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Microsoft Word Document ML Schemas Published

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the danish-means-more-than-a-snack dept.

Microsoft 439

Lars Munch writes "On Monday the 17th November the xml schemas for the Word Document ML along with documentation, was uploaded to the Infostructurebase (ISB). With the Word Document ML specification anybody can generate, view and process Microsoft word documents on any format." (Here are the legal terms under which the schemas can be used.) "The Word Document ML is based on the W3C specification eXtensible Markup Language (XML), there by providing documents that are easy to integrate into a large variety of systems. The Danish Government Infostructurebase is the first schema repository to make the schemas accessible to the public. The Microsoft Office Document ML schemas and documentation can now be downloaded from the ISB Repository." There are more links on this page.

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439 comments

Out-Open-Sourcing Open Source (4, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493323)

I was struck by Microsoft's about-face on proprietary data formats when I attended their "Microsoft Office System Launch" (details here [officesystemlaunch.com] ) earlier this month.

On the "Development" track, I was hoping to get some information on interfacing Office tools as objects in an existing (very large) VB application. Well, I didn't get that, but I did get to see how Microsoft is using XML to cut off one of Open Source software's big draws: open file formats. As mentioned, one of the big selling points was that you no longer have to install an app like Word on your server. You can instead use any XML-generating program to create fully compliant Word/Excel/Whatever files.

So if the PHB [dilbert.com] was almost talked into Open Source by the security issues of installing a virus portal like Word on a trusted system behind the firewall, Microsoft just cut your legs off.

An interesting case of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, *then* beat 'em."

By the way, I bailed out of the "Development" track at lunch. The presentation didn't get into code at all... it was just a demo of how new features in Word will now allow anyone to create XML Schemas and "Solutions" (groups of schemae), and thereby call themselves a "programmer". Just what we need, another way to quickly generate bloated, write-only code.

Re:Out-Open-Sourcing Open Source (2, Insightful)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493430)

There is no 'about-face' but it seems clever.

Put XML support on the pro version of the software, so it looks open, but because it's not on all versions, people will have to use the non-open for sending to people in case they don't have Pro.

I can't see any other reason for not including it in Pro.

You still won't be able to run Word as a server app either.

Re:Out-Open-Sourcing Open Source (5, Interesting)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493478)

An interesting case of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, *then* beat 'em."

I think the issue here is that they have already won [essential.org] .

Since their Office suite has %95+ of the Windows and Macintosh market share, why not open the specs up?

This leads to other apps copying the MS specs and PHB's to conclude that since all documents are now MS Office documents, why not buy the brand most compatible with the format? I.E. Microsoft.

--
Tired of spammers? Kill them all [si20.com] ! Let the irony of this sig sort 'em out.

Re:Out-Open-Sourcing Open Source (1)

drakaan (688386) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493566)

Actually, if they are really, honestly publishing the xml schemas for said documents, "most compatible" would only be a sustainable position if they keep changing said schema. Not that they're above doing that, but I imagine that would draw a fairly substantial amount of fire and cast a lot of suspicion on their "opening-up" of the underlying schemas for office docs.

Re:Out-Open-Sourcing Open Source (1)

aardwolf204 (630780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493512)

I went to the same launch event and it was nothing more than an 8 hour marketing presentation. I took the IT track and stuck with it until the end because at the end we all got retail copies of Office 2003 pro. Of course it was just a voucher and it doesnt seem like MS will be shipping it to us until late next month while the torrents are everywhere.

Aside from that I cant complain, free software, free food, met some cool people. Felt like a corporate lan party in some weird way.

I think the most interesting product I saw at the event was MS Virtual PC in action so I'm on my way to get VMware :).

This post had no point but to say "me too!" and "yeah M$ sucks" and if you've even read this far I apologize for wasting your time, get back to work, slacker.

Re:Out-Open-Sourcing Open Source (2, Offtopic)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493588)

Virtual PC kicks the shit out of VMWare. VMWare is a huge resource hog, where Virtual PC runs significantly faster on less resources. I have both, VPC on windows/mac and vmware on linux/windows. Virtual PC wins hands down.

Re:Out-Open-Sourcing Open Source (5, Informative)

KagakuNinja (236659) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493542)

Word will now allow anyone to create XML Schemas and "Solutions" (groups of schemae)...

Just thought you would like to know, the plural of schema is schemata.

Mr. Language Person

Re:Out-Open-Sourcing Open Source (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493590)

So if the PHB was almost talked into Open Source by the security issues of installing a virus portal like Word on a trusted system behind the firewall, Microsoft just cut your legs off.

Surely that would actually be a strike against M$. The last remaining obstacle to chucking out the virus portal (nice image :) - i.e. compatability -would be gone.

But then from looking at some of the other posts popping up here, it isn't going to be that simple.

These Patent Wars(tm) are turning into a big chess game. "They've sacrificed an XML schema - what's their plan?"

