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Microsoft Partially Opens Proprietary XML Format

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the peer-into-the-hat dept.

Microsoft 369

eschasi writes "Groklaw has an article up reporting that Microsoft is going to open up their XML representation of the DOC format in response to Massachusetts' demand for open formats. According to Groklaw there are some interesting caveats involved in the move. From the license: 'We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read government documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs will not violate the license'. While opening up the format even partially is a good idea, it's still a far cry from folks being able to write programs that create DOC-compatible files."

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First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046193)

Woohoo! (Is this a dupe?)

Re:First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046213)

Nope, Zonk commited the ultimate travesty. He deleted it before we could bitch about it.

ZONK DELETED A STORY! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046196)

There was a dupe about the Knoppix bank CDs... and now it's gone! That's just wrong.

CONTENT OF DELETED STORY HERE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046312)

Linux Being Offered To Secure Online Banking [slashdot.org]

Posted by Zonk on Friday March 25, @10:28AM
from the can't-be-too-careful dept.

TheWanderingHermit writes "Australian company Cybersource says it's currently talking to two banks in Australia about providing Linux-based bootable CDs to consumers to ensure Internet banking security. They are considering using a modified Knoppix [zdnet.co.uk] for online banking users as a way to make it more secure. They are in 'reasonably serious' discussions with some banks over this idea." From the article: "We don't expect too much action at this point from the major banks...We'd probably expect some of the more regional ones or some of the providers of other financial services to be the first onboard with something like this."

Re:CONTENT OF DELETED STORY HERE (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046388)

lol, you know what is funnier?? I cant even post a comment to the story...
anyway,

Actually I think mailing out new CDs is far more likely to work than persuading users to keep their own systems (especially Windows boxes) up to date.

(You could in principle install a Linux system on each user's own hard disk and push out updates to it, but giving them a new CD has far less to go wrong.)

I rather miss the days when performing an operating system upgrade was as simple as opening the computer and putting in some new ROM chips; putting in a new CD and rebooting is getting back towards that level of friendliness.

Re:CONTENT OF DELETED STORY HERE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046402)

And I think slashdot never deleted a posted story...

Re:CONTENT OF AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE HERE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046453)


--> .

Hey thanks (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046206)


for opening up a file format (XML) that was already open, wasnt that the whole idea of XML in the first place ?

Re:Hey thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046490)

you don't know what XML is, or at least you don't understand how it works. STFU.

Behold the disappearing story! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046207)

The on-the-fly revision process that makes the editorial mistakes disappear faster than The Ministry of Truth makes an unperson.

Fully off topic, but... (-1, Offtopic)

double-oh three (688874) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046209)

Mod me off topic if you need to, but was it just me or did they just delete a dupe of the knoppix for secure banking article?

Re:Fully off topic, but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046220)

They did! Zonk is trying to cover up his mistakes. He's done it before. If you can remember anyone that posted, you can look at their posting history and find their comments linked to a story that no longer exists.

Re:Fully off topic, but... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046242)

Wow you guys are such bleeding hipocirts , you moan when they make mistakes then you moan when they correct the mistakes .
Dont be such a jackarse

Re:Fully off topic, but... (1)

double-oh three (688874) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046266)

Dude, we're not complaining, we're suprised. This is the first time they've done this in my memory, and personally I don't see it as a bad thing at all. Be nice if they caught it before it got posted, but something is better than nothing.

Re:Fully off topic, but... (2, Informative)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046281)

The MS Game "Allegiance" was actually 100% open-sourced by MS a while ago, just for your info too. I know it's not a document format, but MS (especially the developers section) does open-source stuff on occasion.

-Jesse

Re:Fully off topic, but... (1)

double-oh three (688874) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046302)

Click parent on my post, I was refering to the fact /.'s editors deleted a dupe. Interesting tidbit to know though.

It's a mistake to try to cover up mistakes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046271)

Just ask Richard Nixon. Look, if he dupes, he should post a note on the story apologizing and then, you know, try harder in the future to not do it again. This is at least the SECOND time Zonk has deleted a story after it's gone live and had comments posted to it. Remember when Slashdot didn't delete comments? Well, this is effectively deleting an entire story's worth of comments.

Zonk is on a mod-down spree! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046249)

Hey Zonk, mod this down too! We know you suck as an editor, and you can't hide it by deleting your mistakes and modding comments about them down. It's obvious anyway.

