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Microsoft Blasts IBM Over XML Standards

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the dude-i-am-so-telling-mom dept.

Microsoft 323

carlmenezes writes "Ars Technica has up an article discussing Microsoft's latest salvo against IBM. Microsoft's open letter to IBM adds fresh ammunition to the battle of words between those who support Microsoft's Open XML and OpenOffice.org's OpenDocument file formats. Microsoft has strong words for IBM, which it accuses of deliberately trying to sabotage Microsoft's attempt to get Open XML certified as a standard by the ECMA. In the letter, general managers Tom Robertson and Jean Paol write: 'When ODF was under consideration, Microsoft made no effort to slow down the process because we recognized customers' interest in the standardization of document formats.' In contrast, the authors charge that IBM 'led a global campaign' urging that governments and other organizations demand that International Standards Organization (ISO) reject Open XML outright."

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323 comments

IBM or Microsoft (4, Funny)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037480)

Help! I just bought a ThinkPad (yes, IBM, not Lenovo). I run Windows on it. Which side should I take?!

Off-Topic (-1, Offtopic)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037494)

This is way off topic, but i just realized I don't have a "reply" button underneath the article.. where the hell did it dissapear to?

Re:IBM or Microsoft (0)

cronot (530669) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037502)

Linux.

Re:IBM or Microsoft (4, Insightful)

maharg (182366) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037528)

Hmm. Assuming you have no budget and no alternative computing facilities..

Could the IBM product function without the MS one ? Yes, you could download an alternative OS for free.
Could the MS product function without the IBM one ? No.

Go with IBM, brother.

Re:IBM or Microsoft (1, Funny)

Chris_Stankowitz (612232) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037594)

Hmm. Assuming you have no budget and no alternative computing facilities..

Could the IBM product function without the MS one ? Yes, you could download an alternative OS for free.
Could the MS product function without the IBM one ? No.

Go with IBM, brother.
When did Windows stop working on other Laptop/Desktop models...wait, don't answer that.

Chris-

Re:IBM or Microsoft (3, Insightful)

TheLinuxSRC (683475) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037760)

"When did Windows stop working on other Laptop/Desktop models.."

I have to assume GP was referring to the fact that GGP bought the laptop with Windows installed. That being the case, he more than likely bought an OEM license which, I am sure you are aware, is non-transferable. That being the case, the laptop *will* work fine without Windows, however, since Windows cannot be (legally) transferred to another machine, it *will not* work on other hardware (legally).

"...wait, don't answer that."

Ooops... too late :)

Re:IBM or Microsoft (2, Funny)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037562)

Rip off all the stickers, starting with Windows Genuine Certificate at the bottom...
Install Linux, pretend that your laptop is a generic Chinese copy...
Have peace of mind, start coding...

Re:IBM or Microsoft (4, Funny)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037678)

My laptops designed for Windows sticker is on the fridge in my old flat. I just hope a Slashdot reader got that house and thought "I knew I could run Linux on a toaster, but Windows on a fridge..."

Re:IBM or Microsoft (1)

projektdotnet (1061236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037898)

I think a blue freezer would be a better spot to stick that. I would be worried about that beef you've had in there since last week though it's probably been corrupted by the last Blue screen of death.

Re:IBM or Microsoft (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18038068)

I wouldn't worry at all, Windows is very good at freezing.

Re:IBM or Microsoft (-1, Offtopic)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037872)

Funny thing, the first thing I did when first powering it on was to tear off the fugly windows sticker.

Re:IBM or Microsoft (1)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038010)

I left on my Thinkpad the famous "Designed for Windows XP".

But I run Linux, what an irony...

Re:IBM or Microsoft (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037676)

Well you don't have a "Windows" button, so I think you are on IBM's side. ;)

Re:IBM or Microsoft (1)

drwtsn32 (674346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037688)

Actually, IBM/Lenovo finally changed that. Just ordered some T60's at work and they have the Windows/Menu keys on the keyboard.

Re:IBM or Microsoft (3, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037762)

And thank god for them.

When you're a windows user, you really need those two keys in order to use windows's keyboard shortcuts - which you want to.

When you're a linux/bsd/whatever user, you've got yourself a nice set of "Meta" keys.

Re:IBM or Microsoft (3, Insightful)

linvir (970218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038100)

Additional keys are all well and good, but what I think really irks people about this particular key is that it has the Windows logo on it.

It would be exactly as useful and 0% as annoying if they kept the key but printed something else on it, like a star, or a light bulb or something.

Re:IBM or Microsoft (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037960)

This has nothing to do with IBM, believe me. It upset quite a few IBM users as well (who think the Windows key is a waste of space, which I agree with)

Re:IBM or Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037920)

Hey, slow down Microsoft, you're about to become the new IBM...
So start focusing on consulting and forget about software for the masses.
Be kind with your predecessor and prepare to help your customers deploy odf.

