Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 6th Aug 2009 22:04 UTC
Microsoft Just when you thought the world couldn't get any crazier, something happens that makes you move your expectations of the world up a few nothces. We already have to deal with the browser ballot, but that's not the only ballot Microsoft will deliver. Hold on to your panties, as Microsoft will also offer a file format ballot in Microsoft Office 2010. On a happier note, Microsoft makes a whole load of promises to the EU about opening up technologies and file formats.
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BallotOS
by drstorm on Thu 6th Aug 2009 22:30 UTC
drstorm
Member since:
2009-04-24

I made a joke once about BallotOS, but if this keeps on going, my joke might turn out to be closer to reality than expected.

Fat chance. ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE:
by gustl on Sun 9th Aug 2009 18:40 UTC in reply to "BallotOS"
gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

Right. I believe in Microsoft's good ODF support only if I see it.

And it's going to take quite SOME interoperability testing on Microsoft's part, to make MSOffice both read and produce ODF code which perfectly roundtrips with OpenOffice.
What they showed us with their Excel ODF support did definitely NOT convince me of Microsoft's honesty.

Reply Score: 3

Half Full or Half Empty
by jayson.knight on Thu 6th Aug 2009 22:45 UTC
jayson.knight
Member since:
2005-07-06

I can't wait to see what kind of negatives folks can come up with in response to this latest move by MS. TCOBaGT (This Can Only Be a Good Thing).

But of course someone will probably say something along the lines of "MS is just doing this so they can sell more copies of Office."

Oh wait, I guess I just did.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Half Full or Half Empty
by lemur2 on Thu 6th Aug 2009 23:11 UTC in reply to "Half Full or Half Empty"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I can't wait to see what kind of negatives folks can come up with in response to this latest move by MS. TCOBaGT (This Can Only Be a Good Thing). But of course someone will probably say something along the lines of "MS is just doing this so they can sell more copies of Office." Oh wait, I guess I just did.


I sincerely hope that this offer of interoperability from Microsoft is as much "TCOBaGT" as it certainly seems to be on the face of it.

Everyone wins with true cross-platform interoperability. Actual competition is finally enabled in the software marketplace.

Pardon me for introducing a tiny note of scepticism, however, as I make the cautionary note that this is entirely and utterly opposite policy to everything else Microsoft has done for the past upteen years. One has to ask ... where is the catch?

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Half Full or Half Empty
by sbergman27 on Thu 6th Aug 2009 23:22 UTC in reply to "RE: Half Full or Half Empty"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Pardon me for introducing a tiny note of scepticism, however, as I make the cautionary note that this is entirely and utterly opposite policy to everything else Microsoft has done for the past upteen years. One has to ask ... where is the catch?

The catch, my dear Lemur, is that the Ayatollah K'Ballmer would never allow this democratic ballot unless he had a plan which absolutely ensured that his candidate would win it.

Edited 2009-08-06 23:23 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Half Full or Half Empty
by theosib on Thu 6th Aug 2009 23:11 UTC in reply to "Half Full or Half Empty"
theosib Member since:
2006-03-02

Honestly, there's nothing wrong with selling more copies of Office....

As long as they have 100% compatibility with open formats with ODF without artificially sacrificing features.

Some will argue that there's a problem in general with closed-source software. Sure. But an even bigger problem is lock-in. Microsoft is notorious for doing this with their file formats and even their web browser. People use their software because "it works", but it only works because everyone else is uding their software.

Now, the thing is, even if they finally manage to get around to supporting ODF properly (turned out that no other office suite could read ODF files produce by Office or vice versa), they'll probably also treat it like a second-class citizen, artificially restricting features. Now, while there may certainly be a difference in philosophy between the way MS Office was originally designed and the way ODF is designed, necessitating some extra work to shoe-horn it in, the loss of functionality should really only be very minor. Microsoft, however, is likely to "get lazy" (on purpose), and thereby encourage people to use the native format to get all the features.

Reply Score: 2

PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

Currently-released forms of ODF simply do not support a number of things which are needed for Office features that already exist. There would be quite a big loss of functionality in the formulas space (as we have seen already) and in the change-tracking space (which we haven't seen yet).

