Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 21:02 UTC, submitted by Flatline
Features, Office In a blow to Microsoft, Belgium's government departments will be instructed to use an open file format for internal communications. The OpenDocument Format is to be the standard format for exchanging documents within the government, according to a proposal that is expected to be approved by Belgium's Council of Ministers on Friday. The plan increases the pressure from governments worldwide on Microsoft to embrace open standards.
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Quote from the article
by dylansmrjones on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 21:19 UTC
dylansmrjones
Member since:
2005-10-02

According to Strickx, the Belgian strategy is likely to gain a following. He claimed France and Denmark are considering similar moves.

Actually it's already been decided -> http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=14807

Nice to see Belgium (hopefully) following DK. According to the bill passed in Denmark OpenXML do not qualify as an open standard.

From the notes to the bill:
Open standards means that the standard is

- well documented with its full specification publically available,
- freely implementable without economically, politically or legal limitations on implementation and use, and
- standardized and maintained in an open forum (a so-called standards organisation) through an open process.

Reply Score: 5

v RE: Quote from the article
by n4cer on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 21:33 UTC in reply to "Quote from the article"
RE[2]: Quote from the article
by dylansmrjones on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 21:35 UTC in reply to "RE: Quote from the article"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

No, it doesn't.

It fails on the last two points, at least at the moment.

There are legal limitations in the use and implementation of OpenXML.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Quote from the article
by n4cer on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 21:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Quote from the article"
n4cer Member since:
2005-07-06

It fails on the last two points, at least at the moment.

There are legal limitations in the use and implementation of OpenXML


No more than that of ODF, i.e., you must conform to the spec, and you can't use the spec and sue implementors of the spec for IP in the spec.

Edit: Also, it is being "standardized and maintained in an open forum (a so-called standards organisation) through an open process." There are several companies participating in its standardization, including Apple, British Library, BP, Canon, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage Inc., Novell, Pioneer, Statoil ASA, Toshiba. The process is open to others as well.

Edited 2006-06-23 21:46

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Quote from the article
by dylansmrjones on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 21:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Quote from the article"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

There are no economical, legal or political limitations in the implementation and use of ODF.

The fact you cannot sue implementors of the spec and keep ODF implemented in your applications is not a limitation in the use of ODF. According to the bill ODF qualifies as an open standard. The entire idea is to switch to ODF ;)

Edit: Also, it is being "standardized and maintained in an open forum (a so-called standards organisation) through an open process." There are several companies participating in its standardization, including Apple, British Library, BP, Canon, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage Inc., Novell, Pioneer, Statoil ASA, Toshiba. The process is open to others as well.

EDIT: Well, the question is if qualifies as an open forum according to danish law. It probably doesn't if there are any limitations on who can participate. But as usual there are more questions than answers. We'll just have to wait and see ;)

Edited 2006-06-23 21:49

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Quote from the article
by n4cer on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 21:49 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Quote from the article"
n4cer Member since:
2005-07-06

The fact you cannot sue implementors of the spec and keep ODF implemented in your applications is not a limitation in the use of ODF. According to the bill ODF qualifies as an open standard. The entire idea is to switch to ODF ;)

So how does this change the point that there are no more limitations on OXML than ODF?

Edit:
Well, the question is if qualifies as an open forum according to danish law. It probably doesn't if there are any limitations on who can participate. But as usual there are more questions than answers.

I'll post this info as an edit when I find it.

We'll just have to wait and see ;)

Agreed.

Edited 2006-06-23 21:53

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Quote from the article
by n4cer on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 22:24 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Quote from the article"
n4cer Member since:
2005-07-06

Exceeded time to edit the other post, but here's the participation info:
12.2
Any Ecma member may participate in any TC.
http://www.ecma-international.org/memento/Ecmabylaws.htm#art3.12

3.1
The Association shall consist of the following classes of Ecma members:

a) Companies
ordinary members
associate members
SME members (Small and Medium sized Enterprises)
SPC members (Small Private Companies)
b) NFPs (Not-For-Profit organizations)

Any other class of members shall be determined by the General Assembly with a two thirds majority of all ordinary members.
--

Assuming later ISO approval, they will also be a participation point, though I expect the earliest point of participation in evolving the standard will remain ECMA as it has with C#/CLI/et al.

There's also an informal participation point at http://openxmldeveloper.org/about.aspx

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Quote from the article
by dylansmrjones on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 23:30 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Quote from the article"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

ECMA isn't an open forum, I'm sorry to say. At least not in Denmark. They may view it differently in Belgium.

