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Microsoft Investing In "Open Source" Lab In Philippines 95

jaromil writes "Following up its cozying up to OSCON, now Microsoft is launching its first 'open source' lab in the Philippines, paying for a huge media coverage. From the press release it seems they are also advertising the issue of 'interoperability' to outnumber one of the strongest features of open source in Asia: recycling old computers. Any suggestions for good stories about MS interoperability so far? :)"
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Microsoft Investing In "Open Source" Lab In Philippines

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  • by PJCRP ( 1314653 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:08PM (#24538459)

    Any suggestions for good stories about MS interoperability so far? :)"

    There won't be one. Because everyone knows that Microsoft are just an evil faceless (and overweight and prone to sweating in excess) corporation, am I right? :V

  • GPL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:09PM (#24538465)
    My hope is that whatever comes out of that lab will be released under the GPL, though I know that chances of that happening are very slim to no existent.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Whatever comes out will be released with a draconian licenses that would make even RIAA stop and go "Wow! That's cruel!".
      • and just a moment of contemplation later, they'd ask for advice on copyright and IP protection. hhmm... RIAA and microsoft, coÃperating. i, for one, welcome our new style-deficient and greedy overlords?
    • Re:GPL (Score:4, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:24PM (#24538581)

      My hope is that whatever comes out of that lab will be released under the GPL

      Yes, we all want World Peace and and End to Hunger as well.

      • by ozbird ( 127571 )
        Yes, we all want World Peace and and End to Hunger as well.

        I've never heard of those projects - are they on SourceForge?
      • I just want them to realese Duke Nukem Forever already!
    • Re:GPL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ghubi ( 1102775 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:26PM (#24538601) Homepage
      I think the Microsoft Public License [] or the Microsoft Reciprocal License [] might be more likely.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Headline: The government in the Philipines has seized all of Microsoft's assets within the borders of the Philipines. An official of the government has stated that all software seized will be released under the Government of the Philipines License.

      Careful what you wish for. :P

    • Re:GPL (Score:4, Informative)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:48PM (#24538747)
      I hope not - there are other free software platforms out there that could be prevented from using anything if it was GPLed.
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by setagllib ( 753300 )

        Why was this marked troll? Systems which prefer to distribute under a BSD license cannot include GPL code, just like how the GPL'd Linux cannot include the extra restrictions of CDDL code.

    • Re:GPL (Score:5, Informative)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @03:18PM (#24538931)

      this isn't a lab like that - MS has several similars labs, eg the performance lab I attended once.

      This is a place where you can bring your open source apps and test them working against MS products. eg, if you made an Outlook clone, you could bring it in and test it against Exchange.

      Of course, it also allows MS to have a sneaky look at the competition.....

      • Re:GPL (Score:5, Funny)

        by Bodrius ( 191265 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @04:08PM (#24539275) Homepage

        Of course, it also allows MS to have a sneaky look at the competition.....

        Sure. Because if there is anything open source projects are about, it is secrecy and control of information...

        It's not like open source software is... I don't know, *open*, during its development.

    • Re:GPL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @04:00PM (#24539221) Homepage

      My hope is that whatever comes out of that lab will be released under the GPL

      Why? Don't you think it would be good for BSD and Apache and many other free software projects to benefit, rather than just those free software projects that are under GPL?

      • "Why? Don't you think it would be good for BSD and Apache and many other free software projects to benefit, rather than just those free software projects that are under GPL?"

        Ok..I know BSD and Apache are under different licensing schemes, but, what in those schemes prevents them from using/inclucing GPL stuff? I mean, GPL just states you have to give credit to author, and make source code available...what's wrong with that?

        • by Gwala ( 309968 )

          The licenses are incompatible basically and legally.

          I work on a relatively large BSD licensed project, and keeping GPL'd code from tainting the codebase can be a relatively drama filled fun job.

          The short of it is - with Apache 2 you cannot combine with GPL 2 and distribute the result legally. With BSD and GPL you can only distribute the entire project under the GPL when combined, it has extra fun when you throw in things like optional linking against GPL-incompatible libraries.

          I'd probably wager that a larg

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

            I'd probably wager that a large chunk of GPL'd projects actually violate the terms of their own license since most people dont know any better.

            I wouldn't be surprised. I'm in a similar situation - (co)running a BSDL project and trying to keep GPL'd code out. We also have issues with incompatibilities between LGPLv3 and GPLv2.

            Most of the people who release their code under the GPL display a woeful lack of understanding of what the license actually says. Even on Slashdot usually the people most vocally advocating the GPL don't actually understand what it says.

