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Microsoft Opening Office XML Formats

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the what-does-that-mean-exactly dept.

Microsoft 356

sriram_2001 writes "Microsoft has opened up the XML schemas for Office 2003, thereby silencing a lot of criticism. This could potentially open the way for several government contracts as certain governments have made open standards (and not open-source) a pre-requisite. In their FAQ, Microsoft not only says that open source developers can distribute software built using them, but also that they'll make all future updates available using the same terms. Here is the Official Microsoft Site and CRN and Techworld have stories about it."

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356 comments

Nope, too little, too late. :) (5, Funny)

caluml (551744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519758)

No, no matter what they do, we'll still hate them, right? :)

Re:Nope, too little, too late. :) (4, Insightful)

christurkel (520220) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519813)

Where's the catch? I mean, there has to be for MS to open up one of the keys to its kingdom. Even if Open Source apps can't use it, commercial ones like WordPerfect can. MS would have to compete on merits, not on their monopoly, from now on. That doesn't sound something MS would want to do.

Re:Nope, too little, too late. :) (5, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519850)

Where's the catch? I mean, there has to be for MS to open up one of the keys to its kingdom. Even if Open Source apps can't use it, commercial ones like WordPerfect can. MS would have to compete on merits, not on their monopoly, from now on. That doesn't sound something MS would want to do.

It's the lesser of two evils for Microsoft. The thought of being excluded from the government contracts for not being open would probably make Microsoft's management squirm.

The reason being is that we would probably see the widespread deployment of some non-MS office suite as a result and this would work towards loosening their strangle-hold on the desktop productivity suite.

By opening formats, they can get in on these contracts. So while it may still damange their business model it will damage it less than not opening formats.

Simon.

Re:Nope, too little, too late. :) (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520025)

Well, a lot depends doesn't it?

It isn't enough to say that the file formats are open and available to open source develpors, if the features the file format supports are patented. For example, suppose that Microsoft had patented pivot tables. An open source spreadsheet could read the file, and recognize the pivot table, but have no recourse other than to throw up a note in the user's face saying something to the effect, "This space is supposed to be occupied by a pivot table, but we don't do them."

Now, that said, the patent game might have have started to late for Microsoft, in that the things that matter most to the users might already be in the public domain.

Re:good point (-1, Troll)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519873)

I tried to write a smartass and sarcastic comment, but that just seems like a waste of effort:
You are an idiot, please die.

Re:Nope, too little, too late. :) (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519890)

The catch is that in the short term the States of Massachusettes will continue using Microsoft products, since the reason MS opened up their format was bcos to comply with the state's policy. But in the end, this is good for competition and overall a Good Thing (tm).

Now interoperatability will no longer be a problem, we'll start alot of alternatives to Office, including in other OS platform. So the effect of this move goes beyond Office alone, it also promotes the usage of altenative OS platforms! Nice one Bill, you finally did good this time round.

Re:Nope, too little, too late. :) (4, Interesting)

crazy blade (519548) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519893)

MS would have to compete on merits, not on their monopoly, from now on. That doesn't sound something MS would want to do.

Yes indeed. But think about it: do they really have a choice?

Since governments are requiring use of open standards, it seems only reasonable that they would be forced to do that. Every corporation has transactions with government(s), so they would be forced to either support some other office format, or open up their own. Of the two options, opening up their own format is the smarter one: given their current dominance it is more likely that other office suites will employ it for reasons of compatibility, which removes the stress and cost of adding support for an open format from MS. In addition, MS can keep developing its format and let others play catch-up every time it rolls out some new version of it.

Re:Nope, too little, too late. :) (2, Interesting)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519926)

The catch is they'll get the contracts signed, and they will release the schemas for the future versions of Word Documents, but after this revision they'll probably rename Word to something else to get out of their obligation.

Re: Where's the catch? (3, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519972)

Where's the catch?