Now.. need sleep. Be back. Later. ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Quote from the article
by el3ktro on Sat 24th Jun 2006 06:49 UTC in reply to "RE: Quote from the article"
el3ktro Member since:
2006-01-10

It clearly does not. For example, OpenXML isn't allowed to be re-licensed, which makes it a no-go for GPL applications and thus it is not "freely implementable" because FREELY means you can do it ANYwhere, ANYhow.

Tom

Reply Score: 2

Jieha Belgium
by Terracotta on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 21:28 UTC
Terracotta
Member since:
2005-08-15

Hehe, yeah we may not be the first :p but well ;) it's at least a start, although OpenXML is not put aside just yet, adoption depends if it becomes an ISO standard.

Reply Score: 2

Hurrah for us
by Tyr. on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 21:54 UTC
Tyr.
Member since:
2005-07-06

Haven't heard anything on the news in Belgium, but then I guess this isn't really mainstream news.

Good news for MS though. Belgian politicians can be bought, invest in say a couple of thousand new jobs in Belgium (or some coushy positions for ex-government types) and watch ODF disappear.

Reply Score: 3

Belgium and Germany..now hopefully..
by Ronald Vos on Fri 23rd Jun 2006 23:47 UTC
Ronald Vos
Member since:
2005-07-06

..it blows over to Holland soon as well. God we can be so backward over some things here :|

Reply Score: 1

DevL Member since:
2005-07-06

The same goes for Sweden! Glad to hear open standards are getting adopted rather proprietary crap.

Reply Score: 2

Perfect sense
by KenJackson on Sat 24th Jun 2006 02:50 UTC
KenJackson
Member since:
2005-07-18

"Increasingly, we are seeing e-mail and electronic documents being used in communication between citizens and the government and between companies and the government," Strickx said. "To avoid becoming dependent on any particular supplier, we are moving towards open standards."

This makes perfect sense. It should not be seen in an adversarial or anti-Microsoft spirit. Belgium's government is just looking out for the good of it's people. That's a proper role of government.

And no one is stopping Microsoft from fully supporting ODF.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Quote from the article
by hal2k1 on Sat 24th Jun 2006 08:02 UTC
hal2k1
Member since:
2005-11-11

Criteria: freely implementable without economically, politically or legal limitations on implementation and use

//OpenXML meets all of these criteria//

No it does not.

It fails by a long long way. OpenXML requires parts of Windows. One can only implement an OpenXML-compliant application to run on a Windows platform. One cannot write an OpenXML application for the Mac, or for Linux, or for Solaris of HPUX or indeed for any other platform at all, other than Windows.

http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20060...

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Sun response is this opinion that Sun offers in the course of answering the question "What kind of technical information would the respondent require from Microsoft in order to successfully develop an ODF translator plug-in that was very well integrated with Microsoft New, Open, Save, Save As functions?"

...Much improved fidelity and integration of ODF and MS binary formats could be achieved with public, documented and unencumbered specifications for this functionality. However, there will remain a number of Windows-only features of the MSO binary format that simply cannot be represented on non-Windows platforms.

While we have not performed a complete assessment of the MS XML reference schema submission to Ecma, there appear to be many such features embedded in the format. In other words, it appears that a fully compliant application implementing MS XMLRS can not be implemented on non-Windows platforms. We believe this is also the case for a variety of proposed MS Office 12 functionality, including encryption features, digital rights management, etc.

In other words, even though the MS XMLRS may be fully unencumbered through patent grants and a convenant not to sue, a number of the features and functions that the MS Office applications implement remain proprietary, private, and are not available for implementation by other developers.
The litmus test to apply is whether, even in theory, a competitor could develop an application that implements the entire set of features and functionality represented in the current MS binary format or MS XMLRS, in a platform independent manner and without infringing on MS intellectual property. We believe such an implementation is not possible, thus necessarily limiting the fidelity of MS binary to ODF conversion.


Since OpenXML requires Windows, and Windows is very much proprietary, closed and single source, then OpenXML is clearly NOT freely implementable.

OpenXML is also not worth a cracker as a cross-platform document interchange format either.

OpenXML is also utterly useless for "future-proofing". No-one interested in long-term archiving of digital documents can possibly consider OpenXML. If Windows ever becomes unavailable in the future, the documents saved today in OpenXML format will become unreadable.

