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Microsoft Releases Specs for Binary Formats

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the thanks-for-the-hand-up dept.

Windows 205

skolima writes "In response to requests for even easier access to the Binary Formats, Microsoft has agreed to remove any intermediate steps necessary to get the documentation. They're going to just post it, making it directly available as a download on the Microsoft web site. Microsoft will also make the Binary Formats subject to its Open Specification Promise by February 15, 2008. They're even planning to include an Open Source converter implementation."

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The important stuff (5, Informative)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081336)

The important stuff from the TFA:


Microsoft agreed to:
* Initiate a Binary Format-to-ISO/IEC JTC 1 DIS 29500 Translator Project on the open source software development web site SourceForge (http://sourceforge.net/ ) (...) The Translator Project will create software tools, plus guidance, showing how a document written using the Binary Formats can be translated to DIS 29500. The Translator will be available under the open source Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license (...). The Translator Project will start on February 15, 2008.
* Make it even easier to get access to the Binary Formats documentation by posting it and making it available for a direct download on the Microsoft web site no later than February 15, 2008. The Binary Formats have been under a covenant not to sue and Microsoft will also make them available under its Open Specification Promise (see www.microsoft.com/interop/osp) by the time they are posted.

Re:The important stuff (0, Troll)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081726)

One more kinda important thing... It only mentions by name the older formats Microsoft is in the process of abandoning, like .doc which they blocked Office from opening recently. I see no mention of the new formats Microsoft is trying to ram down our throats. But I may have missed it... It is a kinda tough read.

Re:The important stuff (1)

VagaStorm (691999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082322)

What???? Office cant open .doc files?

Re:The important stuff (5, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082480)

The new format is one of the MS Office Open XML( MS-OOXML ) formats. And my guess is that this current revelation has been in the plans for some time. After all, patching Microsoft Office and disabling the OPENING of the older file formats is the perfect example of why people need an open file format. People are being shut out from using their older formats. But, out comes Microsoft saying that they'll open up those older formats and release converter code so everyone can convert to MS-OOXML. Yup, sure looks like the has been planned for quite some time.

But then there is probably a document or two inside Microsoft which shows the many paths to limit and/or destroy ODF support and to gain back any lost market due to MS-OOXML spec acceptance. For over 20 years Microsofts business model has been to beat the competition by attacking their revenue stream(s) by leveraging the 100's of millions of systems sold annually with pre-loaded Windows. Seldom has it ever used superior product attributes to win the market. I see no reason to think some switch has magically been thrown and now Microsoft wants to compete for customers in an open and level playing field. I don't think they would even know how to do this because without a complete management replacement, it's in their blood to go after the business and not the customers. Destroy the business and the customers will go to the shinny light that is Microsoft. IMO.

Regarding those new formats, there is a nice 6,000 page document that tells you how simple the new formats are so it should be very easy to implement an application which can read and display everything the spec covers. Why would you ever need code from Microsoft to help you access files based on that spec? If they can do it, anybody can. FYI, so far, there is one vendor who has applications with high levels of support of the spec and that is Microsoft.

Just look at how many apps now have a high level of support for the ODF spec:
http://opendocumentfellowship.com/applications [opendocume...owship.com]

LoB

Re:The important stuff (5, Funny)

tritonman (998572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081746)

ok, so if it's all binary formats only, does this mean they won't be releasing the specs for the notepad format? I've been waiting for this forever.

Re:The important stuff (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081894)

ok, so if it's all binary formats only, does this mean they won't be releasing the specs for the notepad format? I've been waiting for this forever.


Which format of notepad file do you want?

(You jest, but Notepad supposedly can open ASCII, UTF-8, UTF-16 (big and little endian) and documents. It can't comprehend the oddball UTF-7 format, though. It helps though if your Unicode documents have a header (BOM) so Notepad can choose the right format.)

Re:The important stuff (1)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082124)

Notepad supposedly can open ASCII, UTF-8, UTF-16 (big and little endian) and documents. It can't comprehend the oddball UTF-7 format, though. It helps though if your Unicode documents have a header (BOM) so Notepad can choose the right format.)

