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Microsoft Opposing California Open Doc Bill

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the write-fax-or-email dept.

Microsoft 191

ZJMX writes "Microsoft is going through its email and phone lists asking people to support their opposition to California A.B. 1668 — 'Open Document Format, Open Source' — by writing to the California Assemblymen involved in this bill (contact info in the link). Apparently they fear that California will join Massachusetts in wanting documents based on open standards in their government. Let's see if this community can raise as much support for the California ODF bill as Microsoft can raise opposition."

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Attn. Slashdot: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654465)

Q: Why does 'Open Source' software suck so bad?
A: Because the programmers can't see the screen [ukdirtypanties.com]

lol

Typical Linux User. [ukdirtypanties.com]

P.S. You are invited to take a drink from the Frosty Piss [slashdot.org]

Allow Me to Summarize (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654477)

This is what I read:

"Blah blah blah politics. Bitch bitch bitch IBM did this so now we do it."

I read this hoping for some key points in distinguishing the functionality or benefits versus costs in using either format.

Nope.

The closest they get to that is "ODF is tightly tied to OOo." Oh, no! Not that! You know, that argument is null and void, right? Because these document formats are supposed to be open, like the names of both of them imply. Who cares if it's not yet integrated into your product, either format should allow that. It is, in fact, confusing to me why they don't let both formats exist and allow the government bodies to pick whatever the hell the want to store their data in. That's all this is, a political issue which is why it's filed in the politics section I guess.

If Microsoft truly believed their product to be superior to the alternative, they would sit back and let California make the mistake. Then, when everything falls apart, they could step in and save the day, while at the same time setting a precident for one format being better than the other. But, we all know that's not going to happen because I haven't heard Massachussetts hurting due to their choice. So, I guess Mr. Ballmer is going to have to set his fears aside & simply come to the harsh realization that another community developed format is just as good or better than their format. Heads up, ODF community, he just may fucking kill you.

And I certainly don't appreciate them demonizing IBM. "Big bad evil corporation launches national campaign to force their consumers into using something!" Pot calling the kettle black, in my opinion. If you could track the amount of money I have paid to a company--directly or indirectly--I would wager that I've paid IBM far less than Microsoft and I feel that IBM has done far more for me than Microsoft.

Shut up and let the consumer decide, Microsoft. Nothing's wrong with unbiased comparisons in helping them decide but you've got a conflict of interest here so I highly doubt anyone will swallow your tripe.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (5, Informative)

swab79 (842256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654501)

As I understand it, the Microsoft format is not open but just an XML wrapper around their old .doc format. They still don't open up on how to implement their format.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (5, Funny)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654539)

I once heard this in a different (The "Open" Group) context, but an adaptation seems appropriate here:

The only thing "Open" about Microsoft is your wallet.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (3, Funny)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655031)

You mean goatse wasn't just a representative corporate client?

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654551)

You understand it wrong. The OpenXML format is completely open for every feature implemented in Office 2007 and contains a very verbose standard which discusses how it works. There are a few tags which are not explicit in their implementation which exist for legacy purposes only, such as supporting defunct features found in Word 95.

These formats have absolutely nothing to do with the .DOC format. .DOC was literally a memory dump of the data structures. The XML files are well structured. Style and content are highly separated. They are quite easy to read and understand.

"which exist for legacy purposes only" (4, Insightful)

TERdON (862570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654569)

on the other hand, one might think there shouldn't be any need for the phrase "legacy purposes only" when discussing the first version of a new standard.

Any conversion of such things should reasonably be done in the tool doing the file conversion, not in the file format itself.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654743)

There are a few tags which are not explicit in their implementation which exist for legacy purposes only, such as supporting defunct features found in Word 95.
And because the standard contains these tags but does not contain the information required to implement them, nobody but Microsoft can implement them. A standard that is designed in such a way that only one company can implement it fully is not an "open" standard in any conventional sense of the word.

Yes, an implementation that doesn't include these tags will not be disadvantaged in practical terms, but that doesn't mean it's not a big deal. Because what this means is that Microsoft will be able to say, quite truthfully, that only Microsoft can offer a 100%-compliant implementation of the standard. This is not how open standards should be - the whole purpose of open standards is to level the playing field and let products compete on their true merits. Being able to wrap Asian text in exactly the same way as Word 6.0 for Macintosh is not a big advantage for the average American consumer, but what average American consumer is going to understand that when Microsoft says "OpenOffice.org is not 100% compliant!", they're talking about crap like that? The sole purpose of these tags is to enable Microsoft to use misleading advertising. This is not what standards are for.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655557)

What is the over-under on how long it takes these "legacy" tags, that only Microsoft can implement, to become key features of future MS innovations if the standard is adopted? I'll bet 2 weeks...

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (2, Informative)

LO0G (606364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656059)

You mean like these [msdn.com] legacy tags that only OpenOffice can implement? (yeah, I know it's a Microsoft site, but the only other reference I was able to find was this [slashdot.org] /. post).

According to Microsoft, the only way those legacy tags will ever be found is if they came from a document that was created by an old version of Office. So it should be really easy to verify if current versions of office ever produce those "legacy" tags.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (2, Informative)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656371)

shhh don't tell anyone but OpenOffice is open source. Anyone can look at the code and see how to implement anything in it. Including any tags.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (4, Informative)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655675)

These formats have absolutely nothing to do with the .DOC format. .DOC was literally a memory dump of the data structures. The XML files are well structured. Style and content are highly separated. They are quite easy to read and understand.

Quite easy to read and understand?

Open XML:

<w:p>
<w:r><w:t>This is a </w:t></w:r>
<w:r><w:rPr><w:b /></w:rPr><w:t>very basic</w:t></w:r>
<w:r><w:t> document </w:t></w:r>
<w:r><w:rPr><w:i /></w:rPr><w:t>with some</w:t></w:r>
<w:r><w:t> formatting, and a </w:t></w:r><w:hyperlink w:rel="rId4" w:history="1">
<w:r><w:rPr><w:rStyle w:val="Hyperlink" /></w:rPr><w:t>hyperlink</w:t></w:r>
</w:hyperlink>
</w:p>

I wouldn't call that easy to read and understand.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (4, Informative)

imroy (755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656099)

There are a few tags which are not explicit in their implementation which exist for legacy purposes only, such as supporting defunct features found in Word 95. These formats have absolutely nothing to do with the .DOC format. .DOC was literally a memory dump of the data structures. The XML files are well structured. Style and content are highly separated. They are quite easy to read and understand.

Sorry mate, but bullshit. Yes, the DOC format was an object serialization of the in-memory format. But OOXML is no saint by any measure. Not only does it include references to Word 95, but also Word 6.0, Word 5.0, Word 97, Word 2002, and Wordperfect 6.x [slashdot.org] . It also references several Word/Office versions on the Macintosh, because heavens forbid MS make a cross-platform application that works the same on both Windows and Mac. It even references east Asian font rendering in a specific version of Word. And note I say "references", because that's all the standard does. Finding out what all those different versions of MS Office did on both Windows and Macintosh, and possibly also for different languages or regions of the world is left up to anyone trying to implement Microsoft's "Open" Office XML format. Even though the documentation for OOXML is huge compared to ODF, these details are still not included.