I don't know about you guys (5, Insightful)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037488)

It does not take a rocket scientist with a good look at the spec to figure out it sucks. The fact that it sucks has little to do with IBM.

Re:I don't know about you guys (1, Funny)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037600)

What the heck kind of open document format requires a rocket scientist to figure out it sucks? Most rocket scientists know more about you know... rockets and stuff.

They both suck. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037726)

Having looked into both formats, I realized that they're both trash.

The major problem is the use of XML. At least with HTML, the tag names were kept short. But both standards use rather long element names, often in excess of eight characters, plus eight or more namespace characters beyond that. For some of the XML element names of each format, we're looking at over 16 characters overhead! When such tags are used repeatedly, especially in a large or heavily-formatted document, a lot of space ends up being wasted.

Another major problem is that they don't really solve any problems that LaTeX or GROFF haven't already dealt with. Both LaTeX and GROFF allow for far more compact document files, and they easily allow for output in a wide array of formats, from DVI to PostScript to PDFs to HTML. The HTML that is generated, for instance, is actually human-readable. OpenOffice.org and MS Office's HTML output is garbled and insane.

Re:They both suck. (5, Informative)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037914)

Wow, it's almost as if we need some form of compression that would find often repeated strings and replace them with short strings. Let's invent it and write a program called gzip!

Re:They both suck. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18038006)

That's basically what OpenOffice.org does. And you know what? It's a hassle. If you want to view the XML itself, say for document recovery purposes, you have to decompress the document file. That's easy enough to do on a system like Linux, that comes with gzip, unzip, and other decompress programs by default. But on Windows it's a massive pain in the ass.

Re:They both suck. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18038116)

Well, sir, do I have good news for you.

There is a new viewer/editor program for OpenOffice.org files called, wait for it, "OpenOffice.org."

After installing the new OpenOffice.org file viewer/editor program, you will have the ability to open, view, edit and close ODF files without needing a separate compression utility.

It's like MAGIC!

Re:They both suck. (1, Funny)

arevos (659374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038124)

That's easy enough to do on a system like Linux, that comes with gzip, unzip, and other decompress programs by default. But on Windows it's a massive pain in the ass.
Last I checked, Windows XP could open ZIP files without any third party software. Simply changing the file extension to ".zip" does not seem a massive pain in the ass to me.

Re:They both suck. (4, Insightful)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038020)

The "space" is not that big of a concern, really. When LaTeX and GROFF were formulated, 640K was significant amounts of memory, and a 10MB hard disk was luxury. Space was important. Not so much anymore: 256-512MB RAM is standard, with 1-1.5GB not being unreasonable on a desktop, with 100's of GB of disk space. I know, "bandwidth" is still a somewhat limiting factor - but that's starting to die as a limitation, too. That all said, for the on-disk/transferable format, remember that at least the OO format is gzipped. Those repeating 16-character tags compress really nicely when gzipped.

However, I think this thread is really missing IBM's point. It's not that Microsoft's "standard" is horrible (which it is), it's that having competing "standards" will detract from the whole idea of having the standard: interoperability. Microsoft is attempting to subvert the standards process to be able to claim that MS Word complies with open standards while still making it nearly impossible for others to do so, which maintains Microsoft's lock on the word processor market. IBM is opposed to that as it will impede the ability for anyone relying on these open standards to reduce lock-in to actually meet their requirements. (Of course, it also impedes Lotus' ability to penetrate those markets, as well as OOo, AbiWord, KWord, and lots of others.)

Re:They both suck. (2, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038162)

For some of the XML element names of each format, we're looking at over 16 characters overhead! When such tags are used repeatedly, especially in a large or heavily-formatted document, a lot of space ends up being wasted.

The XML is compressed before it is saved. Yes, there is redundancy in the source XML, but that doesn't mean you store the redundancy.

Re:They both suck. (2, Informative)

arevos (659374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038168)

The major problem is the use of XML. At least with HTML, the tag names were kept short. But both standards use rather long element names, often in excess of eight characters, plus eight or more namespace characters beyond that. For some of the XML element names of each format, we're looking at over 16 characters overhead! When such tags are used repeatedly, especially in a large or heavily-formatted document, a lot of space ends up being wasted.
The size of the element names are largely irrelevant, since OpenDocument files are normally compressed ZIP files. Very little space is wasted.

Poor Microsoft (-1, Flamebait)

Secrity (742221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037492)

Poor Microsoft is whining because the mean old IBM is trying to impede Microsoft's world domination.

mind boggling (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037498)

He who deceives himself deceives a fool.

Required response. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037536)

I'm not a fool, you insesitive clod!

It's not an IBM's format (4, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037522)

Perhaps IBM's actions are based on the format qualities, not on its favoritisms. About those, since when IBM was in bed with Sun any more than it was with Microsoft?

