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Microsoft Prepares Office Lock-in

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the stupid-business-lining-up-to-lock-themselves-in dept.

Microsoft 1127

An anonymous reader writes "NEWS.COM has an article describing Office 2003's DRM features for documents. This will not only coerce those running older versions of Office to upgrade, which has been a problem for MS in the last few years, but it will also shut out competing software, such as OpenOffice. Now think about this for a second. Even if the developers of a competing office suite could figure out how to get their software to open an Office 2003 document, doing so would be a DMCA violation, since they'd be bypassing an anti-circumvention device. I certainly hope the OpenOffice team will kick development into high gear. If there was a time we need a viable competitor to Office, it's now."

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1127 comments

The straw that broke the PHB's back? (4, Interesting)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851434)

This may actually signal the beginning of the end of the monopoly. People have always speculated that widespread damnation of DRM technologies will only occur once a major manufacturer, such as Microsoft, uses it to blatantly direct the consumer to spend money that they really didn't intend on spending. It goes hand in hand to suppose that the said company will become a major target for customer disdain, and the act will make them infamous as "the first". The spin that the media can place upon such a story will be catastrophic to the companie's image. And Microsoft will have no where to hide, because it no longer only be the geeks that are tasting the effects of the monopoly.

Just imagine the backlash that will come from inter-company communication via Excel and Word. Hell, my company has had numerous problems with reporting (scripts that mine data from various sources, such as Excel, and generate reports) and document management systems just because of differences between Excel/Word 97 and 2000 files. This may be what FOSS needs to start making massive market penetration.

Mostly FUD (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851472)

This article emphasizes the role of DRM in commercial settings. It's perfectly reasonable for corporate customers to want to control access to their documents in the workplace, and that's what the Office 2003 DRM features are targeted towards. It's just a dumb client-server authentication scheme, people.

Put away the aluminized headgear. This is not an anti-consumer technology, or even a consumer-oriented one.

Re:Mostly FUD (4, Interesting)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851547)

This article emphasizes the role of DRM in commercial settings. It's perfectly reasonable for corporate customers to want to control access to their documents in the workplace, and that's what the Office 2003 DRM features are targeted towards. It's just a dumb client-server authentication scheme, people.

Yes, and as such it seems entirely stupid. So the executive flying to L.A. won't be able to access the documents while on a 4-hour flight. Nor will he be able to do so from the hotel unless they open up the firewall to let him access the authentication server--something that seems inherently dangerous considering it's Microsoft we're talking about. Employees may not be able to work from home or in the evening for the same reason. If you send the document to an external consultant or a client it's going to be a major hassle to give them access--short of saving a version with no access restrictions.

If Microsoft is going to implement DRM in their Office platform, this is the way we want them to do it. It seems like a pretty stupid way to implement it that's going to cause more problems than it's going to solve. And if by implementing this DRM and showing consumers just how inconvenient it is the consumers learn that DRM is not their friend, all kind of Microsoft plans may go down the toilet.

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (1, Funny)

peterprior (319967) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851475)

I'm stupid..

whats a PHB?... seen it a lot and have no idea what one is..

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (2, Funny)

albalbo (33890) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851490)

Pretty Hot Babe.



It's a cute name for your manager.

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (5, Informative)

GrenDel Fuego (2558) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851494)

Pointy-Haired Boss. it's a dilbert reference.

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (2, Funny)

Brendan Byrd (105387) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851499)

Point-Haired Boss. For reference, see Dilbert's comics.

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851506)

whats a PHB?... seen it a lot and have no idea what one is..

Pointy-haired boss. It's a character from the Dilbert [dilbert.com] comic strip, that in certain circles has come to be the generic term for any clueless manager.

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851508)

Pointy Haired Boss - it's from Dilbert [dilbert.com] - look at the Boss's hair [dilbert.com]

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (1)

Bingo Foo (179380) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851522)

Pointy Haired Boss [google.com]

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (2, Insightful)

marktoml (48712) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851483)

It may backfire by simply forcing companies not to want to upgrade or to delay upgrade decisions.

That'll be true for a while. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851484)

If I receive documents from suppliers and clients that I can't read, then I will ask them to send it again in another format, and they won't have a problem with that for now.

But five years from now, when everybody buying a Dell or Gateway machine has the latest version of Office bundled with their machine, I will likely be the only guy who can't read their documents, and their sympathy will have disappeared. I'll have to upgrade.

There's no particularly good way out of this using the marketplace; the marketplace will dictate it.

I don't see the problem here. (5, Insightful)

AzrealAO (520019) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851488)

This is a feature some people want. It'd not on by default (how could it, be, since it requires a properly configured server to do the rights management).