The UTF-8 BOM, 2 bytes signifying nothing that have caused myself and many others to waste countless hours arguing over nothing. I'm to angry to go verify that the UTF-8 bom is indeed 2 bytes.

Re:The important stuff (1)

phasm42 (588479) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082514)

I'm to angry to go verify that the UTF-8 bom is indeed 2 bytes.
It's not :-)

The UTF-16 BOM is 2 bytes, the UTF-8 BOM is 3 bytes.

Somebody set up us the BOM (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082606)

The UTF-8 BOM, 2 bytes signifying nothing that have caused myself and many others to waste countless hours arguing over nothing. I'm to angry to go verify that the UTF-8 bom is indeed 2 bytes.
The UTF-8 BOM is actually three octets, not two: 0xEF 0xBB 0xBF. They decode to a single codepoint U+FEFF.

Re:The important stuff (5, Funny)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081974)

February 15th? Are they merely trying to recruit the programmers who attempted suicide the previous evening on account of not getting lucky?

"Decoding MS binary formats - it's better than death!" ;)

No, they want to influence the ISO meeting (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082232)

They must be worried sick about the ISO meeting in February, scheduled for a week after this grand opening. It's make or break time for MS-OOXML.

Up to now, the binary formats were specifically excluded from open source developers. Will that change?

Re:No, they want to influence the ISO meeting (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082286)

They must be worried sick about the ISO meeting in February, scheduled for a week after this grand opening. It's make or break time for MS-OOXML.

Meaning there won't be enough time to fully investigate whether these specs are actually useful or just PR BS like every other "Open" thing MS has done. Forgive me for preemptively assuming the latter.

Re:The important stuff (1)

Gigaflynn (1008043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082270)

no its not, I'm sorry, it just isn't. Give me the pills any day

Re:The important stuff (2, Funny)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082520)

Please note that the slogan I gave was from their marketing department. Any resemblance the actual decoder work has with pure, unadulterated hellfire of the anus that makes you wish you and everyone you'd ever met was dead is purely coincidental and not covered by their "CompilesForSure!" guarantee.

Re:The important stuff (1)

gzerphey (1006177) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082332)

are you sure about that?

One month to reconfigure firewalls (5, Funny)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081378)

From the TFA:

Initiate a (...) Project on the open source software development web site SourceForge The Translator Project will start on February 15, 2008.
I believe it's quite considerate to give both network teams enough time to unblock each other' IP ranges :-)

Re:One month to reconfigure firewalls (4, Insightful)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081968)

This isn't the first project that Microsoft has released on Sourceforge. They also released WiX, which is a program to build windows installation executables (similar to Nullsoft's nsis). Sourceforge is available to everybody who wants to publish an open source project, even mega-corps like Microsoft. I wouldn't suggest it any other way.

Re:One month to reconfigure firewalls (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082308)

This isn't the first project that Microsoft has released on Sourceforge. They also released WiX, which is a program to build windows installation executables

It relies on Visual studio being present though, Nullsofts nSis (which I use) cares not for such restrictions.

Whoops (5, Funny)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081410)

And they will even an Open Source converter implementation.


Yes, I'm they will!

Re:Whoops (1)

Drasil (580067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081628)

And they will even an Open Source converter implementation.
It's code, it means they will make it even, as in zero, as in there will be zero open source implementations.

Re:Whoops (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081932)

zero is right, if in a legal document then it leaves the lawyers at Microsoft a huge hole to not do anything regarding a converter. I would hope it's just a writers mistake.

LoB

Re:Whoops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081924)

"And they will even an Open Source converter implementation."

Has the converter been unbalanced in the past?

Re:Whoops (1)

lysse (516445) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082042)

Remember, this is Microsoft - there's bound to be a.

Re:Whoops (3, Funny)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082376)

And they will even an Open Source converter implementation.

Yes, I'm they will!

