.

      The net result of OOXML being required to clear a much higher bar than any previous document standard is that OOXML has become the most useful document specification. And how did this happen?

      If anything, the opposite is true. OOXML got fast-tracked. ODF did not. ODF approval required that all participating countries approve it. Somehow in the OOXML process, Abstain became Yes in some countries.

      There has been a lot of technical criticism of OOXML, but also a lot of FUD. And when you look at the FUD,

      • In a standard, you have to be careful in specifying "what to do" as opposed to specifying "how to do it". In the case of password hashing, ODF does not specify which method you should use. It leaves that up to each implementation because each country has different standards. ie. Japan: (MD5, RIPEMD-160, SHA1, SHA256, SHA384, and SHA512),US:(SHA1, SHA224, SHA256,SHA384, and SHA512)

        So, given a document from Japan and one from the US, both of which contain passwords, how do I know which hash was ACTUALLY used in each document? The standard should tell me how to determine that.

        • There's two issues I have with OOXML's hashing. 1) It mandates that everyone use the MS function regardless of local convention or law, and 2)more importantly, the MS function has never been tested or approved. If OOXML mandated SHA1, that would be different, but it mandated MS only functions.
          • I just had a chance to take a look at the OOXML spec for this, and it does no such thing. It specifies that you can use MD2, MD4, MD5, RIPEMD-128, RIPEMD-160, SHA-1, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512, or Whirlpool.
            • Open Office XML Part4, Section 2.15.1.28 Document Protection:

              When a password is supplied via an application which shall be hashed and stored in this element, that process shall be done in two stages:

              First, the password shall be hashed using the following algorithm:

              • Truncate the password to 15 characters. . . etc.

              This section raises an issue with OOXML. On the one hand it clearly defines what the algorithm is to be for password hashing but as you read further, it mentions other hashing methods in de

  • Not that I trust Poland's postal service or e-mail infrastructure, whichever they're referring to, but I'm sure Microsoft was pulling some BS here. Why don't they just tell Microsoft after all the crap they pulled that they automatically lose?
  • There was a time when a standard was determined by popular use, not by committee.

    Remove the committee and this problem will vanish.
  • by zobier (585066)
    Maybe they're just pissed that Microsoft forgot Poland.
  • Denmark
    http://www.ds.dk/ [www.ds.dk]

    Poland
    http://polishlinux.org/poland/no-consensus-over-ooxml-in-poland-yet/ [polishlinux.org]

    Germany
    http://www.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.heise.de%2Fnewsticker%2FDIN-sagt-Ja-zur-ISO-Stan [google.com]
    dardisierung-von-OOXML--%2Fmeldung%2F105657&langpair=de|en&hl=sv&ie=UTF8

    South Korea
    http://osrin.net/2008/03/28/south-korea-votes-approve-for-isoiec-dis29500/ [osrin.net]

    Norway
    http://www.idg.no/computerworld/article92563.ece [www.idg.no]

    I think the USA and the UK are also voting yes, but I don't have any links for those.

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