Remember the discussions a while back about MS patenting some of their XML encoding schemes? This could well be part of a nefarious plot. Sorta like what happened with the GIF format, y'know. We all start writing software that uses some of MS's XML, some of our software is widely used, and then 10 years from now, MS says "Oh, BTW, you're violating several of our patents. Yes, we said you could use the open parts of our XML, but we didn't say you could use the patented parts."

Legalities of such things can be very, very tricky. See also the various discussions here in which people confuse the various kinds of "IP", such as patent, copyright, and trade secret. Permission to use a copyrighted thing is not the same as permission to use a patented thing, and that's different from permission to use a trade secret.

Before doing anything with any MS "IP", it might be wise to consult a good IP lawyer.

Microsoft has been applying for patents at the rate of several per day. This costs time and money. Presumably there's a reason they're doing this.

In the case of giant corporations, paranoia is always in order. They can easily bankrupt the rest of us with legal fees.

Re:Nope, too little, too late. :) (1)

Etyenne (4915) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519839)

Not necessarily, but there is plenty to hate with MS beside their files formats.

Re:Nope, too little, too late. :) (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520040)

This is a huge mistake for microsoft. What is to prevent everyone from switching to openoffice if everything interoperates perfectly? Also, what does this mean for OASIS? I'm not complaining but this is rather...unexpected.

Re:Nope, too little, too late. :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520066)

What's to hate?

[xml]
[cdata]SDLK3492911%^&^&^$#@$##@$@$@#$#@LL,,[/cdata ]
[/cdata]

[/xml]

The friggen thing is documented!

Nooo... (4, Funny)

sandstorming (850026) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519761)

Just when you thought you could escape clippy the office paperclip through open source...

Wait.... (5, Funny)

bizpile (758055) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519764)

...does this make them Communist sympathizers?

Now... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519770)

how are we going to demonize Microsoft? How are we going to say that ****office sucks becaude of the closed specs?

Time to start working...

Re:Now... (3, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519788)

how are we going to demonize Microsoft?

More importantly, how is Microsoft going to demonize us open source commies?

Re:Now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519816)

Relax. They are only making the specs open source, not the code...

Confused... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519772)

That makes me confused? Are they still evil?

Patents (0)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519773)

They can do that because they are covered by patents. I do not think that MS gives a positive permission to use these formats.

Re:Patents (4, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519812)

I do not think that MS gives a positive permission to use these formats.

According to their FAQ:

Q. Can the licenses for the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas be used by open source developers? A. Yes. Open source developers who wish to participate in a community development project can enter into the agreements and then work in a collaborative fashion on development of a program or programs. Q. Can I distribute a program that can read and/or write files that support the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas in source code form? A. Yes. You can distribute your program in source code form. But, note that the patent and copyright provisions in the license for the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas require you to include a notice of attribution in your program. Q. Can I distribute a licensed program under an open source software license? A. Yes.


While it may not be legally binding, I'd say it's enough permisssion for the layman, and I think it could be argued in court (of course, you could also just read their license which may say the same thing. But I don't speak ligalese myself).

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519887)

Q. Can the licenses for the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas be used by open source developers? A. Yes. Open source developers who wish to participate in a community development project can enter into the agreements and then work in a collaborative fashion on development of a program or programs.

It would have been more reasuring if they'd stopped at "yes. At least up until then it was in English.

Re:Patents (2, Insightful)

ImpTech (549794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519923)

As has been noted before, these licensing terms are GPL-incompatible. That "notice of attribution" part sounds similar to the issue with the new XFree86 license, and of course there's the whole patent issue.

But hey, I'll take a BSD-licensed office suite that can perfectly read MS formats anyday. For that matter, this may not even conflict with the OO.org licensing.

Re:Patents (4, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519949)

Sometimes I wonder if the GPL itself could be proven to be GPL incompatible...

Don't think so. (2, Insightful)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519865)

The license [microsoft.com]

Summary: if you absolutely must use their patent in order to read or write one of their XML formats, you have a license to do so. You cannot use their patents for any other purpose.

Obligatory (1)

Brandon One (760352) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519774)

Microsoft Opening Office XML Formats, except in Nebraska.