Are you Miss Teen South Carolina's brother? [thevideospace.com]

in other news... (5, Funny)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081422)

Satan: Why did it just get so cold in here?

Re:in other news... (0, Offtopic)

quarrel (194077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081494)

or perhaps

DNF to be released by February 15 2008 :)

--Q

Re:in other news... (1)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081700)

APRIL FOOLS!!!

very funny (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081828)

but this is a very positive move on the part of Microsoft.

Re:very funny (2)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082046)

positive for Microsoft, negative for those who want to own the rights to view the contents of their data. FYI, there's 20 years of history to show that what Microsoft giveth, Microsoft taketh away. Remember, they once said that ISO will control changes to the MS Office OXML spec if standardized but in the past couple of months, changed that and said they would control changes to the spec. There is no way in hell Microsoft is not going to use this to keep changing the format and keep all others behind them in implementation of these changes. 20 years showing this is the way they work.

positive for Microsoft, negative for everyone else. After all, MS Office OXML was created for the purpose of fighting off the acceptance of the ODF format so every move they make with MS OOXML is to stop acceptance of ODF. And the fact that Microsoft would not work with the hundreds of OASIS members in creation of the ODF spec is another example of the 20 year old Microsoft tactic of 'it is our spec and your spec can rot in hell' mentality. They have never accepted or worked with any truly open spec without corrupting it on their platform. IMO.

LoB

Re:very funny (1)

megabarf (1092261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082442)

positive for Microsoft, negative for those who want to own the rights to view the contents of their data.
I am a MS hater as much as the next guy, but this is complete nonsense.

Yes, this is a PR stunt. Yes, it is intended to influence people by making them believe that MS has changed and is more open when it is not likely to happen. No, providing information about an older format that a user may still be using can not in any way be taken as a way to strip people of their rights to view the contents of their data.

That said, the article made me feel a little ill. I'll paraphrase it in much shorter terms:
  • The data was already available by sending off a request by email, MS is just making it easier to get.
  • There are many implementations of OOXML out there. [The provided list is questionable as far as completeness of implementation. I suspect most of the implementations are provided for document type detection or simple text conversion and not much else.]
  • MS claims to be going above and beyond their duties to open a sourceforge document translator project.

Re:in other news... (5, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081860)

I don't know. I'm too busy dodging those stupid flying pigs. Ack! Another one!

Re:in other news... (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082276)

And why are you farting lightning bolts and monkeys?

Re:in other news... (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081908)

Careful, you might 42 49 4E Hex the whole thing.....

Intermediate steps (3, Insightful)

autophile (640621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081426)

I hope these intermediate steps that they're eliminating include packaging the documents in an .exe file, and requiring MS Office to be installed. I'm looking at you, Word format!

--Rob

Re:Intermediate steps (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081638)

It's been over a decade since MS Office was needed to read a word file.

EXE packing, however is annoying (Although, many archiver apps can actually open the EXE formatted archives - you just have to figure out which app it use, zip, cab, rar, other?)

Re:Intermediate steps (1)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082404)

Perhaps even more bizzarely, on the two occasions where I didn't look at the file extensions the EXE archive opened up in WINE and extracted without a problem...! I find that BIOS updates typically come in exe format only, but HP's definitely ran well enough to make me a bootable CD ISO.

seeing as its all binary formats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081430)

thats just about every file MS Applications and OS creates no ? unless files are saved in plain ini/text/xml/humanreadable format isnt everything else a form of binary ?

Re:seeing as its all binary formats (4, Funny)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081658)

thats just about every file MS Applications and OS creates no ? unless files are saved in plain ini/text/xml/humanreadable format isnt everything else a form of binary ?

Even plain ini/text/xml etc. is eventually stored as ones and zeros. And I think I saw a 2...

Re:seeing as its all binary formats (4, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081768)

Don't worry, there's no such thing as 2.

Re:seeing as its all binary formats (4, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081808)

Try opening a word file in the plain text editor of your choice. There's actually a lot of plain text in there, it seems the binary is mostly from formatting (and embedded binary objects - like images).

