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Microsoft Government Politics

Microsoft Bids To Take Over Open Document Format 256

Posted by kdawson
from the pinching-the-oxygen-feed dept.
what about sends in a Groklaw alert warning that, by PJ's reading, Microsoft may be trying to take over ODF via a stacked SC 34 committee. The article lists the attendees at an SC 34 meeting in July and gives their affiliations, which the official meeting materials do not. (The attendees of the October 1 meeting, which generated a takeover proposal to OASIS, are not known in full.) "Why do I say Microsoft, when this is SC 34? Look at this ... list of participants in the July meeting in Japan of the SC 34 committee. The committee membership is so tilted by Microsoft employees and such, if it were a boat, it would capsize ... Of the 19 attendees, 8 are outright Microsoft employees or consultants, and 2 of them are Ecma TC45 members. So 10 out of 19 are directly controlled by Microsoft/Ecma ... [I]f the takeover were to succeed, SC 34 would get to maintain ODF as well as Microsoft's competing parody 'standard,' OOXML. How totally smooth and shark-like. Under the guise of 'synchronized maintenance,' without which they claim SC 34 can't fulfill its responsibilities, they get control of everything." A related submission from David Gerard points out that BoycottNovell has leaked the ISO OOXML documents, which ISO has kept behind passwords.
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Microsoft Bids To Take Over Open Document Format

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  • Super slimy. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @04:39PM (#25258853) Journal
    Let me get this straight:
    Sit pouting on the sidelines during ODF standardization
    Complain that ODF lacks all kinds of OMG Necessary! features
    Hack together your own bloated abortion of a format.
    Lie, cheat, and steal your way to its ratification as a standard, never mind that it duplicates functionality of an existing standard, and is of severly troubled quality.
    And now: Demand to be placed in charge of maintaining the first standard?

    Anything I missed?
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      Lie, cheat, and steal your way to its ratification as a standard, never mind that it duplicates functionality of an existing standard...

      ...Anything I missed?

      Yes.

      Lie, cheat, and steal your way to the maintenance of ODF and its reputation as a standard.

      • by aztektum (170569)

        I think when he said

        And now: Demand to be placed in charge of maintaining the first standard?

        he covered everything. ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hdparm (575302)

      Yeah, you missed one very important fact - Microsoft and 'open' in a same sentence always were and always will be FUD.

    • by aliquis (678370)

      How we shouldn't had to go thru it if ISO had just accepted that whatever .doc was the standard already? ;)

    • by mikael (484)

      There is still the future...

      Merge the two formats/committees together, while giving the reason that it is unnecessary to have two standards.

      If that fails, FUD the second standard giving the reason that the committee never moves fast enough to respond to customer requests.

      Result: Global domination of open document standards.

    • Lucy. Charles Schultz FTW!

      "Awww. Be nice and quit bashing Microsoft"
      (... Microsoft does yet another unbelieveable act)

  • by Ostracus (1354233) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @04:43PM (#25258893) Journal

    "A related submission from David Gerard points out that BoycottNovell has leaked the ISO OOXML documents, which ISO has keep behind passwords. "

    OK we slashdot their servers. Now what?

    • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:27PM (#25259271) Homepage Journal

      We laugh at AlexH for thinking that because a bug existed in a calculation, it should be specified and mandated that all future calculations contain the same bug, in case people corrected for it?

      Or perhaps at Microsoft for creating non-existent dates.

      Or at ISO for creating one of the worst backlashes against a standard I think I have ever seen through their inept handling of the crisis and their blatant disregard for their own procedures.

      Or at ODF's board for their suicidal willingness to allow the makers of a competing standard dictate their own direction. (Even if ODF survives - and no guarantee of that - AlexH has already made it clear that the bugs present in OOXML are being deliberately introduced into ODF for "backwards-compatibility" reasons. If ODF becomes a re-implementation of OOXML, who is going to use ODF?)

      • by Tweenk (1274968) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @06:52PM (#25259837)

        You ate AlexH FUD. Read further into the comments and you'll see this:

        Luc Bollen said,
        October 3, 2008 at 9:41 am

        Here is what OpenFormula says about this (normative text):

        "Implementations of formulas in an OpenDocument file shall use the epoch specified in the table-null-date attribute of the element, and shall support at least the following epoch values: 1899-12-30, 1900-01-01, and 1904-01-01.

        Many applications cannot handle Date values before January 1, 1900. Some applications can handle dates for the years 1900 and on, but include a known defect: they incorrectly presume that 1900 was a leap year (1900 was not a leap year). Applications may reproduce the 1900-as-leap-year bug for compatibility purposes, but should not. Portable documents shall not include date calculations that require the incorrect assumption that 1900 was a leap year. Portable documents shall not assume that negative date values are impossible (many implementations use negative dates to represent dates before the epoch). Portable documents should use the epoch date 1899-12-30 to compensate for serial numbers originating from applications that include a 1900-02-29 leap day in their calculations."

