Open XML – US V1 Committee Vote and IBM Motivations


As many people in the industry are following closely, Open XML has been discussed at the recent meeting of INCITS/V1. An important fact to understand is that this is NOT the official vote of the US National Body for the JTC-1 standardization of Ecma Open XML. This is a committee whose role it is to make a recommendation to the National Body for its vote. The committee failed to make any recommendation even with a majority of 15 yes, 10 no, 1 abstain.


 


The general discussion in the media and blogs has been about the vote itself, but Rob Weir from IBM came out with some comments that really should be addressed. Rob points out that membership in the V1 committee has changed in the past month, and the insinuation is that it is somehow inappropriate that companies and individuals would show up to voice their opinion. What’s particularly troubling is that this isn’t just happening with INCITS/V1 but Rob seems determined to question the motivations behind national body membership in Spain, Portugal and Italy as well.  So let’s take some facts into consideration.


 


Participation Hypocrisy:


·         IBM and ODF advocates (ODF Foundation, Andy Updegrove…) repeatedly have called for mobilization of those who opposed Open XML.


·         All over the world, IBM has been working to bring their business partners and organizations into the standards process in favor of their position.


·         Oracle and Red Hat (neither of whom have any work directly associated with Open XML) are among those who have recently joined the committee and both voted no.


·         Mr. Sutor (IBM) and other IBM representatives have continually raised concern that Ecma was not inclusive enough (even though more companies have directly participated in the Ecma TC-45 work than did in the OASIS ODF working group). Yet, now that more and more interested parties are seeking to participate that is a bad thing according to IBM.


So, I am a little confused. V1 committee participation has increased with organizations who have technical and business interests with the standard being discussed.  If IBM is such an advocate for open standards (meaning process and technology), why then be so concerned when it turns out that the openness invites participation of those who disagree with them?


 


Microsoft has repeatedly, and publically, discussed the fact that we are interested in maximizing choice and openness for document formats. Recall that we voted in favor of ANSI adoption of ODF, and that we have been building bridges between ODF and Open XML via translators, worked with OpenOffice distributors such as Novell, Linspire, Xandros and Turbolinux to improve coexistence between formats and office suites, that we support the work of China around UOF, sought to enable native PDF support in Office 2007…


 


IBM “Stacks The Deck” For Technical Review:


·         IBM claims that MS participation is too much by encouraging participation by those with business and technical interests in Open XML.


·         Yet, for the V1 committee there were 230 technical comments (rounding due to a .5 listed in the official report) – Rob Weir of IBM was responsible for 191 of them (83% of the total).


·         The head of the V1 committee was the technical editor of ODF.


·         Of the 224 general comments made – 171 were letters of support for Open XML, 31 were letters of general opposition to Open XML; with the remainder being 2 additional substantive questions, 17 more from Rob Weir, and 3 general cautions from the community.


So again, I’m a bit confused. As committee participation increased for V1, it did so with individuals from organizations who are very interested in commercial implementations of this technology. Their customers, their business opportunities, and their own use of technology will be improved by this move to greater openness in document formats. Yet, IBM seems to have taken the stance that their own opposition to this standard will be best served by overwhelming the committee with their issues and pushing for procedural challenges to the adoption of the standard. This is particuarly strange when you consider the fact that IBM is a member of Ecma and could have participated in the work of TC-45. TC-45 has a wide range of participants (including folks from OpenOffice.org). I look at the 171 community support letters to V1 as being a pretty strong statement that it is not just MS that is interested in the ISO/IEC adoption of Open XML. (Not to mention the 1700+ letters of support at the OpenXMLcommunity.org site.)


 


Opinions Differ:

IBM is welcome to their opinion of the standardization of Open XML. They are working in more than 100 countries to oppose its adoption and will push as hard as they can to achieve this goal. They are advocates for the technologies that best fit their products and business model – their actions regarding Open XML are in their best interests…not that of their customers. If they don’t want to support the Open XML standard in their products, they are not obliged to do so. Working to defeat the standard is 100% an industry competitive play and not about customer benefit.  

Comments (86)

  1. Sam Hiser says:

    Jason-

    Come on.

    It’s not that Microsoft partners are stacking the vote. It’s that Microsoft partners are stacking a vote which has no basis in common sense or technology.

