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Microsoft Releases Pre-2007 Binary File Format Specs

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the in-exchange-they-can-read-the-odf-spec dept.

Microsoft 269

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has released the specifications for the binary file formats used by pre-2007 Microsoft Office applications. They're accurate this time! Honest! While the documents are enormous (Word alone requires 533 pages; Excel runs over 1000 plus another 850 pages for the Office 2007 binary format), they hopefully will be useful to developers trying to create or extract information from Microsoft Office files (which despite their flaws, have been the de facto standard in many fields for some time now)."

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269 comments

,,, or undo file corruption? (5, Interesting)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006605)

I know it's old hat by now, but back in the Office 98 days, file corruption was a big deal.

I wonder what was going on, but it occurs to me that now I could concievably actually back out
the errors, and figure the thing out.

Re:,,, or undo file corruption? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007359)

It might have been software state corruption unrelated to the file format, and so this might not help (I'm not asserting it does help either way).

If this is anything like their previous documentation it will be full of errors and omissions [blogspot.com]. Wait until this has been reviewed by engineers who reverse engineer their formats and then you'll know if this is more useful than (for example) the KOffice source code, or OpenOffice.org, Abiword, Gnumeric, etc.

At first glance, it wasn't a cookbook (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006631)

Personally, the VBA .pdf is the most interesting of the lot.
Wouldn't want to sound ungrateful about some of the tasty bits not present, so let me hope that this is yet another positive step that encourages follow-on.

So that's only about 2400 pages! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006653)

A far cry from the 6,000 pages for OOXML ..

Re:So that's only about 2400 pages! (3, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006721)

actually that's inaddition to the 6,000 pages for the OOXML spec since the OOXMl spec references that data.

Re:So that's only about 2400 pages! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006801)

You're not counting the documents for Powerpoint and various other supporting components (VBA, Forms, etc.). When all of that is included, the total is around 5000 pages. And I don't think that that counts the OLE file format specification.

How freaking "open" of them... (5, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006663)

...to finally share proper doc of the old standards. This just means they feel confident that MS Office 2007 will take firm enough root to ensure that the old game of catch up for FOSS projects will stay the same.
And wasn't it just yesterday some twits had an artice about how MS is changing/will change? I sure wouldn't hold my breath!

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (5, Informative)

10scjed (695280) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006759)

Not that Open...

Some of the Microsoft protocols include patented inventions, and others do not. You may benefit from a patent license if you are distributing implementations of these protocols commercially or if you use an implementation of any of the protocols covered by Microsoft patents. For more information, contact the Microsoft Open Protocols Team.

Check out the patent maps here [microsoft.com]

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (2, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006815)

Thanks, good info for those who will not RTFA. Same old self-serving MS...

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (5, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007235)

Yeah, but at least they offer the appearance of wanting to feel like changing...

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (3, Funny)

hostyle (773991) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007603)

And at least you offered the appearance of what feels like an insightful post...

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (5, Informative)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006909)

To be fair, the article also adds:

It is important to note that open source developers, whether commercial or non-commercial, will not need a patent license for the development of implementations of these protocols or for the non-commercial distribution of these implementations, according to Microsoft's Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (5, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007539)

It is important to note that open source developers, whether commercial or non-commercial, will not need a patent license for the development of implementations of these protocols or for the non-commercial distribution of these implementations,

So...commercial developers can develop as long as they don't distribute. Boy, that's helpful/useful. About as helpful and useful as a kick in the nuts. :)

I still say the idea that a protocol can be patented is silly to the point of almost being an oxymoron. We can, perhaps, debate whether an implementation of a protocol can be patented, but the idea that the protocol itself can be patented seems like blatant abuse of the patent system, even if you're one of those who believes that software or business-method patents are a valid notion.

Fortunately, it does seem to be getting easier to challenge patents. Now if only we could get MS to admit what patents they think various open source projects might be violating, so we can start the search for prior art.... :)

(Alternatively, maybe we can keep them muttering vague threats about their patents without being specific long enough that we can ask for estoppel or laches if they ever do try to get specific. The rumblings help because that way they can't pretend that they didn't know about the supposed violations all along, a vital point in raising a defense of laches.)