So please tell me, what do these few tags/attributes do?

  • lineWrapLikeWord6
  • mwSmallCaps
  • shapeLayoutLikeWW8
  • truncateFontHeightsLikeWP6
  • useWord2002TableStyleRules
  • useWord97LineBreakRules
  • wpJustification
  • shapeLayoutLikeWW8

Anyone claiming OOXML is in any way comparable to ODF is either misinformed and/or a shill. As we can see with this story, MS has a lot of money and influence to throw around for the purpose of muddying the waters and making OOXML look like a viable "standard".

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (1)

Hymer (856453) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654557)

That would be an oversimplification of the issue... new (ie. real Office 2007) documents are "pure" XML. There are however definitions like "do it as Word v.N did". ...and yes it can be used just as a wrapper around any file format but that is a feature of XML in general and not specific to OOXML aka. EOXML.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (2, Funny)

bigpicture (939772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655307)

I think you are missing the real issue here which is, why is a corporation interfering in the business of a duly elected Government, and telling it how to spend the Tax Payers money? (spend it on me?) What has happened to the sham democracy? How does this represent the interests of the people any better than a dictatorship in a third world country?

Ergo the good old US is not a democratic country. And does not honor the rule of law "for the people by the people" but the rule of money and the rule of force.

Re: In Massachusetts (2, Funny)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655313)

But, we all know that's not going to happen because I haven't heard Massachussetts hurting due to their choice.
In Massachusetts, we hurt due to all of our choices, even when they're right ones. Have you seen the Big Dig or Deval Patrick lately? ;-)

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (0)

M$advocate (1085641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655403)

I agree. Let the consumer decide. However, when we have courts and government bodies telling companies (Microsoft the current target) that they have to share with oters or cease and desist doing something for the sake of fairness, blah blah blah; then that is what we get. Now, I am going to go on my topic of defending M$. Not because they are necessarily great, but because they are getting beat up and still keep on trucking. We blast the monopoly of MS and who is watching GOOGLE? What about Apple? Come on let us ALL play fair and be unbiased. Each product has its good and bad. I personally run MS on my comps due to the ease. I also have several Linux distros and MACBook. We see complaints about Vista about the cost of MS products.... And in 3 years time" we see Visual Studio 2005, Vista, Office 2007 and the new Expressions Suite. Who else can present all of that. And check the prices. Except for some of the dumb things with VISTA-not too awefully bad. Compatability issues? MS problem or vendor problems? Sorry someone needs to defend them on basis of fair play and what is right or wrong not from hate or anything else

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655697)

Google is not a monopoly because you can decide to use MSN Search or Yahoo or Altavista, or whatever search engine you want. You can also decide to go with one of Google's competitors in the advertising market.

Microsoft was a monopoly because you couldn't get a computer without Windows on it, and in fact they used their enormous market share to dictate to vendors that there would be no alternatives.

Attacking someone from hate is one of the most powerful methods of argument, so long as you present factual reasons why you hate them. We don't hate Google because they have a history of respecting us as customers. Microsoft doesn't seem to respect their customers except as blind wallets with hands attached. WGA criminalizes their customers and Vista is a huge upgrade but doesn't offer any monumental leaps in functionality, yet we're still expected to buy it.

The only division of Microsoft that's even remotely in-touch with their target audience is the games division.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655723)

Where is the vendor lock-in for Google and Apple? Which of them are convicted monopolists? What major court rulings are they flagrantly disregarding?

If Apple and Google are evil, they are evil in private, not in public. That's the difference.

Re:Allow Me to Summarize (1)

M$advocate (1085641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656415)

No they are not in private better look at the gobbling up of entities and also the record og Google in China in terms of rolling over on bloggers and IM users to the government of China. I wil;l not get into the proverbialp contest beacause it will happen. It is with Apple and the Ipod/DRM in Europe now

zune in the poon with the goon on the moon a prune (-1, Offtopic)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654479)

, batman... those psychos!

FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654507)

FUD as usual...

Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies? (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654509)

The benefits of avoiding vendor lock, true interoperability fostering competition among the software vendors etc will ulitmately benefit the consumers. No doubt about it. Among the consumers the biggest block is the corporate America and these big companies that spend billions of dollars. But they dont seem to care much for OpenDoc and are, persumably willingly, paying whatever MSFT is billing them. What is going on? Bigname PC vendors all compete on price and not single one of them is trying to differentiate themselves from rest of the pack by pre loading the windows boxes with OpenOffice or FireFox or Gimp. Corporate America is not demanding true interoperability and a level playing field for their vendors. Either there is some serious wrong doing by MSFT like bribing IT managers and giving kick backs to PC vendors. Or these people are really dumb. Still I think the time to celebrate is when corporate America decides not lock up their data in a format owned by someone else. Politicians are fickle. A few thousand in campaign contributions they will sing MSFT anthem and betray their voters.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (1, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654555)

Corporate America is not demanding true interoperability and a level playing field for their vendors. Either there is some serious wrong doing by MSFT like bribing IT managers and giving kick backs to PC vendors. Or these people are really dumb.

Excel is the only thing they know. Manager cred is based on the beauty of your spreadsheet programming. If they saved the chickenfeed which gets spent on windows and MS office then they would have to save the larger amount they spend on junkets and bonuses. And that is never going to happen.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (2, Insightful)

pcardno (450934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655111)

Erm, I know we shouldn't feed trolls, but you clearly don't understand a couple of key points here.

Firstly - "chickenfeed" on Windows and MS Office? Are you insane? Have you ever been involved in procurement for the Microsoft tools? I'm guessing not, as then you'd realise just how expensive it is to provide Windows, Office and a few other bits and bobs for a 10,000+ strong userbase. Either that or you're Bill Gates and several million dollars is chickenfeed to you.

Secondly - yes, Excel is a popular platform, but not just amongst managers. It's one of the few tools that most office based employees use on a regular basis, far more so than Word, Access and in quite a lot of cases even more so than the web. I know plenty of users who don't have a clue how to use websites and find them intimidating but are still comfortable with Excel, as they have to do their reporting through it and use it for home accounts etc. As such, while it's not an ideal platform for developers, interoperability and much more, it is pretty damned useful for putting out straightforward productivity tools that don't scare the general public.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655167)

Compare it to payroll, which is going to be about 30x more expensive, to start.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (2, Interesting)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654601)

Either there is some serious wrong doing by MSFT like bribing IT managers and giving kick backs to PC vendors.

I think that the major PC vendors are in bed with MS for the following reason: it gives them a huge advantage against small VAR PC vendors and/or people who would build their own PC.

My company used to build workstations for our customers; we didn't make a profit on them (it's all about the service) but could price them competitively. At this point, with the prices and availability (or lack thereof) we get from our distributors, we would lose money on each PC sold. It's bad enough that we could buy a PC from Dell, take the components out and put them in our own case and sell it for the same price, but Windows pushes us over the edge. Ingram Micro charges us about $132 for XP Pro or Vista, which is far above the price that they charge Dell.