This "Open Letter" is nothing than another piece of FUD and whining.

IBM or MS who to trust (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18038134)

If you were smart you would realize both organizations have a lot invested in this. With the adoption of ODF, open source software will get a big advantage, and considering that ODF does not support a good chunk of features in Office 2007 (Excel etc.) Microsoft will be on the losing end if governments adopt it. IBM will be very glad if Microsoft goes down in importance, so will other technology companies, but they both have lots of money residing on this, so without reading the spec, and knowing what really is going on i would not trust either of the companies. Frankly they are all(MS,IBM,APPL,SUN etc.) FUD spreading, cash hounding corporate entities, there is not much you can do, that is capitalism.

If for some reason you think the big guys opensource stuff, just to feel better trust me they don't, they do it because they get more money out of it, so they are willing to sink money into it.

Microsoft is being disingenuous (5, Informative)

brennanw (5761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037526)

... but that shouldn't surprise anyone.

'When ODF was under consideration, Microsoft made no effort to slow down the process because we recognized customers' interest in the standardization of document formats.'


This might be true, but when Massachusetts decided to adopt this standard they raised holy hell, and used every trick in the book to make Massachusetts take it back.

Re:Microsoft is being disingenuous (2, Funny)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038014)

they raised holy hell

I'm not sure which is more amazing, that they made Hell holy, or that they raised it.

Considering though we're talking about Microsoft, i'm not sure it needs to make sense.

Re:Microsoft is being disingenuous (2, Funny)

brennanw (5761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038094)

Well they were running Unholy Hell 1.0 and found a bug...

Re:Microsoft is being disingenuous (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038170)

Well they were running Unholy Hell 1.0 and found a bug...

Must have been working at Volksvagen. :)

Of course they did (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037532)

Besides being an open standard, the standard needs to be usable by people other than Microsoft. Why would any document standard need specific tags for Windows 95? IBM lobbied against it because it was a bad standard, not because it was made by Microsoft.

Re:Of course they did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037620)

But the other standard is lacking as well and already has plenty of 'expansions' in the works... equations, for example? From what I've gathered, neither is perfect by a long shot.

The only standard that stands still is dead (2, Informative)

tjwhaynes (114792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037874)

Okay - the subject is probably overkill. Standards change all the time. Or rather, standards gain extensions and new features all the time. I work with DRDA (a database networking protocol to encapsulate data passed from client to server and back) and it is constantly being added to to cope with new situations and requirements. That's not to say it's a bad standard - the core is solid and does (mostly) what database people need it to do. When we need it to do something new, we make proposals. The DRDA review board takes a look at it. Other people who use DRDA get an opportunity to make changes or block it entirely. We make changes to the proposal and it goes around again. Eventually, once consensus is reached, it gets formally written up and becomes a part of the next iteration of the DRDA standard.

When a standard stops evolving, it is because people no longer need it to do something new. That can be for entirely good reasons (it does everything one could conceivable need) but it does mean that that standard has reached it's natural limits.

ODF continues to evolve because people keep needing documents to do new stuff. Collaboration, equations, macros, formulas are all areas of change. A good standard recognizes that change will happen and builds that change right into the core structure. ODF has an extensions mechanism for precisely this reason. You will still be able to open an ODF version 1.2 document with an editor that only supports ODF version 1.0. Any features that are not supported by the ODF 1.0 editor won't be usable, visible or editable but that won't stop you getting at the rest of the data.

Cheers,
Toby Haynes

A standard of one (5, Interesting)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037538)

Is it really an open standard if they are the only ones that developed it? It reminds me of a quote which I will paraphrase:

Reusable code is not truly reusable until it has been used more than once.

Re:A standard of one (1)

ameline (771895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037836)

Just as portable code is only really portable if it has been ported to a different platform at least once.

you're both wrong (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037886)

Reusable and portable have the -able morpheme stuck at the end. There's a reason for that.

Code that's been used more than once is reused (in the second instance). Code could be
reusable and never have been reused. Reusable indicates the ability to be reused.

Similary, portable indicates only the possibility of movement across platforms, not any
actual history thereof.

And, yes, IAAL (I am a linguist).

Re:you're both wrong (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038138)

Well, first: *wooosh*

And on a more serious note: Yes, "portable" means that it should be possible to move it across platforms. In theory. In practice, this is rarely the case, and when this comes up, it shows that a lot of source that's written to be portable is not really portable.

The same goes for "reusable".

Re:you're both wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18038150)

And the Sears Tower is portable.

Sure, it's never been moved and nobody would ever want to move it, but it COULD be moved.

Theory, meet practice (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038204)

"In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is." - someone, at some time

Re:A standard of one (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037870)

Is it really an open standard if they are the only ones that developed it?