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Half Full or Half Empty
by lemur2 on Fri 7th Aug 2009 02:48 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Half Full or Half Empty"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Currently-released forms of ODF simply do not support a number of things which are needed for Office features that already exist. There would be quite a big loss of functionality in the formulas space (as we have seen already) and in the change-tracking space (which we haven't seen yet).


The Office features are supported even at ODF 1.0 to the extent that several other independant Office suites are perfectly able to inetroperate.

How is it that only Microsoft's implementation of ODF 1.0 is not able to inetroperate?

There are at least two plugins for ODF, not written by Microsoft, that do an tremendously better job than Microsoft's own ODF 1.0 implementation.

BTW, most ODF-compliant products now implement OpenFormula, which is compatible with (but far more detailed than) the ODF 1.0 specification for formulas, and which is up for approval as part of ODF 1.2.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenFormula

If Microsoft were were in the process of implementing an ODF 1.0 capability for Office (which they were), and OpenFormula was already complete at the time (which it was), and Microsoft were sitting on the ODF committee (which they were) and fully aware of OpenFormula (which they were) ... then why would Microsoft go off and implement something totally incompatible with OpenFormula when they KNEW this was going to be fully specified in ODF 1.2?

Hmmm?

So much for Microsoft and "interoperabilty".

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Half Full or Half Empty
by lemur2 on Fri 7th Aug 2009 04:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Half Full or Half Empty"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

There would be quite a big loss of functionality in the formulas space


The ODF "formulas namespace" is a good deal more capable and more correct than the MS Office formulas namespace.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenFormula#OpenFormula_attributes
Key attributes of the OpenFormula specification and development process, many of which are unique to OpenFormula as a recalculated formula format, are:

Developed by many different implementors. OpenFormula is being developed by representatives from many different implementors, working together, including OpenOffice.org and Sun StarOffice (Eike Rathke), KDE KOffice (David Faure and Tomas Mecir), Gnumeric (Dr. Andreas J. Guelzow and Jody Goldberg), IBM/Lotus 1-2-3 (Rob Weir), and wikiCalc (Dan Bricklin, co-creator of the spreadsheet).
Developed with experienced users. Many experienced users (such as Tom Metcalf, a scientist specializing in the astrophysics of the Sun) take part. The group includes several mathematicians, both users and developers.
Open development. The discussions of the group, and weekly drafts, are available to the public.
Fully open standard The specification meets all widely-accepted definitions of being an "open standard", including those by Bruce Perens and the European Union. For example, (1) both open source software and proprietary software can implement it, and (2) the work is based on consensus, not domination by any single supplier.
Implementors are already implementing it. Implementors have already made changes to their applications due to the work of this body, such as changing how they handle signed values in MOD, the association of exponentiation, and even implementing new functions to conform to the draft standard.
Focused development. The subcommittee is a large group focused specifically on spreadsheet formulas, and nothing else.
Not rushed. OpenFormula is based on specification work that was first released on 2005-02-26, as well as a large body of research into different applications.
Future-proofed format The syntax has been carefully designed to work indefinitely into the future. For example, it allows an arbitrary number of columns, while also allowing arbitrary names of values.
Embedded test cases. OpenFormula includes a large number of test cases, ones that test and demonstrate the specification including "edge cases" that people often forget. More importantly, they are specially formatted so they can be automatically extracted and placed in a test spreadsheet to test applications. Rob Weir reports that, "This gives us a self-testing specification, a great labor savings, as well as a demonstration of the innovative things you can do with ODF (OpenDocument format)."
Rigorous definitions The test cases (noted previously) help it be far more rigorous. In addition, OpenFormula defines the types for each function (as prototypes of each function). Function definitions are examined deeply, e.g., YEARFRAC() has subtle behavior in the leap years, which were carefully examined and defined.
Doesn't mandate mistakes. The specification is carefully written to not require certain bugs, just because someone has a bug. For example, Excel incorrectly believes that 1900 was a leap year, and at least draft version 1.3 of the Excel specification claims that compatible applications must make the same mistake, and requires that applications cannot be more capable than Excel by supporting dates before 1900. By comparing many different independent implementations, the OpenFormula group can often detect when an application makes a mistake, and ensure that applications are not overly restricted.
Innovations from many sources. OpenFormula covers the functions of Excel and OpenOffice.org, plus important functions not found in either one but instead found in other spreadsheet applications, such as Gnumeric and KSpread. For example, the specification includes the functions DECIMAL and BASE, which are much better ways to handle different bases than the old BIN2DEC (etc.) functions. It also includes bit operations like BITAND. These sources include Excel, OpenOffice.org Calc, Sun StarOffice Calc, KDE KOffice Kspread, GNOME Gnumeric, IBM/Lotus 1-2-3, Corel Word Perfect Suite Quattro Pro, wikiCalc, and DocumentToGo's SheetToGo. The subcommittee argues that by including the innovations from around the world of many different independent applications, they produce a better result that is far more inclusive.
Room for innovation by anyone. Application-specific "namespaces" are defined for functions. This allows spreadsheet applications to add new functions, without interfering with current standard functions, future standard functions, or functions defined by other applications. As a result, different applications can add new functions without interfering with others; once a consensus arises about the new function, it can be standardized. The namespace is based on the Internet's naming service (reversed domain names), so ORG.OPENOFFICE.STYLE would be an OpenOffice.org-unique function.
Internationalization. The specification does not assume that everyone uses "." as the decimal point, and indeed does not constrain user interfaces at all. Named expressions can have names in local character sets.
Subset support. Applications can implement a subset or superset. To prevent user confusion, various "groups" are defined so that users can request specific sets of capabilities.