The same goes for home computer builders I imagine. Once one figures in the cost of a MS OS, there's probably no way that one could build a Windows machine for the same or less money. I'm sure that someone will post a response with links to prices for ten different retailers (probably with rebates), but that's just trading time for money.

Cant you sue? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654657)

Cant you guys sue MSFT + DELL + HPQ under antitrust laws? If you can band together and sue get upto discovery process and find the true price MSFT is charging the big name vendors. Still please do hang in there, a class action law suite will come eventually and you may be able recoup the losses you suffered by paying full reatail price for WinOS. Right now MSFT looks invincible and no one is willing to take a at it. But someday the logjam will break and the pendulum will swing so far that we might even pity MSFT! Just 10 or 12 years back, the tobacco companies looked invincible. No one thought they could be taken in court. Such a fate is looming MSFT too. (warning: IANAL)

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (1)

Hymer (856453) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654695)

"The same goes for home computer builders I imagine." No it doesn't, unless you want to upgrade your OS of course. A homebuilder will just transfer hers/his license to the newbuilt computer and s/he can get a lot more bang for the bucks.
Yes, I do know girls who build their own computers...
--
Ideal woman is redhaired, got green eyes, 6 feet tall, have at least a C-cup...
...and IQ above 145, and that makes her too smart to marry me...

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (1)

essence (812715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654815)

A homebuilder will just transfer hers/his license to the newbuilt computer and s/he can get a lot more bang for the bucks. Yes, I do know girls who build their own computers...

You can avoid gender specific language by replacing he/she/s/he with they/their: A homebuilder will just transfer their license to the newbuilt computer
Unless of course you were countering the male domination of computing. If so, good one.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654975)

You could... if you wanted to pretend 'they' and 'their' aren't plurals.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655789)

In the 1600s, 'they' and 'their' were used both for plurals and gender-neutral pronouns. Then prescriptivists got hold of the language and told us that it was wrong. We still use them in that 'bad' way, and it's in our mental grammars, but people try to make us feel guilty about it.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (1)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655941)

Or you could use Timothy Leary's SHe and Hir, if so inclined.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (4, Informative)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654719)

Surprise, _yes_, Microsoft lobbies IT managers and even managers from higher levels. And they have done it some much that managers already have used to it and assumes it as "natural" right to have "gifts" from Microsoft. Not to blame only Microsoft entirely, it is common "marketing style" of lot of companies who produces so-so products.

It is corruption? yes. Corruption is still corruption, whatever government or shareholder's company is involved. However, you will have hard time to convince those managers not to accept these presents. Because overall atmosphere and dignity in such jobs are long gone. Only if you inform heavily shareholders you maybe will do something.

Something very simple is going on (5, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654725)

Big business leaders don't know IT. For that matter, few people in IT really know IT, but that is another rant.

Someone who can run a transport company successfully and knows that only a fool would allow your company to be totally dependent on one vehicle supllier will NOT realise that the same thing applies to the computers controlling the fleet of vehicles.

Standard example, every truck fleet owner has a favorite brand, yet they always got a couple of trucks that are of a different brand. The reason, simple, it makes negotiations a bit easier. Sure out of the 500 trucks in company 490 will be say Mercedes BUT on the day the Mercedes rep comes to talk about a new order you can bet that the 10 daf trucks will be proudly parked right outside the office. Just a hint that the order does not have to go to Mercedes this time.

That is because trucking company directors understand trucking. They do not understand IT. So when the MS salesrep arrives he will have confirmed via outlook, using documents created in office and be assured of seeing nothing but windows machines as he visits the office.

Offcourse he still gives a nice discount. That is easy. Establish the true price, hike it by a couple of hundred percent, give a discount of 50% percent and you got MS record profits.

And the really odd thing is that all those directors who wouldn't trust a truck maker who reported the same kind of profits as MS think it is a good sign that MS is making such huge profits.

People do NOT understand fields that they are not experts in and this goes triple for IT.

Couple this with the old maxim, nobody has ever been fired for buying Microsoft and you got the current situation.

It is changing but you are going to have to fight a bloody struggle to get anywhere. Remember, if you introduce linux into a company and suddenly costs plummet and productivity soars you will have made an awfull lot of enemies, every single person who said that MS software was the way to go.

I was in this situation once. A company had two websites belonging to different divesions. The one I was responsible for ran a webshop and services for customers and offcourse ran on linux cheapo hardware. The intraweb was purely windows and was run by the internal IT department but it also contained some sites available to our resellers and such. My divesion was brought back in under the umbrella of the mother coorperation, our website sold more products then all other sales efforts combined, so rather then being an experiment we turned into the biggest sales channel.

Anyway, oneday a director asked the question of why the intraweb was down once again, and for some reason the question was asked NOT to the internal IT department but to the web department (probably the doofus didn't realize the difference).

So what was I supposed to do? The reason the intraweb sucked was simple, it was run on windows, with IIS (or ISS, what ever acronym stands for steaming pile of garbage, was run by windows admins, and just wasn't designed by anyone who cared.

Yet for some reason, the idea seemed to be that since the director new that we used linux and windows and that the intraweb sucked that linux was used for the intraweb. And since everyone knows I run Linux I was told to convert the site to windows to fix the troubles and get help from the internal IT department.

Can you guess how many seconds it took me to reactivate my CV on monsterboard?

It was not that the guy in question was an idiot, he knew his business. It just didn't happen to be IT. And what could I do? My department was supposed to merge with the internal IT department and since they wore suits it was pretty clear to me who would end up as whose boss.

So I arranged some job interviews, and just told them that linux sadly wasn't up to the job and that switching the external site to windows was the best way to go, but sadly I did not have the qualifications to do that so the internal IT department should handle it, and handed in my resignation.

Luckily they accepted before someone started to ask why if I was so bad, and linux sucked so much had the external sales site been able to take the large majority of sales and why had I received some nice bonusses for that.

The simple fact is that I like a lot of techies just don't have the skills, or even the desire, to "sell" linux as much as the dedicated sales team MS can hire. Frankly I couldn't be bothered to tell them that the internal website spend more on just one weak underpowered database server then the entire external setup costs. It wasn't my job to convince HR that having 3 people to admin an internal website and some support services is NOT normal. It sure as hell wasn't my job that the only competent programmer on the internal team was NOT likely be back next week from his holiday since he had gone on a world trip on a sailboat (that sure is a classy way to quit, see you after my holidays, when will I be back, right after I sail around the world or the week after) (and no I am not making this up, god honest truth)

As a techie you have a choice, fight a constant uphill battle and be blamed for the tiniest mishap (I been blamed for the fact that a few years ago there was a major blackout at the datacenter in Amsterdam, "yeah but the windows website is still up, yeah, that is because it is sitting in the basement NOT at the wrong end of a broken cable") while the Microsoft Certified Idiots just add more hardware to cover bad performance, have it accepted as normal when MS software misbehaves and have triple the staffing.