        I think we are far from "ODF 1.2 will standardise this bug as well".

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

        ``If ODF becomes a re-implementation of OOXML, who is going to use ODF?)''

        The way I see it, ODF is an open format for storing data produced and handled by software like the programs in Microsoft Office. Compared to proprietary formats, it has the advantage of being open. Anybody can implement it, the documentation is available, etc. This is a great good.

        On the other hand, I don't have a very high opinion of "software like the programs in Microsoft Office". And I don't have a very high opinion of ODF, either

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @04:48PM (#25258959) Homepage

    Microsoft must be truly scared by the prospect of widespread adoption of open source office software. The question now is, what can the open source community do to prevent another OOXML-type situation? How will interested parties prevent Microsoft from engaging in its usual "embrace, extend and extinguish" behavior?

    • by frisket (149522) <.ei.liramlis. .ta. .retep.> on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:12PM (#25259159) Homepage
      "It's the file format, stupid :-)"

      Microsoft doesn't like FOSS, but even more they hate someone coming up with a file format that is better than theirs. Plenty of FOSS implements Microsoft file formats, but to have a competing format become more widespread than their own is what terrifies Microsoft.

      All your data are belong to us...

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by grasshoppa (657393)

        they hate someone coming up with a file format that is better than theirs.

        It's not about what's better or worse, in this or technology in general. Instead, MS hates it when someone other than they come up with a standard that gets more widespread adoption than their own.

        Small but very important distinction.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:37PM (#25259335) Homepage

      Think about what happens if Microsoft Office is supplanted:
      1. Microsoft loses 1 of its 2 big cash cows.
      2. Businesses have no reason to choose Windows desktops over Apple or Linux, cutting the Windows market in half.

      In other words, open protocols + open file formats + improved OpenOffice cuts Microsoft revenues by 75%. They will fight tooth and nail for that.

      • by timmarhy (659436)
        businesses aren't going to run a linux desktop just because office is no longer a compatability problem (i'm not convinced ODf will solve that anyway)
    • um, I know! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by toby (759) * on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:47PM (#25259403) Homepage Journal

      How about ENFORCING anti-trust law!

      (bada-bing)

      The DoJ couldn't get a proper remedy. I have faith that the EU will.

      Failing that, the public will eventually recognise Microsoft for the destructive, self interested criminals they are, and will shut them down.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by niiler (716140)

        In this country we've had the foxes watching the hen-houses for the last eight years. I can't recall any enforcement action (from EPA to anti-trust) over that period although rulings were made. Hopefully this will change shortly, no matter who wins in November.

        That said, this is only peripherally a MS anti-trust issue in that if MS wasn't so big (and felt that it could get away with murder), perhaps it wouldn't be on their agenda. It's really more of an ISO issue, as others before have said.

        • by toby (759) *

          It's also an anti-trust issue in that these machinations should play very badly before an anti-trust investigator, as should have the OOXML debacle itself. As somebody already on the wrong end of rulings in the US and Europe, Microsoft is acting like a convicted gangster getting drunk and shooting up the bar.

          The only way they can stay out of jail is having the best lawyers money can buy and substantial purchased political influence (that may change quickly with a more accountable government in the USA). A

  • Look at WhatWG and W3C. Concepts are important, but the Internet treats censorship (on MS's part) as damage and will, naturally, route around it. People get angry, publicity is gotten, groups are formed. MS is shut out of the new goodness.

    (Just for the record, I think that censorship quote is horribly snarky but I'm using it anyway)
  • If this is true... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TihSon (1065170)

    ...where is IBM?

  • Paranoid... (Score:3, Funny)

    by retech (1228598) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @04:59PM (#25259059)
    Putting this just above the article on paranoid Linux distro seems like there's a conspiracy.
  • by Azuma Hazuki (955769) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:08PM (#25259139)
    Subject. Between this and the weasel-word butchering of "open source" MS is trying to pull off I have just about had enough of them. ...if Bill Gates goes to Hell, will he be forced to use Ubuntu on a SPARCStation as the BSD daemon prods him with a pointy little pitchfork? With a loop of Richard Stallman's rancid songs playing in the background?
  • OSS Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hachete (473378) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:16PM (#25259193) Homepage Journal

    Maybe we should create our own standards committees. And work out a way for them *not* to be corrupted.

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      What do we actually need standards committees for?

    • by greenguy (162630)

      Ya know, there's only one way to have a non-corruptible standards committee for file formats.

      Let the FSF design file formats.

      And no, I'm not kidding. They know what it means to create one thing for one purpose, and have it do its job very well, but also have the results be reusable.

    • Maybe we should create our own standards committees.

      Yeah! With Blackjack!

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:18PM (#25259207) Homepage Journal

    Honestly, PJ should forward all data related to the ISO/OOXML scandal and these latest actions to the DoJ and request they open another antitrust case. I'm not sure there has ever been a more clear-cut case of anti-competitive behavior from MS.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JAlexoi (1085785)
      Since the illegal hiring practices, you should drop the word Justice from DoJ, and let it be just The Department...
    • by xant (99438)

      Not PJ. The EFF. This is what they were founded to do. While I'm at it, I think I'll go make them a donation. The EFF has probably done more for you (as an observer interested in technology) than either presidential candidate.