Great (5, Funny)

savagedome (742194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519781)

open source developers can distribute software built using them, but also that they'll make all future updates available using the same terms

My area code is 666 and I just looked outside. It's completely frozen too. Yup.

Microsoft is doint all they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519783)

It seems that Microsoft is doing all they can so that many governments would consider them as an option in their IT plans.

Re:Microsoft is doint all they can (1)

agentofchange (640684) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519801)

This kind of thing makes the document easier for external systems to parse - a great move. On the other hand did Microsoft just shoot themselves in the foot? the OO project can not just create a document and see what the XML looks like.

Re:Microsoft is doint all they can (1)

agentofchange (640684) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519821)

Doe! I ment the Open Office project CAN just create a .doc and see the XML structure.

Re:Microsoft is doint all they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519829)

Microsoft appear to be betting they can produce a more desirable product than the alternatives, without the need for a file-format 'lock-in'. Only time will tell, but I think they probably can.

For people like me, who care about open standards but don't mind paying for closed-source software (source code is always nice of course :) ), this is actually an incentive to stick with MS Office.

So what does this do for OpenOffice? (1)

ferrocene (203243) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519785)

Seriously. Better document conversion? Smaller file size?

Re:So what does this do for OpenOffice? (1)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519794)

Yes (or better yet, no conversion needed), and probably..

A luke warm welcome (3, Interesting)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519786)

.. I'd have to look at the license before I rejoice about this news. If Microsoft really did open up it's document format that would be a big bonus for everyone..

But in the back of my mind, I've got a feeling this is "embrace and extend" all over again. They might well give the outward appearence of openness while in fact restricting the license in such a way that it really doesn't change the situation.

I don't know.. i just can't trust a convicted monopolist with this stuff.

Simon.

Re:A luke warm welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520029)

So, then go read it before posting, rather than just blabber here.

Furthermore, the phrase "convicted monopolist" means nothing. It is not illegal to have a monopoly.

Re:A luke warm welcome (Road BLOCK) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520050)

They are going to charge for their so called "Open Format". By doing so, preventing Open Source Users from making them compatible.

There should be a stipulation that the formats can be used by any program w/out a license fee.

This is still a road block.

Hold on... (4, Insightful)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519787)

Is this thing GPL-compatible? It doesn't say...all I could find is the following:

The terms and conditions of these licenses differ in material respects. We believe you can distribute your program under many open source software licenses so long as you include the notices described in the licenses for the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. On the other hand, some open source licenses may include specific constraints or restrictions that might preclude development under the Office 2003 XML Reference Schema licenses. You should check with your legal counsel if you have questions about a particular open source software license.

"That may preclude development" sounds fishy. Knowing MS hates the GPL, they might have made it GPL-incompatible. I can't wait till Pamela Jones scrutinizes this. Before I read the Groklaw version, I'm holding back the celebration.

Re:Hold on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519835)

Before I read the Groklaw version, I'm holding back the celebration.

Huh? Did you perchance mean "Until I read the Groklaw version, I'm holding off on celebrating"?

Re:Hold on... (1)

Delirium Tremens (214596) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519855)

More exactly:
note that the patent and copyright provisions in the license for the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas require you to include a notice of attribution in your program.
Mind the word "program". Readmes likely do not count. You'll have to spell it nicely in the About menu, the splash screen, etc ... and create one if needed.

Re:Hold on... (1)

zemoo (582445) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519918)

This doesn't look GPL compatible: ... so long as you include the notices described in the licenses for the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. Also, isn't it funny that there's a link to the OSI website indicating approved open-source licenses? What does 'open-source purity' matter to them?

It's the end of the world as we know it (1)

johnjay (230559) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519791)

This was the one thing that kept Microsoft dominant.

Re:It's the end of the world as we know it (1)

sandstorming (850026) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519825)

Yup just office. and windows and sql and mouse sales and keyboard sales and server software and handhelds and hotmail and msn search and msn messenger and xbox and games and... You get the idea. I just know bill gates will look like the monopoly man when he gets old!