The patent license terms seem reasonable... (3, Informative)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493324)

....seems like all you have to do is put a notice in the code [microsoft.com] about using the spec. Sounds kind of like the original BSD license - i.e., with the advertising clause.

Re:The patent license terms seem reasonable... (4, Insightful)

Uma Thurman (623807) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493405)

It's NOT reasonable. They don't allow any modifications or derivatives of the schema without permission.

So, Microsoft will be free to continue changing their format with each new release, breaking all the open source programs for a time, causing time and trouble for users to upgrade.

We don't like Word formats because they change frequently, and they are developed in a direction that suits Microsoft. How does this change anything?

Re:The patent license terms seem reasonable... (4, Insightful)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493490)

I'll take this over having to reverse-engineer the specs and deal with potential IP issues. For once, Microsoft did us a favor, even if it does come with strings attatched.

No. This is worse than before (5, Insightful)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493607)

Previously we could reverse engineer their format and use it. Their work was covered by copyright, no problem once we create our own implementation.

This schema is patented. Patents are an exclusive right to use an idea. Now if you use their format without upholding their conditions, you're a criminal, even if you figured out the format yourself.

By publishing the format, they can cast doubt on anyone that does reverse engineer it. "I bet you read the spec on line".

Also, being able to view the format isn't much use. It's XML, but that doesn't mean it will be meaningful cleartext. They can simply uuencode a big block of binary data, stick it between two tags, and it's valid XML.

Learn from the past. Microsoft are not here to do us favours.

Re:The patent license terms seem reasonable... (4, Insightful)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493502)

> They don't allow any modifications or
> derivatives of the schema without permission

Hm. I guess I'm not sure what would be gained by doing that - i.e., changing the spec and republishing it. Why would that be a good thing to do, even if you could?

> Microsoft will be free to continue
> changing their format with each new
> release, breaking all the open source
> programs for a time

Right... but couldn't the same be said of any API? I mean, if the Apache plugin API [apache.org] changes, I'll need to rewrite my mod_foo module to use the new API.

The patent license terms are "404 not found" (4, Interesting)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493415)

You have to display the following text in any derived work:

"This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. The terms and conditions upon which Microsoft is licensing such intellectual property may be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/ html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp?frame=true [microsoft.com] ."

Now try the link ...

Re:The patent license terms are "404 not found" (2, Funny)

bobthemuse (574400) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493604)

Well then, it should be awfully easy to follow the T&Cs!

But can the code be GPL'd? (3, Interesting)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493455)

Here's the part of the patent license I don't think I understand completely:

By including the above notice in a Licensed Implementation, you will be deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions of this license. You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license.


You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights.


IANAL, but I think this says no open source implementation is possible, doesn't it?

Re:But can the code be GPL'd? (1)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493527)

No open sourced "Licensed Implementation" seems possible. I don't see any reason why you can't write a system that conforms to the published specifications without including the notice or becoming a "licensed implementation", since that would involve no reproduction of any Microsoft IP.

Re:But can the code be GPL'd? (1)

Ewan (5533) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493615)

Well would you not fall under:

There is a separate patent license available to parties interested in implementing software programs that can read and write files that conform to the Specification. This patent license is available at this location: http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/format/xmlpaten tlicense.asp.

Unless you were doing a complete clean room reverse implememtation, you'd definitely be caught by this, and even then you could have issues, after all patents can apply to completely seperate implementations if they use the same methods.

Ewan

Re:But can the code be GPL'd? (2, Insightful)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493560)

I think this says no open source implementation is possible, doesn't it?

Open Source != GNU Public License.

Microsoft's licensing terms here seem to be closest to the BSD License out of the major open source models. A good decision if they're looking for rapid and widespread adoption of their design -- how many TCP/IP stacks do you know of that AREN'T derived from BSD?

Re:But can the code be GPL'd? (1)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493599)

But open source generally involves your granting certain rights to the code to others, and this license appears to prohibit that. If you can't transfer your rights to the code, how can you open source it in any meaningful way?

Re:But can the code be GPL'd? (3, Insightful)

Christian Engstrom (633834) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493610)

I think the key phrase is
You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license.
Which just accidentally happens to exclude any software that is licensed under GPL, since the GPL is not compatible with any licence that has a mandatory advertising clause.

We are clever, aren't we!

Re:The patent license terms seem reasonable... (1)

rzbx (236929) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493555)

This is what I found unreasonable as well as that you can't modify it like you can all other products out there in this world and sell them.

"The name and trademarks of Microsoft may NOT be used in any manner, including advertising or publicity pertaining to the Specification or its contents without specific, written prior permission."

In other words, you can not state in your specifications that your software can open and save in that particular format. So how are people going to know that the software can, besides word-of-mouth?

Microsoft is still being unreasonable. There is way too much playing around with the law these days and restricting the rights of others to stifle competition.