No, us techies who got a clue find better places to work.

The story about asus website doesn't suprise me a bit. It ain't that Asus ain't spending any money on it and it ain't that it is impossible to run a website like that well. Just that anyone who can, won't do windows. Someone at the asus management level probably said they wanted an Windows Website and nobody qualified will touch that.

I have been offered far better pay then I am getting now, but right now I am happy and content with a job were I know my boss understands what I am doing. Sure I could make double even triple the money if I bothered to learn IIS beyond what is needed to rescue sites from its clutches but live is too short.

And the same goes for open document formats, you just can't pay me enough to do battle with the entrenched windows fanclub. Put all your data in closed formats, I am safe and so is the company that employs me, what happens to you or anyone else is NOT my problem.

Let IBM fight this one, they want the revenge.

Re:Something very simple is going on (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654941)

Standard example, every truck fleet owner has a favorite brand, yet they always got a couple of trucks that are of a different brand. The reason, simple, it makes negotiations a bit easier. Sure out of the 500 trucks in company 490 will be say Mercedes BUT on the day the Mercedes rep comes to talk about a new order you can bet that the 10 daf trucks will be proudly parked right outside the office. Just a hint that the order does not have to go to Mercedes this time.

Bad analogy. DAF trucks use the same fuel and roads as Mercedes trucks and therefore are a replacement for them. Open Office does not work as well with the millions of documents, spreadsheets and macros that businesses use as Office does and therefore in a lot of cases is not a replacement for Office. The inertia isn't caused by lack of understanding of IT - I doubt the manager of a large haulage firm understands diesel engines either - it's caused by lock-in.

Re:Something very simple is going on (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655357)

At least it's a bad truck analogy rather than the typical bar car analogy.

Re:Something very simple is going on (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656137)

I suppose I should be thankful for that at least ;-)

Re:Something very simple is going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655099)

did you honestly just waste that much of your life to write that?

Re:Something very simple is going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655163)

The truck example is poor because it does not matter what kind of delivery trucks I show up with at the client's warehouse. In terms of document formats, interoperability with clients is key and the network effect dominates.

For example, on wall street, Bloomberg has the worst email system in existence, everyone knows it's the worst and everyone complains about it. Yet Bloomberg email is the most popular way for traders, sales people, interdealer brokers, and institutional investors communicate. It probably accounts for at least 75% of messaging even though real email and IM are both available to everyone as well. Why is this the case ? Because everyone has it, and that's what everyone uses. No one wants to be the "pioneer" to dump it for fear of being left out of the flow of information.

The same holds true for documents. If I start sending documents to clients using .odf, it causes them a problem, an annoyance, because they aren't set up to use it. "Oh, but it is easy to tell them to start using Ooo or explain how they can still us excel." Wrong. This is a losing conversation because no one cares about .doc vs .odf. Clients will simply think you're difficult to deal with and an asshat.

I would like to see odf prevail, but don't expect to see the push coming from corporations, not because they don't understand it, or because "some PHB does not understand IT", but because of the network effect.

Re:Something very simple is going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655493)

The truck analogy was flawed but the rest made for an entertaining read. I too have walked rather than use Windows. I too refuse to compromise my technical competence for the benefit of politically ambitious incompetents wearing suits. One thing I disagree with (and there's obviously more to the story) is that you didn't take a stand. Something like this:

All of our linux systems have uptimes in excess of 30 days. As far as we are aware, there have been zero interruptions to web service during this period. If there are additional internal company web resources that you think would benefit from the level of stability afforded by our hosting platform, I would be happy to further discuss the matter.


A follow up might be:

It disappoints me that you have decided my department should downgrade our technology platform. I believe this move would be detrimental to my department and to the company. Therefore, should this action be pursued, I intend to tender my resignation. Currently, I remain open to discussion on the issue.


Be sure to point out at these meetings that the directors wouldn't trust upkeep of their cars to a man in a suit.

Re:Something very simple is going on (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655715)

The story about asus website doesn't suprise me a bit. It ain't that Asus ain't spending any money on it and it ain't that it is impossible to run a website like that well. Just that anyone who can, won't do windows. Someone at the asus management level probably said they wanted an Windows Website and nobody qualified will touch that.


For what it's worth I'd like to point out several things:

1. It is damn near impossible to find good PHP developers. Hacks are easy to find but we don't want hacks working on customer sites. Sloppy code is difficult to maintain, and sometimes difficult to deploy because hacks hard-code a lot of things they shouldn't.
2. Nearly every large E-Commerce site I see is running .aspx (asp.Net) on IIS.
3. We encourage clients to go with PHP/MySQL or php/Postgres for licensing, performance, and various other reasons, however some people WANT to run on Windows.

On the other hand, asp.Net may be more expensive to run (Licensing) but it's actually cheaper to find good asp.net developers, because practically everyone has used Visual Studio and are almost forced to use OOP principles and code cleanly from the get-go. Sure, there are plenty of hacks programming for Windows, but the availability of good Windows programmers is much greater than that of good PHP programmers.

Now, on the IT side; I have yet to have any clients embrace Linux for their servers. These are the type of customer who doesn't do backups, doesn't want to even THINK about the server, and yet want to run Windows. I try explaining to them that on Linux I can FULLY automate all maintenance, including backups of email, databases, and everything else, but they trust Windows because it comes in a glossy, full-color package and with a big company backing it. They refuse to accept that Windows comes with only installation support, and NO warranty. How is buying Windows from Microsoft better than buying or downloading Linux from Novell, Canonical, or Redhat again?

Either way you get pay-per-incident support and no warranty. On Linux you effectively get unlimited client access licenses, whereas Microsoft makes their licensing as difficult as possible to understand so that in the event that the client gets audited, they have to pay up big fines and buy more licenses at inflated prices because their reseller steered them wrong.

One great thing about Windows though, is shadowing. The "previous version" feature is a GREAT thing, and I haven't seen that on any desktop operating systems before. It was a feature of VMS I truly liked. I wish Linux filesystems supported file versioning.

To Hell with Microsoft.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (1, Funny)

Dan_Bercell (826965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654785)

Office is the best spreedsheet, email and word processing platform on the market... Thats why.

dont preload to fortune 500 companies (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654801)

My company is "only" 2000 people. Every PC gets wiped as soon as it comes in the door, and is then loaded with a standard setup. It doesn't matter what Dell puts on there, that is just important for smaller companies. What does matter is that we have tenthousands of documents in our internal knowledge base. Many of them are powerpoints where slide 3 contains an embedded Excel sheet, itself containing an embedded Word document. How they will ever get out of that mess is beyond my imagination.

Re:dont preload to fortune 500 companies (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655423)

I have a few thoughts about that. Basically, I believe it will come down to a clever set of programs that are used as SAS on the company's intranet. That is to say when a document isn't loading correctly, open a browser and go to the conversion site, click the upload link and have the converted document emailed back to you, or some similar kind of thing. That means only one install of the converters, only one place to worry about it. Anyone can use them.