Re:Zonk is on a mod-down spree! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046327)

Hey Zonk, mod this down too! We know you suck as an editor, and you can't hide it by deleting your mistakes and modding comments about them down. It's obvious anyway.

All this modding down is keeping poor old Zonk from getting his Cinnabon, and you just know he's got some fierce munchies after his 9:30 bong hits.

Re:Fully off topic, but... (-1, Offtopic)

sosegumu (696957) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046253)

Mod me off topic if you need to, but was it just me or did they just delete a dupe of the knoppix for secure banking article?

I would mod you (not off topic though) but that article that you mentioned ate my mod point! I'm serious. I modded someone, then the article disappeared--but it kept my mod point. Arghhhhh!!

Re:Fully off topic, but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046286)

SOMEONE RESTORE THIS MAN'S MOD POINT!!!!

Its really disturbing when they remove articles from teh front page...

It's not just gone from the front page (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046298)

It's fully inaccessible. If you made a comment in it, you can no longer access it. You can only see it listed in your comments.

Re:Fully off topic, but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046373)

SOMEONE RESTORE THIS MAN'S MOD POINT!!!!

OH, THE HUMANITY!!

We have to make our stand here, brothers and sisters! Also, we need to fight to regain our right to make posts in all caps, so we can get past the lameness filter.

Re:Fully off topic, but... (-1, Offtopic)

Junior Samples (550792) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046265)

They are playing with the scores as well.

MOD PARENT WAY TEH FUCK UP +1 RELEVANT-AS-SHIT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046287)

/. mods are sheep

Re:MOD PARENT WAY TEH FUCK UP +1 RELEVANT-AS-SHIT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046451)

Relax, dude. It's not the "stupid moderators" this time. It's Zonk abusing his powers as an editor to avoid embarrassment.

Hey Zonk! Maybe lay off of the bong hits when you wake up in the morning? Most people wait until 4 PM or so, to make that last hour of work more bearable.

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046531)

Who is modding down all posts about the mistery of a missing slashdot story?

Opening? (5, Insightful)

wzzrd (545802) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046215)

Mind you, this is - as I understand it at Groklaw - merely an opening to make GPL-applications able to read (not write!) government made (nothing else) documents, without interfering with MS patents. 'Open' might not be the best word for this...

Re:Opening? (5, Insightful)

CDarklock (869868) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046272)

I find it strange that they say "fully compliant". What if you create a document that is NOT fully compliant? Maybe that substitutes one tag for another? You'd probably need a lawyer to answer that question, but it's an interesting question.

Re:Opening? (5, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046514)

'Open' might not be the best word for this...

The best word is "tip" as in the tip of the wedge. Someone somewhere will need to fill out a government form and send it back. The file will be opened to be exported. It will be exported to an open format. The Government will need to open the document. This will either cause the demand for open format support in government by using 3rd party software or Microsoft in order to keep the applications will have to change to meed the consumer requirements to fully support open formats. Tip of the wedge is the best description. The tip is in place. Now the pressure mounts. Let's see what gives next.

Re:Opening? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046516)

You are right, it is open only in -r sense, nor -rw. All human rght and open source advocates should not settle for anything less than -rw, I would say even -rwx to properly execute your owner's rights whatever social group, race, sexual orientation or other minority you belong to.

Proprietary XML? (5, Funny)

sugapablo (600023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046224)

Proprietary XML? Leave it to Microsoft to completely miss the whole damn point.

Re:Proprietary XML? (5, Funny)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046261)

They got the wrong definition. Redmond thought it meant "eXclusive Markup Language".

Small typos like that get passed around in memos and next thing you know, you have patents for numerous things.

Off-Topic but curious (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046429)

Dude, how the hell do you log in? Do you have notepad handy with your username in it?

Re:Off-Topic but curious (3, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046449)

Simple. He simply uses Windows Calculator, and translates from binary 10001100001111110101011000010111101011111010010 to hex. Simple when you think about it.

Re:Proprietary XML? (3, Interesting)

cablepokerface (718716) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046407)

Proprietary XML? Leave it to Microsoft to completely miss the whole damn point

Be damned if I know what proprietary has to do with it being humanly readable. Leave it to slashdot readers to think Xml has much to do with open source because you can "look at it".

Re:Proprietary XML? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046465)

Miss? Perhaps you spelled twist wrong.

What Open (1, Funny)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046232)

Where I am confused is... isn't Corel word and OpenOffice capable of opening even the latest version of M$ Office doc anyways?

Re:What Open (2, Insightful)

Winckle (870180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046310)

Yes, and no. There are some issues with formatting and the positioning of content, I hope that this partial release of information can help the OO.org team to improve OO write.