They would like to have us believe that their 'open standard' is such, that's the point of this whining.

But, any spec which basically falls back to "do what older versions of our code did" without documenting that, is very far from being a spec.

This is just MS whining because people are calling them on trying to put for a 'standard' which is defined in terms of their legacy apps.

Cheers

Been done before. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18038070)

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

When you're a convict.... (3, Insightful)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037540)

This is similar to convicts trying to get jobs once out of prison. There is no longer an assumed trust due to prior actions. Who trusts MS to NOT pervert any of their documentation or standards if they see an economic benefit in doing so?

Re:When you're a convict.... (4, Insightful)

alexhs (877055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037780)

The standard is already perverted...
When a "standard" [ecma-international.org] says :

2.15.3.6 autoSpaceLikeWord95 (Emulate Word 95 Full-Width Character Spacing)

This element specifies that applications shall emulate the behavior of a previously existing word processing application (Microsoft Word 95) when determining the spacing between full-width East Asian characters in a document's content.

[Guidance: To faithfully replicate this behavior, applications must imitate the behavior of that application, which involves many possible behaviors and cannot be faithfully placed into narrative for this Office Open XML Standard. If applications wish to match this behavior, they must utilize and duplicate the output of those applications. It is recommended that applications not intentionally replicate this behavior as it was deprecated due to issues with its output, and is maintained only for compatibility with existing documents from that application. end guidance]
What value has that standard. Instead of 6000 pages of "specification", they could have put the standard as "OOXML applications should render OOXML documents in the same way as MS-Office 2007 renders them".

It's shorter, more accurate, and only a little less helpful...

Re:When you're a convict.... (1)

Christopher_G_Lewis (260977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038018)

Maybe it's there to allow you to convert a document *from* word 95 with full-width East Asian characters into something from the 21st century that understands Unicode...

Basically, moving from a proprietary, bad hack for a problem that didn't have a solution (unicode) into something that's much more universally acceptable.

Geez. Give them a break on this. Converting docs from old Word is going to be *hard*. All the stuff that MS did before unicode (win 3.1, 95 & 98, so word 6, 7, 95) to get alternate character sets working was hackish, proprietary and non-portable, but it certainly worked.

They are now trying to make good with this crap by giving you config options to deal with these hacks. I would think that you could load one of these old docs, and save it as DOCX and it would look and print the same as before.

Would certainly save a lot of head aches for archival document conversion...

Re:When you're a convict.... (5, Insightful)

Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038146)

Maybe it's there to allow you to convert a document *from* word 95 with full-width East Asian characters into something from the 21st century that understands Unicode...

...

They are now trying to make good with this crap by giving you config options to deal with these hacks. I would think that you could load one of these old docs, and save it as DOCX and it would look and print the same as before.

That is a very nice feature for an Office program. However, we are talking about whether it should be included in a document format. Please include some reasons why it should.

Re:When you're a convict.... (2, Insightful)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038024)

I don't think that is so strange; it's a deprecated element, for backwards compatibility, not meant to be used anymore.

What's bizarre is that a new standard, that Word95 cannot read at all, is encumbered by deprecated backwards compatibility elements at all! They should just be left out.

crybabies (2, Insightful)

Bog Standard (743863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037544)

So what Microsoft is really saying is that because we didn't block ODF (as there was nothing wrong with it anyway) you should not block OpenXML accordingly (irrespective of any reasons)

Boring Boring Boring. More posturing as per usual

Be alert the world need more lerts

Wait... what? (4, Insightful)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037546)

'When ODF was under consideration, Microsoft made no effort to slow down the process because we recognized customers' interest in the standardization of document formats.'

Yeah... are we supposed to believe that? If anything creating there "open" format looks to me like a blatant attempt to prevent the one thing that open format people are trying to accomplish, namely having one open format that can be used by everyone and can't be arbitrarily obsoleted by any one company. Or maybe I missed something.

10 Billion In Revenue - You'd Be Pissed Too (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037548)

Billions in revenue all due to file format lock in. And IBM is trying to fuck that up. You'd be pissed too.

Even a modest loss of that revenue would bring dramatic changes to Microsoft as a company and how it operates.

Open XML is an open standard (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037550)

And it performs brilliantly with any product you want: MS Office Ultimate 2007, MS Office Professional 2007, MS Office Enterprise 2007, MS Office Standard 2007, or MS Office Small Business 2007.

Details here [microsoft.com] .

why would IBM do such a thing? (2, Funny)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037554)

Given Microsoft's amazing track record at standardization!

Re:why would IBM do such a thing? (5, Funny)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037640)

Were sorry this comment is not compatible with Slashdot '97. We can open it but it will require us to arbitrarily break the formating. To keep from seeing this message please upgrade to the latest version of Slashdot.

yea sure (5, Informative)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037556)

This little blurb just kills me...

