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We're Open enough, Says Microsoft

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the one-way-doors-don't-count dept.

Microsoft 660

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft Australia has come under fire from rival vendors and open-source advocates for keeping its Office document standards proprietary. Greg Stone, Microsoft's national technology officer for Australia and New Zealand, faced criticism during his presentation at the Australian Unix User Group conference in Canberra yesterday. However, he stood firm on the company's policy of making the XML schemas for its Office 2003 document standard publicly available provided interested parties sign an agreement with the software heavyweight. "Why should I have to sign an agreement?" one audience member demanded to know."

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wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279262)

three refreshes and no first post yet. guess i'll try.

Re:wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279270)

Congratulations?

Re:wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279273)

>three refreshes and no first post yet. guess i'll try.

I was thinking the same thing. Except I didn't actually first post. I guess I'm just slightly less of a jackass.

Re:wow (-1, Offtopic)

skiman1979 (725635) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279274)

ah, the coveted First Post... you beat me to it, almighty Anonymous Coward :)

ha (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279266)

haaa

How right they are (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279267)

Just look at IE.
Can one piece of software possibly be more open to exploits and viruses?

Re:How right they are (0, Redundant)

Aractor (710862) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279287)

Does M$ Windows itself count? heh

Re:How right they are (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279327)

Hey d00d!!!!!11

Check your sig for an answer.

Fucktard.

big blunder man... (2, Funny)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279300)

No use being Anonymous Coward. You used IE, and they know it now.

Open source is Evil! (2, Funny)

aitio (794921) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279331)

Ask Linus. [theregister.com] Proprietary is the way to go.

And you all knew this was coming.

Re:How right they are (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279336)

Just look at IE.
Can one piece of software possibly be more open to exploits and viruses?
Yes -- for instance, the firmware on your mom's bagina.

Re:How right they are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279357)

Since when was cheap cotton "firm" ware?

anyways - he referred to software, not firmware - as in you're penis being software, not firmware, at the sight of his mothers "bagina" (I don't know, or want to know, what a Bagina is. it sounds like moist, lightly haired luggage bags or something... ewwwwwwwww.)

Why shoud I have to sign... (5, Interesting)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279355)

"Why should I have to sign an agreement?" one audience member demanded to know.

What would the agreement do? The standard is either open or not (specification is published or withheld). Does it mean that any program that reads the file in this "open" format is bound by this agreement? I can see someone writting "Here, I sent you a powerpoint presentation and I also had to attach the 3 page agreement that you have to sign and send to Microsoft along with your name, date of birth, social security # and all your bank information. Then you can open and use my file. If you don't Bill Gates will come in person and take your firsborn child. Have a nice day, -Your dearest friend Jojo"

Re:Why shoud I have to sign... (4, Funny)

Zero Sum (209324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279405)

Well, using GPL fonts in a document means the document has to be open, does it not?

What agreement (1)

Dagrush (723402) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279271)

What does the agreement say?

So... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279280)

"Why should I have to sign an agreement?"

So Microsoft can own your soul, your offsprings' souls, their retroactive grandparents' souls, and the souls of everyone they come in contact with.

In the form of a nice law suit.

Re:So... (5, Funny)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279414)

And they say the GPL is viral!

eeehmm (0, Flamebait)

MPHellwig (847067) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279285)

So xml, rtf & txt is also closed?
Of course word-ml is closed thats why they can export to other formats. Sure you lose the markup but if you have not solved that issue you better get a cluestick.

Re:eeehmm (2, Informative)

Kremmy (793693) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279310)

XML is not a Microsoft format, it's a markup language. RTF is closed, and txt is ASCII standard. Sure they can export to other formats, but the point is that the reason you want to use the native format to begin with is the markup and formatting. If you're just going to export to text, why use Word at all?

Re:eeehmm (2, Interesting)

cuerty (671497) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279318)

XML, RTF and TXT are not closed, basically they can be open with most text editor.
The problem is that many goverment institucions give info or documents in propietary formats, as microsoft word .doc files or excel tables. In that case if you wan't to read that you'll need to sing an agreetment with Microsoft, even if you are gona to export it to another format 5 secs after have opened it.
BTW: XML itself is not a format :D

Re:eeehmm (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279340)

you'll need to sing an agreetment with Microsoft

Swaaaaannieeee - ohhhhhh how I love ya, how I love ya, Swaaaannnniiiiiieeeeeeeee!

Oh you meant "sign" an agreement... my bad. please spellcheck in the future,

plskthx

AC

Re:eeehmm (1, Offtopic)

R.D.Olivaw (826349) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279473)

Could you please point me to the spellchecker that would correct sing to sign based on the context?