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (1, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007699)

It is important to note that open source developers, whether commercial or non-commercial, will not need a patent license for the development of implementations of these protocols or for the non-commercial distribution of these implementations,

So...commercial developers can develop as long as they don't distribute. Boy, that's helpful/useful. About as helpful and useful as a kick in the nuts. :)

Maybe someone with a law degree could sort it out but I thought it simply meant that a commercial company like Novell, Canonical or Red Hat could develop code as long as the distribution of the implementation itself is non-commercial. In short:

1. Give this away for free
2. Get more users and support for your distro
3. Profit
4. ??? (sorry)

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007599)

It is important to note that open source developers, whether commercial or non-commercial, will not need a patent license for the development of implementations of these protocols or for the non-commercial distribution of these implementations, according to Microsoft's Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers.

Remember folks that this is Microsofts own description and that the GPL experts have said that Microsoft's OSP (Open Specification Promise) is incompatible with Open Source licenses [softwarefreedom.org]. The SFLC also say that it would even comply with BSD-style licenses.

And please -- this is a legal matter to do with the wording of the Microsoft pledge, so lets not hear slashdot legal advice -- lets link to actual legal opinion if anyone wants to debate this.

Oh and the Sun license pledge for ODF is compatible with GPL according to the people who helped design GPL [softwarefreedom.org]

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (1)

Jonny_eh (765306) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007635)

The exception for "non-commercial distribution" doesn't sound compatible with OSS licenses like GPL. I'm pretty sure that GPL'd code can be commercially distributed, as long as the source is made available.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (1, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006941)

You may benefit from a patent license if you are distributing implementations of these protocols commercially or if you use an implementation of any of the protocols covered by Microsoft patents. For more information, contact the Microsoft Open Protocols Team.

Ah, well, at least now I know that "Open" in this context means "Open Your Wallet".

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (1)

hostyle (773991) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007703)

More like "Open" as in "Bend Over" as opposed to the old method of "open" as in "Please wait while we tie you up, - buffering - gag you, - buffering - drug you, rob you ... and now kindly bend over, sir!", all spoken in a slightly Indian accent.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (2, Insightful)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007489)

Sigh. Microsoft can never do anything right, can they?

A week or so ago people were whining that they wouldn't release the specs. Well, they've started external documentation for the 2003 binaries - and your link has documentation links for 2007 as well.

At least they warn you that they might have patents - this isn't some kind of submarine patent trolling operation. For commercial products, they even give you a link to some Nice People who will help you wade through the minefield.

Not perfect, amazing, miraculous, or complete, but surely we can agree that this is a Good Thing. It definitely doesn't hurt anything.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (5, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007693)

> Sigh. Microsoft can never do anything right, can they?

They *could* do something right, but they choose not to. It would work against their business model.

They *could* release specs unencumbered by patents. They simply don't want to.

True interoperability is the last thing that they truly want.

This has happened before. It will happen again. See IBM decades ago. The entrenched monopolist is never in favor of true interoperability -- nevermind whatever they may say. Everybody else who lives on the scraps is in favor of interoperability. Who you think is right depends on whether you think the currently in power monopolist has the God given right to be the only one in the business.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (2, Insightful)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006799)

It's useful for people who want to generate Word documents. A project I worked on wanted to generate Excel spreadsheets as a way to download reports from a web application. We got it to work using Apache POI's HSSF, which while it doesn't implement everything reverse-engineered enough for it to work.

...Wait a moment. Allowing people to generate documents using old formats that work with the current Office actually helps Microsoft's Office monopoly, doesn't it? And here I thought they were just being kind.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007011)

A project I worked on wanted to generate Excel spreadsheets as a way to download reports from a web application.

Or you could NOT be a fucking retard and just use CSV.