This is how things should be done anyway, use the intranet that you have. Once that happens MS really is in trouble in this regard. If a company can do batch conversions it would be possible to scan your local drive and then convert every document and replace it with ODF compliant documents.

At that point there is no longer a compatibility issue, just the conversion time as an issue.

Re:Why the govt? Why not the fortune 500 companies (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656007)

Either there is some serious wrong doing by MSFT like bribing IT managers and giving kick backs to PC vendors. Or these people are really dumb.

I think people buy Microsoft products so if something does go wrong they can blame Microsoft.

And by the time the company realizes they can't open 10 year old important documents the person who had made the decision has left the company.

So... (3, Insightful)

JamesTRexx (675890) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654513)

They can't get their foot in the door of the government, so now they resort to spamming?

Microsoft? (2, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654841)

Did the email even originate from Microsoft? As far as I can tell, all we have is a single email received by a single person. Perhaps it's a delayed April Fool's joke or something of that sort? It would be incredibly stupid (even for Microsoft) to send out official emails like this.

Even if several people receive such emails, that doesn't prove it is from Microsoft. Is there any official reaction by them, or proof that it came from an official Microsoft email account?

Regardless of this matter, the push for ODF is a great idea.

Californians, Write your congress representative! (0, Flamebait)

ThEATrE (1071762) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654517)

We must show our support for Microsoft!

Re:Californians, Write your congress representativ (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654859)

We must show our support for Microsoft!

You must be new here. :P

Re:Californians, Write your congress representativ (1)

Xymor (943922) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655059)

And you must fix your sarcasm-o-meter.

Choice (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654527)

In the letter Microsoft talks about the importance of their customers having a choice. But apparently they don't want their consumers to have the choice between using Open XML or ODF in their product. Besides, using standards always implies lack of choice, and in the case of standards that is in principle a good thing. I don't really care wther Open XML or ODF prevails als THE open standard, but please let ir be really open so I can use whatever Office suite I want!

Re:Choice (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654735)

How strange. You can certainly choose to add OpenXML [sourceforge.net] to Word. Golly customers do have a choice. And the fact that you're arguing choice against a bill which arguably takes choice (of file format) away is somewhat amusing.

Re:Choice ( it's MS Office OpenXML ) (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656117)

Don't you mean Microsoft Office OpenXML( MS OOXML )?

LoB
     

They're against freedom (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654529)

It's rather interesting to see that Microsoft publicly says: "We want to stop peoples freedom of choice". Cause that's what they're doing. With an open format you have the freedom to choose application, but with being locked down to closed formats, you don't have a choice.

Of course, no one is surprised of Microsoft's behavior, but it's actually very grotesque and anti-democratic, anti-freedom, anti-[everything good].

It's like opposing peoples choice of telephone. If you have [phone-line company A], you need a phone A, and you can't call a friend with phone B... Disgusting.
And perhaps SOS got phone C... Poor bastard.

Re:They're against freedom (2, Funny)

moogs (1003361) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654765)

anti-[everything good].
Anti Indian Mutton Curry from Malaysia? I doubt it.

Re:They're against freedom (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654775)

It's rather interesting to see that Microsoft publicly says: "We want to stop peoples freedom of choice". Cause that's what they're doing. With an open format you have the freedom to choose application, but with being locked down to closed formats, you don't have a choice.
I guess so. I also guess we're anti-America, 'cause we support FOSS and open documents, rather than paying for the software/document format designed by corporations, right?

Do they even make software anymore? (3, Insightful)

Marcion (876801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654531)

Microsoft seem to have become a very large and well funded political lobbying group.

Sure they buy in lots of software and rebrand it, they also copy a load of stuff and then try to bundle into their existing products. However, have they actually developed anything in the last year or two that did not suck and then disappear?

Re:Do they even make software anymore? (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654603)

Welcome to distributor world! Only middle man can lack so much common sense, be so greedy beyond any understanding of simple economics, etc.

Re:Do they even make software anymore? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654873)

However, have they actually developed anything in the last year or two that did not suck and then disappear?
Well, I can't name anything that didn't suck, but I believe Vista hasn't disappeared just yet...

Re:Do they even make software anymore? (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654939)

Yes. Plenty of things.

Well, of course they are... (5, Insightful)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654533)

...Microsoft knows that the one and only thing that is preserving their monopoly is Microsoft Office as a standard. If that ever goes away, so does their monopoly. Anyone can run a Mac or Linux and have 75% of their needs happily met via these (or any other) operating system. The one piece missing is fully compatible office software. So, Microsoft needs to hold everyone hostage with proprietary Office formats.

Thanks,

Mike

Re:Well, of course they are... (1, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654791)

The other 25% is most likely Outlook.

Re:Well, of course they are... (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656045)

Evolution is a little buggy but the features are there.

Re:Well, of course they are... (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654823)

Yet everyone can see just how bad of a "standard" it really is. It seems like every new version costs more and comes with a brand new format. What standardized format changes every 2 years? Or better yet, what true standard doesn't allow extensible additions to it for future expansion?

Re:Well, of course they are... (1)

GTMoogle (968547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654887)

Another one is Games. So now thanks to MS's latest marketing push, stores have sections labeled 'Games for Windows'. So what about games that run on more than one OS? No one's going to make 6 inches of shelf space for games that the consumer may assume don't run on windows because they're not in the windows section... so those go under 'Games for Windows' too. Lock-in works in the minds of consumers as well.

Re:Well, of course they are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655001)

We're talking the business and government worlds here. Not the spoiled kid world.

Re:Well, of course they are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655229)

...it is same shit: boys with small brains comparing their respective d*** lengths (or girls comparing cup sizes)... the "mine is bigger than yours" mentality... you'll find it in the government and in the business...

Get as much support (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654579)

Sure we can, but can we pay off as many legislature people as Microsoft can? Nope.

Re:Get as much support (1)

Alt321 (1056040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654693)

Hmm, I guess MS think they can push this through or they wouldn't try. These tactics are obvious to /.'ers, but you can imagine some dude "out there" thinking: "wow, MS contacted me. I am not worthy. What's this open XML? Cool!" Write to your overlords to ensure they understand what your other overlords are attempting here.

Copy of a letter (4, Funny)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654583)

Dear Representative Smith:

One of Microsoft's innovations is our ability to help millions of customers with our proprietary file formats. If large purchasers, such as your state government, wrongly conclude that an open standard is in their best interest, Microsoft's proprietary file format becomes substantially less valuable to all Americans, and indeed, the world.

So let us describe to you what will happen if this proposal becomes reality:

(1) Microsoft will need to compete with other products based on attributes other than file format. In turn, Microsoft products will rise in price by millions of dollars, leading to riots in your neighborhood.

(2) This will forever make the USA a 3rd world country. China will be willing to step in and take over Microsoft's responsibility as the engine of the American economy.

(3) An American innovator and icon will no longer be the richest man in the world. Americans will no longer be proud or patriotic; most, if not all, will end up voting against you. Microsoft will no longer be a name loved by millions of children - instead, it could be "Al Jezerra".