Re:What Open (2, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046526)

I always got the impression most of the remaining work was being bug-for-bug compatible with the Word layout engine, eg agreeing on what margins are and so on rather than actually reading the file data itself.

Re:What Open (3, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046374)

Sort of but that's not the point. They are crappy work arounds for the proprietary format. If the XML isn't all fucked up like MSFT probably wants it to be then anyone can easily view the documents (and write them) in any current AND future program that can read standardized XML.

If MSFT can't close the document format and any program can correctly read/write documents in the way they were intended what advantage does MSFT have.

That's why MSFT doesn't want this and everyone else does.

Re:What Open (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046400)

If MSFT can't close the document format and any program can correctly read/write documents in the way they were intended what advantage does MSFT have.

Microsoft Word has other features besides an exclusive file format, you know.

Re:What Open (2, Funny)

mcslappy (830989) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046427)

Clippy!

now if i could only find that old copy of microsoft bob...

Re:What Open (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046434)

So do other programs though. People use Word because it's what everyone else uses and in order to be 99% compatible you have to use it too.

I have no problems with Word and I think it works just fine (better than OO, Abiword, etc) but I think that the reason it became so popular was the close file format.

Re:What Open (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046506)

the reason it became so popular was the close file format.

No, while it was getting popular, I still had no problem reading and writing Word docs with good ol' ClarisWorks. (The Mac version anyway)

Re:What Open (3, Informative)

tobiasly (524456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046424)

Yes, but they did this through reverse-engineering. IANAL but this probably leaves them open to DMCA lawsuits.

Microsoft has simply left this alone because OO.o and the others aren't yet a threat. If they ever become one, you'll see the floodgates open.

openoffice 2.0 is already amazing enough (1)

ghee22 (781277) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046245)

but i guess this will help to find even more bugs.. i wonder if MS is going to make sure they only reveal what OO.o already got right. also, in my rss feed for slashdot, I have a headline for "linux being offered to secure online banking". it's funny cause when u click, it takes u to an error page (assumed they deleted repetitive post) and it says: Nothing to see here. Please move along

dupe detector introduced on /. (-1, Offtopic)

sonoluminescence (709395) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046247)

The dupe about knoppix and banks just disappeared no?

you are correct sir! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046268)

/mcmahon

Re:dupe detector introduced on /. (-1, Offtopic)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046273)

Have you ever been on a factory floor, and seen a sign that records how much time has passed since the last work related accident?

We need something like that for slashdot dupes. At least a little banner on the editors' browsers. Maybe with a bonus system to give them incentive. For one week without a dupe, everyone on staff gets $20. At two weeks, it's doubled. Three weeks it's doubled again.

This might sound expensive, but I highly doubt they'd ever make it past one week, no matter how much weed the extra money would buy them.

The most important is reading... (5, Insightful)

vidarlo (134906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046251)

This at least gives us the right to our own data back, since we can then convert it to a more useable format. So it seems like we've won the first battle, but not the war!

The right to own data was lost with closed format, since it did require a license to read something you might have produced yourself. For a private person, it might be sad. For a corporate needy of its archives of past correspondance, it can be catastrofal. That microsoft opens up their format for reading, and specifies parts of it, makes it possible to write software to convert this data to a open format, or index it and such. Therefor, we can still save in MS format, but have much-less tie in.

I'm only wondering how far it goes, if it goes as far as to say that I'm allowed to make a non-MS certified opensourced bot that crawls my disk, and indexes office XML files... And what if a corporate does so, will they be allowed?

Re:The most important is reading... (1)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046305)

Why bother storing any document in MS Office formats? Just convert it when you need to send it to someone. Otherwise store everything in the OpenDocument formats.

Well, IANAL but since your bot will be reading the MS Office files, it should be ok. Google Desktop Search already does this (and even supports OpenOffice documents), so I don't think it's a real problem.

Re:The most important is reading... (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046346)

Is catastrofal a perfectly cromulent word?

In English the word is catastrophic.

Re:The most important is reading... (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046430)

The right to own data was lost with closed format, since it did require a license to read something you might have produced yourself.

You required the license to create it in that format. I don't see how this is problematic.

Re:The most important is reading... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046440)

You required the license to create it in that format. I don't see how this is problematic.

Licenses can be terminated. If your license is subscription-based, you're really screwed.

Re:The most important is reading... (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046473)

That's a complete straw man in this case. MS Word licenses right now are not subscription-based.