But then it would be interoperable with every spreadsheet and you wouldn't be able to make the Microsoft bash. So I guess that wouldn't serve your purpose.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007109)

not playing devil's advocate here but csv is just that: "comma separated values." he might want to include formatting, simple formulae, etc. in the generated excel file.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007357)

This is a good point. Once, I was on a project where literally everything possible to save poor IIS 4.0 was worth doing.
So, in addition to setting the content header to "application/excel" so that LoserNet Explorer would send the information that way, I also had the HTML table include a "Total" row, with "=SUM(a1:a75)" or whatever the final row number would be within the markup, so that the total would be calculated on the client.
Oh, what a right disaster that .asp was, he remembered bitter-fondly.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007157)

How do you format or embed charts into a CSV file, smartass?

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (5, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007103)

If they keep hold of the spec and don't release it, you'll bitch about them not being very friendly.

If they release the spec to everyone and promise not to go after any Open Source projects that may take advantage of it, you'll bitch about them still trying to line their own pockets.

Really, Microsoft has no chance of pleasing you, do they? Just accept that it's good for everyone to have open standards, regardless of the possible ulterior motives involved.

Still, don't expect a converted Scrooge from that. (2, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007301)

I'm sure this move was somewhat forced to please the European Union or something.

In any case, I'm sure this would be just what Sun needs to make OpenOffice(.org) more compatible with MS Office than MS Office itself :)

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (5, Informative)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007493)

Really, Microsoft has no chance of pleasing you, do they? Just accept that it's good for everyone to have open standards, regardless of the possible ulterior motives involved.

The point is that MS's patent licenses (and therefore their specs), due to the non-commerce clause, are not GPL compatible. See, MS is not threatened by a BSD license, because if a BSD product takes off, they can just embrace, extend, extinguish. They're really worried about GPL though, because any GPL project that succeeds is a true competitive threat.

In short, I don't think they've opened the specs. Documented them, yes, published them, sure, but they have NOT opened them.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (3, Insightful)

Lord Crc (151920) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007023)

...to finally share proper doc of the old standards. This just means they feel confident that MS Office 2007 will take firm enough root to ensure that the old game of catch up for FOSS projects will stay the same.

I guess that whole ISO [slashdot.org] voting [slashdot.org] stuff [slashdot.org] on [slashdot.org] OOXML [microsoft.com] just passed you by?

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007133)

To be fair, I was unaware that "DOCX" was Office Open XML, and I use Office all the time. (I'm not the OP.) Office 2007 just calls those files "Word Documents" and I figured they were just an updated binary format, just like every other Office upgrade.

Turns out they are OOXML files.

I had thought OOXML was something new that the next Office would use. If you hadn't posted that, I never would have thought to check.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (1)

Lord Crc (151920) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007291)

I figured they were just an updated binary format, just like every other Office upgrade

At least now know why it takes ages to save a document compared to the old format (this can be especially noticable when working on image heavy presentations).

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (2, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007367)

Yes and no. DOCX is based on OOXML's early concept, but it does not represent that standard that MS was pushing. So technically, no one, not even Microsoft, has a product that can create or read the OOXML standard.

Re:How freaking "open" of them... (0, Troll)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007551)

Probably, you (being a lot of folks here) should just accept that Microsoft's moves will never be "Open enough" for you and call it a day.

Their goals aren't your goals, and never will be.

interesting... (5, Interesting)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006673)

Did anyone else notice this is coming out on the first business day at MS that is Gates free...?

Re:interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006959)

Are you naiive enough to think that Gates wouldn't have known about this and some executive decided to do this as a secret pet project without telling anyone? Yes, it took MS only 1 day to write-up over 2000 pages of documents (or at least to sanitize them if they were already internal).

No, this probably has more to do with the EU anti-trust ruling.

Re:interesting... (2)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007061)

90% joke and 10% honest question. As unlikely as it is they could have been writing/gathering these behind his back and now that he's gone he can't do anything about it. However the anti-trust ruling makes far more sense.

Re:interesting... (1, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007101)

Indeed. This is a strange new move by the borg.

Shields up.
Weapons online.

Red Alert.
All hands to battlestations.

Re:interesting... (4, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007347)

Indeed. This is a strange new move by the borg.

This reminds me the episode of House M.D. when he started acting nice one day and everyone began freaking out.