Please make your decision carefully. We have included a check of $50,000 to put towards your next campaign. See you at the golf tournament next week!

Face it, Microsoft is right about this one (1, Funny)

bgfay (5362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654595)

Consider that I have documents in WP5.1 format, a text-editor from Clarkson University, Yeah Write files, some IBM PC-Write docs, and both MS Word and, lest we forget, MS Works files.

Now, if any of these were in Open Doc format, I would have full access to them.

Finally, consider that in the past I have said some really stupid things, and I'm not even a politician. I certainly don't want anyone to be able to figure out what I have said. Thus, I am in favor of closed source formats that go way, way out of date just so I can be sure that what I say today will be rendered even more incomprehensible in the future.

Thank you.
--
This post best read before July 18, 2015 when it will become unreadable.

Re:Face it, Microsoft is right about this one (1)

bgfay (5362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655347)

Troll?!

I was trying to be funny. Oh well. Does this mean that I'm going to have to punctuate all my sentences with exclamation points and smiley faces? Sheesh

Keys: politeness ; personal contact ; information (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654611)

When contacting people, please remember what is crucial:

Be polite - this will make them much more likely to listen. If you are feeling angry, take a walk outside, have a nice snack then come back when you are calmed down.

Make personal contact - fax or phone where you can; reinforce emails by calling up to check that they got them. Write your own letter, based on somebody elses template if you need, but with your own information. If they promise to look into it, call back later to find out what they found out.

State clearly your relationship to them - resident of the state / local business / supporter / floating voter etc. Always find a reason why they should take notice of you. Identify yourself clearly and let them call you back later (better to give a business phone or mobile so that they don't call you at home during election campaign time though)

Give information - links to pages about problems [grokdoc.net] - specific links to ODF sites [odfalliance.org] or the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] etc. to show alternatives. However, read through those pages yourself and pick out and explain specific points from them that you think are important.

Be efficient. Make your point early; don't drown them in extra information; Say only things which you think are important.

Be original. Give specific information about your position and how you will benefit from alternative solutions. Show that you care about it and why.

Dear Mr Leno;

I am the owner of a small web hosting company. I am writing to support "California A.B. 1668 : Open Document Format, Open Source.". We would like to be able to automatically send out pre-filled billing forms from our billing system and expect all our customers to be able to complete them easily. Unfortuantely, the current de-facto standard for documents is Microsofts .doc format and that is too complex for us to be able to add it to the billing system. A new alteranative exists in the ISO standard Open Document Format. If that was widely adopted our problem would be solved. Unfortuantely, Microsoft is trying to block this adoption by having a fake new standard based on .doc. This isn't really a standard because it doesn't fully specifiy how the format works (please see http://www.grokdoc.net/index.php/EOOXML_objections [grokdoc.net] section 10.2 "Cloning the behaviour of proprietary applications") and is far to big for us to deal with, let alone be a reasonably reviewed ISO standard ( see http://www.grokdoc.net/index.php/EOOXML_objections [grokdoc.net] secton 11 "Ecma 376 cannot be adequately evaluated within the 30-day evaluation period")

We believe that if Microsofts standard is blocked and the Open Document Format is standardised for state use, in future we would be able to rely on it's availability everywhere and our buisiness would be able to work much better with its customers.

As you know well, we are strongly committed to supporting the good of our state and my wife and I have often run coffee mornings for the state assembly which you have attended yourself. We think that this bill would clearly improve life in our state and look forward to hearing that you are committed to supporting it.

Best Regards
Jason R Kovacs Jr.

Re:Keys: politeness ; personal contact ; informati (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655391)

Unfortuantely

And, of course, run your missive through a spelling checker before you send it.

#INCLUDE ODFSUPPORT (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654757)

If the tide turns, and some big customers demand ODF support, will Microsoft have its business depend on some weirdo hackers in a sourcefourge project? I think not. So 50$ sais ODF support in MSoffice is already built and tested, as a compile line option currently switched off by the marketing department. Apply some pressure and witness the fastest patch in history...
By the way, if your neighbour or your PHB asks you the difference between ODF and the MS XML thingy, summarize like this: The ODF spec is 600 pages, the MS spec is 6000. Intelligent people will be able to figure out the rest.

Re:#INCLUDE ODFSUPPORT (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655795)

PHB: So, OpenXML is ten times better.

Bert

Why Microsoft is wrong and looking like Sony (4, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654789)

I submit that:

  1. Use of ODF will keep more money in California and less flowing to Washington state.
  2. Governments are responsible for guaranteeing archives, minimizing expenses, and reducing barriers, therefore ODF is best choice for them.
  3. These days a monetary figure can be assigned what it costs Microsoft in negative PR, lobbying and advertising this anti-ODF campaign. They could make more money by instead becoming the main proponent of ODF and other open standards, and developing commercial SDKs to develop software for all platforms based on truly open standards.
  4. Microsoft also is harmed by the effects of its embrace and extend campaign. Not only in hatred by potential developers, but also because of the monetary cost of running the campaign, and the chaos and reduced size of the market it causes.
  5. Microsoft could support independent developers by allowing them to rent SDKs and code of other participating vendors, and allowing developers to pay in part by product royalties. By creating a new ecosystem in this way Microsoft can become the facilitator and also own part of the ecosystem's code base, increasing market size and opportunities. It may even by quick footwork, honesty, sincerity and trust building be able to draw in most of the industry for niche products (say an open standards based tax form creation and submission infrastructure).
  6. Microsoft is a dinosaur walking on treacherous ground. It has depended on a cynical and unethical strategy relying on bloatware, hatchetwork, lobbying, FUD, legal games, discounts, etc. By reversing 180 degrees its current orientation, away from FUD and Embrace/Extend, it will gain amazingly broad new horizons for profit, reducing risk and not incidentally creating new reasons for people to stick with Office.
  7. Microsoft also resembles Sony quite a lot, which is not good for Microsoft. Both companies are impossible to make a deal with, they either try to buy you or destroy you. Both companies are utterly cynical and untrusted. Both companies are a bucket of fragmented interests, their strengths wasted on their habits of looking inward at other divisions and not at their customers. Both dream of huge profits from Hollywood, which is silly (see next point).
  8. Both Microsoft and Sony have ignored George Lucas' comments that Hollywood does not make a profit in theaters, which is why he wants to go into TV. They also ignore that the movie industry is not as profitable as it would seem, due to the huge number of flops (since they are filled with cynical crap creators too), is an unsteady earner which also translates to risk, and is the driving force behind DRM which has set the electronics industry back 15 years and spurs development of alternate delivery systems that they cannot control as well (piracy has a tiny effect on actual profit now but has risen to equal the pornography industry in driving creative programmers to invent creative, new systems). Additionally both Microsoft and Sony have a bizarre interest in supporting only the biggest players despite contemporary media distribution systems' being so much more supportive of the medium to long tail, i.e. smaller bands/producers.
  9. Take the example of Sony which constantly releases expensive hardware that is lower in quality than the Sony name used to signify and that only works with Sony products. Sony gets its lunch eaten so often, it is its own worst enemy. Microsoft and Sony both share a very similar conceit, inflated self-importance, cynicism, misguided goals, and disparagement of both vendors and customers. Unfortunately they both have corporate cultures that are so strongly biased in this way that the cultures actually warp otherwise sound minds, witness what Mhyrvold has to show for his work there. Since even scientists are swayed by bizarre corporate cultures, the corporation consistently generates failures, seeks to recoup them with grandiose schemes, and in the end needs to draw in new blood from the outside in an attempt to solve the unsolvable.
  10. Both companies are like some paleolithic fish that need to become amphibians if not mammals. (Amphibians are not trusted but at least they can breathe the air). The world is becoming more and more immune to what these companies are selling, especially in the case of Microsoft, which has created a bizarre strategy of having to reinvent its core products every year and maintain its market share through evil practices.
  11. Microsoft has one advantage over Sony that could save it. It can hire talented developers in any state, and it does not have to spend as much money on manufacturing. Microsoft should hire for consulting at least two companies in each local market, say at least one Red Team and one Blue Team both based in California. Let us imagine a new set of core values called honesty, sincerity, listening to customers, and proactive solution generation, no FUD, no embrace/extend. Have Red Team work the reptilian current angle, but with no money/time spent on expensive FUD tactics and market-shrinking embrace/extend. Have Blue Team work the mammalian angle, starting with core values plus a base of open standards and all platforms. Finally, get an accounting team in-house to calculate the likely costs and returns of the current course. It will be interesting to see how far ahead of that the Red Team can get, and how far beyond Red the Blue Team can get. At the very least, Blue Team will likely generate new information about potential investment targets and markets.