I've had an occasion or two where a word document got corrupted and office wouldn't fix it. Out of curiosity, I opened it in notepad. I cut out all the formatting bytes, and cleaned up some areas where spaces were added between characters in a section of text (WTF?), and saved the plain text. Nothing of my document was missing (since I didn't have pictures in it or anything like that).

last sentence of summary (4, Funny)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081442)

And they will even an Open Source converter implementation

i find myself doing this all the time at work now, and it's embarrassing. I leave entire words out of emails, IMs, etc. I never used to do that. I must be getting old.

Many times, I'll leave out a negating word, like "not", causing me to communicate the wrong idea.

Re:last sentence of summary (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081758)

Man! Harsh moderation today on .

I think it's because yesterday was so slow (0)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082164)

All the people who didn't get their chance to flame yesterday and wound up with mod points today.

Sometimes I picture mods sitting there reading through the posts talking under their breath like a kid playing a video game: "Oh, got that one... here's another... Slam! Nailed you, you slashdotting fool... Bam! There's another one! Die, troll, die!"

Re:last sentence of summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081778)

It couldn't be better. You might not have replaced entire words, therefore expressing a completely correct idea. I love when that doesn't happen.

Re:last sentence of summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081928)

that was hilarious, AC. well done

Re:last sentence of summary (4, Funny)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082100)

what's worst is when you proof read it before hitting the [send] button and only after seeing it in another form do you see you once again you out another word. Yup, the brain does funny things to us.

LoB
   

This has to be good. Right ? (2, Insightful)

EMB Numbers (934125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081446)

This has to be good. Right ? How will this work with specifications that say "render text like Word 98?" Will Microsoft now document how Word 98 renders ?

footnotes like Word 95... (4, Interesting)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081922)

How will this work with specifications that say "render text like Word 98?"

As covered in this link [xmlguru.cz] , it appears that most of these specifications have either been removed or documented. What this does mean is that perhaps it will be possible to truly understand what these formatting hooks refer to, not what MS have documented them as referring to...

(Thanks to zmotula [slashdot.org] for the link)

Re:This has to be good. Right ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082026)

It might look good, but you have to remember that MS apps don't follow MS specifications, so it won't allow you to fully read real ms docs...

The monolith is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081452)

Long live the monolith...

Let the bashing begin (2, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081460)

Oh wait, there is nothing to bash.... Well, let's invent, for christ sake, this is Slashdot. We sure can do better... Let's say... "Oh yeah, but they are convicted monopolists. Oh, and they replied to a bug 10 years later. Oh, and they suck.".

Re:Let the bashing begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081616)

Geez, shut up already.

Re:Let the bashing begin (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081640)

Why is the parent modded down? I clicked on the comments fully expecting to read On noes, the big, bad evil blah blah blah and was quite happy to see intelligent quotes responding to a MS article. It's actually a nice change. (And, as an FYI, I'm a mac fanboy, not a MS groupie.)

Re:Let the bashing begin (0)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081728)

Seriously, there's way to much honesty in your post (and sig), comments like that will get you burned by the mobed by the lemmings.

Wait. Lemmings are small. Lobo is wolf.
Are you trying to lure in some dinner? Nice method

Re:Let the bashing begin (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082106)

Well... they *do* suck :D

carrot (2, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081474)

thats the carrot then. so where's the stick?

Re:carrot (5, Funny)

Admiral_Grinder (830562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081682)

I'm sure we will find out in a rude way when we bend over to pick up the carrot.

Woohoo! (4, Funny)

MisterSquirrel (1023517) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081492)

Wow! It sounds like Microsoft has seen the light! It's only a matter of time now before they start giving away all their software for free.

Re:Woohoo! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081986)

About time. I have for years been giving away all their software for free. ;-)

This is a VERY good thing (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081508)

Because it ensures that the very real possibility of bitrot for the majority of documents written in the last 15 years is now greatly reduced.