You should chill out and think of this being more of a partial victory than an enemy's plan.

Re:interesting... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007413)

As far as I know, it's far from Gates free.
I can't find the article right now, but I said something like, "he is not the boss anymore, but he's still the C?O" or something like that.
If anyone has the text...?

Re:interesting... (4, Informative)

jkabbe (631234) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007527)

This isn't new. MS posted an earlier revision on February 20 this year. Today's announcement is mostly about the fact that it's out of "beta".

I think the real question (5, Funny)

bragolach (855994) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006675)

is WHEN are they going to release the source code to the Flight Sim in Excel 98?

Re:I think the real question (5, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006969)

That's actually hidden in the released documents. You have to go to a specific page of the Excel portion, and by starting at a specific line and skipping the correct numbers of lines between read lines, the spec will be revealed. The exact details are left as an exercise for the morbidly curious.

Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006693)

Word alone requires 533 pages; Excel runs over 1000 plus another 850 pages for the Office 2007 binary forma ... So I'm solid on the bed time story front for some time! Gee, thanks Microsoft!

Re:Yay! (1)

sdpuppy (898535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007021)

Word alone requires 533 pages; Excel runs over 1000 plus another 850 pages for the Office 2007 binary

Good News:

MS is releasing specs on Word & Excel!

Bad News:

The documentation can only be opened using WordStar 2.0...

(But I hear they're working on a version for TROFF)

:-)

They are complicate documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006719)

It should not really be noteworthy that they have 500+ specs.

wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole... (3, Interesting)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006727)

the "license" conditions no doubt will contain several pitfalls for anyone who actually wants to use it to implement a file input/output filter in conjunction with free software... and the other problem is once having seen the specification, you'll never be able to safely work on other free software projects again...

By following the links.... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006927)

From here -> You or anyone else has nothing to worry about. Microsoft has changed its tune. [microsoft.com]:

Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation to the extent it conforms to a Covered Specification (âoeCovered Implementationâ), subject to the following. This is a personal promise directly from Microsoft to you, and you acknowledge as a condition of benefiting from it that no Microsoft rights are received from suppliers, distributors, or otherwise in connection with this promise. If you file, maintain or voluntarily participate in a patent infringement lawsuit against a Microsoft implementation of such Covered Specification, then this personal promise does not apply with respect to any Covered Implementation of the same Covered Specification made or used by you. To clarify, âoeMicrosoft Necessary Claimsâ are those claims of Microsoft-owned or Microsoft-controlled patents that are necessary to implement only the required portions of the Covered Specification that are described in detail and not merely referenced in such Specification. âoeCovered Specificationsâ are listed below.

Re:By following the links.... (5, Informative)

temcat (873475) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007541)

This has been dissected and shown to promise nothing - because it's impossible to clearly see what exactly the "necessary claims" are, and because useful implementation of the spec without the "merely referenced" stuff may be impossible.

Old News (3, Informative)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006737)

Isn't this old news? I mean, it's been covered on Slashdot at least twice [slashdot.org] now [slashdot.org]. (Dear timothy, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Google [google.com].)

Yes, the formats are large and complicated, but for a variety of good, if antiquated, reasons. I'd suggest anyone interested read Joel Spolsky's [joelonsoftware.com] blog post on it (which, being posted last February, isn't news either but hey, this is Slashdot).

Re:Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006939)

I'm not sure what was released in January and February, but these documents are new. As in, they weren't there yesterday.

Mod parent up. Great link (0, Offtopic)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007505)

Mod parent up! His link to an article in Joel Spolsky's blog is very relevant, and the article puts this whole code release into perspective!

Coincidence? (1, Redundant)

ah42 (109096) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006743)

And to think, this happens the day after Gates steps down...

Re:Coincidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007349)

As others have said, there's no way MS could compile 1-2k pages over the weekend. But I don't think it is a coincidence. I think MS knows that in the mind of the average computer user is deeply entrenched the idea that Gates==Evil Monster.

So this will probably be the beginning of an image campaign by MS to promote the idea of "we're really good people who want to come together with the FOSS community, blame Gates, not us."