Re:It's the end of the world as we know it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519936)

Please explain how mouse and keyboard sales help Microsoft continue to dominate the computer world? I do agree about Windows, but hotmail and MSN? Get serious.

Ok.... (5, Funny)

gral (697468) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519796)

and how much does the Version that creates these "Open" formats cost? Isn't the version that creates these formats the "Professional" version only. Oh wait, OpenOffice.org does these already. :-)

It's a trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519800)

Don't believe it! It's a trap!

the ill logic of microsoft (1)

deutschemonte (764566) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519804)

They think that by spraying gasoline on open source that it will kill it like grass.

Opening up the formats will only make open source solutions more interoperable with the proprietary microsoft formats.

So the F/OSS fire burns stronger.

Re:the ill logic of microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519930)

now openoffice doesn't have any more excuses suck (they're SCREWED).

Maybe I'm wrong here but.... (1)

Poingggg (103097) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519805)

IIRC MS had patented their fileformats. So, no matter what, if you want to make use of them, you will have to cough up their fees. And if MS decides not to licence FOSS-developers, it will just cut FOSS marketshare. I'm not sure if I like it....

Re:Maybe I'm wrong here but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519897)

Where do you see license fees? Please enlighten us.

Re:Maybe I'm wrong here but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520052)

Why don't you just go learn what rights patents give and save all of us from having to explain it to you?

No GPL? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519807)

I was interested by this section :

"Q. Can I distribute a licensed program under an open source software license?
A.

Yes. There are many open source licenses available in the developer community. One useful place to review the various licenses that have been approved by the open source community is at Open Source Initiative.

The terms and conditions of these licenses differ in material respects. We believe you can distribute your program under many open source software licenses so long as you include the notices described in the licenses for the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. On the other hand, some open source licenses may include specific constraints or restrictions that might preclude development under the Office 2003 XML Reference Schema licenses. You should check with your legal counsel if you have questions about a particular open source software license."

Correct me if I'm wrong but doesnt this preclude them being used in GPL works? Wasnt it something like this i.e. an advertising clause, which lead to the forking of XFree86 ?

OMG (1)

mstefanus (705346) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519811)


Oh my god I'm daydreaming! Quick, someone.. pinch me!

Re:OMG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519912)

No, omg.org doesn't have anything to do with this.

wel... (2, Insightful)

SQLz (564901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519814)

Hopefully its compatable with the GPL. I figure they basically had two choices, look good and open the format or look bad and loose to open office or other packages. Running Open Office is, in my opinion, along the road to swiching to Linux. MS had no choice.

Re:wel... (3, Interesting)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519833)

The word is lose, first of all.

And I don't think Microsoft is really afraid of Open Office... I tried using Open Office, and after a day of trying to figure out how to do what I did in MSOffice, I just went back to using MSOffice. It does what I need it to do and how I need it done.

And your comment about the "road to switching" is pretty funny. That would be like saying "Installing and using eMule is "along the road to switching" because it's open source.

Maybe your IPs were banned for a reason?

Re:wel... (1)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519909)

Thats funny. I went into OpenOffice not expecting it to not be the same. And instead of just continuously bitching about how I couldn't find the options in the same place as MSWord, I read a little documentation. An hour later I was a pro. Its not that hard, but yes you do have to learn it. Its a new interface.

Re:wel... (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519951)

But can you convince an entire department that they should stop working for an hour to read a little documentation? No. Won't happen.

I'm not going to re-learn how to use a word processor so I can switch from something I know to something I don't.

Re:wel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519985)

The rest of the world is.

Sucks to be you.

GPL compatible? (0, Redundant)

John_Sauter (595980) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519831)

It's hard to tell, but I suspect that Microsoft's license is not compatible with the GPL. Consider the following question and answer:


Q. Can I distribute a licensed program under an open source software license?


A. Yes. There are many open source licenses available in the developer community. One useful place to review the various licenses that have been approved by the open source community is at Open Source Initiative.