Free as in... BOW BEFORE YOUR MASTER (3, Insightful)

warmcat (3545) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493326)

With thanks to Seth Johnson on the DMCA Discuss list for forwarding this earlier today:

Subject: [Patents] MS Office 2003 XML patented
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 13:48:11 +0100
From: Carsten Svaneborg
Organization: www.mpipks-dresden.mpg.de
To: patents@aful.org

Hi! Just came across the following:

http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/format/xmlpat en tlicense.asp
Office 2003 XML Reference Schema Patent License

Microsoft may have patents and/or patent applications that are necessary for
you to license in order to make, sell, or distribute software programs that
read or write files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the
Office Schemas.


So usage of MS Word XML files requires a patentlicense:

You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license
terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this
license. You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights.


The licence is royalty free, but GPL 7 requires the right to sublicence
patent rights to the people who obtain a GPL program from you.

so in other words Microsoft is using patents to prevent GPLed programs from
accessing the XML format that MS Word will be using.


This is very good timing, and goes to show how important it is to ensure
that the software patent directive has articles that protects
interoperativity from consituting patentinfringemet.

Re:Free as in... BOW BEFORE YOUR MASTER (1)

beady (710116) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493361)

Thats exactly what I expected to see when I saw this announcment, found it, and was just making sure no-one else has pointed it out before I posted it... Ah well! I suppose that means that maybe StarOffice can get it perfect...

Possible solution (4, Interesting)

infolib (618234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493382)

This is a real problem. However I think it may perhaps be circumvented by having a MSOfficeOpenOffice converter under a BSD-like license. The combination of the BSD'd plugin and eg. OpenOffice might however infringe patents if they were too closely integrated. Murky legal waters. Ugh :-(

Re:Free as in... BOW BEFORE YOUR MASTER (3, Informative)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493398)

I think you may be incorrect...

Anything uploaded as specs to "Infostructurebase" can not be, by their own mission statement, lock-in proprietary technology.

Check out their overview [isb.oio.dk] .

--
Tired of spammers? Kill them all [si20.com] ! Let the irony of this sig sort 'em out.

Could the problem possibly be in the GPL?! (5, Insightful)

rruvin (583160) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493424)

So, let me get this straight:

Microsoft is allowing you to license the patent free of charge but not to sublicense it. The GPL requires that you be allowed to sublicense patents applicable to GPLed software. And that's somehow Microsoft's fault?

Re:Could the problem possibly be in the GPL?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493496)

Not their fault, just their intention. There's no other reason I can see that they would have this requirement except to lock out GPL apps.

Re:Could the problem possibly be in the GPL?! (1)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493535)

There's no other reason I can see that they would have this requirement except to lock out GPL apps.

Maybe they don't like to give away complete control over their patent licenses? Sounds like it makes perfect (business) sense to me.

Re:Could the problem possibly be in the GPL?! (0, Troll)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493505)

It is if you're a GPL zealot. Everything is Microsoft's fault then, even the sunspot/flare activity we've been getting recently.

Re:Could the problem possibly be in the GPL?! (2, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493574)

The intent of the GPL is to guarantee that if I give you a program under a GPL license, then no one can take away your freedoms as regards that program. Microsoft's intent here is to license the patents in such a way that they can revoke the license if desired. These goals are rather incompatible. Whether that makes it MS's fault... that's up to you. Personally, it doesn't surprise me; I think it's bad, I think it's an abuse of the patent system, and I think it is exactly in keeping with the habits of MS and much of other big business of late.

GPL does not require sublicensing (5, Informative)

David Jao (2759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493442)

GPL 7 requires the right to sublicence patent rights to the people who obtain a GPL program from you.

Not true. Section 7 of the GPL requires that patent rights be publicly available, but it does not require that you personally sublicense those patent rights.

Specifically, GPL section 7 says:

... if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.
Since the Microsoft patent license does permit royalty-free redistribution, it does not contradict the GPL in this regard (although it may have other incompatibilities; I have not looked at the whole thing thoroughly yet).

Re:Free as in... BOW BEFORE YOUR MASTER (1)

worm eater (697149) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493446)

so in other words Microsoft is using patents to prevent GPLed programs from accessing the XML format that MS Word will be using.

Interesting. But wouldn't it be possible for programs such as OpenOffice to incorporate separate files which are distributed under a modified GPL which would contain the description of the format? Something like a plugin, which could be distributed separately but still allow full MS Office compatibility?

Re:Free as in... BOW BEFORE YOUR MASTER (1, Interesting)

mAIsE (548) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493486)

I will byte....

If person A understands the spec and XML well, writes a spec for person B, C and D to implement.

Person B, C and D go off and write filters without direct knowledge of micro$oft XML.

Person A judges the results without touching any code and picks a winner.

I believe this is fully legal and there is nothing MickeySoft can do to stop it.

