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[News] Possible Malice in Microsoft's 'Support' for ODF

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The Embrace, Extend, Extinguish of ODF Begins? - Updated

,----[ Quote ]
| I believe Sun pays Durusau to work on ODF as the OpenDocument Editor, OASIS 
| TC. Sun? What's up with that? Seriously. What's going on here? If this is who 
| is steering ODF in OASIS, I'm extremely worried. And if there is a secret 
| working group rewriting the directives, while Microsoft and Alex Brown both 
| say they want ODF transferred to ISO for ongoing maintenance, I'd say the 
| Embrace, Extend, Extinguish of ODF has officially begun.      


"It just tells you how desperate Microsoft is for a competitor that they’re
holding up a software box produced by 100 guys in the hills of North Carolina.
Who are they trying to kid?"

                --Robert Young, CEO of Red Hat


Microsoft Supporting ODF? -- Close, But No Cigar

,----[ Quote ]
| Once again, the problem is software patents. Internet News  indicates that
| commercial Linux/FOSS vendors, and the GPL license that Linux comes with,
| will be excluded...
| [...]
| GPL developers can't obtain patent licenses. That would violate the terms of
| the GPL. Period.
| Like Microsoft doesn't know that.
| But, you say, Linux is GPL'd and that's Microsoft's primary competition. Can
| it be that commercial vendors and the GPL will be exiled again from
| the "even" playing field everyone else gets to be on? Why yes. It appears so.
| Commercial Linux vendors need not apply. Or they can sell out.
| In short, I think Microsoft has no intention of interoperability with its
| actual competition, namely commercial Linux, like Red Hat and Ubuntu, et al,
| all the vendors who refuse to sell out to their patent demands. I'd say it
| has to be deliberate on Microsoft's part, because when Microsoft offered its
| Open Specification Promise (OSP), the promise not to sue over OOXML, sorta,
| kinda, it was clearly informed by the Software Freedom Law Center that the
| OSP's terms are inconsistent with the GPL and that the promise provides no
| assurance for FOSS developers. And Microsoft is certainly knowledgeable about
| the problems with RAND terms for FOSS. But they persist in offering what they
| know commercial GPL developers can't accept.
| [...]
| Please note that they too expressed dreams of maintaining ODF, not just
| OOXML, and making the two "interoperable". So, now Microsoft says it will
| join OASIS and "help" ODF and it hopes ODF will go to the same folks who
| mangled OOXML.
| Does that sound helpful?
| I wish they were sincere. I'd love to be proven wrong. But I'm afraid, having
| watched Microsoft shove OOXML through the Fast Track process, despite it not
| even being usable, that ODF will be harmonized out of meaningful existence. I
| suspect that is the plan. And so to me, the announcement of "support" for ODF
| sounds like it could just be the next chess move in Microsoft's strategy to
| maintain its heavy footprint.


What is Wrong with RAND?

,----[ Quote ]
| I wrote yesterday that RAND terms can be discriminatory, and that in fact due
| to the Microsoft OSP, OOXML is  discriminatory against the GPL and Open
| Source licenses, despite being made available under RAND terms. Microsoft's
| Jason Matusow responded with a blog entry suggesting I need to bone up on
| standards and licenses. Why Microsoft folks can't be polite is a mystery to
| me, but I persist in responding with decency. He thought it would be helpful
| to hear from lawyers on the subject. So, I did some research for him, and I
| find that there are quite a number of lawyers who agree with me.
| So here you are, Jason: what is wrong with RAND from folks whose credentials
| you will respect. They are not radical or extreme, and neither is Groklaw, as
| you will see. The problem, rather, is that Microsoft is wishing that time
| would stand still for it, and that the old, proprietary software model were
| all that there was in the world. However, like the music industry,
| Microsoft -- and standards bodies -- now have to cope with the new and modern
| software development model and licenses that foster and underpin it, not just
| the old-fashioned, closed, and patent-licensed model that Microsoft
| represents. And isn't it you at Microsoft, and your friends at CompTIA, who
| have told the governments of the world that one business model should not be
| favored over any other? How much less should a standard?


Buy, Cheat, Steal, and Lie: The OOXML Story

,----[ Quote ]
| A 2007 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit may end
| up coming back to haunt Microsoft in their ongoing U.S. antitrust battle. The
| case revolved around claims by Broadcom that Qualcomm had deliberately
| included its patents in the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
| standard in order to create a monopoly for its products. The appeals court
| held that if a company acts deceptively to gain adoption of a standard that
| then results in a monopoly to their advantage, they can be held to have
| violated anti-trust laws, irrespective of their right to determine the use of
| their patents. Interestingly enough, the Court of Appeals ruling relies on a
| Federal Trade Commission ruling which in turn relied on — drumroll, please —
| United States v. Microsoft, the very case that put MS under supervision in
| the first place.
| All we can say is, we hope that with this many available avenues, something
| is done to rectify the farce acted out over the last several months.


Another Reason Microsoft's OSP Isn't Good Enough

,----[ Quote ]
| Eek. I understand that to be saying that there are gaps in OSP coverage.
| You'll get documents you can't legally open unless you are using Microsoft's
| software, because the extensions found in Office but not in OOXML proper, so
| to speak, are not covered. Let me explain what I think they are saying this
| means.    
| We knew we'd get documents we couldn't open effectively from a technical
| standpoint, without at least losing something in the translation. But if
| extensions to the OOXML format, as exemplified in Microsoft Office 2007, are
| not covered by the OSP, and evidently they are not, when you get a document
| with, say, spreadsheet macros, or DRM, what legally protects you if open the
| document? All Microsoft has to do, then, is extend the format, as it already
| has, and you then can only interoperate with them if you use Microsoft
| software too. So. OSP gaps. Nice work if you can get it.      

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