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Microsoft Blasts IBM Over XML Standards 323

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

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  • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:51AM (#18037480) Homepage
    Help! I just bought a ThinkPad (yes, IBM, not Lenovo). I run Windows on it. Which side should I take?!
    • by maharg (182366) on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:56AM (#18037528) Homepage Journal
      Hmm. Assuming you have no budget and no alternative computing facilities..

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

      Go with IBM, brother.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

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

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

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

        Chris-
        • by TheLinuxSRC (683475) * <slashdot@pagCOWewash.com minus herbivore> on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:17AM (#18037760) Homepage
          "When did Windows stop working on other Laptop/Desktop models.."

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

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

          Ooops... too late :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jackharrer (972403)
      Rip off all the stickers, starting with Windows Genuine Certificate at the bottom...
      Install Linux, pretend that your laptop is a generic Chinese copy...
      Have peace of mind, start coding...
    • by Zebra_X (13249) *
      Well you don't have a "Windows" button, so I think you are on IBM's side. ;)
      • by drwtsn32 (674346)
        Actually, IBM/Lenovo finally changed that. Just ordered some T60's at work and they have the Windows/Menu keys on the keyboard.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lukas84 (912874)
          And thank god for them.

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

          When you're a linux/bsd/whatever user, you've got yourself a nice set of "Meta" keys.
        • by mgblst (80109)
          This has nothing to do with IBM, believe me. It upset quite a few IBM users as well (who think the Windows key is a waste of space, which I agree with)
  • by codepunk (167897) on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:52AM (#18037488)
    It does not take a rocket scientist with a good look at the spec to figure out it sucks. The fact that it sucks has little to do with IBM.
    • They both suck. (Score:3, Insightful)

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

      The major problem is the use of XML. At least with HTML, the tag names were kept short. But both standards use rather long element names, often in excess of eight characters, plus eight or more namespace characters beyond that. For some of the XML element names of each format, we're looking at over 16 characters overhead! When such tags are used repeatedly, especially in a large or heavily-formatted document, a lot of space ends up being wa
      • Re:They both suck. (Score:5, Informative)

        by JohnFluxx (413620) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:31AM (#18037914)
        Wow, it's almost as if we need some form of compression that would find often repeated strings and replace them with short strings. Let's invent it and write a program called gzip!

      • Re:They both suck. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tanktalus (794810) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:43AM (#18038020) Journal

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

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

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by lbmouse (473316)
          "The "space" is not that big of a concern, really. "

          I'd like to work where you do. Document size is always a concern in my department when we are dealing with 5,000,000+ page runs.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by greenbird (859670)

            I'd like to work where you do. Document size is always a concern in my department when we are dealing with 5,000,000+ page runs.

            Is that the spec for OpenXML 2009?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bogtha (906264)

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

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by arevos (659374)

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

        The size of the element names are largely irrelevant, since OpenDocument files are normally compressed ZIP files. Very little space is wasted.

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

        Not really, as even a trivial compression algorithm will reclaim most of that wasted space.

        It's not
      • ODF is format (Score:3, Insightful)

        Having looked into both formats, I realized that they're both trash.
        ... OpenOffice.org and MS Office's HTML output is garbled and insane.

        So (assuming any legitimacy to the complaint) then use a different tool to convert OpenDocument to HTML. Geez. It's XML and there are quite a few ways to make the transition, many of which are quite good.

        You do realize that the article is about the format and not the applications which use them, don't you ? Yeah. I thought so. There are something close to three dozen applications which support OpenDocument, of which OpenOffice is only one.

        MS shills seem to be working over time to try to confus

      • Re:They both suck. (Score:5, Informative)

        by uradu (10768) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:43AM (#18038626)
        (uh, let's do that again, this time with Extrans)

        Wow, insightful indeed. To add some metrics to the rebuttals in this thread: create two files with some bogus XML, one with very short tag names, the other with long ones. Then compare their uncompressed versus zipped sizes:

        File 1:

        <r>
            <c>Value</c>
            <c>Value</c> ...
        </r>

        (1000 total copies of the <c> element)

        Uncompressed: 16,009 bytes
        Compressed: 190 bytes

        File 2:

        <thisIsTheVeryLongRootElementTagName>
            <andThisIsTheVeryLongChildElementTagName>Value</an dThisIsTheVeryLongChildElementTagName>
            <andThisIsTheVeryLongChildElementTagName>Value</an dThisIsTheVeryLongChildElementTagName> ...
        </thisIsTheVeryLongRootElementTagName>

        (1000 total copies of the <andThisIsTheVeryLongChildElementTagName> element)

        Uncompressed: 92,079 bytes
        Compressed: 525 bytes

        So yeah, let's create really obscure and non-intuitive file formats to save ourselves the wasteful redundancy of XML.
  • by KiloByte (825081) on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:55AM (#18037522)
    Perhaps IBM's actions are based on the format qualities, not on its favoritisms. About those, since when IBM was in bed with Sun any more than it was with Microsoft?

    This "Open Letter" is nothing than another piece of FUD and whining.
  • by brennanw (5761) * on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:56AM (#18037526) Homepage Journal
    ... but that shouldn't surprise anyone.

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


    This might be true, but when Massachusetts decided to adopt this standard they raised holy hell, and used every trick in the book to make Massachusetts take it back.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Chacham (981)
      they raised holy hell

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

      Considering though we're talking about Microsoft, i'm not sure it needs to make sense.
  • Of course they did (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:57AM (#18037532)
    Besides being an open standard, the standard needs to be usable by people other than Microsoft. Why would any document standard need specific tags for Windows 95? IBM lobbied against it because it was a bad standard, not because it was made by Microsoft.
  • A standard of one (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tedgyz (515156) * on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:57AM (#18037538) Homepage
    Is it really an open standard if they are the only ones that developed it? It reminds me of a quote which I will paraphrase:

    Reusable code is not truly reusable until it has been used more than once.
    • by ameline (771895)
      Just as portable code is only really portable if it has been ported to a different platform at least once.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

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

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

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

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

      Cheers

  • by N8F8 (4562) on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:57AM (#18037540)
    This is similar to convicts trying to get jobs once out of prison. There is no longer an assumed trust due to prior actions. Who trusts MS to NOT pervert any of their documentation or standards if they see an economic benefit in doing so?
    • by alexhs (877055) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:19AM (#18037780) Homepage Journal
      The standard is already perverted...
      When a "standard" [ecma-international.org] says :

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

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

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

      It's shorter, more accurate, and only a little less helpful...
      • Maybe it's there to allow you to convert a document *from* word 95 with full-width East Asian characters into something from the 21st century that understands Unicode...

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

        Geez. Give them a break on this. Converting docs from old Word is going to be *hard*. All the stuff that MS did before unicode (win 3.1, 95 & 98, so word 6, 7, 95) to get alternate c
        • by Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:57AM (#18038146)

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

          ...

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

          That is a very nice feature for an Office program. However, we are talking about whether it should be included in a document format. Please include some reasons why it should.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Scarblac (122480)

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

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

        • You don't get it. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dudeman2 (88399)
          The autoSpaceLikeWord95 flag is *not* for Word 95. It is for all subsequent versions of MS Office and it translates to a set of special case, undocumented format attributes.

          Here is how the flag is used today:

          1) Open Word95 document containing full-width East Asian characters in Word 2007+
          2) On open (import) Word 2007+ sets the "autoSpaceLikeWord95" document property in the new document
          3) On display, Word 2007+ displays the document using the special case formatting rules.
          4) On Save as OOXML, the document g
  • crybabies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bog Standard (743863)
    So what Microsoft is really saying is that because we didn't block ODF (as there was nothing wrong with it anyway) you should not block OpenXML accordingly (irrespective of any reasons)

    Boring Boring Boring. More posturing as per usual

    Be alert the world need more lerts
  • Wait... what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GundamFan (848341) on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:58AM (#18037546)
    'When ODF was under consideration, Microsoft made no effort to slow down the process because we recognized customers' interest in the standardization of document formats.'

    Yeah... are we supposed to believe that? If anything creating there "open" format looks to me like a blatant attempt to prevent the one thing that open format people are trying to accomplish, namely having one open format that can be used by everyone and can't be arbitrarily obsoleted by any one company. Or maybe I missed something.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Billions in revenue all due to file format lock in. And IBM is trying to fuck that up. You'd be pissed too.

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:58AM (#18037550)
    And it performs brilliantly with any product you want: MS Office Ultimate 2007, MS Office Professional 2007, MS Office Enterprise 2007, MS Office Standard 2007, or MS Office Small Business 2007.