Edited 2009-08-07 04:09 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Half Full or Half Empty
by segedunum on Fri 7th Aug 2009 10:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Half Full or Half Empty"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Currently-released forms of ODF simply do not support a number of things which are needed for Office features that already exist.

Then you add them. Seriously, ODF has had provision to add vendor or application specific extensions for ages. Either that or you can add it to the format specification. Throwing your arms up in the air is not a valid excuse, and in all honesty it's best to just keep your mouth shut, avoid spreading misinformation and concentrate on your own format if that's what you really want.

There would be quite a big loss of functionality in the formulas space (as we have seen already) and in the change-tracking space (which we haven't seen yet).

Absolute bollocks. I can't believe how often the supposed 'formula' issue has been discussed and debunked totally. I got tired of reading this MS oriented bullshit many years ago, and it doesn't seem to have subsided no matter how wrong it has been shown to be.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Half Full or Half Empty
by bert64 on Sat 8th Aug 2009 13:19 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Half Full or Half Empty"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

Currently-released forms of ODF simply do not support a number of things which are needed for Office features that already exist. There would be quite a big loss of functionality in the formulas space (as we have seen already) and in the change-tracking space (which we haven't seen yet).


Currently released forms of ODF support everything required by the companies who participated in the process...
MS were invited to participate, but refused and tried to completely ignore the process... The fact that the resulting spec doesn't support things in the way they want is hardly surprising.

In terms of formulas, the ODF spec as of version 1.1 does not specify how they should be stored, however all of the ODF supporting applications with the exception of MS (including the ms-sponsored plugins) managed to support the same interim syntax while waiting for the final spec in ODF 1.2. The fact that MS went and did something completely different shows arrogance, contempt for the idea of open formats, utter contempt for their customers and an obviously underhanded attempt to discredit the ODF format.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Half Full or Half Empty
by VistaUser on Fri 7th Aug 2009 01:28 UTC in reply to "Half Full or Half Empty"
VistaUser Member since:
2008-03-08

Well, Microsoft trying to make money is not really a problem - that is the point behind doing business afterall.

However I do wonder how compatible Microsoft's ODF support with be with OpenOffice.org's - currently in the spreadsheet department I hear the two are incompatible.

Reply Score: 1

How about Fat32?
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 6th Aug 2009 23:15 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

Having that open would really help people not fear MS anymore. If the EU really wants to take the anti-competitive air out of MS, that's what it should demand. Find the ways that they are discouraging competition, and go after them for that.