They're choosing now to redefine their image, targeting the people who use Gates as a synonym for MS. With Gates gone, those people will now have to redefine their ideas, and if MS seems friendly to the FOSS community, those people might be willing to give MS a second chance.

(I run linux, but I have nothing against Gates or MS. I just would rather not run vista.)

Honest Attempt (4, Insightful)

clampolo (1159617) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006763)

I honestly believe that they are trying to give out complete information. It's just that they have 20 years of spaghetti code to somehow shape into an API document. I doubt if anyone at Microsoft really knows how the code works.

With a 1000 page document describing how to list off spreadsheet information, I shudder to think about how organized their kernel is.

Re:Honest Attempt (2, Interesting)

kentrel (526003) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007043)

It's just that they have 20 years of spaghetti code to somehow shape into an API document. I doubt if anyone at Microsoft really knows how the code works

Really? Care to provide some evidence for that "20 years of spaghetti code" comment. If MS can make Office 07 faster and more efficient for me to use than OpenOffice with its painfully slow operation, then surely its a miracle that they can do that despite using 20 year old spaghetti code

Re:Honest Attempt (1)

eggz128 (447435) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007227)

OpenOffice.org is a descendant of Star Office, originally released in 1984 (according to Wikipedia anyway). They have plenty of their own legacy spaghetti code :)

Re:Honest Attempt (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007479)

OpenOffice.org is a descendant of Star Office, originally released in 1984 (according to Wikipedia anyway). They have plenty of their own legacy spaghetti code :)

I was given to understand that OO being Open Source meant that hundreds of developers with unlimited free time would magically fix all of that for us and/or spin some straw into gold. :)

Re:Honest Attempt (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007229)

Undocumented spaghetti code is a feature you implement to ensure that your company doesn't dare fire or outsource you! ;)

wil wheaton (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006769)

whatever happened to that lump of shit? did he finally get flushed?

The catch (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006777)

The released specifications are in a pre-2007 MS Office binary file format.

Re:The catch (2, Funny)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007105)

You laugh, but I remember seeing someone upload (to a BBS many years ago) a copy of PKZip in .zip format . . .

Kudos to them (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006871)

I can't understand the negativity. Sure Microsoft has an unpleasant past, but this is a good move on their part and should be met with nothing less than praise.

We want to encourage more behavior like this.

Re:Kudos to them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007143)

I can't understand the negativity. Sure Microsoft has an unpleasant past, but this is a good move on their part and should be met with nothing less than praise.

We want to encourage more behavior like this.

The first time I heard someone say something like that was in the 80's.

Yes, kudos for this ... but not for MS's past (4, Insightful)

KWTm (808824) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007193)

I can't understand the negativity. Sure Microsoft has an unpleasant past, but this is a good move on their part and should be met with nothing less than praise.
We want to encourage more behavior like this.

You are right. This is a great step forward. However, I think the Slashdot community, with its cynical eye on Microsoft, is reminding us to take this in the proper context. It remains to be seen whether this is the beginning of a slow but steady change of course for the world's largest software company, or whether this is a fake-out to fool people into thinking that Microsoft is nice.

Personally, I suspect that this reflects internal conflict within Microsoft, with some portions of the behemoth trying to do something good, while another faction still trying to squeeze money out of Microsoft's unique position in the software world.

In any case, remember how some people would say, "You always complain about Microsoft! What would it take for you to admit that Microsoft is doing something good?"

#2 on the list was: Stop hijacking the HTML standard and make a compliant browser! Then they put out IE7. (Not perfect, but a heckuva lot better than IE6!)

#1 on the list was: Open up the Word document file format. Okay, so they've done that. (Again, not perfect, but a heckuva lot better than what went on before!)

Congrats, Microsoft. You did it. A little late in coming, and you really didn't impress us with your OOXML fiasco waving that money around, but I'm willing to adopt a wait-and-see attitude to see whether it's still those same money-grubbing upper level managers that are in control, or whether this really is a new day at Microsoft.