  • And they were told OOXML wouldn't work, because despite its ISO blessing, there was no reference implementation of ISO OOXML.

    So Microsoft is going the other route: subvert and gain control of ODF.

  • Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oGMo (379) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:39PM (#25259349)

    Next time some whiner points out something new cool thing Google is doing is really a veiled conspiracy to take over the world, please point to this and tell them to kindly STFU. Microsoft is really evil and they've consistently and continuously done things like this since their inception 25+ years ago.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pembo13 (770295)
      Google accepts like a regular soulless (seeing as they are not human), profit driven organization. But Microsoft seems driven to take the path which leads to the most destruction for others to their own benefit.
  • A million Davids can kick the ass of one Goliath. What rocks should we use? Ideas?

    • by Fred_A (10934)

      A million Davids can kick the ass of one Goliath. What rocks should we use? Ideas?

      Real ones. And pitchforks. And torches.

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:47PM (#25259405) Homepage
    No, Microsoft is still out to make a buck by stabbing anything in its way. That's how it started, that's how it grew, and that has been its very successful strategy. Why anyone would think that they would change what has worked very well for them is beyond me.
  • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:49PM (#25259427) Journal

    Sure Apple has done some things that ware bone-headed and just plain wrong but nothing they've done remotely compares to what Balmer et al is trying to pull here.

  • by JonSimons (1026038) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @05:56PM (#25259467)

    This is a good thing. Microsoft has publicly shown that they have accepted the failure of OOXML, and are now attempting to participate (for better, or for worse) in ODF.

    Those that cry "Microsoft is taking over!" -- remember how touted the "open-ness" of the process for ODF has been in the past, and how the contrast of that open process versus the less-open ECMA process has been attempted to be used as one of the many criticisms of the OOXML debacle.

    Now the important question is, can an open standard like ODF prevail in face of the juggernaut Microsoft?

    I think so. I'm an optimist.

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @06:29PM (#25259709)

    Duh. The reason they want to control the standard is so they can force it to change, again and again.

    The reason MS doesn't like open standards is not because they're crazy or evil (which actually they might be, but that's not the reason, here) but because file formats are the key to upgrades.

    When you can change a file format so that older versions are incompatible, you can create a situation where 100 million people with word 2009 start getting new files from 1 million people with word 2010. The 100 million people cannot read them. They complain, they gripe, then THEY UPGRADE.

    A file format which stays the same breaks this model, and that would reduce MS revenue by a colossal amount. They can't allow that. So they need to control ODF so that they can keep changing it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DavidD_CA (750156)

      Your statement might hold merit if that were the case, but current history has shown the opposite.

      My contacts have had no problems opening the Office 2007 files I send them, despite being on older versions of Office. Microsoft has made free upgrades available to those users so that they can open my documents, edit them, and send them back to me without me even knowing they were on an old version.

      And I still have the ability to Save As if needed.

  • The bread and butter of the Windows desktop is the SDK and Microsoft is letting it languish at a time when Linux is working to make inroads. Windows SDK has a lot of faults but it has a model for device independence, and has a lot of good functions with which one could theoretically build a good native code framework around in C++...

    but... Microsoft's basically giving C++ the back door treatment at the same time C++ has really become the technology it was supposed to be. There's been a lot of C++ stuff that historically was hard to get acceptance on largely because either the compiler or the STL was buggy and within the last few years, both have just clicked into place. I've long preached that C# and "business languages" are better but as I get more and more into STL, I'm just shocked at how elegant this framework can be. STL isn't perfect but C++0x is going to fix some things so that it can be much, much better.

    But sadly (or fortunately for Linux), Microsoft is becoming the GM of software, where internal consistency is more valued than creating any strength of any product. We find that everything is being built to leverage or create an artificial economy around Windows now and the proposition isn't there, just as artificial distinctions between Chevy and Pontiac don't make sense any more either. In fact, its so bad, that, Windows Vista is basically torched because the SDK doesn't have that much more to offer. You would want to upgrade the OS often in Windows to get a bunch more USER controls and GDI features, but instead, the path forward is to abandon everything that made Windows so predominant, and instead drive everyone towards .NET.... why force this migration? why throw away all of that Windows SDK skillsets?

    It's like, just from a basic marketing perspective, there's Windows saying that we're throwing away everything you did, and along comes Linux, screaming, "for the love of God we have not one but several C++ frameworks for programming it".

  • ODF defects: (Score:3, Informative)

    by Luke_22 (1296823) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @02:56AM (#25262033)
    This [ipsj.or.jp] is the list of defects that odf still has, according to the SC4
    Considering ooxml has much more and much serious problems, I'm starting to think this will end just like the dis29500(ooxml) standardization process.
    *sigh*

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