"When ODF was under consideration, Microsoft made no effort to slow down the process because we recognized customers' interest in the standardization of document formats."

Yep you bet no effort to slow down the standardization process because they refused to be involved. However they have made every effort possible and will continue to do so in the future to slow
the adoption and deployment of this standard by any means necessary.

Poor Microsoft (4, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037564)

Their heads are so far up their asses they cant even see that the problem with Open XML has less to do with Microsoft being the one who created it (which in MY mind is a problem in it's self) and a lot more to do with Open XML, which as a format, makes baby kittens cry.

Re:Poor Microsoft (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038172)

Oh, I expect they can see it perfectly well [1], it's just convenient for them to pretend that they can't.

[1] After all, what do you expect to find up somebody's ass? Yep, Open XML fits the bill neatly!

Ars missing something (4, Informative)

grimJester (890090) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037578)

I thought the main objection to OpenXML was that it fails to define a number of things, essentially saying "render like WordPerfect 1.0", making it an incomplete standard. Making it not impossible but very difficult for anyone other than Microsoft to implement it so it's fully compatible with the MS version.

Re:Ars missing something (4, Informative)

phayes (202222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038038)

A secondary major objection is that MS placed OpenXML on an accelerated track to acceptance. Had they used the normal track, most of the objections could be ironed out eventually, but as I understand it, using the fast track process mean that OpenXML must be accepted or rejected as-is. In other words, IT'S THEIR OWN DAMN FAULT for submitting an incomplete specification.

(unofficial) IBM response (except not IBM) (4, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037580)

Hey Microsoft! We don't just hate you: fact is, your OpenXML spec is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots! I mean, we at IBM know a brain-damaged document format when we see one (heck, we invented plenty of them ourselves) and trust us, this one takes the cake. Ratification of this garbage could set the word processing industry back about twenty years. So don't give us the "customer's interest" line. We know what this is all about: this is about YOU.

Disclaimer: I don't work for IBM (anymore|yet) and these ain't IBM opinions. Well, not official opinions, anyway. ^^

Re:(unofficial) IBM response (except not IBM) (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037918)

Brilliant!

I feel sorry for Microsoft (5, Insightful)

loftwyr (36717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037586)

After all they had to create a 6000 page document without releasing any information on how to make their "open" standard work. There are so many statements like "functions as per Word 95" without explaining what that means. They must have worked long hours creating a specification that doesn't actually specify how to implement it.

IBM is being a big bully and not allowing Microsoft to screw the public and private companies of the world as Microsoft wants to.

Naughty Naughty Big Blue.

Re:I feel sorry for Microsoft (4, Interesting)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037834)

There are so many statements like "functions as per Word 95" without explaining what that means.

Exactly. More about this here - how to hire Guillaume Portes [robweir.com] .

Whose format is whose? (5, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037588)

OpenOffice.org's OpenDocument

While it is clear the so-called Open XML is owned, controlled, and licensed by MS, is ODF actually owned by OO.org. And, if so, will OO.org use it to limit users ability to migrate data? The reason why so many people are against any MS format is that MS will actively limit the ability for the user to use the data. For instance, it could be that a user that does not license a copy of MS Word does not have the right to use a particular format.

In fact the ODF format appears free of any such encumbrance, and SUN, which contributed much of it, has pledged it to remain unencumbered. Therefore, this seems like simple marketplace economics. If one has two products, and one is somewhat better but has a high real cost of acquisition, and the other is slightly worse but has a significantly less real cost of acquisition, the the market will choose the later. MS understands this, as cheap products is why people bought MS instead of IBM, and why MS continues to pay huge sums of money to create favorable TCO reports. There, this MS rant is simply an attempt to distract technical staff from the real issue, which is that future growth will be limited for benefits that are not always clear.

OASIS submitted ODF (4, Informative)

shis-ka-bob (595298) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037866)

ODF has its origins with StarOffice/OpenOffice.org, but ODF is not 'owned' by OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org controls the source code for one of several software suites that use ODF. OASIS submitted ODF, as discussed in the Cover Pages. ODF had signficant revisions during the approval process, and it continues to evolve as a result of efforts by concerned parties. However, in the case of ODF, the concerned parties are not third parties, but active participants. Handicapped users expressed concerns about the format's accessibility. They were empowered to change the standard, because ODF is a public standard.

This emphasis on ODF is to strengthen the parent post's claim on the importance of ODF being unencumbered.