Re:Yes, kudos for this ... but not for MS's past (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007265)

The weird thing about OOXML (which was pure evil) is that a Microsoft spokesman recently said they are admitting they've lost that battle, and thusly they're adding in support for ODF.

I'm curious how accurately that comment represents Microsoft's actual future strategy.

Chicken and Egg (5, Funny)

BobNET (119675) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006881)

The only problem? They released them in Word format...

(Okay, not really -- someone must have realized that that would be silly.)

Re:Chicken and Egg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007249)

It's actually interesting that they released them in PDF, not XPS or some embedded Silverlight crap.

unusually bloated ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24006885)

533 pages,1000+ pages, 850+ pages! Holy Hannah! Is it my imagination but are these comparatively the most unusually bloated specs ever seen? 533+ pages just to describe how text is saved??! Even accounting for formatting and tables and whatever, I'm thinking that just maybe MS has inflated the docs so as to make any real work with them by competing interests nigh impossible.
I recall having a copy of the spec for ATAPI/IDE a few years back and it was a toilet-read length in comparison at roughly 250 pages . Trying hard here not to bash MS but I figure this falls under the "let's follow the word not the spirit of the law" kind of thing to meet DoJ and Euro govs rulings...

Re:unusually bloated ? (2, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006987)

If you think Word is only dealing with "saving text" you need to spend some time learning what it can do. The format specs are big because their users needs are big.

Yay for Microsoft! (2, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006905)

Wait ... what did I just say? ...

I don't think I'm feeling well. I'm gonna go lie down now.

Holy Crap! (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006913)

Or is it Wholly Crap?

I guess we'll see. I'm rather shocked by this. This is a kind of "giving in" gesture that is MOST uncharacteristic of Microsoft. Is this was the "Post-Gates" Microsoft will be like? How much more cooperative spirit will the community enjoy?

Testsuites needed (1)

vinsci (537958) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006973)

If Microsoft hopes to enable an acceptable level of compatibility, automatic test suites (including a complete range of test data files) for the specifications are needed. Descriptive specifications this large is always unclear or simply inconsistent with themselves or just wrong, somewhere.

Descriptive specifications alone are never good enough.

Re:Testsuites needed (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007327)

Tell that to the W3C, please. Their specs are a joke (IMO) until they're willing to commit to writing a reference implementation.

2 things though... (4, Insightful)

hee gozer (1261036) | more than 5 years ago | (#24006983)

a) Does this mean the standard GNU response [gnu.org] is now invalid?

b) If someone writes a FOSS implementation of a .doc/.xls viewer, does that mean MSFT could more easily throw their weight to declaring .doc a standard? (Since a standard ought to have multiple implementations, although maybe office 2003 and 2007 counts as two, or office and word/excel/powerpoint viewer :p )

This is old news (2)

mastropiero (258677) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007077)

I knew about this since august 2007 and even submitted it to slashdot twice, although it didn't get picked for front page. See http://developers.slashdot.org/~mastropiero/journal/ [slashdot.org]

This is definitely useful for app developers of free software.

free software .. (2, Insightful)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007277)

"This is definitely useful for app developers of free software"

You mean as in you work on the implementation for free and Microsoft benefits from any commercial developments.

The Family Foundation of Kenticky (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007145)

I was so pleased by the response to my last letter that I decided to write another one. Don't worry; I have plenty of new stuff to say about the Family Foundation of Kentucky and its toadies. To begin with, the Family Foundation of Kentucky's occasional demonstrations of benevolence are not genuine. Nor are its promises. In fact, you may make the comment, "What does this have to do with eccentric ninnies?" Well, once you begin to see the light you'll realize that the Family Foundation of Kentucky's thesis is that superstition is no less credible than proven scientific principles. That's totally money-grubbing, you say? Good; that means you're finally catching on. The next step is to observe that you should not ask, "How can we break the Family Foundation of Kentucky's hypnotic spell over flighty curmudgeons?", but rather, "What exactly is the Family Foundation of Kentucky's point?". The latter question is the better one to ask because the Family Foundation of Kentucky is not only immoral, but amoral.