Feed me! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279289)

Ok can someone explain this to me.

With Open Office, I can read and export every major Microsoft file in and out of OO.

How much more open do you want?

If you want to make applications which use MS file formats, Open Office code is freely available (open source no?) so whats stopping people from developing ?

-SJ53

Re:Feed me! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279309)

You are able to do so, despite MS best efforts. People had to reverse engineer the doc format to get this accomplished.

So I don't really see your point. Just because people make great efforts to accomplish something that would be trivial if MS released the specs or adhered to an open standard, doesn't mean that MS is in the right, does it?

Re:Feed me! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279313)

With Open Office, I can read and export every major Microsoft file in and out of OO.

How much more open do you want?


I want to be confident when I read and export Microsoft files from Open Office, when they reach their intended destination they'll actually still look the way they looked when I exported them.

I want to be confident about this without having to keep a copy of Word around to check to make sure I didn't somehow accidentally trigger some minor incompatibility with the spec that OO committed because they don't have the spec itself.

Re:Feed me! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279467)

They probably won't look the same, except in the most trivial cases. However you don't have that level of confidence if you use one version of Microsoft Office and send the document to a user with a different version of Microsoft Office, so you don't have much to lose by using OO.o instead.

Re:Feed me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279489)

I want to be confident about this without having to keep a copy of Word around to check to make sure I didn't somehow accidentally trigger some minor incompatibility with the spec that OO committed because they don't have the spec itself.

No matter of standards and specifications will ever take away the need for testing. Deal with it.

Re:Feed me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279523)

No matter of standards and specifications will ever take away the need for testing.

The need for testing when you've created a word processor file??

What bizarre universe do you come from?

Re:Feed me! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279324)

"I can read and export every major Microsoft file in and out of OO"

For now... wait until the next version of Office comes out... it isn't like formats can be reverse engineered overnight

Re:Feed me! (5, Informative)

realityfighter (811522) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279354)

Actually, OpenOffice's encoding for .doc doesn't work perfectly. And it's a downright bitch if you're trying to pass files between OpenOffice and Word. I was a freelance manual writer for a while, and my copy of Word self-destructed. (It wouldn't take the activation code that was printed ON THE DISK.)

So I thought, time to switch to an open alternative. Bad idea. I couldn't pass edits to the engineer I was working with because every time I'd get back a file with corrupted layout and images about the size of Jupiter.

As far as I can tell, this is because they have to build their .doc encoder based on intelligent guesswork. If the standards were open, they could get compatability spot on.

Re:Feed me! (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279402)

Have you tried giving .rtf files to the Word users you were working with?
While it is not perfect either, .rtf-based document exchange between Word and OpenOffice works better than .doc

Re:Feed me! (4, Interesting)

miyako (632510) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279361)

The problem is that importing .doc files into OO.org is a bit of a craps shoot, sometimes the document imports perfectly, other times it's usable but ugly, and sometimes it's so garbled as to be nearly useless. Not that I'm discounting the work done by the folks at OO.org or the other F/OSS projects that import .doc files (KWord usually does a pretty good job in my experience, and abiword tends to be all or nothing, though I haven't use abiword in a logn while, so it might be better now).
Of course, support is always improving, but that's because the .doc format has been pretty stationary for a while, the new format will still require time to reverse engineer (assume the authors won't or can't agree to whatever MS wants them to sign). I suspect that there will be a decent amount of time where the new format is the preferred windows document format, but importing/exporting for Linux applications isn't quite good enough.
Of course, the real problem, IMO, has little to do with the format itself, but with how often people send .docs for seemingly no reason. It aggravates me to no end how often clients and peopel from school send out emails with the text of the email in an attatched .doc file, when the content of the file is nothing more than plain text that could have simply been put in the email, or at least a plaintext file.
A bit off topic, but also, why the heck won't MS Office import OO.org .swx files? The merits of each file format aside, I generally save office documents as .swx, and it's a pita when I have to open up the file and export it to a .doc everytime I want to send it to someone. Since OO.org is GPL (IIRC), would allowing Office to import OO.org files mean that it would have to be GPL as well, or is it just microsoft trying to fruther their monopoly?

Nope. OO doesn't help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279413)

I don't know what kind of documents you've been importing and exporting. Every time I've tried using OO at work, it has proven incapable of importing even the simplest two-column A4-sized manuscript with a couple of figures, equations and captions in it.

A typical result is a document where the figures are floating over the text (sometimes even on the wrong page) and the equations are mere gibberish.

Re:Feed me! (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279445)

With Open Office, I can read and export every major Microsoft file in and out of OO.
How much more open do you want?