Re:Whose format is whose? (4, Informative)

ILikeRed (141848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038160)

Programs that use ODF natively include:
  • OpenOffice
  • Star Office
  • Google Docs & Spreadsheets
  • KOffice
  • Scribus
  • Abiword
  • ajaxWrite
  • Zoho Writer
  • Ichitaro
  • IBM's Lotus/Domino
  • IBM Workplace
  • Mobile Office
  • Gnumeric
  • Neo Office
  • Hancom Office
  • WordPerfect???
So it is just Microsoft who is trying to frame this as a MS Office vs. OpenOffice argument, when it really is an Open, multi-vendor format vs a single vendor, obfuscated format argument. Argue formats, not software.

pot kettle black (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037606)

1: Pot => Kettle = "black";
2: goto 1;

Clouding the issue - backwards (5, Interesting)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037626)

You have to love Microsoft's wording:

This campaign to stop even the consideration of Open XML in ISO/IEC JTC1 is a blatant attempt to use the standards process to limit choice in the marketplace for ulterior commercial motives
Choice in the marketplace (in products) is great, and something I support wholeheartedly. However, choice in a standard is exactly what you don't want. ISO standards exist to increase interoperability, not to provide alternatives for people who want to pick this or that protocol. There is an international standard for document format - instead of muddying the water and introducing a competing standard (arguably an oxymoron), why not simply promote the "choice" they claim to espouse and produce a product that implements the standard and give the market choice.

Microsoft seems to have it backwards. When it comes to standards, they advocate choice. When it comes to software, they advocate monoculture.

The questions I ask are rhetorical - I know the answer, and so should most people. The open source community (among others) have blasted Microsoft for years for trampling choice in software. Now they are seeing that open source (and competition in general) has a real chance of making significant headway with a well documented, open standard that anyone can implement, that will interoperate, and isn't controlled by themselves, so now they use the community's arguments, but in an area where it's not appropriate. They use the words the community has used to attack their software monoculture to attack a standards monoculture. It's calculated, and a smart move on their part. Utterly contemptuous and underhanded, but very very smart.

Re:Clouding the issue - backwards (1)

greviant (1038530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037942)

Microsoft seems to have it backwards. When it comes to standards, they advocate choice. When it comes to software, they advocate monoculture.
This may be the most revealing statement ever made about M$.

Re:Clouding the issue - backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18038008)

You said it. Here's a few more quotes from Microsoft that I found hilarious. Isn't this the stuff that people usually accuse Microsoft of?

"Exclusivity makes no sense -- except to those who lack confidence in their ability to compete in the marketplace on the technical merits of their alternative standard."

"This campaign to limit choice and force their single standard on consumers should be resisted."

Re:Clouding the issue - backwards (1)

LO0G (606364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038184)

Damn. Choice in standards is bad.

That sucks, because it means that for wireless networking I'll lose all my choices. I can't chose between 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n because the only the first standard wins.

I also don't get to chose cell phone providers because there's only one standard for cellular phones (so much for CDMA vs GSM).

You're always going to have choice in standards.

Orwellian (1)

Vulva R. Thompson, P (1060828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037628)

"...because we recognized customers' interest in the standardization of document formats"

"Microsoft has determined that it is important to shine a bright light on IBM's activities that will have a negative impact on the IT industry and customers, including taking concrete steps to prevent customer choice, engaging in hypocrisy, and working against the industry and against customer needs," said the spokesperson. "Microsoft will continue to be public in identifying the ways that IBM is trying to prevent customer choice."

Is there a class in Business School that teaches this stuff? That transparently stupid statements are ok to make because only your "reality" counts?

On day one of this class do you walk in the door and the professor says "The sky is blue. Unless you don't want it to be."

Wow.

Re:Orwellian (1)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037982)

Yes, it's called the Donald Rumsfeld School of Management.

Losing their cool? (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037660)

Sorry, the "open letter" is just a bit too familiar to anyone who's raised children.

OH GOD MAKE IT STOP! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037674)

I just read thru the whole pile of shit, and all I've got to stay, standing here in front of you in great astonishment given all this impudence, is: BIG FUCK YOU, Microsoft. You can only feel ashamed for what this pathetic company of well-organized assholes is trying to pull of once again with this "open letter".

In XML-based file formats, which can easily interoperate through translators and be implemented side by side in productivity software, this exclusivity makes no sense except to those who lack confidence in their ability to compete in the marketplace on the technical merits of their alternative standard. This campaign to limit choice and force their single standard on consumers should be resisted.

Yeah, right. I hope you die.

creators disempowering unprecedented evile kode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037680)

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Huh? (4, Insightful)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037696)

Microsoft's format in and of itself is an attempt to sabatoge OpenDocument. Their refusal to support it, despite having the most popular Office Suit is another clear sign of their contempt for it, and the customers they claim to care about now.

God forbid IBM promotes their own standard. Jeez, that's almost like having competition! We'de hate to have to make MS actually compete with anyone. On top of all that, why in the world would IBM trust MS not to tweak the standand and make it MS only? Why would anyone who actually cares about an open format trust MS to touch it?

open letter? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037706)

If I were the type to post a goatse link, I'd give them an "open" letter alright..