It'll let businesses lock their documents down, for internal use. Nothing at all here gives any indication that all documents created will have DRM forced on. If a business or user doesn't want to use it, don't turn it on.

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (5, Insightful)

UberOogie (464002) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851507)

Dream on.

Call me a cynic, but I've lost count of the number of times that MS forced upgrade cycles were going to be the end of the company. It hasn't yet, and won't be in the future, even with this. Enough people and companies will pay to make it a non-issue. Watch.

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (5, Interesting)

override11 (516715) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851516)

We allready use OpenOffice for all our end user's here. Just be sure the Pc has 128 megs of ram, and put the office quicklaunch on startup, or they will complain about how long it takes to start. Otherwise, it works awesome for all standard end user word / excel tasks (99% of end users). As soon as your company gets one of those audit letters, spring the OpenSource and the management will come flocking. =)

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (5, Insightful)

bokelley (563370) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851534)

At the same time, Microsoft has been fairly savvy in protecting its {monopoly|competitive advantage} without really ticking off the media. The Messenger lockdown is pretty blatant, and I haven't seen much public outrage - primarily because the people using Trillian et al are not the mainstream (yet). The big companies that are locked into their Microsoft investments make choices every 2-5 years when they upgrade their desktops. If Microsoft can create FUD - by claiming incompatibility or building it into new products - then they can hold off OpenOffice for another few years. I wonder if the EU would see this as anti-competitive (the US won't/can't do anything even if it does).

Suck on my upmodded cut/paste FP nigs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851542)

HTH. HAND.

-mao

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (1)

Brendan Byrd (105387) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851557)

For an example of this, we can always fall back on the TurboTax debunkle. Even Mom and Pop were told not to install it, and it backfired like you wouldn't believe. All over the media, million-dollar lawsuits, getting angry at tech support, etc.

I guess it goes to prove: you don't fuck with a man's boot sector :)

Re:The straw that broke the PHB's back? (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851566)

I wonder what this will do for companies such as Apple who are building in MS office document readability/writeability into their applications/operating systems? Right now I can read and write .ppt files in Keynote, and .doc files with, ahem other bits of software on my OS X boxes. So, is this simply an attempt at providing a more secure environment or is Microsoft doing an end run around other folks to make it a federal crime in the name of security to compete with them?

Important question! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851570)

I've always wondered this about slashdot. How much karma do you get when you submit a story and it gets accepted? I searched and searced but couldn't find the answer.

If anyone knows please tell me. Thank you very much.

frist post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851438)

first? time delay...

This guy's name is so fitting (-1, Troll)

pres (34668) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851440)

"Dan Leach, Microsoft's lead product manager for Office, said rights management features were built into the new Office based on ongoing discussions with customers."

Re:This guy's name is so fitting (1)

Dr.Zong (584494) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851540)

I don't mean to be an ass, but I think you are referring to a "leech" that gross little blood sucking thing that I sometimes use for fishing. :-) His name means to empty or to drain by percolating. ie: a percolator coffee pot leaches coffee grinds.

Defeat the GNAA! Join BASH! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851442)

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Hmph! (5, Funny)

Talia Starhawke (650311) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851448)

That's it, I'm getting out my typewriter. I'll pound out my reports old school, like Hunter S. Thompson still does.

Who's with me?

Anyone?

Re:Hmph! (5, Funny)

Gr33nNight (679837) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851571)

What are these 'type writers' you speak of? Are they like mini laptops?

out of the water (2, Insightful)

NetMagi (547135) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851450)

With this coming at the same time that linux seems to really be taking a foothold. .at least in the corporate desktop I think people fed up with MS BS may finally start to do something about it.

Slashdotted quick! Article Text below: (-1, Redundant)

qoncept (599709) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851451)

New Office locks down documents

By David Becker
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
September 2, 2003, 4:00 AM PT

As digital media publishers scramble to devise a foolproof method of copy protection, Microsoft is ready to push digital rights management into a whole new arena--your desktop.
Office 2003, the upcoming update of the company's market-dominating productivity package, for the first time will include tools for restricting access to documents created with the software. Office workers can specify who can read or alter a spreadsheet, block it from copying or printing, and set an expiration date.

The technology is one of the first major steps in Microsoft's plan to popularize Windows Rights Management Services, a wide-ranging plan to make restricted access to information a standard part of business processes.

Analysts say it represents a badly needed new avenue for boosting sales of Microsoft's server software and an opportunity to lock out competitors, including older versions of Office. It also gives businesses that skipped on the last round or two of Office upgrades a new reason to bite this time.

"If Office 2003 was just another incremental upgrade, they'd have a hard time getting businesses interested," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst for Jupiter Research. "For most people, the pinnacle of functionality in Office applications came in 1995. But there are more things that can be done using Office as a platform for delivering new services."