Re:Why Microsoft is wrong and looking like Sony (2, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654881)

1. Use of ODF will keep more money in California and less flowing to Washington state.

Not necessarily true. While MS employs many people and brings in money to Washington, for tax purposes, they are taxed according to Utah's tax laws. Don't ask me how they do it; the bottom line is that they save a lot of money because Utah has very low taxes. This is another reason I don't like MS. At every turn, they are ethically challenged. They are HQ in WA, but have come up with a way not to pay WA.

Re:Why Microsoft is wrong and looking like Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655341)

While i am sure they try to avoid taxes whenever and wherever they legally can, just like the rest of us, but they are still bringing in the bulk of the money to Washington State, which, if you are concerned primarily with taxation aspects of money flow, is being taxed in a variety creative ways (property taxes, income taxes on MS payroll and subcontractors and vendors, state fees on the company and all those employees).

Which is a strange thing to be concerned about where the money is going, rather I am more concerned about where the money is coming from. I think as a taxpayer and a consumer I am sick and tired of paying extra because do nothing middle managers feel they can be more "productive" because they are comfortable with Excel. IT shouldn't be dictating which software people use, but Finance should be dictating what software the company or government won't pay for. OpenOffice can do everything of value that Excel can with the added bonus that you won't have to pay Microsoft again (or anyone else probably) to be able to open your spreadsheets 5 years from now.

Re:Why Microsoft is wrong and looking like Sony (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655061)

I'd guess that all companies, once they get big enough, start believing their own hype. Managers start thinking that they have some secret sauce that means they don't have to deal with the normal realities facing other companies. They start avoiding standard, easy solutions because they think their own homegrown idea, even if it's completely incompatible with everything else in the world, will magically be better. Then they get secretive, partly to conceal their own bad decisions. The reinvent the wheel constantly because they think that their companies' "needs" are unique, which they very rarely are.

ODF is not HTML (1, Troll)

gig (78408) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654809)

This ODF stuff is just another shitty typewriter document to go with Word documents. Ugh. You might as well call it SHITHTML it is another useless HTML replacement. Think of how useless XHTML has been and it at least attempted to be as similar to HTML as it could be. ODF is more shit that has to be converted into something else before it can even do something useful. It is like you are saving your word processor's cache file to disk and then expecting someone else to do the rest of the job to make something that is sharable, and you excuse that by saying that you'll publish the cache file spec. Ugh.

What is the point of unleashing countless office workers to make countless documents that are not even sharable? The Web is 17 years old. The standardized Web is 7 years old. I can generate sharable documents just by going to Flickr, but with Word or ODF, no. It is painless to generate HTML 4.01 programmatically using DOM methods or manage word processing styles with CSS. There are two mature open source Web browser engines that can be used in a word processor product and countless other developer resources. It is not a programming problem.

At the UI level a word processor should do all the little tricks that people want. At the data storage level, it should be generating ISO HTML with CSS and JavaScript that can be either natively displayed on the Web or reliably converted to PDF for printing. You can store that and you can always read it. In other words you are storing something finished, not just the arbitrary bullshit that some word processor uses for pseudo-synaptic function. As people work, instead of generating unmanageable "word processor documents", users generate manageable Web content.

It's ridiculous to suggest that the typing of office workers should be stored as anything other than HTML. Microsoft Word is not the king of the making and sharing of documents, that is the Web. Base your new word processor standard on the Web and it will be successful. Ignore the Web and you are just being another Microsoft, stuck in time.

Look how hard it is to get a programmer to use UTF-8 instead of Latin-1 and the same programmer expects the office worker to use ODF instead of HTML it is crazy.

Re:ODF is not HTML (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655137)

ODF (let's make it any office document format) and (X)HTML are designed differently. Office document formats have specific features meant for what they are designed for. XHTML is designed for sharing web pages, and not for office documents. XHTML isn't designed for holding tremendous amounts of information, office document formats are. There are a ton more reasons, but I am too lazy to write now.

XML does not equal HTML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655725)

HTML is about presentation.
XML is about data.

You need to understand the difference.

Personally... (0, Flamebait)

crazzeto (887234) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654875)

I'm against any law designed to force out any specific competitor from any market unless their product is dangerous to human life (as in someone could die). It really seems to me that any movement to specifically promote any technology (FOSS in this case) at the expense of other choices (whether they are perceived as better or worse) is just plain stupid.

Re:Personally... (4, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655029)

This isn't about vendor preference, it's about freedom of public access to public documents.
For the public to allow vendor lock and depend on a single vendor for future access because they accepted a vendor standard is "just plain stupid".

No vendor whould be forced out, but the product the public entities buy would be standardized.

Re:Personally... (1)

crazzeto (887234) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655667)

Sorry, personally I don't buy this... Even if they documents were published in Word format there are free readers available (even for Open XML) which may be used to view content. However these documents are not published in ODF or OXML, they're published in PDF which again, there are free readers for..

Re:Personally... (4, Interesting)

DannyO152 (544940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655077)

The State of California is a customer and, like you, has to right to choose what it buys based on measurements of price vs. performance. If California says it requires software for its bureaus that uses neutral file formats, then the expression of that requirement is no more legislating people out of business than a requirement that paint bought for state buildings meet minimum performance and environmntal standards. As California, the great state where I reside, is spending taxpayer money, there are occasional efforts towards ensuring that the money isn't being spent in stupid ways. (I shall not be reimbursing any one for keyboards lost while reading the prior sentence.)