It would be like the EU was putting some fear, uncertainty and doubt in mircrosoft's thoughts about putting any fear, uncertainty or doubt in consumers/ competitors minds.

Reply Score: 3

So when do we get a ballot that will ...
by MacTO on Thu 6th Aug 2009 23:22 UTC
MacTO
Member since:
2006-09-21

So when is Microsoft going to ship retail copies of Windows that offers a ballot for which operating system we want to install? ;)

I'm not sure if this ballot idea is good or bad.

It is good because it exposes users to the competition, and informs them that they do have a choice on what to use.

On the other hand, very few people will understand what these choices mean (the "Internet is the 'e' icon" crowd) or what the ramifications of their decisions are (the "why can't my friend open ODT files in Office 2003" crowd). Both groups are bound to claim that choice is bad.

Reply Score: 3

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

That would be the BallotOS, when you buy a computer at the shop and you turn it on the first time at home or the office, it will shop the BallotOS asking what OS you would like to have installed (with the included drivers if needed).

:-)

Reply Score: 1

This ballot isn't needed.
by Drumhellar on Thu 6th Aug 2009 23:32 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

Microsoft could accomplish the same thing without the ballot. All they need is an option buried somewhere to set the default file format to ODF. There isn't any need to stick that up front. It'll just confuse users who don't know which is the most appropriate choice.

I think Office should stick with its own formats by default. They are the ones that work best within the Office family, after all.

Edited 2009-08-06 23:33 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: This ballot isn't needed.
by kenji on Thu 6th Aug 2009 23:54 UTC in reply to "This ballot isn't needed."
kenji Member since:
2009-04-08

Microsoft could accomplish the same thing without the ballot. All they need is an option buried somewhere to set the default file format to ODF. There isn't any need to stick that up front. It'll just confuse users who don't know which is the most appropriate choice.

I think Office should stick with its own formats by default. They are the ones that work best within the Office family, after all.


You can bet your bacon that the default is *.docx (or whatever the extetension is for version 14). By default I mean the first choice on the list and most likely the one highlighted.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: This ballot isn't needed.
by darknexus on Fri 7th Aug 2009 00:16 UTC in reply to "RE: This ballot isn't needed."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

And perhaps with a little "recommended" next to it or, if that is too blatant, some other way of subtly hinting that it is better than the alternatives.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: This ballot isn't needed.
by righard on Fri 7th Aug 2009 10:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This ballot isn't needed."
righard Member since:
2007-12-26

They say the ballot would be 'unbiased'.

Else it reminds me of ripping cd's in Windows Media player, hope they don't do it anymore, but a few years ago you could choise between .wma and .mp3. Wth an example of the two, .wma sounded briljant, the .mp3 variant sounded far from that.

Reply Score: 1

RE: This ballot isn't needed.
by PlatformAgnostic on Fri 7th Aug 2009 02:23 UTC in reply to "This ballot isn't needed."
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

This already exists in Office 2007 SP2. One of the options is ODF (in addition to such venerable formats as DOC and WordPerfect).

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: This ballot isn't needed.
by lemur2 on Fri 7th Aug 2009 02:54 UTC in reply to "RE: This ballot isn't needed."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

This already exists in Office 2007 SP2. One of the options is ODF (in addition to such venerable formats as DOC and WordPerfect).


It doesn't work.

Of all the existing implementations of ODF, Microsoft's is by far the most non-compliant and the only one that doesn't interoperate.

There are at least two plugins from other companies that work far better.

If one was cynical, it would seem that Microsoft sought out as many parts of the ODF specification that could possibly be interpreted in different ways as it could, and then implemented ODF 1.0 in an incompatible and non-interoperable way under that different interpretation.

Such a pity that Microsoft now has to undo all that sabotage effort they have put in if they want to be compliant with ODF 1.2.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: This ballot isn't needed.
by hyper on Fri 7th Aug 2009 06:19 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This ballot isn't needed."
hyper Member since:
2005-06-29


If one was cynical, it would seem that Microsoft sought out as many parts of the ODF specification that could possibly be interpreted in different ways as it could, and then implemented ODF 1.0 in an incompatible and non-interoperable way under that different interpretation.