The new rights management tools splinter to some extent the long-standing interoperability of Office formats. Until now, PC users have been able to count on opening and manipulating any document saved in Microsoft Word's ".doc" format or Excel's ".xls" in any compatible program, including older versions of Office and competing packages such as Sun Microsystems' StarOffice and the open-source OpenOffice. But rights-protected documents created in Office 2003 can be manipulated only in Office 2003.

"There's certainly a lock-in factor," said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. "Microsoft would love people to use Office and only Office. They made very sure that Office has these features that nobody else has."

Information Rights Management (IRM) tools will be included in the professional versions of all Office applications, including the Word processor and Excel spreadsheet programs.

To use IRM features, businesses will need a server running Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 operating system and Windows Rights Management Services software. The server software will record permission rules set by the document creator, such as other people authorized to view the document and expiration dates for any permissions. When another person receives that document, they briefly log in to the Windows Rights Management server--over the Internet or a corporate network--to validate the permissions.

Dan Leach, Microsoft's lead product manager for Office, said rights management features were built into the new Office based on ongoing discussions with customers.

"We asked people what types of things would you like to do that you can't do now, and what they said is they'd like to spread large amounts of information around to more of their people--but they have concerns that the wider they spread information, the more likely it is to become available to the wrong people," he said.

Gartenberg said there's a valid need for such services, especially as office workers become more mobile and more sensitive information is stored on PCs.

"If you're a senior executive and you're carrying around your five-year business plan, you probably want to have that information secured so only you can read it," he said.

Businesses can lock down such documents now with third-party tools such as encryption software, but embedded rights management tools in the document creation software are much easier and more likely to be used, Gartenberg said. "The harder you make security to use for the end user, the less people are going to use it," he said.

Directions on Microsoft's Rosoff said there's a valid business reason for encoding rights management into documents, as shown by Microsoft's travails with leaked software code and documents.

Pushing server sales
As with many Microsoft innovations, the new IRM tools also happen to benefit the software giant's sales in a complimentary market--server software--where there's room for growth, as opposed to the fairly saturated market for desktop applications. Both IRM and expanded XML (Extensible Markup Language) functionality--the two biggest areas of innovation in Office 2003--tap into Microsoft's server software. IRM in particular requires Windows Server 2003, which businesses have been slow to adopt since Microsoft finally unveiled it earlier this year.

"When you dominate a market, you change that market," Rosoff said. "Office already has all the document management features people could possibly want. The only way to add value to Office is to make it part of this larger system that adds value."

Microsoft's Leach said Windows Server 2003 simply was the best avenue for delivering rights management functions. "To solve the problem our customers identified...it requires the ability to take advantage of some of the capabilities in Windows Server 2003," he said. "There are many companies that have already invested in Windows Server...and this is certainly going to be a differentiator for them."

Rosoff said Microsoft appears to be less concerned about competitors, however, than getting existing customers to upgrade. "I don't think they're extremely worried about the threat of OpenOffice," he said. "They're worried that documents management is a fairly mature technology that's pretty widely available, so they need to come up with a compelling way to do it."

There's also the potential for confusion in companies that don't upgrade every desktop to Office 2003 at the same time. Workers with Office 2003 will be able to produce documents colleagues with older versions can't use.

"The big question is whether they'll try to bring some backward compatibility," Jupiter's Gartenberg said. "If business users insist on a higher level of interoperability with their existing software, that could be a real challenge. It's very hard to go back and re-architect some of the security features for the older systems."

Leach said Microsoft will provide a free plug-in for its Internet Explorer Web browser that will let it display rights-protected Office documents.

"We recognize that people are going to want to take advantage of this that don't have Office 2003," he said. "This way, they can see the document in a browser window (and) they can print, copy or forward," as decided by the document creator.

Leach added that even for organizations that adopt Office 2003, rights management will still be the exception rather than the rule when creating documents.

"It's not something that you would set up as the default, so that every document I would create is rights management protected," he said. "Rob Malda is practically a penis eating machine, and it's important that you make a choice to apply rights management to a document for very specific reasons."

Rosoff said IRM should see fairly quick adoption--at least compared with complex XML-based functions to be tied into Office 2003--because it solves an immediate business problem and is relatively cheap and easy to implement.

"It's pretty clear with digital rights management what it is and what problems it's trying to solve," he said. "It's not going to be adopted en masse, but I think they'll have a good rollout department by department for people dealing with more sensitive documents."

i usually do this as AC, but -1 redundant (-1, Offtopic)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851469)

Must be clueless mods who mod up a CNET 'slashdotting'

MOD PARENT UP +1 INFORMATIVE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851538)

Actually, CNET often becomes not totally Slashdotted, but at least much slower, when one of their stories is posted on /. Also, how can the parent post be redundant when he is the first person to post the article text??? To the person who posted the text, kudos. If there were more posters like you, /. woul dbe a much better place.