Re:The most important is reading... (1)

vidarlo (134906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046524)

That's a complete straw man in this case. MS Word licenses right now are not subscription-based.

Ain't they? Word 2003 requires XP afaik. XP ain't subscription based, but it certainly requires a valid installation, which requires a activation. Which requires MS cooperation. What if they deny to do this? What if they're bankrupt? What if they don't sell it any more?
There is far too many what ifs when conserning business data.

Interesting Quote (5, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046254)

"We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read government documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs will not violate the license."

It seems that the ability for a citizen to read and access government documents should surpass all other interests, regardless of licensing issues. In other words, even if a government employee was boneheaded enough to save a document in a proprietary format, my ability access to the information in that document should be guaranteed no matter what, licenses be damned.

Re:Interesting Quote (0, Troll)

danheskett (178529) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046513)

my ability access to the information in that document should be guaranteed no matter what, licenses be damned.

Well, I could see that argument, except that, the primary purpose of an electronic document is to store something for printing.

You can represent a printed document in a completely closed format. But that format being closed does not inhibit you from reading, copying, modifying, etc the document as long the government will supply you with a printed copy.

I dont think you have any special right to an electronically modifiable copy of a given document.

My take on MS's XML format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046257)

<comment content-type="base64">
gsdfiuo3409+AEfsad/eAEWdsf 49ajsd93DA34fbAgf+3adsf/ asgF+D3/vdfasdf==
</comment>

Sneaky (4, Insightful)

danbond_98 (761308) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046259)

Ah, and once again Microsoft do what they do best: create a solution to a demand which doesn't actually solve the problem but your average politician can point at and say "they've cooperated". Bit like their server licencing and the judgement against them in the EU, it's providing a solution which is useless yet looks good on paper.

Shake the claw (0, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046279)

No, governments have no place telling businesses how to operate. We need to get government out of our cozy relationships with corporations, and go it alone, human to artificial human.

Re:Shake the claw (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046371)

No, governments have no place telling businesses how to operate. We need to get government out of our cozy relationships with corporations, and go it alone, human to artificial human.

Without governments, corporations don't exist. They are legal entities. So I guess I agree with you.

So what ... (1)

DoktorTomoe (643004) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046299)

Call me an idiot, but I seriously cannot see the problem here. How can Microsoft issue a licence that forbids me to build DOC-writing support in my application? OOo has done this for years, without any problems.

Patent law does not work, IMHO, because XML has been around for ages.

Re:So what ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046472)

Patent law does not work, IMHO, because XML has been around for ages.

C has been with us for ages yet I can patent my code. Just because it's written in an open (as in ISO standard open) language doesn't mean you can't patent the algorythm...

Not enough - write Mass. Govt.! (0)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046306)

This "license" is not enough, as it only allows for READING files - you will NOT be allowed to create a Free Software program that can WRITE the files.

So, while you may be able to open such a file in OpenOffice, you will not be able to save your changes back.

Everybody who cares about this issue should go to the Mass. feedback page [mass.gov] for this, and write a coherent message of protest using proper English grammer and spelling.

Re:Not enough - write Mass. Govt.! (1)

Trolling4Columbine (679367) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046353)

"...using proper English grammer and spelling."

Ironic [reference.com]

Re:Not enough - write Mass. Govt.! (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046389)

using proper English grammer and spelling.

You mean proper 'grammar'?

Re:Not enough - write Mass. Govt.! (1)

krumms (613921) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046406)

using proper English grammer and spelling.

Do as you say, not as you do?

Re:Not enough - write Mass. Govt.! (4, Funny)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046454)

using proper English grammer and spelling.

How about, you handle the grammar and I handle the, Spelling. "OK"

Re:Not enough - write Mass. Govt.! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046497)

Everybody who cares about this issue should go to the Mass. feedback page [mass.gov] for this, and write a coherent message of protest using proper English grammer and spelling.

Coming from a guy who can't even spell grammar correcly.

Is this just a "read-only" license? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046307)

Or can a GPL product also write documents in this format?

Re:Is this just a "read-only" license? (1)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046421)

RTF summary

The more time goes by... (3, Insightful)

oscartheduck (866357) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046311)

the more it seems that governments are starting to acknowledge that open formats are a good thing. And as governents are starting to pay attention to that, so we're getting a response from a closed-source corporation.

Look at what's happening in Europe - Microsoft is trying to retain its essential closed nature by offering outrageous license fees etc in return for its code. But the EU isn't accepting that. It's demanding full compliance with its rulings if Microsoft wants to be able to sell to the European market.