            • by jc42 ( 318812 )

              Most of the people who release their code under the GPL display a woeful lack of understanding of what the license actually says. Even on Slashdot usually the people most vocally advocating the GPL don't actually understand what it says.

              This isn't anything special to "open source" licenses. It's a property of nearly every legal agreement. If you've ever hung out with any lawyers, you've probably heard them comment that they don't know what a law or contract really means, and the only way of knowing is to

        • non-GPL applications can't use or link against code from GPL projects. The BSD license essentially says what you described, the GPL has extra restrictions.

          The extra restrictions also prevent non-open source applications from using GPL code.
          • Including making the source code availiable?

            • Making the source code available, and requiring the derived works be under a similar or identical license. Of course, it's been a while since I reviewed the GPL. In practical terms, any program containing GPL code has to be under the GPL (ALL of the program) and the GPL requires you to make the source available.

              That's GPLv2, GPLv3 works the same way I believe, but I'm more familiar with v2.
      • if microsoft released it solely under the gpl, they wouldn't be able to embrace, extend and extinguish their own code. that would be quite amusing :)
      • Why? Don't you think it would be good for BSD and Apache and many other free software projects to benefit, rather than just those free software projects that are under GPL?

        Why do you think it has to be released under only one license? The choice of the license is up to the owner of the code, so they can release on GPL, and BSD, and Apache, and Mozilla,and Microsoft draconian all at once. And why do you think anybody but Microsoft will benefit?

      • by spitzak ( 4019 )

        I think the worry is that Microsoft will release under a license that is purposely incompatible with the GPL, which means it will also be incompatible with the BSD license.

        In case you don't believe me, it should be pretty obvious. BSD code can be used in GPL projects. Therefore any rule that prevents the code from being used in a GPL project will also prevent it from being released as BSD licensed, because part of being BSD licensed is the ability to use it in GPL code.

    • You assume they are working on a way to interact better with open source.. Not so. They are trying to find a cure....
    • by plimpton ( 27727 )

      Their last release to ADOdb (a PHP project) was under the LGPL license, so I don't think GPL is very far away

  • Interoperability (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:12PM (#24538503)

    "Any suggestions for good stories about MS interoperability so far?"

    Windows has interoperated with my trash can just fine. Does that count?

  • Why the Philippians? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:15PM (#24538515)
    Wonder what the significance of being in the P.I. is? Cheap labor? Lax IP laws? Got to be something. Or maybe the Philippians is a hot-bed of OSS interest, and I'm out of the loop...
    • by PJCRP ( 1314653 )
      They type more words-per-minute than your average computer Tom, and for less money?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm just speculating but it could be that there are now enough computers in the Philippines that MS want to make sure they don't get the Linux bug.

      Vista practically forced me to use Linux in order to get any work done.

  • by ardle ( 523599 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:16PM (#24538525)
    How different are the IP laws in the Philippines to those of the US? Does whatever gets created there stay there? Does the US have to license the IP from the Philippines?
    Why does an American company need to outsource thinking? Will Americans be expected to pay for this?
  • by VE3OGG ( 1034632 ) <{VE3OGG} {at} {}> on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:17PM (#24538535)

    This is why I have such a dislike of "big business".

    Forget for a moment the wasteful philosophy getting people to upgrade for new shiny (and I am by no means saying the 'upgraders' are guilt free).

    Dismiss the fact that Microsoft has no desire to "embrace" open source -- quite the opposite, it wants to control the market with it, or rather redefine the market on its terms -- sure, you can use all of our codebase that we provide as open source, but you only get to plug-in our components, using our tools, with our licensing restrictions.

    What irks me most is this marketing bullshit that gets thrown into the air. Right now, reading through the PHB technical mags and rags, one can't go an issue without seeing something on "open sourcing" saving money here, or "interoperability" brings new efficacy to the table, or "free software" causing a major paradigm shift breeding synergy in the multi-faceted workplace.

    And that is what this is. It has nothing to do with functionality, and certainly if one goes by Microsoft's track record with open source, it has more to do with embrace and extend.

    Now, at this point it would be easy to say: "don't condemn them yet, IBM was once seen as Satan too!" (Not withstanding IBMs frivolity in the patent market).

    All I can say to that is maybe, and I damn hope them have learned their lesson. The open source community, however, has been burned far too many times with MS' carrot and the stick act.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gmack ( 197796 )

      This is all about making sure all Open source apps work on windows so that the likelihood of there being a killer app that won't work on windows is reduced.

      The downside for Microsoft is that now OSS apps can compete directly with windows apps and eventually if they take over then managers may very well wonder why they are paying for windows if everything they use runs on Linux anyways. But that is a much slower rate of loss than you would get from a much needed app that runs only on Linux.