Office lock-in? (5, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851454)

As long as there is enough room under the door to shove a thin-crust pizza under it, I'm game.

I swear... (3, Funny)

DeathPenguin (449875) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851456)

Next person to say something like "They made very sure that Office has these features that nobody else has" without specifying a single damn feature is getting slapped upside the head with a wet trout.

Whenever I ask people why they choose MSWord over a competing product, I always get the same answer: "It has more features." Feature like what? Ten different versions of "Clippy?" No wonder MS has the word procsessing industry in a kung-fu grip.

Re:I swear... (1)

DeathPenguin (449875) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851502)

>> No wonder MS has the word procsessing industry in a kung-fu grip.

Whoops, that should be word processing. So much for my efforts to make Slashcode the new standard in office production suits--MS does have one hell of a spell checker!

Re:I swear... (5, Funny)

Bingo Foo (179380) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851569)

All web forms get automatic spell checking under OS X, with no third party app required.

Grammar the other hand is no proper checking way.

Re:I swear... (1)

NightSpots (682462) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851536)

How about ...

Integration with Excel
Integration with Powerpoint
Integration with Outlook, and by extention, Integration with Exchange

How about perfect compatibility with everyone in the business world.

I'd also point out that Microsoft isn't the first to DRM their documents: Adobe has a new server that requires authentication over the web to open PDF files.

Re:I swear... (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851558)

I use Office bacause all of my clients use Office and they want the files they get to be created in Office.

It's the golden rule. He who has the gold makes the rules.

-B

Interoperability is protected by DMCA (5, Informative)

TrentC (11023) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851458)

For those of you who like to throw DMCA around like a big, evil boogeyman, last time I checked, reverse-engineering for the purposes of interoperability is allowed by the DMCA.

Jay (=

Re:Interoperability is protected by DMCA (5, Informative)

Fareq (688769) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851533)

that is correct, however OpenOffice (or any other similar product) would have to support all the DRM features that MS Office did.

If it was possible for a user who shouldn't have access to a file to use another application to read it, then that app would be in violation of the DMCA because it is a circumvention device.

If it respected all the DRM nonsense, then it would probably fall under the interoperability portion of the law. At least that's the way I read it.

Re:Interoperability is protected by DMCA (3, Insightful)

bwh265 (662121) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851568)

strictly speaking your right, but.. (or is it butt? ;)) the DMCA allows slapdown letters first, and litigation to prove, in court, with lawyers and other expensive accoutrements, that you are legally allowed to do what you did.

The DMCA is not based on the criminal code assumptions of innocence until proven guilty, rather you must prove that the infraction (and reverse engineering IS an infraction) is explicitly permitted within the code.

bwh

PSST: Only in America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851573)


the rest of the world is free to take apart these documents however we like, of course if that information was going to cross the ocean into USA hands that would be a shame, *cough splutter*

Excellent (4, Interesting)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851468)

Now all Sun needs to do is release an OS X native version, add a database that works more like Access (maybe php or jsp scripting) and MARKET THE HELL OUT OF IT.

Re:Excellent (1)

log0n (18224) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851582)

2005 at the earliest :/

Welcome to the new world order. (4, Insightful)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851471)

America should follow suit with Europe and go on 'Patent Strike'. The USA needs a show of force to put its insane government and corporations in their place. This kind of blatent abuse of the law is just another step towards neo-monarchism, and more loss of freedom for the common person. It's time we stop carring so much about 'Joe User' and bring back intellectualism and critical debate.

DMCA valid only in America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851474)

And this is high enough profile it might make some Americans rethink their next votes.

rethink? (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851588)

might make some Americans rethink their next votes

OK, it's almost too easy, but...
That would require that they think in the first place. A huge percentage of Americans go to the poll and just vote how their union/church/whatever told them to.

Netscape and legal precedent. (2, Interesting)

jamehec (703164) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851479)

I'm no expert, but IIRC, didn't MS nailed for doing pretty much the same thing to Netscape some years ago?

Correct me if I'm mistaken, but wouldn't that be some sort of precedent here?

not by default... (5, Informative)

ceswiedler (165311) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851480)

The article points out, and I agree, that it's unlikely DRM will be applied to documents by default, since implementing it requires configuring Windows Server 2003 and ensuring both the creator and reader of the document have access/accounts on the Rights server.