For example I can't send .odf or .sxw to a certain fella with whom I regularly swap documents to and fro, fro two main reasons: 1). he won't use OO.org (that's a quite unchangeable fact) 2). even if he would, OO.org just can't handle well a lot of things Word does to .docs, for the simple reason that they don't disclose the stuff (just one example is tracked changes).

One thing I could achieve was that I sent him pdfs and told him to make his notes in the pdf. This is still better than using Word. These days, unless I'm forced to comply, I use only OO.org (win&lin) and latex with kile (lin&cygwin).

Re:Feed me! So Word can be compatible with itself (2, Informative)

LarryWest42 (220323) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279495)

Not an answer to your question, but a response to the responses:

I found it a little funny (well, at 1:50am) that the problems others attribute to OO misinterpreting Word docs are problems I've seen recently, using exactly one installation of Word (2003) on the same machine.

Of course I tried "reveal codes": nothing obvious. I tried exporting to RTF and reimporting (massive file got much much bigger). Ended up cutting and pasting from Word to Notepad (to remove all formatting) and again back to a new Word doc. Problem solved! :-/

Hardly the first time I've had MS documents just become unusable. So I think having public specs and multiple implementations would actually improve MS Office.

Hell, just cleaning the specs up enough to publish would probably pay for itself (from MS' perspective: fewer bugs in MS Office).

Oh, yeah, Word format was gratuitously required.

A better response to this (5, Interesting)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279290)

In reality there is no way MS will open up the .doc format. Lock-in for office file formats and the office products are central to MS's revenue scheme. The way to beat them is not to beg for them to open up their standard, but to create a better open standard backed by the community, one that is not layered in junk like the .doc standard is (why would you need to embed a video in a text document?). Then this standard could be supported by as many open source, and maybe even commercial projects as possible. With enough momentum we might be able to pull an adobe and create a format that is able to coexist popularly with the .doc format. It would be wonderful if MS would play nice; they don't have too, but we don't have to play their game either.

Re:A better response to this (5, Informative)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279372)

There is such a format, OpenDocument, it is supported by the upcoming openoffice 2.0 and the next version of staroffice and is listed on oasis-open.org, now if only other opensource apps would start to use it.. And perhaps commercial vendors like wordperfect and apple.

Re:A better response to this (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279447)

I believe KOffice is going to support it, too. I'm not sure about AbiWord, though.

Re:A better response to this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279515)

I believe both AbiWord and KOffice are going to fully support OASIS.

Re:A better response to this (5, Interesting)

jazman (9111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279377)

> why would you need to embed a video in a text document?

Why not? The other way is to distribute a bunch of files and have references in the document like "play video 1 now". If you want to distribute a document that describes a series of video clips, embedding those videos in the document itself is seamless.

Just because the OSS community doesn't consider it necessary doesn't mean it's a daft idea. Geeks are completely at home with receiving a bunch of files and playing them as prompted within a document, but the average PHB who can't tell one end of a mouse from the other isn't going to want to mess around like that or to spend more than a microsecond trying to figure out why one of the distributed videos won't play on his system. Geeks will spend hours messing with GSpot and downloading codecs, but PHBs aren't going to fanny around with all that geeky crap.

Plus any boss who fiddles with Linux for a bit isn't going to take long before concluding Linux is retarded because you can't embed video in docs like you can in Word. Sorry, but you have to address "what the users want" and not just "what the geeks want" if Linux is to take over from Microsoft. Windows may be the biggest pile of bugs since a very big pile of bugs but apart from keeling over once in a while it does do what most people want.

Re:A better response to this (2, Informative)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279397)

Hmmmm, AFAIK OpenOffice Writer documents can contain Video, Adio and all other multimedia stuff.

Re:A better response to this (0, Flamebait)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279441)

Plus any boss who fiddles with Linux for a bit isn't going to take long before concluding Linux is retarded because you can't embed video in docs like you can in Word.

I think someone who embeds video in a Word file is retarded. Make an HTML file. Or Flash. Or whatever presentation format.

Windows may be the biggest pile of bugs

Because they keep using duct tape to add on inane features like embedded video (which will inevitably become a vector for spam and exploits). but PHBs aren't going to fanny around with all that geeky crap.

Let them get a Mac. Thye can play whatever they want.

Re:A better response to this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279406)

(why would you need to embed a video in a text document?)

Because - contrary to popular belief - most people are stupid, and want to put everything into one file, rather than expect the people they are emailing a presentation etc to, to have to refer to other files. If you embed everything into the one file, sure, it might put on more weight than Oprah after a sad, lonely weekend with nothing but a freezer full of icecream, but it makes things *simpler* for the end user.