Then the problem is in both ODF specification and its Microsoft implementation. What kind of "specification" can be interpreted in an "incompatible way"? The answer IMO is: a very bad one. Oh well...

Reply Score: 0

JohnFlux Member since:
2007-01-04

Then the problem is in both ODF specification and its Microsoft implementation. What kind of "specification" can be interpreted in an "incompatible way"?


All of them. If you take any non-trivial specification and start "language-lawyering" it (as Linus like to say) you can make an implementation that isn't compatible.

To give a random example, Microsoft's .docx format didn't specify in the specification whether the sin(x) function, in Excel, should take radians or degrees.

Any computer scientist would know that they mean radians, and it can always be checked against Excel, but someone wanting an incompatible implementation could just take it to mean degrees.

Even in the POSIX world where specifications were made as specific as possible there are still some ambiguities - just see the kernel mailing list.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: This ballot isn't needed.
by Vanders on Fri 7th Aug 2009 10:12 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: This ballot isn't needed."
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

If Microsoft (who apparently employ some of the smartest developers in the world, so we are told) had problems interpreting parts of the ODF specification, they only had to ask the Oasis group for guidance.

Everyone else managed to implement ODF themselves without the problems Microsoft apparently had.

Reply Score: 4

RE:
by gustl on Sun 9th Aug 2009 18:55 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: This ballot isn't needed."
gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

They could have just looked at how OOo interpretes it. Not that OOo would have been EXPENSIVE, so that developers would have had to share one license.

Reply Score: 2

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

What kind of "specification" can be interpreted in an "incompatible way"? The answer IMO is: a very bad one. Oh well...

That statement is so stupid and devoid of logic that it isn't even funny. Anybody with two brain cells to rub together knows the weak link there is the interpreter.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: This ballot isn't needed.
by lemur2 on Fri 7th Aug 2009 11:44 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: This ballot isn't needed."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"
If one was cynical, it would seem that Microsoft sought out as many parts of the ODF specification that could possibly be interpreted in different ways as it could, and then implemented ODF 1.0 in an incompatible and non-interoperable way under that different interpretation.


Then the problem is in both ODF specification and its Microsoft implementation. What kind of "specification" can be interpreted in an "incompatible way"? The answer IMO is: a very bad one. Oh well...
"

Three problems with your reasoning:

(1) There are a number of independent implementations of ODF in various Office suites other than Microsoft's implementation, and all of them managed to be interoperable, and

(2) Microsoft itself has offered a specification to the ISO, which has been accepted as ISO 29500, and there is not one single implementation of that "standard" anywhere on the planet (let alone a number that can interoperate), and

(3) There are files that one can load and save in ODF formats that allow one to TEST compliance. Microsoft's implementation of ODF fails these test cases miserably.

QED.

The defence rests.

Edited 2009-08-07 12:03 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Reductio ad Absurdum
by Moredhas on Thu 6th Aug 2009 23:53 UTC
Moredhas
Member since:
2008-04-10

It seems to me, Microsoft are engaging in a little reductio ad absurdum. Reducing the opponent's argument to the most ridiculous extent to make it seem extreme. They'll talk about putting ballots everywhere so you can't even open a media player without seeing a ballot to "enhance choice", just to make the EU and various bloggers and journalists think it's a stupid idea. Which it is, to some extent.

Reply Score: 3

RE:
by gustl on Sun 9th Aug 2009 18:57 UTC in reply to "Reductio ad Absurdum"
gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

I think it is NOT a stupid idea. I just assume that Microsoft will make their ODF implementation non-interoperable with all the others.

Reply Score: 2

Question....
by Phloptical on Fri 7th Aug 2009 00:03 UTC
Phloptical
Member since:
2006-10-10

This may be a stupid question, but WTF is a ballot in terms of software?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Question....
by cb_osn on Fri 7th Aug 2009 02:16 UTC in reply to "Question...."
cb_osn Member since:
2006-02-26

This may be a stupid question, but WTF is a ballot in terms of software?

Haven't you heard? It's the latest innovation by Opera Software ASA.