Something I'm really curious about: where are the Microsoft shareholders on these questions. Why do they think that when large customers start to evolve different requirements, the proper response is to spend money on publicity, lobbying, and advocacy advertising and to play chicken with the customers, rather than evolving with the market?

Re:Personally... (1)

A Wise Guy (1006169) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655101)

This is about allowing choices to consumers.

Re:Personally... (1)

nephyo (983452) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655401)

While it's true that legislation shouldn't directly dictate purchasing decisions as that would provide an unfair disadvantage to certain businesses, it is nevertheless perfectly alright for a government to create legislation in order to protect the public trust. Legislation can't and shouldn't say only buy X from company Y, but it can surely say only buy products which have characteristics A, B, and C which prevent certain detrimental consequences. The bill actually states: "This bill would require all state agencies, beginning on or after January 1, 2008, to create, exchange, and preserve all documents, as specified, in an open extensible markup language-based, XML-based file format, and to start to become equipped to receive any document in an open, XML-based file format, as specified." And: "When deciding how to implement this section, the department in its evaluation of open, XML-based file formats shall consider all of the following features: (1) Interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications. (2) Fully published and available royalty-free. (3) Implemented by multiple vendors. (4) Controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard. (b) Beginning on or after January 1, 2008, state agencies shall start to become equipped to accept all documents in an open, XML-based file format for office applications, and shall not adopt a file format used by only one entity. (c) The department shall develop guidelines for state agencies to follow in determining whether existing electronic documents need to be converted to an open, XML-based file format. The department shall consider all of the following: (1) The cost of converting electronic documents. (2) The need for the documents to be publicly accessible. (3) The expected storage life of the documents." The questions to ask are: Why does Microsoft's file format not meet these criteria? What, if anything, prevents Microsoft from using a format that does meet these conditions? Are these requirements important or relevant enough to the people for governments to mandate their use? It is important to note that Microsoft does not have to meet these conditions. They can simply sell to others who don't see that fact as a limitation. It's just that they won't be able to sell to the State of CA and any business that follows the state's lead. Still, I am a little wary of this kind of bill myself though I have little sympathy for Microsoft's position. Most of the conditions seem like reasonable things to ask for to me. But will XML really last forever? Or will there be something better and greater down the line that will require this bill to be rewritten?

Here's a simple principle.. (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655767)

If MS can guarantee and be bonded that documents that are archived now can be accessed in 50 years time, and can be accessed and processed from today until then with software they provide for free (and I mean zero cost), well, then I agree - there's no issue.

For a democratic process to function, there should not be a price tag on public information. If the data is stored in a format for which you have to pay to access it you are in principle harming democratic process. I do realise that the opposite is harming commercial interests and I thus believe (cynic that I am) that it will take a bit more time before sponsorship of any kind (campaign contributions, golf trips, conferences in exotic places,"targeted charity") will no longer influence that vote.

In that context I find the ever increasing "yes" votes to ODF interesting - it appears that Massachusetts set in progress something of an avalanche. Give that man this years' Open Source Champion award..

Nobody is forcing anyone from the market. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656263)

I'm against any law designed to force out any specific competitor from any market...

I guess you don't realise that not only is there no reason Microsoft couldn't produce ODF documents, but the open source community is already stepping up to the plate with free ODF plugins for Microsoft products?

Gates' Long Lost Cousin? (4, Funny)

duh P3rf3ss3r (967183) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654903)

Who is 'Open Doc Bill' and why does Microsoft oppose his going to California?

No time to RTFA but lots of time to post and read replies! ;-)

Not only in Cali (2, Informative)

npace (1085633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655003)

Apparently, it happened in Florida also. State Representative Ed Homan added the use of open standards to a bill in state senate. A day later, he was visited by three people from Microsoft. The bill about the open standards was rejected. http://uf.freeculture.org/2007/04/01/legislature-2 007-state-of-florida-it/ [freeculture.org]

Re:Not only in Cali (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18656035)

Souds like Sopranos.

Oregon ODF plea, on video at YouTube (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655687)



No comments needed - you all know the score..

open formats are nice for all (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655733)

If the people Microsoft is calling out to had half a brain, they'd realize that open formats are a great thing, even if they want to use Microsoft products. You know, so you, as a sysadmin, can easily dump your data into microsoft word/excel/powerpoint for the boss's monthly numbers or whatever. Yeah, there's better ways to do it, but then it'd be more easily possible for those who must use those products for whatever reason.

Both standards can only be understood by big corps (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656003)

Why should I care about ODF vs OOXML? Both are so complex that they can only be implemented by big corporations (and Ok, big Open Source groups). Give me something for which a moderately computer-educated citizen can write a parser to, for example, find inconsistencies or unusual items in a state budget spreadsheet. Plain HTML will do nicely and there is no reason government documents should have formatting needs that exceed that.

Dear Corporate Lobbyist and Dogmatist, history 101 (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 7 years ago | (#18656087)

A long time ago, in a past decade

(~1982~1992), in the early days of home HS/ADP technology, When microsoft was but a baby corps, there were many many operating systems (OS) and file formats for each and every OS/application. Then microsoft said

(~1989~1994) lets provide file format conversion for all our big competitors file formats to microsoft file formates. As microsoft fed on conversion converts and got to be the biggest, fattest, and dumbest OSD (original software developer) they chose the path of other failures ... GM, BigBlue... and said fyck the customer |

(~1995~2000) requirements we will force them to accept what we deem best for our captive paying market and even provided templates and formats that would always change with every update to compel their hostage customers to by another fix for their addiction more microsoft product upgrades.

(~2001~2005) slowly businesses and institutions were forced to convert to microsfoft dogma and sustenance, or die.

(~1985GNU~1991Linux~1994W3C) However, a small rebel FREEDOM alliance [AKA: F/LOSS, GNU-Linux, "Open"...] began a subversive offensive in the interest of the oppressed high-TEK public and exploited low-TEK countries globally across the W3/Internet. In services to everyone, the rebels would openly and blatantly, like Don Quixote tilting a windmill evil giants, fight honorable and heroically as "Knights of the WoeFolk Continent" until victory for all.

Anyway y'all get the point ... my wife's calling ... Microsoft could have developed an ODF long ago, but was greedy. ODF is required for business, law, research, government, military ..., and we can no longer afford proprietary bullshit products that fyck US every other year and create a black-hole of data files for future generations and everything.

MS FYCKED U, US, and themselves.

Don't look on /. for techincal discussion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18656291)

Miguel for EOXML:
http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2007/Jan-30.html/ [tirania.org]

Rob Weir against:
http://www.robweir.com/blog/2007/01/more-matter-wi th-less-art.html/ [robweir.com]

The comments on Rob's blog are better then /.

Slahdot is now peopled with Morons. Yes even smart people become drooling morons when you mention MS.
Go find your roots!
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