    Again, you’re arguing that two standards is a good thing (clearly for anyone beyond a 10th grade education, it’s not); and that a Microsoft-only solution is appropriate to be a de jure standard (clearly it’s apparent to anyone…).

    Get out! You can’t be serious with these transparent games.

    We’ve also educated the market on your disingenuous ‘interoperability’ initiative. They’re definitely not buying it. Good luck pushing that bolder up Mt. Everest.

    Go ahead. Focus your anger on IBM. They have a moral, technical & practical basis supporting their position. ODF-only is better for mankind.

  2. omz says:

    "Rob points out that membership in the V1 committee has changed in the past month, and the insinuation is that it is somehow inappropriate that companies and individuals would show up to voice their opinion. "

    IMHO, V1 isn’t a "place" where people come and just "voice their opinion". This is a *technical committee*. People that joins V1 must commit to *work* and review material subject of standardization.

    I would like to point you to Incits V1 front page: http://v1.incits.org/. Please note how often is the word "technical" mentioned in that page.

    "Yet, for the V1 committee there were 230 technical comments (rounding due to a .5 listed in the official report) – Rob Weir of IBM was responsible for 191 of them (83% of the total)."

    Yes, you should thank Rob his hard work to improve DIS 29500 ( do you want quality or speed in this process? ).

    Other NBs, like BSI ( United Kingdom )  have raised more than 400 comments ( http://omz.files-upload.com/381844/BSI-technical-expert-group-comments.pdf.html ). Do you think there is bad faith in this work too?

       –omz

  3. jasonmatusow says:

    Hi Sam –

    I know that there is nothing that is going to make us agree on the position about multiple formats. To me, the reason I favor multiple formats is NOT ABOUT THE STANDARDS. The formats represent the features and capabilities of the products that use them. If you go down the path of saything that there can be only one format you are advocating the creation of an innovation dead zone. ODF does not represent all the features of everyone’s products. Open XML does not represent all the features of everyone’s products. That is the whole point; customers want choice – and formats are never going to be the purchase decision-driver – it will be a choice of apps that are innovative and offer high value.

    Second – I have to disagree with you on your interop assertion. We are taking a holistic, practical, and customer-centric approach to the issue and customers, in large numbers, are expressing to us their pleasure at the steps we’re taking. That is usually a good sign when your working on a tough issue.

    Thx,

    Jason

  4. jasonmatusow says:

    Hi omz –

    I agree, V1 is a place for technical consideration. I have no problem with Rob providing technical comments during the technical evaluation of the specification. My comments did not say anything different than that.

    My comments were focused on the fact that Rob went out of the way to suggest that the increase of interested parties was in some way innapropriate. I think it is important that people  understand the investment IBM is making in defeating a standard which will benefit all of their customers.

    Putting in the comments is not a bad faith move. It is doing that to the extent he has and then claiming that it is unreasonable for other parties to be interested that rubs me the wrong way.

    Thx,

    Jason

  5. Jason is on the standards team in Microsoft, and he has a blog post discussing some of the moves to block

  6. Jason is on the standards team in Microsoft, and he has a blog post discussing some of the moves to block

  7. Hi Jason,

    1. The Open Document Format is an XML-based format (with the X standing for eXtensible). How was it not possible to eXtend ODF instead of creating your own, all-new XML document format?

    2. Is the OOXML spec going to be changed now that there have been so many technical comments all over the world? If not, how do you see ISO taking over "stewardship" of OOXML if Microsoft is going to be the sole decision maker regarding changes anyway? Before you say it’s going to be different once it’s been approved: Please highlight some of the changes made in response to the issues raised in the contradiction period of the ISO approval process.

    3. Since most of the technical comments came from one individual, it seems that Rob’s interpretation that those late-comers were just asked by Microsoft to join and vote yes is closer to the truth. Remember that V1 is a technical committee – business motivations should not be a factor there. The late-comers didn’t provide any technical insight and just approved the spec as Microsoft wanted. A tactic that, ironically, you accuse IBM of in your post.

    Regards,

    Stephan

  8. Doug Mahugh says:

    omz,

    I agree that V1 is a committee with a job to do, and not merely a place to voice opinions.  And to that end, I’m glad we have people involved who are seriously evaluating the comments that have been submitted, including Rob’s contribution at times.