We've tolerated the Family Foundation of Kentucky's coldhearted biases long enough. It's time to lose our patience and chill our kindness. It's time to even the score. It's time to shout to the world that it has, on a number of occasions, expressed a desire to produce a large number of entirely resentful extravagancies, most destructive indecencies, and, above all, the most capricious blasphemies against everything that I hold most sacred and most dear. On all of these occasions, I submitted to the advice of my friends, who assured me that I claim that it serves as a conduit that carries the élan vital of communism. My views, of course, are not the issue here. The issue is that it and its forces are the worst sorts of disorganized, drugged-out used-car salesmen there are. This is not set down in complaint against them, but merely as analysis.

I don't want to make any hard and final judgments, but I feel that writing this letter is like celestial navigation. Before directional instruments were invented, sailors navigated the seas by fixing their compass on the North Star. However, if the Family Foundation of Kentucky were to trick them into fixing their compass on the wrong star they'd soon be so off-course that they'd actually be willing to help it promote pharisaism's traits as normative values to be embraced.

I predict that by the end of the decade, people will generally agree that education without action creates frustration, while action without education leads to hedonism. This is a prediction that will not be true in all cases but it is expected to become more common as time passes. The Family Foundation of Kentucky has been known to say that the Earth is flat. That notion is so Pecksniffian, I hardly know where to begin refuting it.

Certain facts are clear. For instance, I clearly hope you're not being misled by the "new the Family Foundation of Kentucky". Only its methods and tactics have changed. The Family Foundation of Kentucky's goal is still the same: to display an irreconcilable hatred toward all nations. That's why I'm telling you that the Family Foundation of Kentucky cannot tolerate the world as it is. It needs to live in a world of fantasies. To be more specific, the Family Foundation of Kentucky will probably throw another hissy fit if we don't let it pose a threat to personal autonomy and social development. At least putting up with another the Family Foundation of Kentucky hissy fit is easier than convincing the Family Foundation of Kentucky's helots that if a cogent, logical argument entered the Family Foundation of Kentucky's brain, no doubt a concussion would result.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky claims that it has the linguistic prowess to produce a masterwork of meritorious literature. Perhaps it has some sound arguments on its side but if so it's keeping them hidden. I'd say it's far more likely that the Family Foundation of Kentucky keeps trying to deceive us into thinking that black is white and night is day. The purpose of this deception may be to fortify a social correctness that restricts experience and defines success with narrow boundaries. Or maybe the purpose is to shift our society from a culture of conscience to a culture of consensus. Oh what a tangled web the Family Foundation of Kentucky weaves when first it practices to deceive.

To the Family Foundation of Kentucky's mind, it should be a given a direct pipeline to the National Treasury. So that means that everyone who doesn't share its beliefs is an addlepated gutter-dweller deserving of death and damnation, right? No, not right. The truth is that the Family Foundation of Kentucky claims to have read somewhere that embracing a system of Fabianism will make everything right with the world. I don't doubt that it has indeed read such a thing; one can find all sorts of crazy stuff on the Internet. More reliable sources, however, tend to agree that no matter what else we do, our first move must be to educate everyone about how the Family Foundation of Kentucky's agendas are bad not only for the immortal soul but also for mortal men and women. That's the first step: education. Education alone is not enough, of course. We must also speak out against behavior and speech that is intended to deny the obvious.

I need your help if I'm ever to stop the Family Foundation of Kentucky's encroachments on our heritage. "But I'm only one person," you might protest. "What difference can I make?" The answer is: a lot more than you think. You see, if you think about it you'll see that the Family Foundation of Kentucky's morbid revenge fantasies are merely a distraction. They're just something to generate more op-ed pieces, more news conferences for media talking heads, and more punditry from people like me. Meanwhile, the Family Foundation of Kentucky's brethren are continuing their quiet work of advancing the Family Foundation of Kentucky's real goal, which is to precipitate riots.