Re:This is a VERY good thing (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081708)

Because it ensures that the very real possibility of bitrot for the majority of documents written in the last 15 years is now greatly reduced.

Now they just need to open up VBA so that all those applications won't be rendered useless by their choice to do away with them, starting with future Office versions. Oh wait, that was their point... To force people to upgrade.

So they open up one way and close up another. Anything to keep their anti^H^H^H^Hcompetitive behavior moving!

no change in physical media bit rot (1)

twitchingbug (701187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082214)

The release of the specs doesn't improve the physical bit rot of the data/media itself - which is the main definition of bit rot. Of course, I guess wikipedia [wikipedia.org] does support your definition too. I just wanted to be clear that there are other challenges beside keeping the specifications/software reader around.

Office XML (0, Troll)

ilikepi314 (1217898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081512)

Documentation will be good, but the open source converter does not seem very useful if it converts to Office XML, which no one can implement anyway. Unless this converter is so good that it gives us insight into how Office XML works... but then again, wasn't there discussion of patents on certain parts of the specification? Maybe it still can't be used safely by anyone but Microsoft, even if the source code is available...

APRIL FOOL! (5, Insightful)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081526)

Wait, what? Brain not comprehending this. Unless TFA is a complete pack of lies, I'm going to have to give tentative applause. Perhaps the only interesting thing I can think of is that "royalty free" != "we won't sue you into oblivion if we think you're trespassing on our patents". Sorry MS, you taught me to be cynical.

Re:APRIL FOOL! (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081742)

Sorry MS, you taught me to be cynical.
Spider-sense definitely tingling.

Re:APRIL FOOL! (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082264)

Well, I can think of a few possibilities. First, this might be an attempt to shore up the OOXML specification, one criticism of which is that it refers to these old formats. Second, a criticism of Office 2007 is that it cannot open old formats. By opening the specifications, they might hope that Office 2007 becomes more desirable (or at least, less problematic).

Or maybe a chair bounced off the wall and hit Ballmer in the head. Who knows?

OSP: Might ba a trap for GPL license software (5, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081556)

Disclaimer:IANAL
The docs are released under MS' own "Open Specification Promise" *cringes*
http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

If you do a search on GPL you get:

Q: Is this Promise consistent with open source licensing, namely the GPL? And can anyone implement the specification(s) without any concerns about Microsoft patents?

A: The Open Specification Promise is a simple and clear way to assure that the broadest audience of developers and customers working with commercial or open source software can implement the covered specification(s). We leave it to those implementing these technologies to understand the legal environments in which they operate. This includes people operating in a GPL environment. Because the General Public License (GPL) is not universally interpreted the same way by everyone, we can't give anyone a legal opinion about how our language relates to the GPL or other OSS licenses, but based on feedback from the open source community we believe that a broad audience of developers can implement the specification(s).

I don't get warm and fuzzy feelings reading this and I think that's the idea...

Re:OSP: Might ba a trap for GPL license software (3, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081812)

Because the General Public License (GPL) is not universally interpreted the same way by everyone, we can't give anyone a legal opinion about how our language relates to the GPL or other OSS licenses.
I don't get warm and fuzzy feelings reading this and I think that's the idea...

Because never in all its history has a geek's interpretation of the GPL ignited a flamewar on Slashdot

Re:OSP: Might ba a trap for GPL license software (5, Interesting)

magnus.ahlberg (1211924) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082328)

Oh, first post on /. and it's actually defending Microsoft. As someone stated above, satan _must_ be freezing.

Enough of that and to my point:

I'm quite fond of the GPL and open source licenses in general. But actually, the open source licenses that microsoft has created (Ms-PL [opensource.org] and Ms-RL) are a lot less restrictive then the GPL and a great deal easier to read. If Microsoft will use theese licenses then there should be no problem with GPL-compatability as far as I can tell. [opensource.org]

The "disclaimer" in that FAQ is just saying that they wont promise anything, and it is probably the smartest thing to do so that they won't get sued.