    Details here [microsoft.com].
  • Given Microsoft's amazing track record at standardization!
    • by GundamFan (848341) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:05AM (#18037640)
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  • yea sure (Score:5, Informative)

    by codepunk (167897) on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:58AM (#18037556)
    This little blurb just kills me...

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

    Yep you bet no effort to slow down the standardization process because they refused to be involved. However they have made every effort possible and will continue to do so in the future to slow
    the adoption and deployment of this standard by any means necessary.
  • Poor Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768 AT comcast DOT net> on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:59AM (#18037564) Journal
    Their heads are so far up their asses they cant even see that the problem with Open XML has less to do with Microsoft being the one who created it (which in MY mind is a problem in it's self) and a lot more to do with Open XML, which as a format, makes baby kittens cry.
  • by grimJester (890090) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:00AM (#18037578)
    I thought the main objection to OpenXML was that it fails to define a number of things, essentially saying "render like WordPerfect 1.0", making it an incomplete standard. Making it not impossible but very difficult for anyone other than Microsoft to implement it so it's fully compatible with the MS version.
    • by phayes (202222) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:44AM (#18038038) Homepage
      A secondary major objection is that MS placed OpenXML on an accelerated track to acceptance. Had they used the normal track, most of the objections could be ironed out eventually, but as I understand it, using the fast track process mean that OpenXML must be accepted or rejected as-is. In other words, IT'S THEIR OWN DAMN FAULT for submitting an incomplete specification.
  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:01AM (#18037580) Homepage

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

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

  • by loftwyr (36717) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:01AM (#18037586)
    After all they had to create a 6000 page document without releasing any information on how to make their "open" standard work. There are so many statements like "functions as per Word 95" without explaining what that means. They must have worked long hours creating a specification that doesn't actually specify how to implement it.

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

    Naughty Naughty Big Blue.
  • by fermion (181285) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:01AM (#18037588) Homepage Journal
    OpenOffice.org's OpenDocument

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

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

    • OASIS submitted ODF (Score:5, Informative)

      by shis-ka-bob (595298) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:27AM (#18037866)
      ODF has its origins with StarOffice/OpenOffice.org, but ODF is not 'owned' by OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org controls the source code for one of several software suites that use ODF. OASIS submitted ODF, as discussed in the Cover Pages. ODF had signficant revisions during the approval process, and it continues to evolve as a result of efforts by concerned parties. However, in the case of ODF, the concerned parties are not third parties, but active participants. Handicapped users expressed concerns about the format's accessibility. They were empowered to change the standard, because ODF is a public standard.

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

    • by ILikeRed (141848) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:59AM (#18038160) Journal
      Programs that use ODF natively include:
      • OpenOffice
      • Star Office
      • Google Docs & Spreadsheets
      • KOffice
      • Scribus
      • Abiword
      • ajaxWrite
      • Zoho Writer
      • Ichitaro
      • IBM's Lotus/Domino
      • IBM Workplace
      • Mobile Office
      • Gnumeric
      • Neo Office
      • Hancom Office
      • WordPerfect???
      So it is just Microsoft who is trying to frame this as a MS Office vs. OpenOffice argument, when it really is an Open, multi-vendor format vs a single vendor, obfuscated format argument. Argue formats, not software.
  • by Excelcia (906188) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:04AM (#18037626) Homepage Journal
    You have to love Microsoft's wording:

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

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

    The questions I ask are rhetorical - I know the answer, and so should most people. The open source community (among others) have blasted Microsoft for years for trampling choice in software. Now they are seeing that open source (and competition in general) has a real chance of making significant headway with a well documented, open standard that anyone can implement, that will interoperate, and isn't controlled by themselves, so now they use the community's arguments, but in an area where it's not appropriate. They use the words the community has used to attack their software monoculture to attack a standards monoculture. It's calculated, and a smart move on their part. Utterly contemptuous and underhanded, but very very smart.
    • by LO0G (606364)
      Damn. Choice in standards is bad.