Not true (5, Interesting)

nodwick (716348) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493510)

You omit the relevant parts of the patent license [microsoft.com] :
Except as provided below, Microsoft hereby grants you a royalty-free license under Microsoft's Necessary Claims to make, use, sell, offer to sell, import, and otherwise distribute Licensed Implementations solely for the purpose of reading and writing files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas. [...] If you distribute, license or sell a Licensed Implementation, this license is conditioned upon you requiring that the following notice be prominently displayed in all copies and derivative works of your source code and in copies of the documentation and licenses associated with your Licensed Implementation:

"This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. The terms and conditions upon which Microsoft is licensing such intellectual property may be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/ html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp?frame=true."

You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license.

The license explicitly allows you to sell/offer/distribute an implementation of their standard. The rest appears to be a bunch of legalese saying that you can't transfer your distribution rights to other people; it's not saying that you can't transfer your distribution. Since anyone else who feels like modifying your GPL'd code is allowed to sell/offer/distribute Microsoft's XML standard too under their license, I fail to see why this is hostile to the GPL license. The GPL itself only requires that a patent license be publicly available, not that the rights themselves have to be transfered to the users. Since the Microsoft license lets anyone use implementations royalty-free, it shouldn't be a problem.

GPL 7 doesn't quite apply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493519)

GPL 7 says that if your program is suddenly found to be encumbered by some legal matter involving patents, for instance, but not limited to patents, and that this encumbrance would make subsequent copiers of the program also liable, then the program cannot be GPL'd. It looks more like Microsoft is trying to control the issuance of a "licensed" designation; i.e., you have an implementation which is stamped "licensed" by Microsoft, but this does not make a derivative work also "licensed".

Solution: (2, Insightful)

Alethes (533985) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493525)

Create a BSD licensed application that accesses the XML format, so that users will have a choice other than MS Word.

It seems that Microsoft has inadvertently demonstated that the GPL does not always protect the users' freedom, as is its intent. If the user can only use MS Word or some other highly restrictive software to access these file formats, because somebody has decided to be a GPL zealot, then the GPL has become a hindrance to the users' freedom.

At long last (1, Interesting)

Xarius (691264) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493328)

Finally. As a 100% Linux user, who has to use Microsoft products at university it has been a pain doing my work at home and transferring it over (without losing any details at all)...

*smiles*

Is this really microsoft (-1, Troll)

iaredam (719465) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493329)

Microsoft allowing anyone to access their document formatting? is bill turning soft?

Re:Is this really microsoft (-1, Funny)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493384)

Oh golly

mod parent up

Is Bill turning soft? Yes, microsoft!

Which, from what I have heard, is like turning gay. But without the benefits.

Re:Is this really microsoft (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493473)

>> Microsoft allowing anyone to access their document formatting?

Yes, it's true. And the format is surprisingly easy to understand. Here it is:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<MicrosoftWordXMLDocument version="1.0">
<DocumentBody>
<![CDATA[3kd8dkfjd kxodkrjeis kfjdiwlekrj
df38d8f cj384k3j*#&@)x3 kj454t7u
dfj3kj43 83k*#45j3k 2ldkfjfkf*3&
...
dkj38d9feod8 sjvkcjf0d]]>
</DocumentBody>
</MicrosoftWordXMLDocument>

What does this mean ... (1)

trevorrowe (689310) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493336)

Am I going to still be able to edit [friend's] microsoft word docs in openoffice (my understanding was I wasn't going to be able to in the next microsoft release)?

Re:What does this mean ... (2, Informative)

terraformer (617565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493399)

I believe you are refering to the security DRM that they were placing on documents. AFAIK that is an optional feature that your friends would have to enable. The likelihood of your friends using that feature is small. It is more for big co's and other folk wanting to limit leaks of documents. ie; those with something to hide...

Now do you or your friends have anything to hide...
;-)

Re:What does this mean ... (2, Interesting)

Anml4ixoye (264762) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493583)

Now do you or your friends have anything to hide...

And if you do, do you really trust Microsoft to keep it secret?

Open Source Implications? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493340)

From http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/format/xmlpaten tlicense.asp [microsoft.com] :

"...You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights..."

That whole page is worth reading, but doesn't this phrase in particular damage the ability to make use of the information in open source code, whether GPL or BSD?

The page also says:

"...If you distribute, license or sell a Licensed Implementation, this license is conditioned upon you requiring that the following notice be prominently displayed in all copies and derivative works of your source code and in copies of the documentation and licenses associated with your Licensed Implementation:
'This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. The terms and conditions upon which Microsoft is licensing such intellectual property may be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/ html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp?frame=true [microsoft.com] .'...

Unfortunately, the page they ask you to link to doesn't actually exist...

Re:Open Source Implications? (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493413)

In the US it does. But these software/method-patents wont work with the new european rules on software patents.