You might know more about computers than everyone in the world combined (except for sysadmin type people), but remember - there are about 1,000,000,000 x more people who know SWEET FUCK ALL (except for how to start up their email, word, and the browser of their choice) about computers that use them daily and want simplicity/ease of use rather than having to make phonecalls to the bosses boss explaining how to unzip the attachment, read the .doc first, then open the avi to view something, and then view the pps to see what they've been doing for the past 6 weeks.

get out of your shiny shiny perfect world, and realise people have to work with what they're given, which in 99.5% of cases, is to work with Windows, closed source material, and the IE/WMP/Office behemoth..

Re:A better response to this (1)

_undan (804517) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279417)

The way to beat them is not to beg for them to open up their standard, but to create a better open standard backed by the community

YEAH! What a great idea!

While we're at it, let's solve world peace! All we need to do is get all the world leaders to sit down and back an idea on how things could be made better...

Re:A better response to this (4, Funny)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279483)

While we're at it, let's solve world peace! All we need to do is get all the world leaders to sit down and back an idea on how things could be made better...

Ok. I'll make a few phone calls and see what I can do.

Re:A better response to this (1)

Felinoid (16872) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279440)

The way to beat Microsoft is to convence companys to use better standards.
Part of that requires making products that are backwards compatable and can use the companys exsisting files.
However thies files ARE in Microsofts file formats.

When we ask businesses to switch to products that can not read the files they already have we are also asking them to retype everything.

The solution is to open microsoft file formats ourselfs with reverse engenearing.

As for the liccensing of Microsoft XML. Asking Microsoft to actually open the format is a bit much to ask for. However hilighting the fact that it isn't open is not at all unreasonable.
Liccensing the format is a farce. It's a way to fake being open and it's something that needs to be said loud and clear for everyone to hear. At least everyone who might think the file formats are open.

Re:A better response to this (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279494)


I think you're spot-on with the new, better format. On the other hand, apps like OOo HAVE to have good MS Office support for now. Yeah, .doc may blow, but we ARE playing their game, like it or not. And we're really not going to win people over by removing features, even if they do seem like goofy features.

Swat Team. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279291)

"Why should I have to sign an agreement?" one audience member demanded to know."

Because you made a previous decision that presently has unforseen consequences.

Too True (4, Insightful)

rathehun (818491) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279297)

He said open and proprietary standards could co-exist, arguing Microsoft promoted common development of standards by sitting on all of the representative bodies working on them.


And opposing every one of them? This is like the US saying that it "protects everybodys interests by sitting on the UN" - and then using its veto for say - The International Criminal Court.


Just too scary.

Thank you, sir. May I have another? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279298)

without MS you have no web/html like we have today
xml wouldn't get any attention if it wasn't "interwebby"
this whole XML thing is a passing phase without MS
$diety forbid they avoid allowing open standards to stifle the innovation of their bazillion programmers with their bazillion dollars budgets.
ps - i'm not an ms fanboy. seriously.

Re:Thank you, sir. May I have another? (1)

Kremmy (793693) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279330)

Given the current state of this vast intar-web, I'm inclined to think that not having web/html like we have today isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Re:Thank you, sir. May I have another? (2, Insightful)

EmptyBuffalo (649938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279394)

without MS you have no web/html like we have today
what, MS developed today's web/html? I thought Al Gore invented it! The only 2 things that we can credit MS with that we can't credit other people with are (1)a large percentage of the POPULARITY of the web (getting computers into homes) and (2)the freakish amount of broken html on the web. Don't dish out credit for existence to MS.
xml wouldn't get any attention if it wasn't "interwebby"
And this is a credit to MS's proprietary standing how?
this whole XML thing is a passing phase without MS
Then let it die in honor of better standards.
$diety forbid they avoid allowing open standards to stifle the innovation of their bazillion programmers with their bazillion dollars budgets.
(1)How do you figure that open standards would stifle innovation?
(2)If anyone's got a bazillion programmers it's not MS, it's the collective REST OF THE WORLD! Give them access and watch what all they come up with. It might just be something as cool as, oh, the web? ...something as innovative as, oh, computers? ...something as impressive as, oh, cooperation? None of these things are the result of a limited group of innovaters sealing themselves off. Why would the next wave of awesome innovation come from anywhere other than where it's come from before - openly communicating and sharing groups of people!

Open enough meaning (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279303)

You'll still be completely and totally unable to use Word files in non-Microsoft applications, except in a buggy and incomplete reverse engineered form.

But that's open enough to suit Microsoft perfectly fine.

Re:Open enough meaning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279525)

So how is that different to the experience on a Win machine?

That's their decision (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279316)

'Why should I have to sign an agreement?' one audience member demanded to know.