I already blogged about this. . . (5, Interesting)

oneandoneis2 (777721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037716)

Here's what I wrote [oneandoneis2.org] :o)

of the 21 members, IBM's was the sole dissenting vote. IBM again was the lone dissenter when Ecma also agreed to submit Open XML as a standard so long as you don't count the twenty assorted countries [consortiuminfo.org] that registered comments and objections to our fast-tracking proposal.

When ODF was under consideration, Microsoft made no effort to slow down the process because we were too busy trying to kill it completely.

This campaign to stop even the consideration of Open XML in ISO/IEC JTC1 is a blatant attempt to use the standards process to limit choice in the marketplace for ulterior commercial motives and is in no way whatsoever similar to our own campaign to stop the consideration of ODF in Massachusetts for our own commercial interest.

It is not a coincidence that IBM's Lotus Notes product, which IBM is actively promoting in the marketplace, fails to support the Open XML international standard in the same way as all other office software (other than our own) does, because we deliberately designed it so nobody but us could use it.

If successful, the campaign to block consideration of Open XML could create a dynamic where the first technology to the standards body, regardless of technical merit, gets to preclude other related ones from being considered and that's one of our tactics, dammit! Or do you actually think all those people out there using Internet Explorer do so because they tried out Opera and Firefox too, but decided IE was the best browser going? No, they use it because it was the first browser they ever used.

The IBM driven effort to force ODF on users through public procurement mandates is a further attempt to stop us forcing Open XML on them instead through our usual blatant monopoly abuse.

XML-based file formats, which can easily interoperate through translators can easily allow Open XML documents to be imported into Lotus Notes, and there are two such translators currently in existence - one of which we ourselves initiated - so we're being blatantly two-faced here by saying that Lotus Notes not supporting Open XML will be a significant barrier to people using Open XML for their documents.

This campaign to limit choice and force their single standard on consumers should be resisted so that we can limit choice and force our single standard onto consumers. Don't you know how important lock-in is to us??

We have listened to our customers. They want choice. They want interoperability. They want innovation. But we don't have to give it to them, because we're Microsoft! Bwahahahahah! Give us money or you'll wither and fade into the limbo of incompatibility.

What do you mean, that tactic doesn't work any more? It's got to, our whole business depends on it!

Damnit. . . hand me another chair. . .

The crucible? (1)

aphor (99965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037722)

If logic in public discourse is the crucible of refined ideas, why not let the arguments stand on their own merits without questioning the implied rules of the game?

Wait wait wait... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037728)

MSFT "supported" the ODF standard then goes out and invents their own standard anyways? And now they question why IBM is agianst it?

Me thinks MSFT should look up the definition of standard.

Tom

They cannot possibly be serious. (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037734)

This campaign to stop even the consideration of Open XML in ISO/IEC JTC1 is a blatant attempt to use the standards process to limit choice in the marketplace for ulterior commercial motives - and without regard for the negative impact on consumer choice and technological innovation.
If this isn't the pot calling the kettle black, then I really don't know what is... I mean, come on! This is Microsoft!

Sweet tears!! (1)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037738)

This article reminds me of the south park episode of Cartman vs Scott Tedderman(sp)
MS is crying because IBM is returning a dose of their own medicine.

One True Format (5, Insightful)

BlightShadow (678579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037758)

After reading the Open letter, it's very clear that Microsoft claims IBM's want to stop Open XML stems from their ODF format making it through the standards group first and being adopted. MS claims that people should be able to choose their open standards...

Call me crazy but having two different standards doesn't really capture the idea of having Standards at all. I thought the point of standards was to make it so we (the developers) only have to implement one thing. I can fully understand IBM's reasoning here. The only thing it seems MS wants to do is create more vendor lock.

Whats that I hear? (2, Funny)

ace418 (1011823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037766)

Whats that Microsoft? IBM did what? Uh huh... uh huh... You sure? uh huh... Quick Somebody call Whine-1-1, and request a Whaaaaambulance!

what exactly is wrong? (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037788)

If IBM was doing anything, it was informing the public and standards board about how OpenXML is a poor standard for reinventing the wheel on everything.

ODF had a long open development period. Microsoft could have participated in this if they really cared about standards and a backward compatibile feature set. Instead they chose to develop their own format. So why should I have sympathy if they cry about IBM saying ODF is better?

Typically Microsoft ... (4, Insightful)

golodh (893453) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037816)

It's almost as if Microsoft feels that opposing proposed "standards" is done on a basis of exchanging favours. If I don't oppose yours, you don't oppose mine. Rejection on merit? Huh? What merit? Since when did we ever judge standards applications on merit? You're just being hypocritical!