Re:Open Source Implications? (3, Insightful)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493460)

Most probably the intention is to make the XML formats 'incompatible' with the GPL. However if this is the case, there is at least one easy work around, namely to define a neutral XML format (say the OOo XML format) and use a non-GPL 'connector' (which carefully observes the Microsoft patent license conditions) to do the dirty work.

Any 'open' standard that imposes conditions on its use is not actually open at all. The owner can decide at any time to change the license, and this in itself should be enough reason to avoid this XML interface.

I believe these XML standards are what is technically called a "honeypot".

Of course, I may be paranoid, this may indeed be a munificent gesture by Microsoft who have realized that their XML schemas will serve the global community, add value to their products, and encourage a new generation of Office extension applications that will halt the trickle/rush/avalanche of Linux conversions.

Indeed.

Re:Open Source Implications? (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493463)

I see what the implication is. But its still rather a grey area. Let see Redmond try and enforce it, You are either being open or not, somehow I dont think it would stand up in court!

Gates: Yes your honour, everyone can use it except our main competitors ... doh !

Re:Open Source Implications? (1)

OMG (669971) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493472)

"http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef / html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp?frame=true"

Hey, they can't be serious with THAT URL anyway.

Perhaps we should point them to http://tinyurl.com/ ;-)

Where have I seen this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493343)

"Here's a quarter, now it's gone. You're a jerk. Now it's back. You're an asshole. Show's over."

Everybody who believes M$ is doing this or any other thing because they just want to play nice raise your flipper.

Re:Where have I seen this before? (-1, Flamebait)

gazbo (517111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493524)

Yes. How disingenuous of a company to be thinking about their bottom line when they form a strategy. In fact, I think that nobody should incorporate the use of these schemata in protest at the fact that Miocrosoft weren't doing this for purely altruistic reasons.

You retarded fuck.

Re:Where have I seen this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493552)

fuck off please.

Oh yeah? (0, Insightful)

iantri (687643) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493346)

How much do you want to bet it will be with extremely restrictive licensing, will be incomplete, or both?

Does this mean anything in the long-term? (2, Insightful)

k98sven (324383) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493350)

Given Microsofts history of skirting around verdicts and legal agreements, how long will this format be valid?

How long before MS switches to either a new markup scheme, or introduces undocumented 'features'?

Mmm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493353)

Cautious welcome. But it doesn't take into account all the Microsoft binary crap does it? Microsoft can still keep on moving the goalposts as usual, and XML schemas or no schemas it makes no difference. We need a fully open format.

"Hey! We're open" says Microsoft. "We use XML." Er. No.

Hmph (5, Funny)

WTFmonkey (652603) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493372)

THE SPECIFICATION IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND MICROSOFT MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, OR TITLE; THAT THE CONTENTS OF THE SPECIFICATION ARE SUITABLE FOR ANY PURPOSE; NOR THAT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SUCH CONTENTS WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY THIRD PARTY PATENTS, COPYRIGHTS, TRADEMARKS OR OTHER RIGHTS. MICROSOFT WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING TO ANY USE OR DISTRIBUTION OF THE SPECIFICATION.
vs.
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.
Someone needs to tell Microsoft not to use so many caps, it's like YELLING.

Defeated by my own cleverness and the lameness filter. Now I need to type at random in order to dodge the bullet. Neat-o. Nope, not enough yet. This is better than resorting to cut and pasting of the usual "Important stuff" list, don't you. Although it is rather early for this. DAMN IT still too many caps, although I guess that didn't help, now did it. I guess I could look at the code and see what the percentage is before it dies, but that's way harder than just typing until my fingers bleed.

Re:Hmph (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493423)

The reason it's in all caps is because in a lot of states in the US, warranty disclaimers by law need to be emphasized in contrast to the rest of the text in a license or contract or whatever. Their lawyers are just doing their job. Leaving aside what you may think of Microsoft's lawyers and the use of lawyers generally, they are pretty thorough -- I've dealt with them a couple times now.

And yes, IAL.

Re:Hmph (0)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493521)

IAL? I Am Lawyer? How 'bout IAAL?

Re:Hmph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493540)

unfrozen caveman lawyer with allergy to articles?

"i am lawyer. i confused by modern grammar."

and so forth.

Re:Hmph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493545)

And yes, IAL.

I A Lawyer?

Re:Hmph (5, Funny)

zephc (225327) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493579)

In legal terms, the CAPS is meant as a vocalization and pronunciation guide. In this case, you should shriek in an almost uncontrolled manner with a thick German accent. It also helps if you stand on a podium.

Not so fast (2, Interesting)

OMG (669971) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493379)

Wait a second ... I think the XML-format document types are only available for corporate versions of MS office. If that is true there still will be a lot of propiertary binary-only .DOCuments around in the future.

Nice tactics: MS now tells everybody "we use open standards" (as they already do) but the users keep saving files in closed formats.

Re:Not so fast (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493432)

whenever someone begins with "I think" I ask do you think or do you just don't know or are you spreading fud?