And here we have the MA locals asking for open formats and, to some extent at least, getting it.

Microsoft correctly identified in The Halloween Document that the problem is the Open Source/Free Software movement, not really the software that's coming out of it. If it can kill the movement and the method, then proprietary software is what is left. It's starting to look like the movement is making significant progress.

One last point in this ramble, the goal of the movement has never been to "kill microsoft", just to make it play fair with everyone else. We don't need their code, just a few pieces of information to make things interoperable. It looks like the political scene is starting to see this as desirable. May competition go forth and the best product for a specific job be declared the best!

a usefull start (2, Insightful)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046326)

If they open up the format just enough so we can read it , it will be a nice enough start so we can officaly open the documents then save them as a fully open format.
As much as i would love them to be made to play fair and open the format fully ,
Opening it enough to make it easy to parse gives us all we need incase of the disapearence of word , or MS trying to force an upgrade by breaking compatability in some way.

DOC format question (2, Interesting)

mzwaterski (802371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046328)

I'm a little confused on the whole .DOC being a closed format issue. If OpenOffice can write documents in the proprietary .DOC format, why can't other programs? Am I missing the picture completely? Thanks for any explanation!

Re:DOC format question (1, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046416)

.DOC format, why can't other programs? Am I missing the picture completely?

I believe the licensing for Word forbids you from opening the files it creates in anything other than Word. I'm not certain though, having never read it myself. Also, MS has some bogus patents on their .doc format and we all know how many years they can tie things up in the courts for. Mass. probably does not have the money to fight a court battle against MS.

XML (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046330)

Shouldn't an XML format be easy to reverse engineer? Exactly how are they obfuscating their? Anyone have a link to an example file?

Re:XML (2, Informative)

yagu (721525) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046487)

xml itself is designed to be easy to use, easy to read in "human" form...

The problem with the MS implementation as I have understood it is Microsoft has used xml as transport for their proprietary DOC format, not defined their DOC structure in xml. There's a difference here. The former being the case, yes, you can get to the xml and "see" the DOC, but it is just an ascii encoded binary... so, you really get nothing more than the old proprietary stuff, AND an extra layer of obfuscation! Hardly what xml was supposed to be about.

I'd make one... (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046540)

...but I still don't know if I can make a program that'll edit one and not violate Microsoft's license. Really, my brain still hurts after reading their patent license [microsoft.com] and the surrounding news.

Hopefully Governments will force this further (4, Interesting)

Albanach (527650) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046331)

With luck, other government agencies can force this position further. For example if you can't write in these formats, it emans Governemnts can't exchange doccuments for editing to anyone without effectively insisting they own a copy of Microsoft Office.If a governemnt organisation wishes to distribute a form to be completed, a spreadsheet to be filled in etc there are immediate problems.

Equally this still presents a roblem for QUANGOS. Non government organisations that perform the delegated work of governments will not be able to produce doccuments without restriction on which programs can read them. This could present huge confusion for end users who can't be expected to know where that blurry line between organisations lies.

Are other companies doing this? (1)

anocelot (657966) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046332)

This really surprises me. Taken to it's logical end (I know, when was the last time they did *that* - rim shot - you guys are hiLARRYous), something like this could concevably allow people to use any old editor they wanted, and it would be able to talk to Word. If that was the case, and I could choose between MS Office and OpenOffice, I think I know which one I'd use, just based on the fact that I would rather spend my money on, I dunno, savings accounts or IRA contributions... Maybe I'd pay off my house a little earlier. But that's not my point.

My point is: Since this seems like it could really hurt them, I'm wondering if anyone knows of other software companies that have done this - and what happened to them? Is there even anything as ubiquitous as Word that we can compare to?

Re:Are other companies doing this? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046450)

I would rather spend my money on, I dunno, savings accounts or IRA contributions...

Giving money to the IRA is almost as bad as giving it to MS. Violence is not a good way to free Northern Ireland.

Toilets (4, Funny)

SunPin (596554) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046452)

Is there even anything as ubiquitous as Word that we can compare to?


Toilets. I believe toilets are as ubiquitous as Microsoft Word.

Re:Toilets (5, Funny)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046481)

And at $40 per seat on average, toilets are much cheaper than Word.

mod 0p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12046336)

ones in software Usenet posts. Dicks produced there ares *BSD is dying It is Raadt's stubborn play parties the 40,000 coming

Keep DOC closed (2, Insightful)

SunPin (596554) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046361)

Does anybody really want to keep this format going? Let Microsoft do whatever the hell they want and focus on moving people to open source one person at a time.