It's really targeted at businesses which make heavy use of Active Directory already (or would switch to doing so), so that Finance people can restrict access to sensitive salary documents and such. Most people, even if they can apply DRM to a document, won't choose to do so. How many people change the rights for their local drives to remove access for 'Everyone'?

But it's so much more fun to PANIC! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851519)

Nobody will use this feature. Everyone will turn it off after the people they send documents to complain that they can't read them.

Only when the document creator chooses to lock it. (5, Insightful)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851481)

My impression from this document is that it is an optional feature, only active when the creator of the document specifies who can read it.
When the creator thinks it should only be readable on Windows 2003, and not on other software, that is his responsibility. And it is the responsibility of the reader to reject such documents as unusable.

This is hardly new. We use StarOffice 5.2 at work, and it cannot open password-protected documents from Office 95 or 2000. This is amongst the least problems when using that package in a mixed Office-StarOffice environment.

PC Upgrade Woes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851485)

I have recently upgraded from a Cyrix M3/233 with 64 Megs of RAM to a new 3 GHz Intel Pentium IV with HyperThreading and Serial-ATA to help me at my freelance gig where I copy a 17 Meg file from one folder on the hard drive to another folder. On the P4 I spent about 20 minutes trying to install Adobe Arcobat 6. 20 minutes. At home, on my PowerMac 4400 with a 233 MHz G3 upgrade, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this PC, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, my Nomad Jukebox will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even IE is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on various PCs, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a PC that has run faster than its Mac counterpart, despite the x86's faster chip architecture. My PowerMac 4400 with MacOS 8.2, a three row extension startup and Kaliedoscope runs faster than this P4 3GHz machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the wintel is a superior machine.

Wintel addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a wintel over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.

In other news... (1)

mschoolbus (627182) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851486)

Microsoft is also releasing the "Clippy" worm, which is said to spread worse than MS Blaster and checks for un-authorized copies of M$ Office out there...

wait a minute... (4, Interesting)

prichardson (603676) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851492)

Does this not violate Microsoft's DoJ agreement? I mean, this is obviously anticompetitive behavior. I think that people will see this new "feature" and either not upgrade (unless it adds A LOT of worthwhile features) or save their files as RTFs or older doc formats. I think Microsoft is shooting themselves in the foot with this. People want compatibility, that's why they stick with Windows. People will reject this.

Why upgrade? (2)

gregmac (629064) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851495)

This is likely a very bad move on MS's behalf - most companies will probably not want to upgrade, knowing that it will break their compatibility with others. Unless it offers some real compelling reasons to upgrade, will people even bother?

Even the dumbest PHB's have a no-brainer here: spend lots of money upgrading, and lose the ability to exchange documents to/from many other companies, or save the money, continue being able to use whatever they currently have, and continue being able to communicate with other companies.

MS strategy (3, Insightful)

NetMagi (547135) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851496)

Another thing to think about is this: Notice MS hasn't been soo forthcoming lately about linux as a competitor. I think maybe their "near silence" means they are actually getting worried.

In adding this to office, they are really going to separate the market. I bet they figure, if they do this, whoever jumps on board will likely STAY on board due to the fact that switchig to open-source in the future after you've already got a bulk of documents done in this "new office" will be MUCH harder.

I think they just drew a line in the sand. . and they figure they are KEEPING whoever doesn't cross now

Another crazy thing into the Office Suite..... (1)

pkoduru (671692) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851497)

... well they say " when your bad time comes you do all wrong and make it worse"... it seems microsoft doesn't know its end is near and it making it lot more easier for others to shun away from it.. Good news for /.ers atleast..

RTFA (5, Informative)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851498)

From the first paragraph:

for the first time will include tools for restricting access to documents created with the software. Office workers can specify who can read or alter a spreadsheet, block it from copying or printing, and set an expiration date.

Users get to set it. It's not automatic.

This is news? (4, Insightful)

AnotherSteve (447030) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851501)

New version of [Software] has [feature1..featureN] that will make it incompatible with previous versions. Observers say that [Company] hopes this will drive sales of [Software].

Whatever.

"Problem?" (5, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851503)

coerce those running older versions of Office to upgrade, which has been a problem for MS in the last few years

Yeah, it's so damn irritating when your customers pay you for something, and then expect to continue using it.

It's Optional (2, Insightful)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851504)

The DRM features will be optional, if you don't want to use them then don't use them. Presumably, if you save a file without DRM it'll save it as a regular .DOC file.

Re:It's Optional (1)

wizardmax (555747) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851532)

The question is, is DRM going to be enabled by default on these documents? As you know, most people use defaults, so if 70% have it enabled, then its a standard.

How could it be on by default? (1)

AzrealAO (520019) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851577)

It requires a properly configured server to administer the rights management in order to function.