The terms and conditions of these licenses differ in material respects. We believe you can distribute your program under many open source software licenses so long as you include the notices described in the licenses for the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. On the other hand, some open source licenses may include specific constraints or restrictions that might preclude development under the Office 2003 XML Reference Schema licenses. You should check with your legal counsel if you have questions about a particular open source software license.

Does anybody have any insight on whether or not I could include Microsoft's XML schemas into an existing program which is licensed to me under the GPL, and redistribute the result under the GPL?
John Sauter (J_Sauter@Empire.Net)

Re:GPL compatible? (2, Interesting)

Sarin (112173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519907)

If it's not compatible with GPL, couldn't people then just write a non-GPL ms-XML plugin for a GPL package, which is downloaded seperate in order to circumvent incompatibility with the GPL?

Re:GPL compatible? (2, Informative)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520004)

couldn't people then just write a non-GPL ms-XML plugin for a GPL package, which is downloaded seperate in order to circumvent incompatibility with the GPL?

That depends [gnu.org] , but probably not easily.

Re:GPL compatible? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520022)

Pretty much. The GPL relies on copyright law. If you're not copying it has nothing to say:

"Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope."

(the rest of the license then goes on to contractict this quite openly, but that's a matter for the legal bods).

sorry, in advance. (0)

bagel2ooo (106312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519844)

In Soviet Russia, XML schema open Microsoft!

Before all of the Microsoft bashing begins... (0, Redundant)

Villageidiot9390 (640068) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519845)

This is something that many of us in the Slashdot community have wanted for a very long time. It almost seems as if Microsoft is starting to bend to market pressure. Maybe not as much or as quickly as some of us would like, but everything needs to start somewhere.

On that note, the only one thing that I would worry about is how Microsoft plans to license thier XML schema.

So let's keep on developing all of those great open source applications, and keep the heat on the competition in the software market!

Hooray! (4, Insightful)

mistersooreams (811324) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519854)

Yes, they are mainly doing this to get government contracts.

Yes, they are probably doing this to get good PR among geeks.

But hell, they're still doing it!

Let's try not to be too cynical, Slashdotters. Microsoft is doing a good thing here. This doesn't forgive them for all the other naughty things they do, not by a long shot, but it's still a big deal and a big step forward.

Hip hip hooray!

License inside a .msi file? (2, Informative)

Carl (12719) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519857)

Q. How do I get a license? A. The license is available when you download the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas [microsoft.com] from the Microsoft Download Center.

Tried to download this thing to see if it had acceptable (re)distribution terms for inclusion in GPL-compatible programs like AbiWord, KOffice or OpenOffice.org. But all I could find was some xsdref.msi file.

How does one open/extract such a thing? Does anybody has the distribution terms as clean/clear text file?

Re:License inside a .msi file? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519937)

just run it in a windows machine. msi = MicroSoft Installer

Re:License inside a .msi file? (2, Informative)

adler187 (448837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520033)

for those of you not running windows here is the license text:

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 © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Permission to copy, display and distribute this document is available at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/ html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp?frame=true.

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

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.

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.

©2003-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Permission to copy, display and distribute this document is available at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/ html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp

We won! (1, Interesting)

shai_m (727380) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519859)


Do NOT underestimate the significance of this!

This is a major loss for Microsoft, as they have been coerced by Mass. (and others, probably) to loose one of their major lock-in mechanisms.

Sure, they have ot GPLed Window$, and Bill has not waved the white flag. But it's a big big move in the right direction.

Re:We won! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519929)

First of all, why is this a loss for Microsoft? Unless of course you are implying introducing OS policies to be a poor business decision.

Secondly, it's lose, not the reference to your mother.

Thirdly, spelling Windows with a $ sign at the end is not big, clever nor vaguely amusing.

And lastly, you are an idiot.