Edited 2006-06-24 08:12

Reply Score: 5

RE[6]: Quote from the article
by hal2k1 on Sat 24th Jun 2006 08:05 UTC
hal2k1
Member since:
2005-11-11

//So how does this change the point that there are no more limitations on OXML than ODF? //

Utter rubbish.

ODF applications are not constrained to be run under Windows. OXML applications are limited in this way.

This limitation is an absolute show-stopper for OXML.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Quote from the article
by hal2k1 on Sat 24th Jun 2006 08:18 UTC
hal2k1
Member since:
2005-11-11

Would ECMA approve as a standard a format that was constrained to only one platform?

If they would, then not only do they clearly not understand what the word "standard" actually means, but also clearly they are not an open organisation.

Reply Score: 2

Not exclusivly
by LB06 on Sat 24th Jun 2006 08:46 UTC
LB06
Member since:
2005-07-06

Please note that the Belgium government said choosing ODF is (I paraphrase) definitive but not exclusive. Which means that OpenXML is not completely out of the picture. The most important objections against OpenXML were that it wasn't approved by ISO, and that there were no apps yet that supported the format.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Not exclusivly
by hal2k1 on Sat 24th Jun 2006 08:54 UTC
hal2k1
Member since:
2005-11-11

Sorry. Yes exclusively.

Read this:
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/applications/0,39020384,39276978,0...

And find this quote:
said Strickx. "To avoid becoming dependent on any particular supplier, we are moving towards open standards."

Their whole purpose of moving towards open standards is to avoid becoming dependent on any one supplier.

OpenXML has a dependency on Windows (in that any application using OpenXML must run on Windows), and Windows is available only from one particular supplier.

Therefore, using OpenXML would defeat their whole purpose.

Also find this:
Open XML must also be proven to be easily convertible to and from ODF.

That is never going to happen. OpenXML includes components that depend on Windows. OpenXML is Windows-only. ODF on the other hand is expressly designed to be able to be implemented by any party on any platform. A fundamental dichotomy exists here.

Not going to happen. No OpenXML for the Belgian government (nor anyone else who has any sense at all).

Edited 2006-06-24 09:04

Reply Score: 4

RE: Perfect sense
by hal2k1 on Sat 24th Jun 2006 09:13 UTC
hal2k1
Member since:
2005-11-11

//And no one is stopping Microsoft from fully supporting ODF.//

Not quite true.

Microsoft is stopping Microsoft from fully supporting ODF.

If Microsoft were to fully support ODF (by allowing ODF to be set as the default format for Office), then parties and organisations (such as, for example, the Belgian government) would become no longer dependent on any one particular supplier (as happens to be the aim of some parties such as, for example, the Belgian government).

Microsoft don't want that. Microsoft clearly want everything in the software arena to depend on being supplied by Microsoft.

Edited 2006-06-24 09:27

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Perfect sense
by suryad on Sat 24th Jun 2006 15:01 UTC in reply to "RE: Perfect sense"
suryad Member since:
2005-07-09

That answered my question rather succinctly thank you.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Not exclusivly
by hal2k1 on Sat 24th Jun 2006 09:24 UTC
hal2k1
Member since:
2005-11-11

http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20060.....

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Sun response is this opinion that Sun offers in the course of answering the question "What kind of technical information would the respondent require from Microsoft in order to successfully develop an ODF translator plug-in that was very well integrated with Microsoft New, Open, Save, Save As functions?"

...Much improved fidelity and integration of ODF and MS binary formats could be achieved with public, documented and unencumbered specifications for this functionality. However, there will remain a number of Windows-only features of the MSO binary format that simply cannot be represented on non-Windows platforms.

While we have not performed a complete assessment of the MS XML reference schema submission to Ecma, there appear to be many such features embedded in the format. In other words, it appears that a fully compliant application implementing MS XMLRS can not be implemented on non-Windows platforms. We believe this is also the case for a variety of proposed MS Office 12 functionality, including encryption features, digital rights management, etc.


See? No possibility of "ODF plugin for MS Office" and "does not depend on only one supplier" at the same time.

Therefore, Belgium government cannot use OpenXML, as it does not meet their primary goals in doing this in the first place.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not exclusivly
by jesu on Sat 24th Jun 2006 09:49 UTC in reply to "RE: Not exclusivly"
jesu Member since:
2005-06-30

I find it quite intruiging that you, part of the OSNews staff nota bene, don't even seem to find the reply button.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Not exclusivly
by hal2k1 on Sat 24th Jun 2006 09:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not exclusivly"
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

I am not part of OSNews staff.