Reply Score: 1

Why the ballot
by blitze on Fri 7th Aug 2009 01:26 UTC
blitze
Member since:
2006-09-15

I'd much prefer that MS made Doc-X open as a standard allowing others to be able to read documents that are utilising the file format with no errors and to have Office be able to read other file formats with no issues. Then I can send out files in what format I want and others can do the same and regardless of software we can all get along and share information.

Ballots are like democracy - most people really have no clue as to what to vote for and go with what ever is most marketed.

Reply Score: 2

Let me guess...
by juvenile4909 on Fri 7th Aug 2009 02:38 UTC
juvenile4909
Member since:
2007-08-04

Ballots will be the new "hot" thing to do in 2010?

I will use OOo regardless. As long as they support/compat with office as need be. Or we can switch over til office is depleted. Mmmm?

Reply Score: 1

This is funny.
by Tuishimi on Fri 7th Aug 2009 03:37 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

MS is going to not only try and play ball, but whack it out of the park.

"You wanna piece o'me? I'll give ya a piece o'me!"

Reply Score: 2

Use open standards not ballots
by darrelljon on Fri 7th Aug 2009 08:49 UTC
darrelljon
Member since:
2008-05-29

Ballots are no substitution for using open standards by default.

Reply Score: 3

Fantastic
by spiderman on Fri 7th Aug 2009 11:48 UTC
spiderman
Member since:
2008-10-23

This is a very good move.
Some people say that the user is an idiot and can't make any choice, but the users are as idiot as Windows is.
Actually, it takes quite some bit of intelligence to figure out the icons, the mouse, the files and the programs. You wuold think the people are idiots because they don't know they can install Firefox, but actually they've just never heard of it because they never have been told about it. If it's in Windows, then everybody will learn it. If windows ask them which format they would like to use, then everybody will learn that they can choose a format and they will get it.

I would be very pleased with this, but I won't believe it until I see it. Microsoft has never acted in the general interest at the expense of its own interest, ever. Microsoft has never put any good will to collaborate with the EU. Quite frankly, this ballot thing is not their style. This kind of announce is their style, but there is always a back door that you don't see. At the end of the day, they always end up with something that make their pocket deeper with something that we don't want.

Reply Score: 3

this might be a brilliant plan
by poundsmack on Fri 7th Aug 2009 15:41 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

EU: make a ballot box for browsers.
MS: ...fine, but your going to regret this.
(weeks later)
MS: They want a Ballot box, fine! We will give them so many choices that by the time they are done configuring every part of the OS we will be ready to release Windows 8!! Then they ahve to do it all again! Ballot box that!

If MS continues to ballot box the OS so that it no longer appeals to the user who doesn't need nor want to make these choices, then MS can just turn around and say they were being proactive to avoid further problems with the EU. To many choices in an OS that specializes in giving a complete pachage out of the box is kind of a funny revenge... in a cruel kind of way.

While I love choice, having the user specify their preference all over the place is going to bother average users. I can see this as both a good and bad thing, just depends on who's perspective your looking from. looking forward to seeing how this plays out though...

Reply Score: 3

RE: this might be a brilliant plan
by helf on Fri 7th Aug 2009 22:10 UTC in reply to "this might be a brilliant plan"
helf Member since:
2005-07-06

Exactly. This is hilarious ;)

I love the people claiming MS *has* to support open formats. They don't. It is their software package, they should be able to use whatever format they please. Be it proprietary or not. It is good that they are supporting some of the open formats like ODF, though.

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Exactly. This is hilarious ;)

Dealing with the situation of a monopoly is always awkward. It is certainly necessary in the case that one exists. But it's awkward. By definition, you have a situation in which normal market forces aren't working. It's sort of what a singularity is to astrophysics: The normal rules have broken down. Break up of the entity can make sense. But short of that, you have to come up with some way to try to resuscitate competition. And most of those ways are going to go against what advocates of Laisez-Faire (who often tend to hang out in the area) find palatable.

When the market get's stuck in a mud hole, some might try to convince you that you just need to keep spinning the wheels until it comes free. But most reasonable people see that someone is going to need to roll up their pant legs, get out, and push (awkward and undignified as that might seem) before normalcy can be restored.