Re:We won! (1)

archen (447353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519945)

I think perhaps that MS is simply changing their strategy. MS competes with oldever versions of office more than any other software. They want you to upgrade, but you don't. Why is that? Because your current software runs just fine, and you can open stuff just fine. So now MS comes up with a new format and everyone bitches and complains. BUT here's the catch, all the open source people just LOVE the new format and everyone is pushing this new format. So what to do? UPGRADE OFFICE.

Microsoft knows that people have a lot invested in their current formats, and if there is going to be any transition, they're going to have to stick with MS Office to access them. More or less they just secured their own upgrade cycle. I'm thinking MS probably saw this comming down the line with the EU antitrust settlement so opening their formats using XML (which MS just loves now), makes perfect sense. Overall it's still a good thing for competition, even if no one plans on moving away from MS Office

Re:We won! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519973)

give me a break. even if windows was open source, gnu/linux would never catch up because The Community(tm) lacks the expertise required to understand huge chunks of the code (for example, the pathetic losers on linux-audio-dev haven't figured out how to synthesize a passable plucked string tone, despite the fact that there's hundreds of papers available on the topic).

err... the catch? (3, Insightful)

whowho (706277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519881)

To quote:
Q. Is Microsoft committed to making any future updates to the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas available under the same terms and conditions as the licenses offered on November 17, 2003?
A. Yes. Microsoft is committed to making updates to the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas available under the same terms and conditions as the licenses offered on November 17, 2003. At the same time, Microsoft reserves the right to change its policy and/or the terms of the licenses with respect to future versions of Office.

So what does that mean? They are "committed" but on the other hand "reserve the right to change"? How is that committed?
Does this mean they can create an update to Office, alter slightly the schemas, close it and/or require royalties, etc?

GPL incompatible (2, Interesting)

internet-redstar (552612) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519891)

Of course it's Microsoft...

You can only use the 'patented and copyrighted' scheme when you 'include the notices described in the license for Office 2003'.


This makes it GPL incompatible. Period.

Next!

Re:GPL incompatible (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519940)

Answer me this: the GPL is incompatable with pretty much every other Opensource license out there (other licenses may be GPL compatable but that doesnt mean it works both ways), so why should everything be GPL compatable? Thats pretty much the first thing that comes up in discussions on slashdot 'is it GPL compatable?' or 'why couldnt they just use the GPL?'.

The way the GPL is currently written means GPLed projects can take from most other non GPLed projects without giving anything back, which I thought was one of the reasons for opensource?

Re:GPL incompatible (3, Insightful)

internet-redstar (552612) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520062)

In the old days...
I'm talking pre-linux-1.0 now...
The BSD folks tend to say: nobody will like the GPL because no business will accept it.
Turns out you were wrong: We live now in 2003 and most of the OpenSource software written is GPLed, and we love it.
I don't want to say the BSD license is evil, not at all (while BSD supporters are often less friendly wrt GPL)! Yet the GPL is a better guarantee for our freedom as technological people than the BSD license.

The evolution since the 90s till now has also proven that the GPL license is a more succesfull software license, aside from bringing more freedom to the general public.

Commercially speaking, the BSD license can sometimes be more interesting, however... not in all cases.

The way I see 'giving back' is one in which the freedom of the software is guaranteed, so I don't see any problem there.

Microsoft has just tried another time to:
1) Have an argument in their discussion with government that their license is 'open enough'.
2) Work contradictory to anything remotely touching it's only cash cow: MS Office.

Wrong. (1)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519954)

See section 8 of the GPL :)

Re:Wrong. (1)

internet-redstar (552612) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519991)

Section 8:

If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of this License.

This clearly DOES NOT state that you can append restrictions on the usage of your software.

It's exactly the same reason for which everybody moved from XFree86 to X.org: the obligation to put on it the notice.

It might seem to be of little importance,... just a notice, but it's pandora's box!

So, this brings up the real question: are you an MS fud monkey?

;-)

GPL section 8 (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520018)

For those too lazy to look it up, here's the link http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html [gnu.org] and the text:

8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of this License.