Because you want something that they have. They developed the file formats, so they own the intellectual property. If you want them to spell out how they work for you, you'll have to play by their rules. If you don't like that, that's fine too. You don't have to know now their file formats work to use their product, and when it comes down to it you don't even have to use their product.

This seems to me a lot like the BitKeeper debacle. It's all about contracts: the people who have something of value get to dictate the terms of the contract. No matter how much you complain about it and say "but file formats should be free!", that's not going to change.

Re:That's their decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279404)

Wow! somebody with a reasonable arguement on slashdot. Indeed, it is their format, why should they have to open it up to anybody?

But the government / my work place releases office files I hear you say? Well, you need to convince them to change their formats, because trying to convince Microsoft to give away their IP for free is NOT going to work.

Re:That's their decision (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279505)

Or the government could just, oh, get rid of IP and be done with it?

Re:That's their decision (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279418)

Of course it's their decision, nobody is disputing this. However, that doesn't mean that people shouldn't be able to criticize this decision and think that it's wrong, does it?

"You don't have to know now their file formats work to use their product..."
The issue is with people not wanting to use their product, so what's your point here?

"...and when it comes down to it you don't even have to use their product."
But that's the problem, isn't it. As MS has a quasi monopoly and the MS format is a quasi standard, using an other product that isn't able to handle doc files isn't feasible. See and that's exactly the issue and this is exactly the point where MS behavior might once again get them into legal trouble for abusing their monopoly.

After all both the EU and the US justice department demanded from MS to open up specs for their products, so it might not be entirely their decision as you claim.

Finally, MS having the right to do so (untill being force by law enforcement once again to change their ways) doesn't mean that what MS does is the right thing to do.

Above all, it means that all those people urging governments, companies and their friends not to use MS products have good arguments supporting their stance. However, I somehow get the feeling you would be the first to lable these people zealots, wouldn't you?

Re:That's their decision (5, Insightful)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279466)

They developed the file formats, so they own the intellectual property.

Of course, after they developed the file formats they violated United States antitrust law and were found guilty, and in lieu of sentencing agreed to a settlement which (in spirit, even if it contains many loopholes in letter) stipulated they must open up for use by the public the file formats, APIs, etc, which they own.

But, y'know, little niggling details.

Re:That's their decision (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279519)

Mod this guy up. That "insightful" coward needs rebutting.

Re:That's their decision (4, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279485)

Because you want something that they have. They developed the file formats, so they own the intellectual property. If you want them to spell out how they work for you, you'll have to play by their rules. If you don't like that, that's fine too.

This is in the context of governments storing data in proprietary formats. The public information would then be available only to those who use MS software or signed such an agrement with them. That's the objection. The "something they have" is the information that you have a right to already, but can't use without MS's permission.

Agreement (3, Insightful)

JanusFury (452699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279323)

However, he stood firm on the company's policy of making the XML schemas for its Office 2003 document standard publicly available provided interested parties sign an agreement with the software heavyweight. "Why should I have to sign an agreement?" one audience member demanded to know.

Isn't this basically the same as me agreeing to the terms of the GPL when I download GPLed source for a library or app that manipulates some open source document format? The only real difference is the terms of the agreement.

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279337)

The GPL is a software license, he is talking about the spec of a document format, differnt things.

Re:Agreement (2, Informative)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279350)

No.

A legally binding contractual agreement which you must sign in order to read a document and which restricts both your behavior and what you may do with the information contained in the document is in no way similar to a license attached to a document which says "if you wish to make copies of this document and distribute them to others you must satisfy certain conditions, if you cannot meet these conditions then do not redistribute this document".

Similarly signing an employment contract with the company you work for is not "basically the same" as the "All rights reserved." notice printed on a compact disc you buy.

Have a nice day.

Re:Agreement (1)

JanusFury (452699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279364)

If I use code that's licensed under the GPL, I have to agree to the terms of the GPL, yes?

And if I violate the GPL, I lose the right to use that work under the license, yes?

Re:Agreement (2, Informative)

Sircus (16869) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279384)

Define "use". If you use the code internally in your company, you can do what you want with it, including combining it with proprietary code, making changes that you don't distribute, etc. Only once you distribute the code to someone else do you have to abide by the GPL's provisions that said someone else has a right to get a copy of the source (including your modifications).

Re:Agreement (5, Insightful)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279411)

If I use code that's licensed under the GPL, I have to agree to the terms of the GPL, yes?

No.

From the GPL:
Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope.
If by "use" you mean "redistribute" then things are more complex, but since at the moment you are trying to compare the GPL to a contract which must be signed in order merely to read a certain document, there does not seem to be any reason to focus on redistribution unless you are trying to change the subject and/or create an aimless flamewar.

