Teacher, Those IBM Meanies Are Hurting Me!

Wednesday, 2007-February-14 at 21:55 1 comment

Matusow’s Blog : Doc Format Activities – Open Letters and More

This is the latest in a series of postings in which Microsoft employees say that the problems they are having forcing OOXML on the world are due to mean old IBM pounding on poor little defenseless Microsoft. A Microsoft open letter, “Interoperability, Choice, and Open XML,” says, “This campaign to stop even the consideration of Open XML in ISO/IECJTC1 is a blatant attempt to use the standards process to limit choicein the marketplace for ulterior commercial motives – and without regardfor the negative impact on consumer choice and technological innovation.

Steven Walli, a former Microsoft employee calls it “whining.” In Microsoft Whining For Sympathy About OOXML, he writes, “This is professionally embarrassing. It is certainly not the company for which I used to work.” No, it isn’t, Steven. The company is running scared. They are terrified that one of their three cash cows (Windows Client, Windows Server, Office / Microsoft Business Division) will have to compete on a level playing field. It gets even scarier when they consider that losing the Office monopoly could lead to losing the Windows client operating system monopoly as well. It has been many years since they actually had to deal with viable competitors in their “core markets,” and given the abject failure of most of their activities outside of those core markets, the company fears that they may join such former greats as Ashton-Tate and WordStar in the town dump of history.

Right about now is the best time in the world to be in politics. Even now, a strike team must be assembling in Redmond deciding where “campaign contributions” will be most effective in preventing governments and their agencies from converting to ODF (ISO/IEC 26300:2006) file formats for their office documents. Other damage-control teams must be already in Ecma International’s headquarters, burning the midnight oil trying to come up with answers to the objections raised at the ISO without actually creating a file format that can be implemented by any of their competitors. Microsoft bloggers are being dispatched to try to persuade the technology leaders that all of these problems are due to that mean old IBM preventing them from getting their way.

See also Jason Matusow, Jonathan Murray, C|Net, and Dare Obasanjo for more examples of Microsoft’s whining.

Teardrops falling like a heavy Seattle downpour. Quivering lips and trembling voices. Noses runny from weeks of crying. Phew! What’s that smell? Where’s the mommy? I think this one needs her right about now.

Don’t be fooled. Microsoft’s whining is because they fear true and fair competition, not because they have any concern about “compatibility” with legacy binary documents. They know that no XML file, being text-based, is ever going to be compatible with the older formats. They know that mixing a little binary into their XML format is meant to prevent conversion from one XML format to another. They know that undefined references to quirks in their old secret binary file formats are designed solely to prevent anyone except Microsoft from fully-implementing the formats, and therefore making sure that no one else is “compatible.”

Instead of letting the tears get to you, contact your elected representatives and the particular agencies that regulate your area of business and ask them to sponsor and promote conversion to ODF in state, federal, and agency documents. Do this for true interoperability and competition. Do this for the benefit of your children and grandchildren. One day, they will thank you for their freedom. One day, Microsoft employees will look back on this and be thankful that the company was forced to change. Do it for them, too.

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Gather Your Thoughts Again Case Against Russian Educator Dismissed

1 Comment

  • 1. Stephane Rodriguez  |  Thursday, 2007-February-15 at 01:11

    True. And don’t forget the universal Ribbon UI licensing that explicitely excludes any Office suite competitor. When you know that, you have to wonder why people like Brian Jones is happy mentioning that Sun’s OpenOffice guys have started adding support for SpreadsheetML. Not only the same limits (binary stuff, …) still apply, but OpenOffice will never be allowed to compete on the same level since its UI can’t evolve and match the one is MS Office should the OpenOffice guys want to propose it.

    And there is a ton more. Take the new chart engine. The changes with the old one are not documented, meaning that OpenOffice or any competitor will have to deal with not one now but two chart engines just because Microsoft decided it.

    Technically speaking, what the MS Office teams guys have done has absolutely no merit. I have been following them pretty closely (as an independent vendor) and that smells bad. What I find insulting is that they are talking so much about XML this, XML that, whereas in fact they are just putting angle brackets around their partially documented stuff. They carefully confuse XML as a data source, and XML as a serialization format. That’s why they bribed Rick Jetliffe, which is known to have worked on XML related areas, where general purpose XML has merit, and that’s why I expect them to bribe a lot more of such people.

    But it’s obvious their web network is still pretty easy to debunk at this point. There is no more than ten vocal people out there, all either Microsoft employees, or having financial incentives to back Microsoft (such as the Indian consulting company Sonata software which is pretty much the only contributor to their community site called openxmldeveloper.org). Perhaps they are paid too.

    What worries me is that Microsoft has plenty of time and the luxury to talk to their guys that happen to be members of ISO national bodies, in order to influence ISO. For instance, in France, it appears there are no less than 3 Microsoft employees part of the ISO national body. Who knows the influence those guys can have on the final vote? The lobbying happens off the record.


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