      • My first instinct reading the summary was, well, now that they've embraced/extended the word "open" so that -- astonishingly -- their tarball of an XML format qualifies in common parlace, I suppose they'll start in on making "open source" mean something other than what it actually means.

        For Act III, I don't imagine they'd have much difficulty in redefining "free software" so that it means "MS software with a price tag of $0"

        • by jc42 ( 318812 )

          I don't imagine they'd have much difficulty in redefining "free software" so that it means "MS software with a price tag of $0"

          You should be careful there, because corporations have a way of imposing a price that's much greater than the money involved.

          It's entirely likely that, if you sign on to any of Microsoft's "open source" plans, and they show you their source code, they could "pwn" you thereafter. They'll have the legal right to demand access to the code you write, not just for yourself, but for any

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No matter what Microsoft's intentions may be with regards to the open-source community, the entire Mono codebase is licensed with GPL. That is supposedly Microsoft's future wrt all the MCSEs training with Visual Studio and C#. I'm not convinced .NET is an "upgrade" from VB in terms of performance - it is more an upgrade to security wrt the dangerous and stupid things programmers have been allowed to do in VB.

      Whether people upgrade to the .NET world or just start sandboxing their Windows environment is up

    • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 )

      Well you can always ensure that if it isnt GPL'ed or a BSD or similar license that you just toss it and make your own. That is the beauty of open source and with the courts opening their eyes and curb stomping retarded software patents (ZOMG ONE CLICK!) the future might not be so bleak for open source in regards to the patent minefield as well.

  • MORDOR, Washington, Friday - Microsoft today announced carefully-phrased promises to appear more open about its business practices and technologies, so as to expand its reach through developers, partners, customers and competitors' wallets.

    The interoperability principles and promises are an apparent, lengthy, reluctant, and necessary step for Microsoft's sudden efforts to fulfill the obligations outlined in the September 2007 judgment of the European Court of First Instance (CFI). And to have half a chance of getting OOXML through ISO.

    "These pronouncements appear to be an important change in how we share information about our products and technologies and a significant expansion in apparent transparency," said Microsoft CEO Heave Stallmore. "While we've promised considerable progress over the past several years, today's announcement takes our virtual commitment to a new level.

    "For the past thirty years, we have carefully shared misinformation with thousands of now-bankrupt partners around the world. By promoting greater interoperability, opportunity and choice, we hope to share even more of their information to our benefit. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

    Microsoft has already embraced and extended the open source paradigm to its users' personal files, which can be accessed freely by hundreds of thousands of Web sites providing self-installing keyloggers, adware, rootkits and botnets. Work is under way on a graphic markup language for more powerful commands, such as embedding an individual letter "t" with a directive to send the last ten recorded fingerprints from the user's touchpad to a Nigerian Web server.

    To enable third-party developers to connect to Microsoft products, Microsoft will publish !!!for free!!! voluminous documentation, setting a new low in information per page, to contaminate developers with claimed knowledge for which their employers can later be sued, should they not cough up what Microsoft considers reasonable and non-discriminatory (or not unreasonably so) royalties. Open source developers !!!may use these protocols too!!! precisely so long as they do not do anything that involves people not giving Microsoft money.

    "Microsoft's new promises will benefit the broader IT community," said Vomit Togel, head of Microsoft partner Perception Management, "where 'IT community' is defined as 'Microsoft partners.' This provides remarkable opportunity for IT consultants and increased choice of us in the marketplace."

    Microsoft will expand industry outreach and dialog through a new Interoperability Forum and Fee Collection Channel. In addition, an initiative will address data exchange between widely deployed bank accounts.

    "Sincerity is the key," says Microsoft founder Jill Bates III. "If we can fake that, we've got it made."

    Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq MNPLY) is the worldwide dominator in software, services and solutions that make people and businesses help it realise its full potential.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) *

      To enable third-party developers to connect to Microsoft products, Microsoft will publish !!!for free!!! voluminous documentation ...

      This page intentionally left blank.

  • Excellent. I look forward to downloading all their code and perusing it at no cost.

    Uh, what's that you say...?

  • .... when it's on windows.

    Don't hold your breath on them ever producing something that could run on Linux or BSD.

    Interesting that this is being done in the Philippines. Not to trash Filipinos but IT isn't exactly what comes to mind from that region.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft likes open source... .... when it's on windows.

      I would agree, but this brings up an interesting question: how can something be open source and still be Windows only? Answer: somehow it depends on a certain Windows behaviour.