Re:GPL incompatible (1)

matastas (547484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519975)

This is going to be viciously unpopular, but maybe the GPL needs to start looking in the mirror and become more BSD-like in its terms.

MS opens up their Office 2003 schema, and they can't use it because of their own terms? Just the sort of ammunition Mr. Gates needs. 'See? We tried to be flexible, but they won't work with us!'

What this might do, however, is move towards a standard document structure that's supported flexibly amongst multiple platforms. Thus, Pages (Apple) and OpenOffice and MS Word all produce the same document, so why do I need to buy MS?

Re:GPL incompatible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520012)

This is going to be viciously unpopular, but maybe the GPL needs to start looking in the mirror and become more BSD-like in its terms.

That would be pointless. For anyone who wants to apply BSDL like terms to their software, BSDL already exists. People using the GPL obviously want something more like, well, the GPL.

Re:GPL incompatible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520036)

That's not true. No one wants the GPL other a few bearded kooks.

Re:GPL incompatible (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520034)

I don't see why it should, if people want a BSD licence then they can use the BSD licence or one which is similar to it.

The key reason people would want to use the GPL is to ensure their work isn't just incorporated into someones software and they get nothing back.

Re:GPL incompatible (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519989)

Term 1 of the GPL states: You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.

Does that make the GPL incompatible with itself?

Can all MS Office editions produce/read XML? (2, Interesting)

bheer (633842) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519899)

I thought XML support in Office was limited to the Enterprise versions (and possibly the professional version). Can the cheaper home/academic versions of Office produce or read XML?

An agrarian view on MS XML format (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519932)

Plowing for several large companies, I'd always done my work on Windows. Recently however, a top online investment firm asked us to do some work using FreedBSD. The concept of having access to source code was very appealing to us, as we'd be able to modify the kernel to meet our exacting standards which we're unable to do with Microsoft's products.

Although we met several fertilization challenges along the way (specifically, FreedBSD's lack of Token Ring support and the fact that we were unable to defrag its ext2 file system), all in all the process went smoothly. Everyone was very pleased with FreedBSD, and we were considering using it for a great deal of future internal projects.

So you can imagine our suprise when we were informed by a labourer that we would be required to publish our source code for others to use. It was brought to our attention that FreedBSD is copyrighted under something called the GPL, or the GNU Preventive License. Part of this license states that any changes to the seed are to be made freely available. Unfortunately for us, this meant that the great deal of time and money we spent "touching up" FreedBSD to work for this investment firm would now be available at no cost to our competitors.

Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our labourers advised us that any products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to its source code released. This was simply unacceptable.

Although we had planned for no one outside of this company to ever use, let alone see the source code, we were now put in a difficult position. We could either give away our hard work, or come up with another solution. Although it was tought to do, there really was no option: We had to rewrite the code, from scratch, for Windows 2000.

I think the biggest thing keeping FreedBSD from being truly competitive with Microsoft is this GPL. Its mercurial requirements virtually guarentee that no business will ever be able to use it. After my experience with FreedBSD, I won't be recommending it to any of my associates. I may reconsider if FreedBSD switches its license to something a little more fair, such as Microsoft's "Shared Source". Until then its attempts to socialize the software market will insure it remains only a bit player.

I welcome you for your time.

TROLL TROLL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520024)

TROLL TROLL!!

Re:An agrarian view on MS XML format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520064)

Ummm.... FreeBSD isn't GPLed, it's distributed under a BSD licence.

http://www.freebsd.org/copyright/freebsd-license.h tml [freebsd.org]

Basically you can do whatever you like with the code, as long as you retain their copyright notices in any of their code you use.

Many of the utilities and applications in a standard FreeBSD system are GPLed, of course, but the kernel is not.

Market decides, Microsoft has to play along. (2, Insightful)

LemonFire (514342) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519935)

When a critical mass of businesses and goverments require file formats that are documented and that doesn't require proprietary software in order to access them, then even Microsoft has to play along. I believe that this is a sign of that even MS has realized that their older paradigms just doesn't work anymore.