There was at least one of my replies on this thread where I did not use the reply button. Sorry about that, lack of familiarity with this site layout on my part was the cause.

Doesn't change the validity of the points I make in that reply though.

Edited 2006-06-24 10:00

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Not exclusivly
by anda_skoa on Sat 24th Jun 2006 14:25 UTC
anda_skoa
Member since:
2005-07-07

OpenXML has a dependency on Windows (in that any application using OpenXML must run on Windows), and Windows is available only from one particular supplier.

Sorry, but the reference you quote has no definite statement along this lines.
The quoted Sun source says, they haven't fully investigated it yet and it only appears to have certain aspects bound to functionality only availble under Windows.

While I can certainly imagine something like this to be true, claiming certainty about Windows dependencies is just wrong.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Not exclusivly
by sappyvcv on Sat 24th Jun 2006 23:51 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not exclusivly"
sappyvcv Member since:
2005-07-06

Don't mind him. He spouted off the same stuff in other threads and I believe someone proved him wrong before. Might have been n4cer or Bryan Freeney, I can't remember. I'll post it if I find it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Not exclusivly
by sappyvcv on Sun 25th Jun 2006 00:12 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Not exclusivly"
sappyvcv Member since:
2005-07-06

Hm, I'm wondering myself if hal actually knows what these features are or is just going by someone elses word.

Looks like the latter. Fantastic.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Not exclusivly
by hal2k1 on Sun 25th Jun 2006 00:51 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Not exclusivly"
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//Don't mind him. He spouted off the same stuff in other threads and I believe someone proved him wrong before. Might have been n4cer or Bryan Freeney, I can't remember. I'll post it if I find it.//

Most definately not proved wrong.

The OpenXML specification alone has multiple references to "ActiveX". ActiveX is, of course, only available for Windows.

Try this reference:
http://www.topxml.com/XML/re-34771_First-impressions-of-Open-%2...
Or this one, to Brian Jone's weblog (Brian Jones is a manager of Microsoft's Office 12 project):
http://blogs.msdn.com/brian_jones/archive/2005/10/11/479808.aspx

" # re: Microsoft Office Open XML Format does not require upgrading to Office "12"
Wednesday, October 12, 2005 8:20 PM by BrianJones

Inquisitive - Steven Sinofsky (Senior VP for Office) sent a signed letter to the European Union directly addressing that very concern. We will continue to provide the licenses going forward and continue to represent everything in XML (other than obvious binary type structures like pictures, Active X controls, etc.)."


Brian Jones says here that people will not need to update to Vista in order to use Office 12, but he lets the penny drop about Open XML having Windows dependencies in so saying, and he even states that those dependencies will not be available under the open license of Open XML itself.

It is like saying "sure, anyone can build a car, as long as it is designed to run only on Microsoft (TM) roads".

You are soooooooo wrong about this sappyvc it just isn't funny. You have been suckered by Microsoft, how embarrasing.

Edited 2006-06-25 01:00

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Not exclusivly
by sappyvcv on Sun 25th Jun 2006 00:58 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Not exclusivly"
sappyvcv Member since:
2005-07-06

Um.. that's not a dependency. It's an ability to insert ActiveX controls. Anything that supports OpenXML can just ignore that in a document.

Please learn the definitions of words before using them.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Not exclusivly
by hal2k1 on Sun 25th Jun 2006 01:05 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Not exclusivly"
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

That is a dependency.

Try to write an application that fully supports Office Open XML without having activex (and other similar Windows dependencies) running on the underlying OS.

Cannot be done, my friend (or at least, not without kludges like wine). Applications that fully support Office Open XML must be written to rely on calls to proprietary Windows technologies, and therefore (by design) must be constrained to run only on Windows.

Edited 2006-06-25 01:07

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Not exclusivly
by hal2k1 on Sun 25th Jun 2006 02:18 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Not exclusivly"
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//Um.. that's not a dependency. It's an ability to insert ActiveX controls. Anything that supports OpenXML can just ignore that in a document. //

Pfft.

Any document that includes an ActvieX control will therefore not open up and work correctly (ie fully, as intended by the document author) using any application on a non-Windows platform. Such a document (one which includes an embedded Acivex control) has a dependency on being opened on a Windows platform. If such a document (prepared with Office 12 say) is opened on a non-windows platform, parts of that document will necessarily be ignored. Since Open XML allows insertion of Activex controls, documents which conform to Open XML may (some possibly may not) have a dependency on being opened on a Windows platform.