Re:Keep DOC closed (4, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046499)

Yes, but allowing read-only access is great, because it is a win for the people. They can read their old stuff in word/excel/powerpoint, and then save it to a new open format. They can then ditch microsoft software entirely without having lost their work and without the need to spend endless hours reformatting a bad import.

Umm whats the point? (1)

zbend (827907) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046378)

I'm honestly confused. Could someone explain what the point of having an Office XML document would be? If its not using the XML standard and needs to be opened doesn't that make it something other than XML? Thanks. p.s. Corel Wordperfect can open and create Word Docs, and even has a Word mode where the UI is layed out like Word.

oh no! (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046408)

God forbid the formats be opened up and Office should actually have to compete on technical and financial merit rather than vendor lockin!

from the do-it-to-yourself desk (1)

mikes.song (830361) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046412)

A little off topic but...

How can a company that is so hated make so much money without breaking laws and using unethical business practices.

Do you think any Microsoft user, I mean any one person in the free world who uses MS products, enjoys their experience? People who use their products complain, lose data, and then hand over money asking for more abuse. WTF!

y0 (1)

Bongzilla (458471) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046420)

1 2 3 straight hack that shit
if Mass cant do it Moscow can

I don't see why this matters... (1)

dteichman2 (841599) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046461)

Really. Why does this matter? They released their format in 1997. It hasn't changed much. This isn't news. This isn't goodwill on Microsoft's part- at all. Just a nice way to get good press because everyone already knows the format anyway.

XML patented by microsoft? (2)

khrtt (701691) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046482)

What, the party invented the aeroplane?

Can someone explain (I'm not trolling here) how the heck did M$ manage to shove a patent in on a public format that's been around for ages?

Or, is it some other issue than patents this time? I mean, XML-based formats are easily hackable, so M$ doesn't really need to spec it for you to write a converter, even though for a state government it would be logical to ask for a spec.

I'm sure this all makes sense to lawyers... (3, Interesting)

Mrs. Grundy (680212) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046489)

...but I'm a little confused. Suppose I get a copy of a document in a format with a closed license. In what way am I bound to that license? When did I agree to it? Why would I ever need permission to from the creator of the format to read it? Is there some mysterious EULA that I accepted by being born? Or does this license only apply to people who create the documents with a microsoft application who have presumably agreed to some byzantine concept of ownership?

Wasn't this really easy anyway? (1)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046505)

Hmmm... I never realized this wasn't legal. I made a vb program that assembled word-compatible XML files some time ago, complete with image embedding and independently margined sections. Its fairly easy (and I'm a really poor programmer) just by studying the syntax in a saved document. I suppose that while XML is open, the strange stylesheet formatting and symbols for section breaks and whatnot are considered proprietary, since they have no use outside of winword rendering of the XML file.

Statement Does Not Parse, ID10T Error Assumed (1)

fire-eyes (522894) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046521)

Partially Opens Proprietary XML Format

1) Partially is not open
2) Proprietary XML? Huh?

I'll never understand some arguments (1, Insightful)

zoomba (227393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046527)

Why does Microsoft have to open up their file format anyway? It's theirs. They built it (yes, based on an open standard but that's like saying anything coded in C must be made open because the C standard is).

That's like saying I built a really cool house, everyone likes the house, everyone wishes they could have a house as cool as mine. Because everyone likes it I should be obligated to let everyone in, let everyone use it when they like. I should have to (in addition of having the building plans on file publicly) give room layouts with furniture, decorations and everything. Did I ever expand the functionality of my house by finishing the basement? Gotta let everyone have that too! I have a monopoly on my house (it being mine and all) and that's not fair to all my neighbors who have houses that aren't quite as cool.

Just hoping... (2, Interesting)

flajann (658201) | more than 9 years ago | (#12046528)

Perhaps one day people will come to their senses and start using Open Office instead.

To hell with Microsoft and their proprietary standards, software dripping with overfeaturitis that most people will never use, let alone understand, and -- oh yes -- the big price tag. Not to mention the Big Barn Door for macro virii and the like.

For $$$$$, you can have all that and more with Microsoft products. Or for free you can have products that can just get the damn work done already.

Microsoft reminds me of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation from Hitchhicker's Guide -- the whole lot of them will be up against the wall when the Linux Revolution comes!!!!

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