Re:Agreement (2, Insightful)

strider44 (650833) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279477)

In addition, the GPL is only under distribution. You can use the software in whatever way you like, but if you distribute it then you have to agree to the terms under the GPL.

However the Microsoft agreement is not similar to the GPL in any way since you are just licensing the documentation of the format under the terms that you pay Microsoft money, you don't distribute it and you don't use it in any open source projects. You also have to give Microsoft privelages to your software including auditing, create your own implimentation, and agree to put all the proposed "features" in your software (i.e. DRM and palladium) and add new features if Microsoft decides to impliment them. To even read or use the documentation you have to agree to their license.

Re:Agreement (1)

Loonacy (459630) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279351)

No. If someone sends you a file encoded with MS' proprietary XML format, you shouldn't have to agree to anything just to be able to read it.

Re:Agreement (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279369)

Isn't this basically the same as me agreeing to the terms of the GPL when I download GPLed source for a library or app that manipulates some open source document format?

No. The schema is more of a form of documentation that a library.

The scheme says what each tag does...GPL doesn't prevent you from reading the schema and using that to make your own reader. But you can bet that Microsoft's license will.

Re:Agreement (2, Informative)

dossen (306388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279426)

Well, AFAIK you do not have to agree to the GPL to _download_ and _use_ Free software. The GPL is a copyright license, which provides you with the right to distribute the software. Assume that I sell or give you a GPL'ed program (and that I include the source and the license) - you are now in possesion of a legal licensed copy of the program, which you may install and use on your computer as much as you like (copyright/fair use allows the internal copying needed to use the software). If you choose to accept the GPL, you are granted additional rights, above and beyond what copyright/fair use gives you, to copy, distribute, and modify the program, as long as you distribute under the terms of the GPL. If you don't believe me, check the GPL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html [gnu.org] ) yourself. Term 0 spells out what activities are governed by the GPL.

How to use slashdot (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279450)

1. Make references to GPL
2. Get moderated up

The only surefire way to get upmods on slashdot is to attack it. In particular, anything which attacks linux or the gpl is certain to get moderated up, because slashdot talks about the gpl so much that it seems it must be relevant to absolutely any subject, no matter what it is. Moderators will not hesitate to wonder whether the post has any relevance whatsoever to the article at hand, or whether it makes any points which would be lucid or important in any context other than slashdot; they will simply moderate up the first thing which speaks of a slashdot sacred cow in an accusatory manner.

MS Half truths (4, Insightful)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279326)

While Microsoft is not going to fool a group of ol' beardy UNIX gurus, it can still fool the general public who aren't in key with how MS operates.

"Open Source" has become a bit of a buzzword these days. I figure that Microsoft reckons that it can ride on the open source wave by twisting the meaning to it's own benefit. Not too unlike their so-called "Open Licensing" or whatever-it-was initiative.

No MS. You can say it as many times as you like, but until you release Windows under an open source licence you will never be truly open. Charging money to see source code is not "open source".... so no, you can't play in our sandpit.

Re:MS Half truths (1)

Kremmy (793693) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279345)

That would be the Shared Source Initiative, but just look at the stink they made when that partial leak of the Windows 2000 source got out.

Worked before (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279363)

Notice how Microsoft successfully ended all use of the word "innovation" anywhere in the late 90s by their repeated abuse of it.

"Open" is next.

They've found that if you don't want to do something, it's totally sufficient to not do it and then repeat to the press over and over that you did it.

Re:MS Half truths (1)

smallguy78 (775828) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279481)

The argument with Microsoft and open source always returns to Microsoft open sourcing the Windows code. I'd love to hear a strong argument or business case for why they would ever do this. I'm not being cynical, I would be interested..

When a security scare occurs with OS X, does the community suddenly leap into action, fixing the problem for Apple?

Re:MS Half truths (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279507)

Actually Open Licenses [microsoft.com] are both nice to have and have a name that makes sense. It also had nothing to do with open source or IP.

It basically said: You have a single product ID. It's valid for a minimum of 5 licenses for the Product. If you want to add more licenses at any time, in any amount, just pay us and we'll upgrade that same product key. No more managing 25,000 different licenses and product keys.

Very nice for corporations and whatnot. The Software Assurance part is pretty good too if you get it at the right time.

What a day... (3, Funny)

goMac2500 (741295) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279333)

Earlier I posted on how today Microsoft had declared beta software as ready for production, and how root is apparently completely safe. Microsoft calling themselves open source enough just takes the cake though.