Re:Not so fast (1)

OMG (669971) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493500)

I wrote "I think" to indicate that I am not 100% sure. Still I do share my knowledge. I may be false but it was never intended to be FUD. Thanks for asking.

Re:Not so fast (5, Informative)

Chokolad (35911) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493434)

> Wait a second ... I think the XML-format document types are only available for corporate versions of MS office. If that is true there still will be a lot of propiertary binary-only .DOCuments around in the future.

You are wrong. Word Standard Edition can save into WordML (which schema has been published). Enterprise version allows you to map certain parts of documents into Xml with customer specified schema.

Re:Not so fast (1)

OMG (669971) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493518)

>You are wrong.
Ouch!

>Word Standard Edition can save into WordML (which schema has been published). Enterprise version allows you to map certain parts of documents into Xml with customer specified schema.

Does "...can save..." mean WordML will be the default file format in those Office versions?

Uh oh (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493386)

Quick! Find something bad to say about Microsoft!

Re:Uh oh (3, Funny)

Dasaan (644170) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493543)

Quick! Find something bad to say about Microsoft!
OK, they are a bunch of arseclowns.

legal terms (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493388)

Legal Notice

Permission to copy, display and distribute the contents of this document (the "Specification"), in any medium for any purpose without fee or royalty is hereby granted, provided that you include the following notice on ALL copies of the Specification, or portions thereof, that you make:

Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Permission to copy, display and distribute this document is available at: [here] [microsoft.com] .

No right to create modifications or derivatives of this Specification is granted herein.

There is a separate patent license available to parties interested in implementing software programs that can read and write files that conform to the Specification. This patent license is available at this location: [here] [microsoft.com] .

THE SPECIFICATION IS PROVIDED "AS IS" [blah blah blah]

The name and trademarks of Microsoft may NOT be used in any manner, including advertising or publicity pertaining to the Specification or its contents without specific, written prior permission. Title to copyright in the Specification will at all times remain with Microsoft.

No other rights are granted by implication, estoppel or otherwise.

following that second link...

Patent License

Microsoft may have patents and/or patent applications that are necessary for you to license in order to make, sell, or distribute software programs that read or write files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas.

Except as provided below, Microsoft hereby grants you a royalty-free license under Microsoft's Necessary Claims to make, use, sell, offer to sell, import, and otherwise distribute Licensed Implementations solely for the purpose of reading and writing files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas. A "Licensed Implementation" means only those specific portions of a software product that read and writes files that are fully compliant with the specifications for the Office Schemas. The term "Necessary Claims" means claims of a patent or patent application that are owned or controlled by Microsoft and that are necessarily infringed by reading or writing files pursuant to the requirements of the Office Schemas. A claim is necessarily infringed only when it is not possible to avoid infringing when conforming to the specification because there is no technically reasonable non-infringing alternative for reading or writing such files. Notwithstanding the foregoing, "Necessary Claims" do not include any claims: (i) that would require a payment of royalties by Microsoft to unaffiliated third parties; (ii) covering any enabling technologies that may be necessary to make or use any product incorporating a Licensed Implementation (e.g., word processing, spreadsheet or presentation features or functionality, programming interfaces, protocols), or (iii) covering the reading or writing of files generally or covering the reading or writing of files other than those complying with the requirements of the specifications for the Office Schemas.

If you distribute, license or sell a Licensed Implementation, this license is conditioned upon you requiring that the following notice be prominently displayed in all copies and derivative works of your source code and in copies of the documentation and licenses associated with your Licensed Implementation:

"This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. The terms and conditions upon which Microsoft is licensing such intellectual property may be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/ html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp?frame=true."

By including the above notice in a Licensed Implementation, you will be deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions of this license. You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license.

You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights.

Microsoft reserves the right to terminate this license grant if you sue Microsoft or any of Microsoft's affiliates for patent infringement over claims relating to reading or writing of files that comply with the Office Schemas.

You should consult applicable export control laws and regulations to determine whether they apply to your Licensed Implementation.

This should shut everyone up (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493402)

Maybe now we will stop hearing all the bitching about how MS is evil.

Re:This should shut everyone up (1)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493447)

And if not , then this [reuters.co.uk] will definitely shut them up.

I took the Big Blue Pill... (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493613)

Notice the reference to Big Blue as the enemy?

OK, you have your evidence...it really *is* Microsoft with its hand up Darl McBride's...um...sock.

Unless this is some sort of elaborate reference to Steve Jobs' demonization of IBM in the famous Mac "1984" commercial...

In any event, I'm _damn_ proud that I'm the owner of a ThinkPad now.

MS Link is 404'ed (2, Funny)

agentZ (210674) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493408)

The patent license requires everybody to prominently display this text on any product that can read/write Microsoft XML documents:
"This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. The terms and conditions upon which Microsoft is licensing such intellectual property may be found at


Too bad the link leads to a 404!

hell has frozen over (2, Interesting)

bug (8519) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493416)

Here's a blurb from the sister license granting use of their software patents related to the XML formats:

By including the above notice in a Licensed Implementation, you will be deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions of this license. You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license.