Before everyone gets totally bent... (3, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851509)

Where does it say *all* docs will be protected?

If its just docs you choose to use DRM with, then whats the problem? You choose to do that knowing the limitations because it makes sense for your use case. If thats a problem, you don't use it.

If I, as a company, choose to require all outgoing docs to have DRM, its my need to protect my information thats locking people in, not Microsoft.

And for what its worth, I don't use a speck of Microsoft software outside of work, and wouldn't. But lets get real here.

It's actually important to do this. (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851510)


Law firms, especially, need this feature.

Right now they have to assume that a word document is unaltered upon receipt from a client. Now, with DRM, they can guarantee it. They also need to control distribution of documents and readability.

Pretty much every major corporation will want this feature once they understand it.

So, instead of fighting DRM, jump on the bandwagon, and have --better-- rights management in Open Office.

I'm not actually convinced that you need to have compatability between Office suites. Really, most people can use their existing MS Office to edit their Office documents and their new Office to edit their new documents. That way, if the old Office license is expired by Microsoft, everyone can complain to MS about how they can no longer read their documents, whereas, Open Office would theoretically never have that problem.

So, I would educate customers that file compatibility is not particularly necessary.

I for one... (1)

Biff98 (633281) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851512)

WILL NOT USE MS OFFICE if that is the case. I will also mandate PDF as the standard for collaboration among finance and HR people. They won't like it, but tough times....

Re:I for one... (-1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851584)

What do you need office for? Your job as a male whore does not require it. Now get back to sucking cock.

Ken Lay and Anderson Consulting says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851517)


hahah catch me now !

we don't need to shred documents, we can just drm them and swallow/delete the key !

Microsoft - Partners in Crime since 1983

DCMA (1)

utlemming (654269) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851518)

We should rename the DCMA to the Digitial Copyright and Monopoly Act. It seems that all it is doing is helping monopolies get stronger. It seems that the DCMA in this case is strengthening monopolies. But wait a minute, if I produce a document, then that document is my copyrighted work. Since when does Microsoft get to claim DCMA protection on a work that is not THEIRS. IF the work was produced by M$ then I could see protection. If Microsoft was to chase down OpenOffice for DCMA issues, then I could see all sorts of court fun -- anti-competive practices, et al. Besides, who gives M$ the right to say what program can read my files.

DMCA Interoperability? (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851521)

Please someone confirm for me, IIRC doesn't the DMCA allow reverse engineering for the purpose of interoperability? If so, wouldn't OpenOffice et al be allowed to reverse engineer the DRM format and support it within OpenOffice without running afowl of the DMCA?

DMCA and OpenOffice (0)

Safrax (697056) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851524)

Whose to say that microsoft won't cough up a subpoena once OpenOffice can read these new files, temporarily shutting down OpenOffice development while the mess that will make goes through years of litigation?

Circumvention allowed for interoperability (5, Interesting)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851525)

IIRC, the DMCA specifically permits circumvention of copy protection/DRM/anything else if it is done specifically for purposes of interoperability (not just to allow unauthorized access to information). That means that OpenOffice or any other competitor would be allowed to crack their encryption in order to allow their users to read .doc files. Right?

Come on, people now... (1)

tbase (666607) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851526)

smile on your brother... everybody get together, try and use open standards based software right now. If enough businesses refuse to accept documents in the new format, they'll have a hard time selling it. I think they may have a hard time reaching critical-mass to make it work anyhow - not enough people have it to warrant upgrading, not enough people upgrading to warrant having it. At least we can hope?

OpenOffice is well developed already (2)

BillsPetMonkey (654200) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851527)

It's just that OpenOffice's marketing is rubbish - it has to rely on IT-savvy word-of-mouth because they don't have the advertising budget Microsoft has.

Gaaah! It shouldn't be difficult to sell a prduct that outputs not only to standards-compliant HTML as an inbuilt function, but also exports to PDF! It's an IT Directors wet dream! The only thing stopping it is that Microsoft tech-monkeys don't know and don't want it.

Calculated Risk (3, Insightful)

SteveX (5640) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851528)

Of course it's a calculated risk.. Some people will hate the DRM, but a lot of companies will really like it. Being able to say that a document can only be opened by managers in your company, for example, is worth lots of PHB points.

Very stupid (4, Insightful)

JediTrainer (314273) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851530)

The server software will record permission rules set by the document creator, such as other people authorized to view the document and expiration dates for any permissions. When another person receives that document, they briefly log in to the Windows Rights Management server--over the Internet or a corporate network--to validate the permissions.