Re:What a day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279359)

"Open", not "open source"

and... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279335)

our customers are also opened enough....we only have to give them a litle more vaseline to maximize the opening

Open enough... (2, Interesting)

Mjlner (609829) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279346)

...would mean (for me) that the XML schemas would be available publicly over the net. The benefits for all application developers, using MS file formats, would be huge. Say you have a web service and need to receive Office files from whatever clients you have. If the schemas would be directly available through a URL, you could use wichever parser suits you best and check the files for correctness (ie. do they contain the information you need). The possibilities would be enormous.

"We are open enough" (2, Funny)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279348)

I thought man was talking on malware authoring conference.

Madness (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279375)

It would be madness to sign any such agreement to look at their format. I would need to have some very competent lawyer go over it and figure out what it's saying and what the risks are. If I sign it, do I have the right to talk about what I have learned? Can I build tools based on this format? Are their restrictions on how I can redistribute or use such tools? If I build such tools and sell them, do I have to pay any royalties? Am I committing to patent licensing? Are there trade secrets in the formats, so that if I learn these "secrets" I can no long do any work on other open formats like OASIS? Am I committing myself to some specific dispute resolution protocol if there is a dispute under the agreement? Am I committing to some particular jurisdiction (which may not be advantageous to me)? Am I agreeing that they have injunctive relief if they think I have done something wrong under the agreement? Injunctive relief means that they could get a judge to shut me down while the dispute is being resolved, which could take years and enormous amounts of money. Until I could get some very clear answers to these questions I would stay far away, and I would guess it would a big legal bill to get answers I am comfortable with.

So before I would sign, I would need to find a lawyer and pay a lot of money to find out what the implications of signing it would be. I would go through enormous hassle and a lot of money, just so I would have the honor and delight to look at MS' file format specification. But wait, I might go through all that hassle and expense and come up with some answers that I don't like, like finding out that the spec does contain trade secrets, or that I am agreeing to give MS injunctive relief, and if I find those thing out, I will have spent all that money and still I won't be able to look at the spec.

Or I could skip all of this nonsense and ignore whatever they are offering and just use one format which I know is truly open: OASIS. I don't need to sign anything, it doesn't contain any trade secrets, I don't need a lawyer, I don't need to spend any money, I am free to write whatever kind of software I want to based on it, I can do whatever I want with it, I don't have to pay, I don't have to worry about someone getting an injunction to shut me down if he thinks I did something wrong. Wow, when you look at it this way, what's there to even think about in making this decision?

What we really need is an OASIS plug-in for MS Office so that MS Office users can use the OASIS format without any hassles. That would be cool.

OpenOffice (4, Insightful)

tacocat (527354) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279380)

My wife is in College and has a lot of term papers to write and share with other student groups for her projects. She is able to do all of this with Open Office by converting to .doc formats without incidents.

The only problem she ran into was PDF. She was using it for her last semester and loved it's simplicity of use with OpenOffice. But then she ran into someone in her class who "couldn't open it in notepad". Avoiding my Nike Burns, Computer Guy, impressions I thought it best to just export to .doc format and leave it at that.

This is the third year that We've been using only OpenOffice on Linux. I've also shown a few others the use of OpenOffice on Windows and they have adopted it as well. As far as I'm concerned, at this point, Microsoft really doesn't have anything useful to add to a word processor. Wait, they might be able to add something, but it's not cost effective.

Re:OpenOffice (1)

grazzy (56382) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279530)

Hoho-ho-ho bull-ho-ho-shit-ho.

Sorry for the inflammatory flamefest this will start. But you're the first Linux-troll I've seen on this site.

Try creating a table in word > 2 pages long. Try importing said document in open office.

Now tell me again open office is not flawed :-)

Sign what now? (1)

Kaelem (263513) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279383)

Unless I missed it, the article doesn't say what type of agreement it is they would have to sign, or what terms there are.

I'm guessing some sort of NDA-ish, so you don't go publishing the spec all over the place. Which, in the case of a file format, is exactly what I would consider "open source". A freely avaliable spec.

Well, I suppose it still might be free(as in no money) even with signing the agreement, just not easily avaliable.

Wish I'd known he was there... (4, Insightful)

digipres (877201) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279391)

Dang. While Mr Microsoft was next door, I was sitting at the OpenOffice miniconf at LCA just 60 metres away. I wonder if he knew that the Forces For Good were gathered so close by.

I'm glad someone mentioned the NAA and the use of OOo. For the purposes of Digital Preservation, openly documented formats are essential. XML is good, but XML that you have to sign up for? C'mon Mr MS, who are you kidding?

At the NAA, we're about keeping records for long after we're all dead. Digital records *must* be stored in publicly documented formats. Your grandkids won't be keen to sign an agreement to use those records.

Yeah, Open. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279393)

Microsoft is as open as the goatse.cx guy.

In a sense, they're right (3, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279419)

Why should I have to sign an agreement?" one audience member demanded to know.