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

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

      You're always going to have choice in standards.
      • by Excelcia (906188) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:08PM (#18038964) Homepage Journal
        You actually are mostly making my point for me. The "a", "b", and "g" and upcoming "n" suffixes denote ammendments to the same 802.11 IEEE standard. The reason they exist are to give additional functionality or updated performance, while ensuring adherance to the same standard. For example, it is because they are ammendments of the same standard that allow b and g to work with each other. The 802.11 standard is the poster child for creating a successful single standard that is widely adopted by countless (competing) vendors and continuously updated to reflect improvements in technology.

        Choice is standards is a negative thing for consumers, which is also something you example with your reference to GSM vs. CDMA. While there are enough differences in the goals of GSM vs CDMA that might technically make a valid case for both standards existing, their wide adoption in different geographical areas represents something of a failure in the standards process to ensure interoperability for the consumer.

        So, thank-you for making my point on why we do not want competing standards, only competing implementations.
    • by danpsmith (922127)

      They use the words the community has used to attack their software monoculture to attack a standards monoculture. It's calculated, and a smart move on their part. Utterly contemptuous and underhanded, but very very smart.

      <moviequote>They're playing hardball, and I gotta say I'm kinda impressed by it.</moviequote>

  • Sorry, the "open letter" is just a bit too familiar to anyone who's raised children.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObiWanStevobi (1030352) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:12AM (#18037696) Journal

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

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

  • by oneandoneis2 (777721) * on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:13AM (#18037716) Homepage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Damnit. . . hand me another chair. . .

  • If logic in public discourse is the crucible of refined ideas, why not let the arguments stand on their own merits without questioning the implied rules of the game?
  • MSFT "supported" the ODF standard then goes out and invents their own standard anyways? And now they question why IBM is agianst it?

    Me thinks MSFT should look up the definition of standard.

    Tom
  • This campaign to stop even the consideration of Open XML in ISO/IEC JTC1 is a blatant attempt to use the standards process to limit choice in the marketplace for ulterior commercial motives - and without regard for the negative impact on consumer choice and technological innovation.
    If this isn't the pot calling the kettle black, then I really don't know what is... I mean, come on! This is Microsoft!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by IPFreely (47576)
      Considering that MS has been the leading poster child for dirty, underhanded (and a few illegal) anti-competative practices for the last quarter century, it's more like the black hole calling the kettle black.
  • One True Format (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlightShadow (678579) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:16AM (#18037758) Homepage Journal
    After reading the Open letter, it's very clear that Microsoft claims IBM's want to stop Open XML stems from their ODF format making it through the standards group first and being adopted. MS claims that people should be able to choose their open standards...

    Call me crazy but having two different standards doesn't really capture the idea of having Standards at all. I thought the point of standards was to make it so we (the developers) only have to implement one thing. I can fully understand IBM's reasoning here. The only thing it seems MS wants to do is create more vendor lock.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Call me crazy but having two different standards doesn't really capture the idea of having Standards at all. I thought the point of standards was to make it so we (the developers) only have to implement one thing.

      I disagree. I don't think there is any problem with having multiple OPEN standards because it is easy to translate between them and it allows competition among them for the best feature set and easiest to use, etc. The fundamental objection is what MS has come up with that they claim is an open

  • Whats that Microsoft? IBM did what? Uh huh... uh huh... You sure? uh huh... Quick Somebody call Whine-1-1, and request a Whaaaaambulance!
  • If IBM was doing anything, it was informing the public and standards board about how OpenXML is a poor standard for reinventing the wheel on everything.

    ODF had a long open development period. Microsoft could have participated in this if they really cared about standards and a backward compatibile feature set. Instead they chose to develop their own format. So why should I have sympathy if they cry about IBM saying ODF is better?
  • by golodh (893453) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:23AM (#18037816)
    It's almost as if Microsoft feels that opposing proposed "standards" is done on a basis of exchanging favours. If I don't oppose yours, you don't oppose mine. Rejection on merit? Huh? What merit? Since when did we ever judge standards applications on merit? You're just being hypocritical!

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

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

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

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

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

  • my solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Blob Pet (86206) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:30AM (#18037900) Homepage
    Since ECMA is willing to recognize crap as a standard, I'm just going to stop recognizing ECMA as a standards organization.
  • by sjbe (173966) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:37AM (#18037966)
    I've read the TFA and I'm not really sure what they are accusing IBM of doing. Microsoft has a de-facto standard format that provides them a competitive marketplace advantage. Microsoft is attempting to get parts of it put through a standards organization supposedly as a token of good faith towards interoperability. Presumably the motivation for this is to head off widespread adoption of a more open format by parties (governments for example) in a position to do so.

