Print 58 comment(s) - last by krwhite.. on Jun 15 at 7:38 AM

"The more you tighten your grip the more star systems will slip through your fingers"

Microsoft's hopes of controlling the open document world were nearing fruition after the International Standards Organization finally certified its OOXML standard at the start of April.  The ISO had already ratified ODF, the competitive open-source format from the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) used heavily in Linux, but Microsoft faced a lengthy struggle to try to get its own format recognized.  Without certification it would be tough to push the format as a legitimate open document option.

Microsoft had good reason to want to control the world of open documents.  As users switch platforms and software more and more, and use an increasing amount of open source solutions, the need for a non-software specific format has surfaced.  Microsoft hoped that by making its own proprietary open-file format the preferred standard it could seize control of this budding field.

However, to Microsoft's anger, the process has now been held up by complaints.  Following rumors that Microsoft pushed the vote through and used underhanded tactics to suppress dissent, Brazil, India, South Africa, and Venezuela lent such claims credence by filing complaints against the ratification.

The ratification cannot go forward until these complaints are heard, and they must be voiced before the end of June.  The final decision of how to react to them will be handed to two management committees.  India in particular was quite vocal in its opposition.  An open letter, written by a member of the technical standardization committee in India, states that Microsoft's long and ambiguous proposed specification left it unclear what was being implemented.  He says this means that Microsoft can implement the new format however it wants, ruining the whole reason for ISO -- to promote openness.

He also accuses Microsoft of running a careful concerted smear campaign that undercut the Indian concerns.  He states:

Microsoft started filing complaints to various Indian authorities in early March 2008, claiming bias on part of several members of the committee because of their presumed membership of a group called ‘ODF Alliance India’. My Institution and its representatives are part of the group which has been falsely implicated in these complaints. Worse, the complaints have painted these organizations and their representatives, including the Indian delegation which attended the BRM, as acting against the Indian National interests. This is the most derogatory accusation to any Indian, amounting, personally for me at least, to intolerable blasphemy.

In the letter he alleges that Microsoft pressured the Indian national government to change its stance, and likely did so with other national governments as well.  He states that Microsoft behaved in a way "amounting to interfering with the governance process of a sovereign country."  He concludes, "I would like to assure all colleagues and other readers that my intentions are purely to respond to the grave provocation caused by the actions of Microsoft."

Meanwhile ODF creators OASIS tried to steal a bit of the spotlight calling for an "implementation, interoperability, and conformity" technical committee to continue ODF's openness and quality.  The entity plans on trying to bring ISO or the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) into the project.  Surprisingly Microsoft has expressed interest in joining the committee, igniting many conspiracy theories on the internet.

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RE: enlighten me.
By 16nm on 6/11/2008 12:43:09 PM , Rating: 4
Add me to the short list, too. I think these people just have too much time on their hands. I really don't see any problem with a company like Microsoft trying to create an open standard like this. May the best standard win, I say. I could not care less if it was Microsoft's standard or not.

RE: enlighten me.
By Hare on 6/12/2008 4:15:21 AM , Rating: 2
May the best standard win, I say. I could not care less if it was Microsoft's standard or not.

The problem is that Microsoft has their own idea of a standard and how to use it. We don't have to look back further than a few years to see how previous versions of IE butchered the HTML standard and used for example element width+margin+padding measurements differently than others. Still today because of this web development can sometimes be a pain in the butt. "this page only works properly with IE". That's only because some developers only concentrated on IE and neglected all the other browsers that worked exactly like they were supposed to.

The problem is that IF MS uses a standard differently than others it can push the standard the way they want since they have a huge installation base, so their way of implementing the standard becomes de facto and others have to try to keep up or branch. Both alternatives are bad.

RE: enlighten me.
By krwhite on 6/15/2008 7:29:48 AM , Rating: 1
The problem with HTML is that the W3C didn't write the HTML/CSS models in source code. They supplied it in documents. No one could of followed those documents to a T, and actually no one did. We're just now getting to the point where they're being followed, after it was butchered all over the place by more than ONE company. Micrsoft happened to be the worst at it, and they also happened to have the most installed users.

If you want to make a standard, write a program for it, and give the source. Don't describe how a program should operate. How nonsensical of a plan.

What if: The next version of SuperGL 3.0 will let the users use binary operation codes to communicate with the graphics cards in the way we outline above. Do try to get those bits in the right order! All other 'standards' give you an API, or full source code.

The problem is humans aren't capable of doing 10,000 things in a perfect way, so why create the grounds for inperfection to take place? There was an alternative.

As for Microsoft, Windows 3.1 programs still run on Vista. I think they know how to keep a standard.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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