Nevermind that customers are rejecting Microsoft Office because they are trying to get out of the lock-in of Microsoft's proprietary document format. Nevermind that Microsoft is into "Open" only to fudge the line between "Open standards that are documented and that anyone can implement and use" and "Proprietary with an open wrapper". Heh ... if I embed an MS-Word file into an XML document and compress the result using the Open Source program Gzip, does that make the resulting file "Open"? No? According to Microsoft's own logic, this would be the case.

And all this just to disguise the fact that their proposed "Open" standard allows them to put their their (totally proprietary) Office format into a document that follows the standard and then call it "Open". It's squarely aimed at fooling manager types into ticking a box labelled "Open Standards compliant" on their checklist.

Of course it's a fine example of complete intellectual dishonesty on Microsoft's part ... but whenever did Microsoft ever care about honesty? Intellectual or otherwise? Microsoft didn't become big by using such stupid tactics ...

Take that video demonstration for example. You know ... the one that showed Windows "crashing" when Explorer was removed. Any ordinary person would have gone to jail for perjury on that "testimony" ... but large companies are exempt it seems. "A regrettable communication error sir." Yeah, right.

As many people know ... Microsoft's OOXML is a blatant attempt to perpetuate Microsoft's proprietary standards through a selection of backdoors in a 6,000 page standard proposal that Microsoft is trying to rush through. Just see the "criticism" section in this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_Open_XML [wikipedia.org]

ECMA approval (2, Funny)

Ikyaat (764422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037826)

Since the trailer park boys are hosting the ECMA's this year maybe they could get approval by some carefully placed bribes of Donairs and cigarettes.

whatever (1, Flamebait)

titotitozzz (1063558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037842)

yeah, the people who brought us Jscript, their proprietary version of Java, and who have failed to document the Windows registry for more than a decade are bitching about open standards.

my solution (3, Insightful)

Blob Pet (86206) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037900)

Since ECMA is willing to recognize crap as a standard, I'm just going to stop recognizing ECMA as a standards organization.

Is there a point somewhere? (5, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037966)

I've read the TFA and I'm not really sure what they are accusing IBM of doing. Microsoft has a de-facto standard format that provides them a competitive marketplace advantage. Microsoft is attempting to get parts of it put through a standards organization supposedly as a token of good faith towards interoperability. Presumably the motivation for this is to head off widespread adoption of a more open format by parties (governments for example) in a position to do so.

Some randomly selected points from TFA.

In fact, Office has long supported multiple formats.

True but irrelevant since the others are rarely used and everyone (but especially Microsoft) knows it is the default format that matters.

The specification enables implementation of the standard on multiple operating systems and in heterogeneous environments, and it provides backward compatibility with billions of existing documents.

Billions? Maybe that is technically true but Microsoft's record on backwards compatibility isn't great even within their own product suites. I'm pretty dubious that with OpenXML all my old Word documents will convert with perfect formatting. I'm even more dubious that OpenXML will be be read/write with perfect formatting in other applications. It's a 6000 page specification after all and I'm quite sure there is plenty of ambiguity even if the attempt to specify everything was a good faith effort. And with only 30 days to review all 6000 pages I'm not confident it will be evaluated with a satisfactory level of scrutiny.

Open XML should not even be considered on its technical merits because a competing standard had already been adopted.

OK. Let's assume that IBM is being a bad guy here. It's possible. Wouldn't be the first time. Is there something about ECMA International" [wikipedia.org] that prohibits competing standards? Honest question, I don't really know. If not Microsoft is entitled to complain. But on the other hand the process is moving forward and there is little doubt it will be approved in due time. So I'm at a bit of a loss as to why I should care if IBM was obstructive, even assuming they were? IBM is one of the few companies that really isn't especially beholden to Microsoft's monopoly power so I'd expect them to be a bit more prickly. Let me be clear, for me to trust Microsoft I will need to see a lot more than a format approved by a standards body to believe they are going to compete openly and fairly in the marketplace. This is a company convicted in a court of law of abusing their monopoly power to the detriment of consumers. Implicitly trusting them is foolish.

"Open"? Riiigghhhttt (0, Flamebait)

Wingsy (761354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038064)

I'll be siding with IBM on this one. You gotta watch Microsoft like a hawk, cause once they get their "Open XML" going, there ain't gonna be nuthin OPEN about it.

Not sure... (1)

coastin (780654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038076)

Can you even use the words open and Microsoft together?

Kerplosion! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18038174)

"Microsoft has determined that it is important to shine a bright light on IBM's activities that will have a negative impact on the IT industry and customers, including taking concrete steps to prevent customer choice, engaging in hypocrisy, and working against the industry and against customer needs," said the spokesperson. "Microsoft will continue to be public in identifying the ways that IBM is trying to prevent customer choice."
My head just asploded from the irony.

Embrace and extend? (1)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038178)

Any way that the open source community could embrace and extend Open XML?
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