I read this as follows:

You cannot read a document when not connected to the internet. If, by some chance, a DDOS attack is launched against a company's 'Rights Management Server' (which MUST be exposed to the 'net), or it is otherwise hacked into and shut down, then ALL of the documents with this 'feature' in them will cease to function.

Pardon me, but it is utterly stupid to rely on a single server/service to remain running just so I can read something. A DDOS attack can literally shut down a company at this point.

All you .doc are belong to us (1)

mudshark (19714) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851535)

The only surprise here is that it's been such a long time coming. An imperative now exists for *all* OSS officeware developers to get their data formats (e.g. XML) as transparent and portable as possible. Only a unified front of interoperable alternatives combined with sane evangelizing will give corporate IT departments a soft landing when they realize it's time to jump off this train.

Should be illegal for governments to use (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851539)

This makes the south american government (which country was that? I can't remember) opinion even more convincing. It's bad enough that the government is using tax dollars to create documents which are not in open format; if they generate documents which CAN NOT be read in any format except for a proprietary, non-free format, I'd think they could be taken to court on it.

They could be forced to provide the documents in an open format on demand. I'm sure some slashdotters could generate so much demand for government workers to provide the documents in alternate formats that they might eventually cave and make PDF or something be the default document format for electronically published documents.

This is great (1)

RumpRoast (635348) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851541)

To use IRM features, businesses will need a server running Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 operating system and Windows Rights Management Services software. The server software will record permission rules set by the document creator, such as other people authorized to view the document and expiration dates for any permissions. When another person receives that document, they briefly log in to the Windows Rights Management server--over the Internet or a corporate network--to validate the permissions.

So, if the server or network is down, I can't access my own documents. Seems a little risky to me... What if I just want to do a little work on the road with my laptop?

Exchanging Documents with Customers (1)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851543)

I have always wondered why one would want to exchange an Office document with a customer. Why would you send something to your customer that can be so easily changed by accident or on purpose? Most of the documents I see going to and from customers are contracts, quotes, invoices, or purchase orders. Why would those need to be anything other than read only?

Firebird/mozilla sucks! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851544)

Both Firebird and the Mozilla that ships with RH 9 crash when I try to view the linked article text. Errrrr... Could someone post the text?

backfire? (1)

CaptBubba (696284) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851546)

Isn't breaking encryption for compatibility reasons legal?

IRM? (1)

ill_conditioned (529750) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851548)

An open source project using the same acronym (IRM): http://sourceforge.net/projects/irm/

M$ actions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851549)

Isn't a lockdown of files to prohibit competition a violation of the DOJ settlement?

Think about it...

Somebody email the DOJ and let them know that M$ is at it again by shutting out all competition!

Response (1)

wafflemonger (515122) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851551)

If someone sends you a locked document you should reply, "There seems to be an error in your document, and it will not open. Ask your IT guy to fix this." If they don't, don't do business with them. I think that will get the message across that this is not acceptable.

Simple solution (1)

dbc001 (541033) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851552)

go around to everyone you know, and install alternative software such as OpenOffice on their machines. do this at work if possible. I'm working on a suite of software that I will be installing on all my family's machines: OpenOffice, Mozilla, Winamp 2.x, Trillian. If everybody does this for their friends, it will really soften the effects that all this shite commercial software has been having...

Depends, I guess (2, Interesting)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851555)

Open Office can't clone this format, because the weak "interoperability" clause of the DMCA has basically been stricken from the law by former Time-Warner lawyer Judge Kaplan (of deCSS fame).

But then, WHY would they want to?

Why would I want to send .docs to people who can't read them? Why would I want to rely on MS's legendary security (think ass rape) when it'd be far better to encrypt the disk I store sensitive files on?

I see MS's new office as a boon to government and corporate types who break the law. Now, whistleblowers will have a hard time getting out information about wrongdoing. If they do, they can be tracked, and sued for violating the DMCA!

I'm preparing for Office lock-in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851556)

...by unchecking the box that says save in restricted format. Since the restrictions depend on 2003 server, these restrictions will be an option that can be turned off.

Anti-trust case (1)

dafoomie (521507) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851560)

Now that they've settled the charges, they're going into full anti-competitive mode. I'm glad my state (Massachusetts) didn't accept the settlement and is still pursuing charges.

This could backfire for Microsoft if more companies switch over to OpenOffice. China looks really smart now for dumping them earlier.

In other news... (1)

tambo (310170) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851561)

In other news... demand on eBay for installation discs for Office 2000 skyrocketed...

You know, I find it stunning that anyone upgraded at all to Office XP. It's understandable for those who bought (read: were coerced into buying) it with a new desktop system, but upgrading? Why bother? Office 2000 was fairly stable (as stable as MS products get, anyway) and offered basically the same functionality. Anything beyond that is just bloatware.