Re:OSP: Might ba a trap for GPL license software (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082432)

Disclaimer:IANAL

8< ---
Because the General Public License (GPL) is not universally interpreted the same way by everyone, we can't give anyone a legal opinion about how our language relates to the GPL or other OSS licenses,

So basicaly what they are saying is the same as you: IANAL

Re:OSP: Might ba a trap for GPL license software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082492)

IANAL but I always thought it was how a lawyer (or probably a judge) interprets the GPL that really matters. Otherwise I'm going to take to 'interpreting' Microsoft's licenses 'differently' to how other people do.

Sounds like utter BS to me.

"Binary Formats"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081564)

The arbitrary capitalisation of "binary formats" offends my inner grammar nazi.

Re:"Binary Formats"? (3, Informative)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081806)

"Binary Formats" is being used as a proper noun for a specific set of file formats. It is a defined term in the document:

Documenting the Microsoft Office "binary" file formats (i.e., .doc, .xls, and .ppt) (the "Binary Formats") is not the intention or in the scope of DIS 29500.

Re:"Binary Formats"? (1)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082178)

That's Mr. Capitalisation of Major Words to you, not Mr. Arbitrary Capitalisation (That guy's a freak!). Ever seen a newspaper headline?

I'm definitely trolling this time (5, Funny)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081566)

...and since this is slashdot, it's not good enough until they've also:

1. refunded all money earned through use of these formats
2. allow people to fork them and then demand that their idiot-forks get recombined into the trunk and incorporated into MS Office 09
3. #2 isn't good enough, Microsoft must even make sure that they are in the next release of OO even though they have nothing to do with that product
4. Clipart of Steve Ballmer throwing chairs is included
5. it is released under the GPLv3 license
6. the EU gets to fine them another trillion euros (with a lower-case e) for every day since 1980 that the formats have not been open
7. none of the above points matter because Microsoft sucks anyway and no one @ slashdot uses MS Office, they all use OO (yea, right!)

so go ahead, mod me down you fuckers.

Re:I'm definitely trolling this time (3, Funny)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082158)

I don't understand, you have steps but no

?????

Profit!

Re:I'm definitely trolling this time (5, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082202)

MS did the "Profit!" step first at Step 0.

Re:I'm definitely trolling this time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082220)

7. none of the above points matter because Microsoft sucks anyway and no one @ slashdot uses MS Office, they all use OO (yea, right!)
I use LaTeX, you insensitive clod!

Re:I'm definitely trolling this time (4, Funny)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082536)

"so go ahead, mod me down you fuckers."

I would mod you down, but then you would become more powerful than I could possibly imagine.

Free to use as in beer? (1)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081580)

Do the specs come with a 'Click here to buy a license for $0'?

I.e. can I use it in an open source program, or is it hindered by a license that prevents me from distributing it because I can not re-license them?

Useful if you're a programmer and can't send e-mai (4, Informative)

Bongfish (545460) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081600)

Note that these specs have been available previously, royalty free, just by e-mailing MS (or so they claim), meaning that anybody who wanted them has got them, or can get them.

The only interesting thing here is the converter they're proposing, assuming nobody beats them to it with a better one.

In other news... (1)

mamono (706685) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081604)

Hell has reached a chilly 32 degrees Fahrenheit

Push for MSOOXML? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081636)

So I guess they'll do anything to get MSOOXML adopted?

Too Little, Too Late (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081710)

I stopped using Microsoft operating systems and office software a long time ago. OpenOffice already opens 99% of the old documents; maybe not exactly the way the "RenderTextLikeWord95" flag would intend, but close enough for any purpose I'll ever have. Microsoft's gesture is too little, too late.

Re:Too Little, Too Late (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082032)

I dunno. I'll wager the OO.org folks won't be too upset if they can peer into the formats and clean up the errors still floating around in their reverse-engineering job.

Not that I'm putting these guys down. OO.org does a damn impressive job with Word 97-2003 documents.