Microsoft Opening Office XML Formats (1)

demon_2k (586844) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519959)

Ha...this will be interesting
I bet most of you are thinking that not we might be able to "catch" up with to Ms and be able to add better suppert for Ms Office in Open Office and/or others.
The question is if it's XML in text or in binary.
Also, with Ms' drm, everything will start to be encrypted soon. So...they might have opened the XML but legaly you might not be able to open the document.

Does not include Powerpoint (1)

Saval (39101) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519961)

I was hoping, but... this does not include the only thing I Really Need compatibility with: Powerpoint.

"Q. What are the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas?
A.

The Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas are comprised of WordprocessingML (the schema for Microsoft Office Word 2003), SpreadsheetML (for Microsoft Office Excel 2003) and FormTemplate Schemas (for Microsoft Office InfoPath(TM) 2003). Download the schemas and documentation."

Every lecturer and marketing people come to me with their powerpoint-presentations, and trying to convert them to usable format is almost impossible...

Bait and switch 101 (2, Interesting)

SlashCrunchPop (699733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11519962)

  1. Patent a closed file format
  2. Create commercial software for the patented file format and make it as widespread as possible
  3. Open up the file format to make it widespread among your opposition
  4. Make legally nonbinding promises about keeping the file format open
  5. Laugh as you watch a great number of Free Open Source Software developers waste their time writing software for the allegedly open file format instead of writing software that could endanger your company
  6. Revoke the open licensing of the file format due to alleged profit loss
  7. Profit

Fscking useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519965)

Don't buy the hype.

XML's an open format anyway. It's how the data encoded in an XML format is used that's important.

It's still going to be impossible to figure out this:

<CONTENT>
#agF@!!~ASCsw
...
i8](1N%
</CONTENT>

And if it's not impossible, Microsoft's EULA will try to scare you into not reverse engineering it.

Open content? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519966)

Do the specifications include all the content, or can a document contain sections with undefined formats? For example, can a .DOC file simply be wrapped this format without having to document the .DOC format?

Thank Denmark! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519984)

And all this because of the governments of two small countries? :D
Making available the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas has received support from governments around the world, such as the Danish government. They have taken a leading role in embracing forward-thinking IT policies and developments that deliver real-world value for its citizens.


The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation's ambitious InfoStructureBase project seeks to encourage exchange of information across the Danish Public Sector by creating a repository of XML schemas. Using the royalty-free license of the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas, the Danish government is better realizing its objective of promoting data exchange and interoperability. Learn more about the Danish software strategy.

Similarly, the Finnish Ministry of Finance has supported the availability of the Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. "The licensing of the Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas is a positive step that promises to improve data interoperability and the provision of useful eGovernment services," said Arja Terho, Ministry of Finance, Finland.
-- http://www.microsoft.com/office/xml/overview.mspx [microsoft.com]
Feels good to be Danish...

MS office software sales down %3 in +%25 market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520009)

For anyone who bothered to read the disastrous 'record breaking' financial report a couple of days ago, the office software sales are shrinking while the overall market grew quite a bit last quarter.

What is fun is to do the math on even a modest office sales drop like ten to twenty percent and watch what an effect it has on MS's revenue and profit levels. MS is in full scale panic mode over OO and open document formats that are sweeping governments around the planet.

Wow (1)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 9 years ago | (#11520010)

This is huge. Props to Microsoft.

Too bad it happened shortly after the iWork'05 release. Sure Apple can release downloadable plugins for Pages and Keynote2, can it?

You're easily impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520047)

MS merely says they're going to use an "open XML format" for their documents, and you cream your jeans.

Note that they didn't say the contents of the XML fields will be in an open format....

F the GPL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11520028)

Open source is Open Source... I don't care if it is BSD, GPL, MIT, whatever else you want to make up. It could have none at all and I wouldn't care.

This is awesome reguardless of how you look at it. If you are too brainwashed to see how good this is then you need to open the door and step outside for a few min.

Cheers MS!
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