Last time I checked, Microsoft are under no obligation to provide anyone with any details about their XML schema.

Despite the fact that you have to sign an agreement, this is certainly more "open" than a blanket rejection to everyone who requests access.

I can think of plenty of companies who won't let you get details about a file format they use under any circumstances.

Why not just stick with their binary format? (4, Insightful)

zonix (592337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279479)

Last time I checked, Microsoft are under no obligation to provide anyone with any details about their XML schema.

They're not, but then why not just stick with their binary format? Offering an XML-based file format (cabability) without supplying the schemas is not all that useful? You get the data, sure, but you could always export as plaintext for that.

Furthermore, it's certainly contrary to the basic idea and openess of the XML format, if you're gonna trap people with a patent license, trying to control how they parse the XML?

This is deceptive if you ask me.

z

Re:In a sense, they're right (1)

LarryWest42 (220323) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279511)

The rules are different for monopolies. At least when they're enforced.

Re:In a sense, they're right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279516)

Last time I checked, Microsoft are under no obligation to provide anyone with any details about their XML schema.

Perhaps not.

But if they aren't going to provide details about their XML schema, then they shouldn't go running to the press and public saying that they did.

They should pick one. Either open their file formats or don't use claims of open file formats as a PR tool. Microsoft may not have an "obligation" to refrain from publicly telling baldfaced lies, but... fuck it, they shouldn't tell lies anyway.

Open enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279424)

Well, so are most of the online banks. All is relative eh? :)

Tin foil hat time (0, Troll)

smallguy78 (775828) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279428)

It's that time of the day again - Microsoft bitching hour. Let me start you off:

Evil M$$ and their monopolistic corporate greed tactics, viva la linux revolution!

Microsoft is about as open as... (1)

Blue Eagle 26 (683113) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279451)

Microsoft is about as open as a feminists thighs.

not this again... (1)

killtheOSSnazis (861780) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279461)

where is the picture of people beating a dead horse when you need it?

Makes sense... (5, Funny)

zecg (521666) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279496)

Root is safe, beta is gold, MS is open enough and MN2004 is coming back on a corrected trajectory. All makes sense.

Are you open enough? (2, Interesting)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279498)

Seriously, if you ask M$ if there open enough they'll say yes, if you ask them if there software is the best, they'll say yes, if you ask them if Linux is some unrealistic thing done by weird people who live under bridges they'll say yes.


M$, for some people, will never be open enough, but has this affected integration with M$ and Open source programs, if anything I've noticed Open Office is better at back compatibility with old word documents than Word itself.


And As for "They'll never be truely be open until they open source windows". Why should they? Sure some people think all software should be free, but some people like to be rewarded in megabucks for there software, and if its worth it sure. This is, of course, ignoring that windows is not worth its current price even if it isn't worthless.

Why should I blah blah blah (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12279508)

"Why should I have to sign an agreement?" one audience member demanded to know.

Well that audience member is an idiot. The formats are as open as any other proprietory format, and more open than 99% of them. You can reverse-engineer your own files without a spec - just look at the XML. Or, if you want the complete IP delivered in a nutshell onto your lap, you have to sign an agreement.

Of course, none of this excuses the millions of idiots who use Word and then bitch that it's a closed format. But given those idiots exist, and given we can shut up people like this "why should I sign a piece of paper" guy, we can pretty much interoperate with Word now.

Microsoft, they're just so damned evil that even when they do something good, it's evil. Whereas Stallman releases a virus that infects font files and everyone says he's a hero.

mkay, high horse again: (2, Insightful)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 9 years ago | (#12279513)

"However, it was the proprietary standards that grew up and allowed those open standards to develop."

There are probably enough people out there who would heartly defend FOSS against such a statement against MS for a simple reason: FOSS was there about one&half decades before MS started to appear.

The other thing that bothers: We had to ask the question of whether to include backwards compatibility for that [OpenOffice.org] specification. Is just this simple to brush away odf as sucking too much to even care [at MS], and, funny thing, nobody objects to this ?

Microsoft promoted common development of standards by sitting on all of the representative bodies working on them

Just one quick example. MS also was in boards creating h.264. And now they have a closed implementation of something like it in wmv10. MS being in all of those boards in absolutely not about helping anyone: it's about being there where these happen, to know about them, to influence it towards they see it best, etc. Is there anyone who honestly believes MS is there to help ?

"why should I have my documents from government in a proprietary format and have to ask a third party for permission to open them?".

Quite true. In the sense, that if e.g. an official body picks a proprietary format to distribute documents, they implicitely force everyone else to use these, which in MS's case means either more pirates or more money.

I, personally, wouldn't like either of those.

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