Re:Too Little, Too Late (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082108)

It's funny that, 7 years ago I was hearing that "Open Office opens 99% of ...", along with the mandatory disclaimer "and it might not look EXACTLY the same ...".

7 years later, and here we are, STILL at 99%.

Microsoft releasing the specs now won't make a damn of difference, whilst the FOSS crowd is still willing to compromise so much on their own "products", while slagging MS every step of the way when they drop the ball.

7 years from now, with the specs collecting dust in a warehouse in Richmond, expect the Open Office crowd to be extolling "now opens 99.1% of ...".

Roll on 2015.

A gift from Microsoft (5, Funny)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081734)

Microsoft is releasing the specs for binary document formats. This will help those who want to support and maintain those formats so this is a gift from Microsoft. Fellow residents of Troy, let us be grateful and embrace this great offering.

ODF must be some kind of threat (4, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081766)

or there's no way they'd be doing this. Well, it is Microsoft so there are likely to be some problems. For instance, they could post 10,000 lines of assembly or just plain crappy C code and say, 'there you go, it's open'. Not so bad in itself but not very easy to use none the less.

But what is really probably happening here is that ODF is getting adopted around the world by governments and once you go ODF, it's going to be a tough sell back to the pull-the-rug-out-from-under-your-feet Microsoft way. Anyways, if Microsoft really sees ODF as a credible threat, getting MS Office OXML through ISO is important, very important. But, once they can do that and gain back credibility, there is NOTHING to stop them from releasing software which others are not privy too. ie, change the format and keep everyone else chasing them.

Remember, ISO will not be in control of the changes to the spec, Microsoft will be.

So watch out for this good-guy mask being applied. We've seen nothing to say there isn't anything but the same old Microsoft hiding behind it. And no, I would not accept this as a first step and something to trust. ODF and open access to your own created data is too important to let a simple trick undermine it all. IMO.

LoB

What about MS Project? (1)

josephtd (817237) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081822)

Read the blog entry and didn't see it mentioned.

Exchange (4, Interesting)

abigor (540274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081856)

Wait a second, does this include Exchange? If so, that's huge.

Bad tagging... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081880)

I thought the tag "missingword" meant they had left out the specifications for Word formats...

April Fool's Come Early (0, Troll)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081912)

Again!

This is some interoperability play most likely to placate some government entity without actually doing much. It is the equivalent of the skin of an onion.

This is also temporary as Microsoft has already made well known their intentions to move to signed drivers only. After signed drivers comes signed applications. What good will any of this do if you can't run the app without microsoft's blessing?

FYI: http://www.alex-ionescu.com/?p=24 [alex-ionescu.com] (related topic and safe for work)

Linux wonks elated, confused... Film at eleven. (1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081934)

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of geeks crying out in terror were suddenly silenced.

In another news... (3, Informative)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082062)

... Lucifer has announced the launch of a massive advertisement campaign to promote the opening of his new snow park under the brand "Hell Inc."

hoops (1, Insightful)

hey (83763) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082156)

But why the hoops. The Microsoft site says

you may be eligible to participate in a Royalty-Free File Format Program and to receive technical documentation for certain Microsoft Office binary file formats.

Er, why not just put um on a website.
Be open or not.

I... (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082346)

I do not know how to feel just now.

Slashdot comments broken on opera mini! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082352)

Hey facktards at slashdot! You completely broke browsing comments from opera mini! Can you change the default back to the way it was for us opera users! Now get.

Microsoft loses either way (1, Interesting)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082556)

Microsoft is pushing so hard to get "Open" XML adopted by the ISO that they're really dropping their pants here. Regardless of what ISO does, both "Open" XML and the legacy formats are now wide open for interoperability work to be done by the free world.

Pointy haired morons demanding the use of a $500 office suite cannot prevail forever. Commoditization is a very strong force but sometimes it takes a while to do its thing.

doing this for obvious reasons (1)

TheRealZeus (1172755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082578)

"see we provide documentation, can we has ooxml iso no plz?"
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