Reply Score: 3

google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

You are literally the only person that still inspires me to comment on this site steve.

I find it odd that the EU is going after them now. When they were declared a monopoly initially in the states, they were the only usable maintained OS on commodity hardware. Nowadays you have options walking into any consumer electronics store, and even more if you order online, we are living in a very different world then it used to be. I think it is important to watch microsoft and keep them from stifling things, but at the same time punishing success is the diametric opposite of laissez-faire, it is the mark useless vultures that ayn rand loved to write about so much. MS feels they need to market their browser for the first time in about 20 years, why choose now to require install time choices? H.264 and On7s VP-6 are the de-facto standards in video distribution nowadays, why require windows ship without a media player?

I still do not understand why the government never broke microsofts divisions up into separate corporations, since that would have probably had the best outcome for everyone (other then the MS shareholders). Not going that route has definately caused stagnation in the industry. However, that time is coming to an end (apple taking 91% of pc sales over 1000$, java is the de facto standard for most software being developed, interop with MS protocols and formats is the best it has ever been on other platforms, the browser wars 2.0 is about standards compliance instead of propriatary features, etc, etc)

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

I find it odd that the EU is going after them now.

While I can't speak definitively for Europe... I can say that as an American who suffered through 8 years of "Bush II: The Nightmare Returns", I have some thoughts. The political climate, and just who happens to be in office, can make all the difference. I remember all too well watching my country do all sorts of things which shamed and embarrassed me. And watching it fail to do things that we *should* have been doing. It made me feel just a bit like the Borg-afied Jean-Luc Picard must have felt... his own body doing horrifying things against his will.

The world political climate has changed. (I would go so far as to say "greatly improved".) And of course, Europe is much better organized now than it was then. Impressively well organized, I should say. (And that's a sincere compliment.)

I still do not understand why the government never broke microsofts divisions up into separate corporations, since that would have probably had the best outcome for everyone (other then the MS shareholders). Not going that route has definately caused stagnation in the industry.

See above. ;-) You may recall that Microsoft's cavalry came riding into both the Executive and Legislative branches of American government at the critical moment, and the DOJ was suddenly hunky-dory with Microsoft and its behavior. (And this is one time that I might have opted to use M-DollarSign if OSNews software would let me. It would have been most appropriate.)

The EU may be late to the party. But the U.S. went AWOL when it mattered most, and has not yet returned to this issue. It's like "the morning after". Too many repercussions resulting from last night's behavior to deal with, and we haven't even had a chance to finish our morning coffee yet.

I see signs that the market is somewhat better now. But I don't think the market is anywhere near being out of the mudhole yet. And I'm glad that someone with muscle is willing to push.

Edited 2009-08-08 00:34 UTC

Reply Score: 3

The US didn't "go AWOL".
by MollyC on Sat 8th Aug 2009 02:40 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: this might be a brilliant plan"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

The appeals court threw out Jackson's remedy, dismissed him from the case for incompetence, and sent the case back to the lower court for the remedy phase to be retried under narrower guidelines. Under the new guidelines and before a genuine impartial judge, the DOJ knew that they wouldn't get anything like what Jackson ordered, so they and Microsoft settled. And that settlement set up a compliance regime, including both internal and external compliance committees, which give Microsoft clear guidelines as to what's OK and what isn't.* And while parts of that settlement expired as originally scheduled to in November 2007, other parts have been extended, as agreed to by both the DOJ and Microsoft (and the judge).

* The compliance regime set up in the DOJ/MS settlement differs from what goes on in the EU. The EU provides no guidelines whatsoever as to what's OK at any given time. Microsoft has asked the EC multiple times, "If we do so-and-so, is that OK?", and the EC says, "It's not up to us to say what's OK, it's up to you to be compliant with EU law." The only problem is that EU antitrust law has no guidelines so a company can never know what's OK and what isn't. The EU antitrust law is basically the EC's whim at any given moment. This is done intentionally, so that a company releases a product, THEN the EC comes in and says, "Ah-ha!! This product does so-and-so, which we don't like so here's a billion dollar fine." See, if the EC said told that company that the product would be in violation before the product was released, then the company would change the product accordingly, and deny the EC the opportunity to make a big public splash with a fine after the release of the product. The EC want so show that they are actually doing something, so they wait for the product to be released so that they can level their huge fines as a public show.