      I had thought about the opposite: if I wanted to promote Linux by making an open-source killer app, what subtly devious thing could I do that would keep someone from porting it to Windows? I could rely on features in Linux, such as symbolic links, which don't really exist on

  • Make no mistake. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @02:37PM (#24538665)

    Make no mistake, MS is not, and will not, become a good open source citizen. The only reason they will do something like this is to defend themselves from open source.

    Do you wonder why they are doing this in the Philippines? It seems likely that Open Source/Free software is taking a hold there and Microsoft is looking to build a market. Who is going to buy MS software if it's incompatible with what they are currently using (or are in the process of moving to)? This puts Microsoft out of the game. But if they can get free software developers to do the work for them and make their projects compatible with MS software, they are suddenly an option, at which point, MS can do what they do best, which is compete and destroy.

    Embrace, extend, extinguish. This is no different.

    Embrace: Hey, we'll join your open source club.
    Extend: Now that we're compatible, why don't you run some of our software too?
    Extinguish: That software of ours that you are now reliant upon? Well, here's the new version, and it doesn't work with your open source software anymore, so pay up, junkie.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daveime ( 1253762 )

      They are doing it because the entire Philippines (population circa 91m people), has been using a single corporate licence key for XP since the day it was released (well in fact before actually, as we tend to see a lot of beta releases here even before the real product launch day).

      Coupled with the fact that before the "I Love You" worm (proudly made in the Philippines), we didn't even have any hacking laws, never mind IP laws. You can still go to any shopping mall and pick up a DVD of Vista for 120 pesos (ab

      • by oGMo ( 379 )

        It's not like Microsoft could sell any LESS copies than zero, so they decided it's a good place to promote free software.

        Ah, but this isn't precisely true. Reread the parent post; over the long term, Microsoft certainly could do worse than selling zero copies: dwindling mindshare. Sure, you can have an entire nation not paying for your product, but as long as they're still using it, they're still addicted to it. They want it, because they need it, and eventually this is something you might be able to pr

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How is that Evolution exchange-connector working since the deal with Novell and the promise of interoperability? That's right, it isn't

  • You can tell Microsoft is new to this... I'm pretty sure that all software from the Pacific rim is "open source", heh heh.

  • The only reason those pigs are into open source in pretty much third world countries, is because they see FOSS as a threat in those countries. They are afraid that companies and government will use Linux. They should be afraid, because Linux is better than Windows.
  • Does this mean that they have an "open source lab" that is unlikely to produce anything with a truly open license? Perhaps its the lab that is being built using shared technologies and resources and anyone can add their own wing.
  • Microsoft Windows is a Free Software.

  • smell a rat... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frito_x ( 1138353 ) <> on Saturday August 09, 2008 @04:10PM (#24539295)

    definitely smell a rat in here... these friendliness towards OSS lately (which used to be the devil, according to ms) is puzzling. ...though it'll be interesting to see what comes out of this, right now it doesn't sound too exciting.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @04:11PM (#24539315) Journal
    It's just that every single one of them involve MS doing something awful and FOSS having to reverse engineer and cleanroom re-implement.
  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Saturday August 09, 2008 @04:18PM (#24539393) Homepage

    There was an interesting study recently published on word processor interoperability. Here's a link to the abstact. []. A download link for the full paper is there.

    They found serious interoperability issues among open source programs, and serious interoperability issues among closed source programs. The best interoperability was between OpenOffice an MS Office, ironically.

    This study tested two things. One test was to make a basic ODF word processing document in OpenOffice, and then check how well other programs (free and non-free) could handle that document. The other test was similar, but using an OOXML document generated by Word 2007.

    Here is the conclusion from the paper:

    This study sought to investigate interoperability for various implementations of ODF and OOXML. After all, to receive the perceived economic and technological benefits, there is a need for multiple independent, interoperable implementations. The results clearly indicate that both ODF and OOXML implementations need to improve interoperability.

    This study only tested a small subset, basic word processing features, of what is needed for multiple interoperable implementations. Additionally, this test did not consider the writing performance of implementations, only the read or import function was tested. Nevertheless, the only implementations of ODF that provided good compatibility with OpenOffice were the Microsoft Office plug-ins. Similarly, the only implementation of OOXML that can provide good compatibility with Microsoft Office 2007 was OpenOffice with the Novell plug-in. A number of other implementations of ODF and OOXML such as Wordperfect, Google Docs, and KOffice lacked good compatibility.

    It is surprising and ironic that the best implementations of ODF are when using Microsoft Office. Similarly, the best implementation of OOXML is OpenOffice. (Pages provided similar results but lacks the ability to write OOXML, a needed feature for an interoperable implementation.) The domination of Microsoft Office and OpenOffice is especially troubling for users of other operating systems, such as Mac OS and Linux. These users do not have a choice when using ODF or OOXML. The results here show that developers need to work together to improve this situation.