    We also have people involved who seem to have no awareness of the details of what is being discussed.  For example, Red Hat joined at the meeting held at IBM’s office in DC, and they’ve never had a single word of participation in the debates — their only participation has been to answer roll calls and vote NO when IBM votes NO.  Similarly for Oracle, whose only opinion to date has been to echo Sun’s request that the spec include documentation of the legacy binary formats.  By contrast, some of the MS partner organizations that have joined V1 are among the most vocal participants in the technical debates.

    Regarding the 400 comments submitted to BSI, you probably know that many of those are the same comments Rob Weir has submitted elsewhere.  Rob is also personally participating in the BSI’s process, as well as the Canadian process, yet to my knowledge there is no Microsoft employee actively participating in multiple countries’ TCs.  So I do agree with Jason’s view that IBM is investing heavily in an effort to defeat a specific standard, which is not the same as "trying to make it better."

    Yes, some of Rob’s comments have technical substance and are good suggestions.  That’s why I have supported some of his comments in V1.  But the overall lobbying effort and disinformation campaign extends to much more than those specific comments, as any reasonable observer can see from a glance at the banner on Rob’s blog (linking to a site offering a cash reward for those who successfully influence the standards process).

    – Doug

  9. Ctrambler says:

    Dear Matusow,

    On "Participation Hypocracy": So far, we have not seen IBM and others step over the boundary of what is deem fair competition. If they are simply more skillful in asserting undue pressure behind the scene please tell us so that we can condemn them as well.

    On "The head of V1 is also ODF technical Editor": As you are aware, a storm is brewing over a Portuguese committee. Some ODF supporters use the same argument, i.e., that the chairperson is a Microsoft employee to discredit him.  I had blogged and will repeat here and else where if needed: That insinuating the chairperson because he simply  because he has a day job working for other party is WRONG. He has to be employed by somebody, and it will be virtually impossible that he is not working for one of the interested party. When one select a chair person one do have to rely on his personal integrity. What is important is his action. If anyone wants to attack him, please show that he is biased. So STOP THIS INSINUATION. You are bigger than this.

  10. jasonmatusow says:

    Stephen – thanks for the comments. I’ll match my comments up with your points:

    1) This is ground that has long been discussed throughout this process. ODF originally represented the features/capabilities of StarOffice/OpenOffice. Open XML originally represented the features capabilities of MS Office. There are features in both product that are not represented in the other – and what is more important is that vendors compete. Should IBM have provided their comments in the Ecma TC-45 working group considering that they are one of the world’s largest deployers of MS Office and have software products that so highly integrate with ours? Why wait until the JTC-1 process to do this if not for industry competitive reasons?

    2) Yes, the specification will be changed through the ISO process. There are a wide range of types of issues raised, and that is the whole point of the technical review process. Ecma TC-45 is resopnsible for maitenance of the specification…not Microsoft…not any single other entity. There are 20+ members and all members there have only 1 vote. As for ISO, this is an ongoing discussion and one that will be commented on in the future. I think you should look at the fact that there is absolutely no ISO participation in the maitenance of ODF. That has gone back to OASIS for maintenance and has progressed beyond the ISO spec already – so much so that the MA ETRM policy doesn’t even call out the ISO spec, it only refers to the latest OASIS specs.

    3) We absolutely are encouraging interested parties to join the technical discussion. If you look at the individuals who have joined the technical committee, they are all implementers of Open XML, they are deeply technical, and they have substantive things to say. Again, Red Hat and Oracle joined recently (neither being implementers of Open XML) and voted no. Do you think there is a business motivation there rather than a technical one? Hmmm…

    Thanks

    Jason

  11. jasonmatusow says:

    CTrambler –  you are right…I am wrong. I should not have made that insinuation about the V1 chair. Standards professionals are put in that exact position all the time and it is not right to assume they would not act in a balanced and fair manner.  We do have people sitting as chairs of committees throughout the standards universe.

    Please accept my apology, this debate is better served with dispassionate arguments.

    Jason

  12. Andrew Sayers says:

    I’m posting here after Wu MingShi suggested moving the debate here from Brian Jones’ blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/brian_jones/archive/2007/07/19/jason-matusow-talks-about-the-us-vote.aspx) – I left a long message there which people can read if they’re interested in the background to my opinions, but I’d ask you not to post there, out of respect for Brian Jones’ readers that are only interested in the ‘how’ of OOXML, not the ‘why’.