- David Stein

Well, well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851562)

...I wonder how they'll get 1.000.000.000+ chinese ex-windows users back with this feature..

Great! More tech support problems. (1)

Population (687281) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851563)

If there isn't an override on that, there's going to be problems with idiot users who can't figure out why they can't open something or someone else can't open something they sent them.

I've had enough problems with teaching people how to send email to more than one person.

Now they'll be able to block copying and printing, too? How many "my printer is broken" calls are we going to see that turn out to be "document is locked for printing"?

Not to mention "Can you get my document off of the backup? I set it to delete after 1 week by mistake and I really need it right now because the CEO is having a meeting in 5 minutes and he wants to present it to the BOD".

interesting - it is server-based (1)

BigGerman (541312) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851565)

As article indicates, you will need to login to the remote Windows 2003 server to get access to a document.
What if the server is not available?
And the information about which server to contact is stored where - in the document itself? If this part of the doc is protected, then you will need yet another server to grant you the right to read the location of the first server. If it is not protected, you will be able to point your doc to a fake server that will grant you access anyway.
Does not sound like description of reliable well-thought-of system.

RTF Manual (1)

mrmcwn (566272) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851572)

Maybe I missed the fine points in the article, but doesn't Office do half of this stuff already?

Admittedly some of it is tricky for people used to typewriters, but MSFT is just changing how their protection systems in Office work and linking them to their server software to encourage a switch. Oh, and adding a funky acronym that allows them to invoke the DCMA.

DMCA Violation - Not in my NSHO. (2, Insightful)

the-banker (169258) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851575)

Basically, the copyright holder of the document that is digitally encrypted is the person and/or company that is responsible for it being authored.

Since the DMCA forbids circumventing a device to protect copyright, it is irrelevant since the person doing the circumventing is:

1. Opening their own document, and as the copyright holder they can't very well be infringing upon themselves (though if this were possible no doubt the RIAA would find a way, but that is another topic).

2. Opening a document gievn to them by the copyright holder, in which they have been granted express use of the document.

Even larger than this, however, is the fact that the copyright holder DID NOT implement the DRM technology. A third party cannot unilaterally implement DRM technology on behalf of copyright holders to protected works that do not even exist yet.

I guess what I am saying is that MS (holder of the DRM device) cannot sue PersonX because they do not own the copyright to the protected work.

All this being said - did Judge Jackson have incredible foresight into the possible transgressions of a Microsoft monopoly, or are we really dealing with yet another Bush Administration pandering to large corporations? Each time I read something like this I wonder how our political representatives can be so blind to the societal harm of a software monopoly.

Make them save os MS Word XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6851578)

Just do what I do whenever someone sends you a document that can't be opened with the software that you use, send it back and ask them to save it in a different format.

Another MS Visual Worm++ product (1)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851579)

To use IRM features, businesses will need a server running Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 operating system and Windows Rights Management Services software. The server software will record permission rules set by the document creator, such as other people authorized to view the document and expiration dates for any permissions. When another person receives that document, they briefly log in to the Windows Rights Management server--over the Internet or a corporate network--to validate the permissions.

So now you will have to open a port on the firewall and let outsiders into your network so they can authenticate against the Rights Managment Service? I can just visualize the worms now... they invade through this "service" port, crash the server, lock up all the documents, and you loose all your "protected" data. ROTFLMAO.

Chill Out (1)

justin_saunders (99661) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851580)

For f***'s sake people, cool down.

No where does it say "Every single document created by 2003 will be incompatible with OpenOffice.". Its just a feature. It will probably be off by default.

And if you're trying to read docs that have DRM on OpenOffice, you probably aren't supposed to be reading them anyhow.

Either way, if you don't like it, take a positive attitude and help improve OpenOffice or just put up the cash and shut up.

How is this different then any other read only doc (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851581)

Please explain how the DRM features in say, Adobe Acrobat are OK while DRM in Word documents are bad. This will not stop a third party from figuring out the format and allowing users to read DRM docs and edit non DRM docs. That is unless you are really paranoid and feel that Bill Gates is out to steel your brain because you have all the episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer memorized.

Won't work. (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851583)

Businesses will not bite when they realize that they are painting themselves into an incompatibility corner when they use Microsoft.

Chill (1)

thebatlab (468898) | more than 10 years ago | (#6851587)

"Office 2003, the upcoming update of the company's market-dominating productivity package, for the first time will include tools for restricting access to documents created with the software. Office workers can specify who can read or alter a spreadsheet, block it from copying or printing, and set an expiration date."

Note the keyword *can* there. If you want to use it, use it. If you don't, don't. I thought we liked choice.... ;)
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