    Our results show that while the best implementations may result in formatting problems, the worst implementations actually lose information found in pictures, footnotes, comments, tracking changes, and tables.

    Supporters of both ODF and OOXML have suggested improved conformance and interoperability testing, there has been little progress on this front. Governments and other interested organizations need to encourage this testing. Without more pressure and funding for testing, the promise of ODF and OOXML will be lost. Instead, users of these standards will be locked into the dominant implementations of OpenOffice for ODF and Microsoft Office for OOXML.

    There is still much research and testing to be done. Each of these implementations is continually being improved and needs to be continually reassessed. Future research needs to expand the tests to spreadsheets and presentations. Research also needs to test both reading and writing documents to determine if features such as styles and tracking comments are working properly. This work serves as a first step in providing empirical data on interoperability for ODF and OOXML. It is hoped that this will serve as a wake-up call to governments and developers to improve the current state of interoperability for document formats.

    • There is a working implementation of MOOXML? This is news to me
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        There are OOXML implementations whose deviations from the spec (ECMA or ISO) are as small as the deviations of OpenOffice from the ODF spec.

        So, it's your choice: either there are no working OOXML implementations but also no working ODF implementations, or there are working OOXML and ODF implementations.

  • Here's a very informative wikipedia entry [] with more details on the lab.
  • Überoperability (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2008 @04:27PM (#24539455)

    "One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities."

    Bill Gates, 1998, in a memo to the Office product group. [] []

    • Of course Gates would say that. He's the one who wanted to get rich selling software from the very beginning of his career, and he's viewed anyone who would give away software as free to use or modify as a hindrance to his business.

      Perhaps Gates views GPL software as "tainted", much as Free Software and OSS people regard proprietary software as "tainted". Technologically, OpenDocument would have provided the time- and vendor-proof file format ideal for easy access and archival. However, I believe he pushed

  • Nothing like being a megacorporation that could expand operations outside of Redmond, but inside the US and moves to go to the Phillipines.

    Their GDP PPP is $3,400.

  • I'm happy to report that Windows is fully comaptible with upgrading to Ubuntu :-).

  • Professor 1: Kleiner! You gotta come see this!

    Professor 2: What is it?

    Professor 1: This's like...completely readable, and they DISTRIBUTE it that way!

    Professor 2: Really?!

    Professor 1: Yeah, and they do it for FREE!

    Professor 2: OMG no way!
  • When one is growing up you always have one kid in the neighbourhood who doesn't quite understand how to share. You will all be sitting down playing with your toys together, playing for a few minutes with each others pride and really having a good time. Then there will be this one kid will be sitting there not sharing his toys with the group. If you ask to play with his toys he is always using it and even if by some chance you get one of his pride an joys in your hands he will then dictate how you should pla
  • I'm not trying to say anything against Philippines and its Open Source developer community, but if Microsoft even tried to make it look serious they would have created the lab in one of Open Source powerhouse countries or regions. Germany, Denmark, Estonia, even Russia and East Europe countries are more known for Open Source than Philippines.
    • Perhaps, they're doing this precisely because Philippines' open source awareness is relatively weak. That way, they have better chances or curbing or controlling the movement. They want to be seen as the "leader" in open source where they can.
  • I open MS Word documents in OpenOffice and one time it was readable.
  • Embrace.
  • recycling old computers. Any suggestions for good stories about MS interoperability so far?

    Yeah, they should all run DOS just fine...

  • Think of the "Microsoft open source lab" more like an "alien autopsy" lab than, say, Mozilla labs.

  • If Microsoft is genuinely interested in getting into open source (including adoption of the GPL or something similar) then I congratulate them. However why is it when I hear about Microsoft "doing" open source it must always be in a "lab"? To me that word implies that what they're doing is based upon unproven processes or is of the quality of something one might knock together in a university CS lab. These days I think we're a bit beyond this and people (including businesses) are taking open source products
  • True interoperability comes only when all the parties involved respect open standards. And this is never possible with M$. If you are required to get a license/permission/assistance from M$ to achieve "interoperability", then that's not interoperability.
  • MSFT is simply taking advantage of one of FOSS "freedoms" - namely, the principle that open source does not mean free. MSFT has nothing to lose but everything to gain as long as developers work on open source projects that operate on the perpetually proprietary Windows and Visual Studio. Sadly, with money, Wall Street, ignorant journalists and officials, and short-sighted corporations on its side, MSFT will soon OWN the word 'OPEN', just like how it stole other common, decent terms (some people actually t

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