The US DOJ did not "go AWOL". They responded to the appeals court ruling and settled with Microsoft and set up a compliance regime that affords guidelines and due process. The EU never set up a rigourous compliance regime at all, but rather act on Nellie's whim. And even you seem to say that part of the EU's motivation is that they hated Bush (and I guess you maintain that they hate Obama for not renewing the case against Microsoft?). If the anti-America feeling that Bush engendered was/is part of the EU's motivation, then that shows even more that their case has been unjust.

Edited 2009-08-08 02:42 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: The US didn't "go AWOL".
by sbergman27 on Sat 8th Aug 2009 03:25 UTC in reply to "The US didn't "go AWOL"."
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

...dismissed him [Judge Jackson] from the case for incompetence...

You're going to need to present some evidence to support this. Beginning your post with a demonstrable lie is not a good sign for the rest of your argument. But what can we do but start from sentence number one and work forward?

I'm beginning to feel like I'm dealing with the pro-Microsoft "evil twin" of Lemur2 or Cyclops.

Reply Score: 3

gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

If Microsoft asks for guidelines how to make a product, the EU comission does not need to know if that is OK or not.

If a competitor comes along and asserts that something with the product distorts the market, then the first thing the EU commission asks for the both of them to specify how each of them wants the product to be. Then they ask both parties to agree on something.
ONLY if they cannot agree on something, the EU commision takes the interest to learn what is going on, how it relates to EU regulations, and specifies how things should be. ONLY when the company does not comply with that, fines are set to bring them in line.

Microsoft tried this out the hard way, when they repeatedly (!) refused to hand out useful interoperability specs for the SMB and AT protocols.
Even then, they did not get fined a really big amount of money until it was obvious they don't want to comply. Microsoft came into compliance only after they got a fine on a daily basis until they were in compliance.

NOW Microsoft is in a REALLY sticky situation. They are known in the EU commission as feet-dragging market bullies. You can imagine, that the EU commission will send them a big invoice now every time they start playing the same game as between 2004 and 2008. But the EU will NEVER fine them if they make an honest move to get into compliance if non-compliance should happen to them inadvertently, as long as they were acting to put things right FAST.

Reply Score: 2

MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

and she uses these show trial to show how tough she is or whatever. Same goes for the absurd fines that she levels. Those fines aren't about the money (well, not entirely), it's to show who's boss. And the EC has semi-dictatorial powers (no due process is given to the accused, guilt is declared without trials, etc), and she's using those semi-dictatorial powers for all their worth, in attempt to parlay her "wins" into the EU presidency. Naked ambition is all that this is about, period.

Reply Score: 1

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

and she uses these show trial to show how tough she is or whatever. Same goes for...

Honestly, Molly, I can't help but feel that this has gotten to be too personal an issue for you. While there might be room for debate on the actual issues... you too frequently want to make it an emotional thing. Particularly where Neelie Kroes is concerned.

Or maybe it's not personal. Maybe it's your job. I don't know. But I'm wondering, now, if perhaps Archie didn't get it right a long time ago.

Reply Score: 3

gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

Excuse me, but to my knowledge the EU commission tried for the better part of 4 years (!) to get Microsoft to release the SMB and AD network protocol specifications.
They started with smaller fines, and only when Microsoft refused to comply with EU regulations did they finally come into compliance.

Contrary to the USA political system, where effective measures of restoring the market to a healthy state became impossible after Microsoft started to give huge amounts of money to politicians, Neelie Kroes proved to be not buyable by money. And she showed Microsoft that a healthy market is the only way for Microsoft to stay in business and profitable in the EU.

Maybe Microsoft will give up the EU Market, once they are truly forced to give up their lock-in tactics with MS-Office, simply because they can get more money out of the rest of the markets in the world with their lock-in in place.

Reply Score: 3