    Some randomly selected points from TFA.

    In fact, Office has long supported multiple formats.

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

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

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

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

    OK. Let's assume that IBM is being a bad guy here. It's possible. Wouldn't be the first time. Is there something about ECMA International" [wikipedia.org] that prohibits competing standards? Honest question, I don't really know. If not Microsoft is entitled to complain. But on the other hand the process is moving forward and there is little doubt it will be approved in due time. So I'm at a bit of a loss as to why I should care if IBM was obstructive, even assuming they were? IBM is one of the few companies that really isn't especially beholden to Microsoft's monopoly power so I'd expect them to be a bit more prickly. Let me be clear, for me to trust Microsoft I will need to see a lot more than a format approved by a standards body to believe they are going to compete openly and fairly in the marketplace. This is a company convicted in a court of law of abusing their monopoly power to the detriment of consumers. Implicitly trusting them is foolish.
  • Any way that the open source community could embrace and extend Open XML?
  • There should be only one standard. You need competition among the vendors. That is the way to have level playing field. Microsoft is playing with words and fudging the issue by creating competing standards. What if every tire manufacturer proposes his own standards? The market is not served by fragmentation of standards. One standard. Not owned by any vendor but under the control of users, consumers and the marketplace. The standards should promote competition among the vendors. If it does not promote compe
  • The discussion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wonkavader (605434) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:07AM (#18038244)
    The article's uninteresting, but did you read the discussion? There are some people who spent a lot of time posting, who quote Microsoft documents, and keep steering the discussion back to Microsoft's talking point, and away from technical points, whenever they're raised.

    I don't know the people involved, and I don't know where they're coming from. But I suspect something. That suspicion colors everything I read in it.

    I cannot read a discussion of my peers and believe what I read today. Every peer is possibly specifically paid to market and lie. Therefore, I have no peers.

    We need a law against astro-turfing.
  • In this letter they talk about choice? Since when? MS is about choice, I guess. Mainly the choice about being locked in to their product like a complete fool, or not.

    Don't get me wrong. Office it really nice. I think as a product it could compete just fine, but MS is never going to allow that. They want you locked in. That's just good for the stock. What's good for the stock is often bad for the user. With Open Office I just don't see the need for MS Office. I don't. I'm sure someone can think of a good rea
  • ...go over to http://openxmldeveloper.org/default.aspx [openxmldeveloper.org] and fill up their forums with lots of direct questions about how to implement the OpenXML "standard"?

    Tell them you're developing a cross-platform application with Linux and OS X versions, I'm sure they'll love that.
  • Microsoft Standards (Score:3, Informative)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:30PM (#18040426)
    IMHO this is is the crux of the "Microsoft Problem" in entirety.

    First: They have no idea how to document file formats, this is mostly because of their file format model. I worked as a contractor, indirectly, for Microsoft a long time ago. Their file formats are not "documented" per se'. They are program structure based and can change on the whim of a developer, their name at the time was "chunk format." This works well if you don't expect anyone to use your document format or you supply the access library.

    At its core it is because they do not design formats, they code them as needed. Need a feature or special case? Just add a struct, an ID, and a chunk of read/write code and it works. How the hell do you document the outcome of that process? This isn't a bad methodology for internal state or temporary files, but it is a disaster for any sort of long term accessibility and interoperability.

    Microsoft develops software like a small company because as long as they have the monopoly, they don't *need* to supply document format information in order to compete. Everyone else has to understand their formats and they aren't going to help at all. Their 'XML' format shows they have not changed one bit. Rather than "design" the document format, they are merely documenting what they have which is just a bunch of special cases.

    Second: A true open office document format, usable by everyone, will spawn amazing amounts of innovations. Everything from document searching to intelligent document processing. When anyone can read and create documents on any platform or programming language than everyone else's programs can use as well, just think of what people will come up with. If that's going to happen, Microsoft has to make sure that they are the only benefactor, because except for the monopoly, Microsoft has no inherent value in the face of Linux and OpenOffice.org. At least Apple makes a nice computer.
  • Puh-leaze (Score:3, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday February 16, 2007 @02:53PM (#18042000)

    Microsoft blasting IBM over standards is another paranoid delusion of MS. IBM and 20 countries did not object to the its OOXML standard because MS proposed it. They objected because the standard is fundamentally flawed. The arstechnica article doesn't go into depth about the objections but Groklaw had a better analysis. [groklaw.net]

    My personal opinion is that MS did a poor job of the standard on purpose. They propose their standard so that technically they are working towards interoperability if anybody asks. However, they do it so badly that it could never be adopted. Then they can point to that reason as why they chose not to open up their format.