A bit close to the GPL in some respects, hmm?

I wonder, could these licenses get the OSI good housekeeping seal of approval?

But you can't CALL it MS-Word (4, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493421)

The name and trademarks of Microsoft may NOT be used in any manner, including advertising or publicity pertaining to the Specification or its contents without specific, written prior permission. Title to copyright in the Specification will at all times remain with Microsoft.

So you can write an app which transforms a Word doc to something else, but you can't refer to your app as a Microsoft Word file converter. So how long until we'll have a "Converter for the Evil Empire's word processor document type" project on Sourceforge?

Intelligent Questions? (4, Interesting)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493426)

Can someone clarify for me what this part means...

Microsoft reserves the right to terminate this license grant if you sue Microsoft or any of Microsoft's affiliates for patent infringement over claims relating to reading or writing of files that comply with the Office Schemas


I'm assuming it's actually fairly innocent but just how wide a scope does it have under the word 'relating' ?

Finally, what are the legal constraints on M$ changing or withdrawing this licence at a later date? Presumably they are no more limiting than those on the GPL, but then I've never worried about Linus or RMS withdrawing rights from Linux, wheras with M$...

ITIAL's (I Think I'm A Lawyer) out there who can explain?

Re:Intelligent Questions? (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493471)

nothing. licenses are just that. many isps or webhosts reserve the right in the license to change the license anytime to anything they please.

In other news... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493428)

Hell has reached record low temperatures today, and is believed to be well below freezing.

A step in the right direction (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493457)

Despite the posts above about the requirement for patent licences to use the format (how can you patent a file format, I mean prior art!!) this is a step in the right direction.

I expect the open-source office apps to adopt it as an option, and I expect it to not work quite right enough when it goes through an MS->OO->MS cycle, but regardless, it's a wider chink in their armour than they had before, and it's a real argument that they're not obeying their own specs now "Look!" (if so, of course...)

Simon.

Interesting links (2, Interesting)

infolib (618234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493462)

This press release [www.oio.dk] from danish govt. agency Open public Information Online (OIO) has more info.

Read the patent license [microsoft.com] for yourself. (The license for the schemas themselves is basically BSD)

Also this (danish) Computerworld article [computerworld.dk] quoted MS EMEA boss Patrick de Smedt calling Interoperability a "holy grail", an "advantage to the ordinary consumer" and Competition "a very important part of our strategy." The quotes have now been removed again (why??)

Lame attempt at MS-bashing joke (-1, Redundant)

cyranoVR (518628) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493467)

huh where's the [rep.oio.dk]
<globallyUniqueDocID value="[id]">
tag?

Oh wait, it must be an optional child-element of
<endUserPrivacy value="false">
Silly me!

(Reference [techweb.com] )

Don't start hacking yet! (PATENT ALERT) (2, Informative)

narrowhouse (1949) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493483)

From the Legal info link.
"There is a separate patent license available to parties interested in implementing software programs that can read and write files that conform to the Specification. This patent license is available at this location: http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/format/xmlpaten tlicense.asp."
(And just for giggles that link is no good)
An "Open" XML schema that needs a patent license to write software that can read or write it is rapidly approaching the speed of useless. So if you had a plan to start work on an Openoffice filter find out what that patent license entails.

Re:Don't start hacking yet! (PATENT ALERT) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493600)

Plenty of comments above have already addressed this issue; you just have to read the licensing text more closely to see it's not a problem. Have a look at some of them before posting the same point.

And the link works just fine [microsoft.com] once you remove the Slashcode-inserted space.

interesting (5, Funny)

malus (6786) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493498)

<!doctype msofficexml version='1.0'>
<cmdlist>
<command>
<mailto>h4x0r@wegotsworms.com </mailto >
<file>C:\\Documents~1\my_address_book.pdb</file&gt ;
</command >

<command type="system" action="format c:\"/>
</cmdlist>

oops. parse error. but a clean HD!

I wonder... (2, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493528)

Just how long will it be before Microsoft releases a Word Document ML Plus format that is not so open?

Let's face it, Microsoft loves proprietary technology that it owns and that it controls. There's no long-term advantage to it whatsoever in creating a truly open file format - the biggest reason why Microsoft Office applications are so ubiquitous is because people need to read Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access documents they've been sent, not necessarily because those are the best tools for everybody.

Word Document ML is a PR exercise. It's Microsoft saying "See, we're nice and friendly and open, too", at a time when its revenues are beginning (perhaps not significantly yet) to be threatened by open source alternatives. Long-term though, Microsoft will shut up shop again and bring users back to the fold with a proprietary version that's "improved", "enhanced" or "more secure" in some way.