Therefore, Open XML also contains a dependency on a Windows platform. If one is not using a windows platform, there is no guarantee that an Open XML document will be able to be opened.

Therefore, if one's purpose in moving to an open standard for an office file format is any of the following:
- allow any party to write competing applications, to foster competition, or
- avoid any reliance on a single vendor supplier, or
- cross-platform interoperability, or
- "fuuture-proofing" digital documents to guarantee that they will be able to be opened in the future even if every current vendor of sftware is no longer operating

then Office Open XML format is most decidedly not the way to go. Office Open XML format achieves precisely none of these goals.

//Please learn the definitions of words before using them.//

I would strongly suggest the same of you.

Edited 2006-06-25 02:25

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Not exclusivly
by hal2k1 on Sun 25th Jun 2006 00:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not exclusivly"
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//"Sorry, but the reference you quote has no definite statement along this lines.
The quoted Sun source says, they haven't fully investigated it yet and it only appears to have certain aspects bound to functionality only availble under Windows.

While I can certainly imagine something like this to be true, claiming certainty about Windows dependencies is just wrong."//

Sorry, but it is not wrong. The Office Open XML speciification contains multiple references to Windows-only proprietary technology. Activex is just one example.

Other parties may be "allowed" by the associated licenses to create a competing application that supports Office Open XML formats, but by design that application will be constrained to run only on Windows.

I can find multiple references to the dependencies on the Windows platform that are built in to the Office Open XML specification. It is not a secret at all.

The bit that Microsoft don't want you to notice is that although you may not be tied in to a single vendor (say Office 12) by the Office Open XML format, you are tied in to another product (that being Microsoft Windows) from a single vendor only, due to the dependencies embedded in to the Office Open XML format.

"Don't mind that man behind the curtain" - Wizard of Oz, I believe.

Edited 2006-06-25 01:08

Reply Score: 1

oh really?
by Darkness on Sat 24th Jun 2006 15:23 UTC
Darkness
Member since:
2005-08-27

heh, I live in Belgium and I even didn't know they were thinking of using an open document format. Must have been something they wanted to get through before the summer break :p

Reply Score: 1

.
by Weeman on Sun 25th Jun 2006 13:46 UTC
Weeman
Member since:
2006-03-20

Jesus, hal2k1, shut the hell up!

If someone thinks that ODF, which doesn't support ActiveX, is going to suit them fine, it's pretty much guaranteed that they didn't give a damn about ActiveX to beginwith and thus wouldn't miss it or see "broken" OpenXML documents in alternative office suites.

Unless you want to claim now that every text run in an OpenXML document is an embedded ActiveX object...

Reply Score: 1

RE: ad-hominem and strawman by Weeman
by hal2k1 on Mon 26th Jun 2006 09:51 UTC in reply to "."
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

What on earth do you mean? Apart from having a senseless rant, what exactly are you trying to say here?

I will try to recap for you.

This whole debate started (I think) with Mass. government IT department wanting an "open" digital format for office-type documents so that:

(1) any software supplier could write applications to support it,

(2) no end-user (including themselves) would depend on a single software supplier to be able to create, read and manipulate such documents, and

(3) the ability to create, read and manipulate such documents in the future would not depend on any single current-day supplier still being in business.

ODF was developed by a committee (OASIS) in order to try to meet these goals. Microsoft was a participant. ODF eventually was specified, and now it has become an international standard.

Microsoft spat the dummy. Microsoft refused to support ODF in their Office application. Microsoft complained that anyone opting to use ODF was "limiting competition" (when in fact objective 1 above is the exact reverse, to open up competition). Microsoft sprouted absolute nonsense about ODF (a document format which anyone at all may implement) somehow being "a mandated procurement policy for open source".

Anyway, instead of doing the right thing by everyone, pulling their head in and supporting ODF, Microsoft pretended to "open up" their Office 12 format which they called "Office Open XML". My posts demonstrate the sham of this.

Firstly, they address only point (1) above, and even then only in a half-hearted way. Their Office Open XML specification constrains any applications supporting it to run on Windows. Since Windows itself is only available from just one supplier, then (1) is not strictly achieved for Office Open XML, since (for example) Sun can't write an application to fully support Office Open XML on Solaris.

(2) above is also out. One needs a copy of Windows to run any application which will support Office Open XML ... and Windows is only available from one supplier.

(3) is also out if the one supplier of Windows ever goes out of buisness.

Anyway, that is a rough summary of what is going on here.

What do YOU think you were really trying to say?

Reply Score: 1