I will not quibble with the Family Foundation of Kentucky as to whether or not it should exercise greater judiciousness when extolling sexism. Instead, I'll simply state that the Family Foundation of Kentucky has nephelococcygic delusions about being able to retain an institution which, twist and turn as you like, is and remains a disgrace to humanity and leave it at that. If the Family Foundation of Kentucky wanted to, it could stultify art and retard the enjoyment and adoration of the beautiful. It could empty the meaning of such concepts as "self," "justice," "freedom," and other profundities. And it could engulf the world in a dense miasma of alcoholism. We must not allow the Family Foundation of Kentucky to do any of these.

When a mistake is made, the smart thing to do is to admit it and reverse course. That takes real courage. The way that the Family Foundation of Kentucky stubbornly refuses to own up to its mistakes serves only to convince me that I am sick to my stomach of its pettiness and simple ignorance. It's that simple. When surveyed, only two percent of the Family Foundation of Kentucky's coadjutors agreed with the statement, "When an inconsiderate, vexatious radical has been beaten down with the successive hammer blows of exclusivism, favoritism, and nonrepresentationalism, he becomes quite receptive to the Family Foundation of Kentucky's propaganda and quite likely to join its den of thieves." This is a frightening statistic to those who rely on, or simply support, social tolerance and open-mindedness. I realize that blackguardism is a tremendous problem in our society, but does it constantly have to be thrown in our faces? To ask that question another way, why aren't our children being warned about the Family Foundation of Kentucky in school? This is an important question because when the Family Foundation of Kentucky's harebrained utterances are translated into plain, words-mean-things English, it appears to be saying that the rules don't apply to it. For me, this benighted, daft moonshine serves only to emphasize how even if one is opposed to blinkered scapegoatism (and I am), then surely, in the Family Foundation of Kentucky's quest to bombard us with an endless array of hate literature it has left no destructive scheme unutilized. With this letter, I hope I have made my views clear: Common sense should render unwarranted any claim that all major world powers are controlled by a covert group of "insiders".

Visio (4, Insightful)

llzackll (68018) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007201)

Where is Visio ?

Re:Visio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007481)

Visio was developed independently and later acquired by Microsoft, so it might have pre-Microsoft IP restrictions. Or not.

you may benefit from a patent license .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007225)

"In addition to posting this documentation, Microsoft also published a list indicating which of the published protocols built into the following products are covered [microsoft.com] by Microsoft patents or patent applications"

"Some of the Microsoft protocols include patented inventions, and others do not. You may benefit from a patent license [microsoft.com] if you are distributing implementations of these protocols commercially or if you use an implementation of any of the protocols covered by Microsoft patents"

It's a Trap! (4, Funny)

stox (131684) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007341)

20 years ago, at what was the world's largest software project, we used to joke that if we wanted to ruin our competition, we would send them a copy of our specs. It looks to me that Microsoft got the same idea.

Meh.. /.-ers (4, Insightful)

comm2k (961394) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007363)

for all those thinking that this has anything to do with Gates leaving - you're wrong, its neither right nor interesting AND CERTAINLY NOT 5+ INSIGHTFUL.
Microsoft releases api/ protocol specs | Feb. 2008
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/21/microsoft_goes_open/ [theregister.co.uk]
Microsoft releases further specs | April. 2008
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/08/microsoft_posts_protocol_documents/ [theregister.co.uk]

And they state that more will come after gathering feedback between then and June.

Between now and June it will garner feedback from the developer community. Then, at the end of June, Microsoft will publish the final versions of technical documentation - along with definitive patent licensing terms.

PDF Producer (1)

ditoa (952847) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007393)

Hehe. I love how the PDF was produced by Microsoft Word 2007, nice little dig at Adobe after they kicked up a fuss about it being installed by default.

Has no one noticed that they're covered by "OSP"? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007435)

This means, as far as I know, that GPL implementations are not allowed. So it's an even worse situation than before, because Free Software developers can't even look at this documentation to verify any of the conclusions of their reverse engineering.

All this means (1)

BattyMan (21874) | more than 5 years ago | (#24007547)

is that they're ready with their new "standard", and they're confident that that won't be Reverse Engineered....

so now everyone can see how horrible they are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24007729)

Just look at the simple .msg file format!

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