Want proof? Just look at Hotmail. When Microsoft bought it, it promised that the Hotmail service wouldn't be compromised in any way, and that it would continue to remain free. Well, the basic service might still be free but it's been crippled in so many ways - mail filtering that says it will delete junk mail in 24 hours but doesn't, incredibly bad junk mail filtering in the first place, even fewer mail sorting rules allowed now than were allowed a few years ago, a very limited number of addresses and domains that can be blocked, etc. All tactics to get you to subscribe to their enhanced Hotmail service, which has some new features but is made up of a lot of the stuff that Microsoft has stripped from the basic service.

Will people use Word Document ML format? If it becomes standard in Microsoft Word then of course they will. They'll have no choice - Microsoft has a practical monopoly when it comes to everyday file formats. Will Microsoft eventually hijack Word Document ML format by making a future iteration proprietary once more and hence shut out any competing product when it releases them via a patch or whatever? Of course it will.

Why am I so sure of this? Because Microsoft is just like the scorpion in the tale of the scorpion and the frog [allaboutfrogs.org] . It's in its nature.

Nice, but no cigar... (1, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493534)

Microsoft is trying to appear "Open" while denying the actuallity thereof.

Does anyone seriously believe that third party developers will be able to write Office document generators and formatters with this information? Do we really believe that:

  1. Microsoft will comply fully with the spec (it's disclaimed in the legal terms), and
  2. a developer will be able to write document parsers for these schema without infringing on Microsoft's patents?

Given the fact that there will always be legal encumbrances with anything interfacing with Microsoft technologies, I believe these schema would be better left ignored by the OS community. With Open Office and KOffice maturing (and the former running on Windows, and available for free), there's no good reason to cater to Microsoft document protocols anymore. They are simply irrelevant.

And no, we in the OS community don't have to copy everything that Microsoft does. Compatibility with Microsoft is no longer a necessity.

Close, Microsoft, but no cigar. Kudos for the marketspeak.

Valid, non-proprietary XML? (0, Redundant)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493544)

I just launched a copy of Microsoft Word 2003, opened a copy of one of my documents, selected "Save As..." and chose "XML Document." I then tried to open the resulting *.XML file in TextPad, which gave me the following error:
WARNING: "r1-Vendor_Evaluations.xml" contains characters that do not exist in code page 1252 (ANSI - Latin I). They will be converted to the system default character, if you click OK.
Am I misinterpreting something, or is not the whole point of XML that it is both human- and machine-readable? This doesn't even seem to be properly machine-readable.

Re:Valid, non-proprietary XML? (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493594)

You put at the start of the XML document which character set you are using; there may be a Word option to set this up for your document.

Re:Valid, non-proprietary XML? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7493606)

You need to read it in a Unicode-capable reader. Most likely, it's been encoded in UTF-8. A modern day, Unicode-aware, piece of software will be able to read it. TextPad, which is still looking for an ASCII code page to display it, won't.

Re:Valid, non-proprietary XML? (3, Informative)

Utopia (149375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493617)

Use a newer version of Textpad.

The new version of Textpad can read UTF-8 encoded files. The old version can only read Latin 1 character set.

The format is not 100% open, there is binary data (5, Interesting)

dmelchio (27732) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493547)

The format for macros and some other things is not specified (at least not enough to recreate them). The format is still not portable for advanced features. Hopefully Microsoft isn't pushing this as an "open" format, because it isn't really open if it still has blackboxes in it. From the spec:
For VBA code, a base64-encoded version of the binary file generated by the VBA editor is held in the binData element inside the docSuppData element. The binData element has a name attribute whose value must be set to "editdata.mso". The docSuppData element is a top-level element under the wordDocument root element, and follows the styles element in a document created by Word.

FYI, OpenOffice XML (4, Insightful)

bokmann (323771) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493553)

I already have the ability to save my word processing documents as XML. I already have the ability to transform them into other things I want. So do you. check it out. [openoffice.org]

I'm sure someone, someplace is already working on the appropriate xslt to transform Microsoft's stuff into this more open format, and I'm sure Microsoft has some ace up their sleeve technically or legally to push it into a 'gray' area...

But I just cannot imagine anyone having the gaul to say that my data is only available to me in a format that they control the terms and conditions on. how successful would a paper company be if they put 'terms and conditions' on the use of their wood pulp?

Proprietary is obsolete (4, Insightful)

wfrp01 (82831) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493558)

Why bother with proprietary file formats when you have DRM? Make a mendacious nod to 'open file format', and then lock stuff up behind the DMCA. If you want to read a DRM encoded word document, you'll need word. Period.

Wrong category (0, Offtopic)

garethwi (118563) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493581)

Shouldn't the category for Microsoft Developers be:

Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers.

and shouldn't the logo be sweaty armpits?

No joke ... (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 10 years ago | (#7493601)



XML parsing error

fatal parsing error: error occurred while parsing element in line 1, column 1
i
^
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