  • And why not? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Friday February 16, 2007 @02:55PM (#18042050) Homepage
    When ODF was being standardised, there was no existing standard, nor was there anything else competing to be standardised, there was no justification microsoft could have used to claim it should be rejected.

    Now on the other hand, ODF is already standardised, having a new incompatible standard will simply fragment the industry, which is precisely what standards seek to prevent. What microsoft should do, and what ISO should tell them to do, is either use the existing standard, or go through the proper channels to propose updates to it.

    Any deficiencies microsoft believe ODF to have, are entirely their own fault... microsoft have long been a member of OASIS, and were more than welcome to contribute to the original drafting of ODF, they made the decision not to in the hope that it would never get anywhere and be forgotten about.
  • Couple of WTFs... (Score:3, Informative)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:50PM (#18047728) Journal

    So, although both ODF and Open XML are document formats, they are designed to address different needs in the marketplace.

    Sure, Open XML was designed to address the need for Microsoft to maintain control over desktop office suites, while ODF was actually designed to be an open standard.

    No, really, WTF is this supposed to mean? Would Microsoft mind pointing out some part of ODF that's insufficient? Better yet, offer a suggestion as to how to improve it -- they were, after all, part of OASIS for awhile...

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

    Anyone who's been on Slashdot for awhile should remember how much lobbying Microsoft did to try to prevent ODF from taking root in Massachusetts. So, technically, Microsoft didn't try to slow down the standardization process, they merely tried to slow down the implementation process.

    See OpenXMLDeveloper.org [openxmldeveloper.org] for an indication of some of the support for Open XML...

    Yeah, note the copyright notice at the bottom of the page. Astroturf, anyone?

    And from Ars Technica...

    However, as Open XML had to support all the features of Office 2007, a large size was inevitable.

    And ODF has to support all the features of:

    • OpenOffice
    • Star Office
    • Google Docs & Spreadsheets
    • KOffice
    • Scribus
    • Abiword
    • ajaxWrite
    • Zoho Writer
    • Ichitaro
    • IBM's Lotus/Domino
    • IBM Workplace
    • Mobile Office
    • Gnumeric
    • Neo Office
    • Hancom Office
    • WordPerfect???

    (ripped off directly from a post by this comment [slashdot.org].)

    So there you go. I suppose it's possible Word 2007 could have more features than ALL of those, but somehow, I doubt it. The spec isn't bloated because Word is so great, the spec is bloated because Microsoft is afraid of interoperability.

    Claims that the spec is impossible for third-parties to support have so far proven groundless

    The fact is not that it's impossible -- it could be done, if you want to reverse engineer about five or six generations of Word. It would be difficult, but not impossible, to support enough of the standard to be liveable -- after all, we've done that with the binary Office formats for years.

    No, the problem is that it's prohibitively, deliberately difficult for third-parties to implement perfectly, since it references specific quirks on specific versions of Microsoft's products, and the products of others, and doesn't even try to explain what those quirks are, only that you should support them properly. I would say that Microsoft is being deliberately unhelpful here.

    If you're going to make it 6000 pages and unhelpful, why not make it 12000 pages, but actually spell out what we're supposed to do? At least then, we could not only duplicate the features in ODF, but we could do them better, the way they were meant to be done. For example: Instead of saying "Emulate Word 95 Full-Width Character Spacing", Microsoft could actually specify how Word 95 implements full-width character spacing. Then, we'd implement specifications that allow the implementation of any kind of spacing you want.

    Let me put it this way: In HTML, we could've had, for example: <slashdot-link story_id="07/02/16/1334234" />. That would've been pretty damned convenient for the Slashdot people, but annoying for everyone else, who would have to go to Slashdot to find out how they did it, and in any case, it's much more limited than our current <a href> style which lets you actually link to anywhere. Standards are not about coddling sp

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