Linked by David Adams on Tue 4th Dec 2007 19:39 UTC, submitted by michuk
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y "It may be a brave opinion but I predict that Ubuntu Linux and Windows Vista are going to be the two operating systems that will take over the largest chunk of the desktop OS market during the next couple of years. This comparison is based on my experience with both systems during the last couple of weeks on two different computers."
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RE[8]: Silly
by lemur2 on Wed 5th Dec 2007 06:08 UTC in reply to "RE[7]: Silly"
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

How in the world is MS changing their own internal file format anti-competitive? How is opening the majority of it up to the public abuse? Sure, not all of it is open, but how is that worse then NONE of it being open?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OASIS_%28organization%29

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

"The OpenDocument standard was developed by a Technical Committee (TC) under the OASIS industry consortium. The ODF-TC has members from a diverse set of companies and individuals. ... The standardization process involved the developers of many office suites or related document systems. The first official ODF-TC meeting to discuss the standard was December 16, 2002"

OK, that is the first point. There was a demand (mainly coming from governments) for an open, future-proof, consensus industry standard for electronic document storage. Microsoft was on this committee, from day 1. Even Microsoft agreed that existing obscure binary formats had to go, and be replaced by an XML-based document format. Here was the god-given opportunity for industry-wide interoperability on this.

Microsoft attended every meeting, and said not one word the whole time.

"; OASIS approved OpenDocument as an OASIS Standard on May 1, 2005. OASIS submitted the ODF specification to ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1) on November 16, 2005, under Publicly Available Specification (PAS) rules."

Not fast-track rules, but PAS rules. Harder to get passed, and it took longer ...

"After a six-month review period, on May 3, 2006 OpenDocument unanimously passed its six-month DIS ballot in JTC1, with broad participation, after which the OpenDocument specification was "approved for release as an ISO and IEC International Standard" under the name ISO/IEC 26300:2006."

... but pass it did. Unanimously. No unanswered objections. Industry consensus reached.

Microsoft at this point simply said "but we are not going to do it". They also claimed (at that time) "there is no demand for ODF".

Then they produced their own bastard-child XML specification for a document format, requiring as many dependencies on Microsoft-only technologies as they could think of, and essentially mandating that any compliant application had to be written to run on a Windows platform and no other.

If there was no demand, why did Microsoft produce OOXML?

Microsoft changed their tune. They now claimed that "ODF was not designed to support the information in billions of legacy documents".

If that was so, tell us exactly were the deficiency lies? And why did they not speak up before, at any time during the four-year "consensus" development process they attended?

OOXML is worse than none of it being open, because it is written to explicitly undermine the ISO-standard for electronic document formats by PRETENDING to be open, and PRETENDING to be an alternative.

Give it up Microsoft. Just go with the ODF standard that you yourself agreed to.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[9]: Silly
by google_ninja on Wed 5th Dec 2007 07:32 in reply to "RE[8]: Silly"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

Ok, I understand where you are coming from now. A few points:

1) Being part of a committee doesn't mean you must adopt the standard, or that the "official" standard will become adopted. You say MS didn't speak up at all, I would like to see some links saying that, but even if it is true it isn't exactly damning. These comittees tend to be very political, and I wouldn't be surprised if other members blocked MS out of spite, or if MS tried to take it over, and failing that went their own route. A good example of that kind of nonsense is how IBM has been trying to steal java from SUN, and how SUN made some stupid design decisions just to spite them for it.

2) OOXML is not as closed as many people imply. Backwards compatibility is in binary format, but it would have been that way if MS had gone ODF. DRM is binary, but again, it would have been that way if MS had gone ODF. Graphics are binary, but honestly, MS has good reason to stick with their in house format here. SVG sucks, and there isn't anybody even in the open source world who fully implements the spec. (including OO.o) Windows metafiles aren't included, but the information is available in other places.

If it was impossible to implement text formatting, or tables, or formulas, you would have a point. But we are talking about a very few features that most people never even use.

By contrast, ODF is far less complete then OOXML. For example, ODF has 4 pages on spreadsheet formulas, which is nowhere near enough to build a spreadsheet app. Ironically, the 325 pages dealing with formulas (out of 1090 for spreadsheet processing) in the OOXML spec is one of the places one would have to go to get that information.

Technical merit of the two specs is kind of a side issue in this discussion, but I did want to point that out. OASIS has been on a misinformation campaign of their own. Neither OOXML or ODF are where they need to be to be good specs.

3) I do understand what you are saying, MS should have taken a leadership role in ODF instead of launching a competing format. MS should also release the .net library sources under a liscence mono can use. It should also publish specs for smb, active directory, and exchange. While we are at it, apple should stop suing bloggers with insider information, should provide ways for third parties to work with their DRM, and remove the TCP aspects of their hardware to allow their os to be installed wherever it can. Xgl shouldn't have been written behind closed doors, forcing redhat to do AIGLX. CentOS shouldn't repackage Redhats enterprise class distro and give it away for free, abiding by the letter, but not the spirit of the GPL.

As soon as you put money into the mix, corporations act like, well, corporations. There are a lot of politics involved in the ODF vs OOXML thing. MS should have played nice with OASIS, but ISO should never have passed ODF in its current state. If you look at the big picture, we are seeing MS actually making some gestures at interop for the first time ever. Sure, it is on their terms, but IMHO interop on their terms is better then no interop at all. MS adopting ODF would have been nice, but it doesn't make sense for them to give control of their office formats away to what is essentially their competition. The real problem is that OOXML takes away the most compelling reason to go with an open office suite. Miguel DeIcaza put it really eloquently in his blog.

Open standards and the need for public access to information was a strong message. This became a key component of promoting open office, and open source software. This posed two problems:

First, those promoting open standards did not stress the importance of having a fully open source implementation of an office suite.

Second, it assumed that Microsoft would stand still and would not react to this new change in the market.

And that is where the strategy to promote the open source office suite is running into problems. Microsoft did not stand still. It reacted to this new requirement by creating a file format of its own, the OOXML.


Anyways, all that to say that I was wrong. You do have a valid point. I don't fully agree with it, but OOXML could be seen as anti-competitive if you look at it from a certain point of view. Regardless, that post was the single most concise and intelligent argument for ODF I have seen so far. Really, I have a very pessimistic set of expectations when it comes to dealing with any corporations, even ones I like (such as Google or Apple) It is great when they do something altruistic, but I would rather be pleasantly surprised then shocked and angry. OOXML could have been much worse then it is.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[10]: Silly
by lemur2 on Wed 5th Dec 2007 10:00 in reply to "RE[9]: Silly"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Ok, I understand where you are coming from now.


Alleluia! I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by your response here. Kudos to you for a reasoned discussion on this. It is great to hear for once, at long last, coming from the MS side.

Regarding your points:
These comittees tend to be very political, and I wouldn't be surprised if other members blocked MS out of spite, or if MS tried to take it over, and failing that went their own route.


No, they said not one word. Through four years of attending meetings, knowing full well that the entire objective was a consensus format for electronically-stored office documents, and for interoperability, they sat at the table as the largest "player" in Office application market for four years, noting everything that was said, and had not one word to say themselves.

Then they voted in favour of it becoming an international standard ... then they said "but we aren't going to do it" ... claiming a lack of demand.

They changed their tune as soon as it became apparent that there was, in fact, demand. They changed it to "we are doing our own, because the standard one doesn't "support legacy documents" (read ... match our current lock-in methods).

Of course, if there really was a problem with ODF not supporting something in their formats ... they could have just said so. But they didn't ... and they still haven't. This is therefore just an unsupported ambit claim from MS.

But the really damning thing was that they changed their tune. Twice.

OOXML is not as closed as many people imply.

It makes references to things like ActiveX and VBA, as just two examples:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activex
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_Basic_for_Applications

Those things aren't part of OOXML ... but the platform on which an OOXML-compliant application must run must support those things. ActiveX and VBA are both highly-proprietary to Microsoft ... both closely kept trade secrets. Implementation of things such as platform support for VBA and ActiveX in order to support the running of any application that is intended to implement OOXML is specifically excluded from coverage by Microsoft's Open Specification promise:
http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp/default.mspx
"Q: Why doesn’t the OSP apply to things that are merely referenced in the specification?

A: It is a common practice that technology licenses focus on the specifics of what is detailed in the specification(s) and exclude what are frequently called “enabling technologies.” If we included patent claims to the enabling technology, then as an extreme example, it could be argued that one needs computer and operating system patents to implement almost any information technology specification. No such broad patent licenses to referenced technologies are ever given for specific industry standards. "


OOXML is closed all right.

By contrast, ODF is far less complete then OOXML. For example, ODF has 4 pages on spreadsheet formulas, which is nowhere near enough to build a spreadsheet app. Ironically, the 325 pages dealing with formulas (out of 1090 for spreadsheet processing) in the OOXML spec is one of the places one would have to go to get that information.


I think you are very soon about to be out-of-date on this.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenFormula

OpenFormula is far longer than just 4 pages, and it is what all of the ODF applications actually use. It is backwards compatible - it does not actually violate the "4 pages" in ODF 1.0 standard, it just defines everything far more precisely. OpenFormula will be included in ODF version 1.2.

the 325 pages dealing with formulas (out of 1090 for spreadsheet processing) in the OOXML spec is one of the places one would have to go to get that information.


Nope. ODF has already got a far better spec for formulas, thankyou all the same. One that doesn't, for example, mandate getting the date deliberately wrong, or insist that a weekend occurs on Saturday & Sunday in every place in the world.

OASIS has been on a misinformation campaign of their own.


**cough** **cough** **Splutter** Sure. SSSSSuuuuuuurrrrreeeeee.

Can you say "industry consensus". Can you say "unanimous"?

CentOS shouldn't repackage Redhats enterprise class distro and give it away for free


Again ... WTF?

Sorry .... but do understand that that code which Centos repackages is not written by RedHat. Centos and RedHat both are in full compliance with the letter and the spirit of the GPL.

If you look at the big picture, we are seeing MS actually making some gestures at interop for the first time ever.


No, we are not seeing anything of the kind. Interop is easily achieved by MS if they just properly implement ODF in MS Office. There are even test suites for compliance, so that MS could ensure that they had got it correct. Then ... no-one would have to "steal" MS IP by reverse-engineering it, MS could offer their customers ISO standards compliance and interop, and no-one would have to sue anyone.

but it doesn't make sense for them to give control of their office formats away to what is essentially their competition


As long as MS continue down the path of attempting to maintain lock-in and monopoly control, then more and more it will become attractive to escape them.

Part of the whole reason that MS ever became popular in the first place was the appeal of "escaping" from the control of big business proprietary interest ... escape form IBM and OS/2 was part of it, but escape from big UNIX and big VMS was alos part of it. Now, MS software is becoming the thing to escape from.

Anyways, all that to say that I was wrong. You do have a valid point. I don't fully agree with it, but OOXML could be seen as anti-competitive if you look at it from a certain point of view. Regardless, that post was the single most concise and intelligent argument for ODF I have seen so far.


OK, fair enough. We can almost see each other's POV from where we seem to be standing now. You just need to be a bit clearer-thinking on some points. ;) ;)

Edited 2007-12-05 10:11

Reply Parent Score: 6