    The impression I get from most commentators that are close to the standardisation process is that ISO procedures aren’t designed to withstand the level of politicking that exists in the OOXML debate, and reading between the lines, it seems that many NBs’ deliberations have deteriorated into a "might makes right" process – whoever can get more people that agree with them on the committee, wins.

    Is that an accurate portrait, and if so, what is your opinion of it?  For example, do you feel that it’s appropriate to play the same game as everyone else, even if it that means you end up compromising your principles?

    – Andrew Sayers

  13. jasonmatusow says:

    Hi Andrew – I’ll provide some comments based on your thoughts over at Brian’s blog.

    1) Standards are inherently political as the whole point of a standards body is to create a legal framework (rules, structures, IP policies, etc.) so that people with both aligned and divergent interests can come together and build specifications. And, that those specs are then available to all under consistent terms. Politics are built in to the DNA of standard setting.

    2)Given what I stated just now – I have always found it odd to talk of conspiracies given that the processes are transparent and that it is obvious that all parties are trying to use politics (in the more benign sense of the word…think collaboration, compromise, negotiation) to bring as many others to the table who think as they do.

    3) I like your point about democracy. In reading about the US revolution you find that the framers of the constitution were not pleased with the reality of democracy – rather the ideal was better. Thus, the resulting republic. In the case of a standard like Open XML, or ODF for that matter, the parties with greatest interest put in the engineering effort to work the spec and the result is that they are the voters at the technical committee level. It is at the general assembly (or other parent org) level where the business politics become even more prevalent.

    You are right that the ISO/IEC haven’t ever been tested with the stress of this kind of attention. That is why I keep wanting to bubble the debate back up to the macro issues that matter. Document format openness, innovation, choice. I have heard many voices from governments around the world express their belief that ultimately all of this focus on openness is in the best interest of their countries.

    I certainly hope that all of my colleagues feel as I do that we are in no way compromising principles to acheive success. The whole point of this is to be transparent and to be advocating something we believe is the right thing to do. It is not about benevolence or charity…it is about being responsive to the needs of our customers and acting in the best interst of the company we work for, which is what we are paid to do after all.

  14. Andrew Sayers says:

    I expect I’ll make a fuller post when I’ve had a chance to think further and see what other people have to say, but I have two quick points to make first.

    First, I can only wish I had such insights about democracy!   I think I’ve stolen it from Plato, although I wasn’t able to find reference to the quote online, so it could just as easily be from somewhere on TV.

    Second, as well as learning about important developments in the computer industry, I’ve been using the OOXML process to teach myself about the ISO and standardisation in general.  Examining how the system deals with these unanticipated stresses is highly informative for me, as it is with any system.  I assume that some day there’ll be a debate within the ISO about lessons learnt from those stresses though – do you have any idea when that would be, or where I can go to look for such discussions?

    – Andrew

  15. carlos says:

    i’m from argentina, hello to everyone

    omz said recently:

    "IMHO, V1 isn’t a "place" where people come and just "voice their opinion". This is a *technical committee*. People that joins V1 must commit to *work* and review material subject of standardization."

    I believe is relevant to cite this statement of a ISO NB ( referenced here: http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20070719092312351 )

    The following is the verbatim text of a protest that the SABS filed with ISO/IEC JTC1 on February 20, 2007 (National Body Contribution ISO/IEC JTC 1 N 8494, titled South Africa Comments on the PAS Process):

    "South Africa is concerned about what seems to be a growing number of standards submitted under the PAS process that, although publically [sic] available, do not seem to have any measure of regional or even national consensus. These therefore tend not to have been referred to any of the JTC 1 sub-committees, and have obviously not been discussed at [sub-committee] level.

       Our experience is that the result of this is then a round of intense lobbying by various other stakeholders for us to vote negatively on the PAS. Often these other groups take the trouble to compile a list of contradictions that are also widely distributed in order to justify the request for the negative vote.

       A recent example is the proposed PAS on Open XML/ODF.

       It is our opinion that the submission of such "standards" directly to JTC 1 via the PAS route, where the standard has not been discussed within the relevant SC, was never the intention of the PAS System. The fact that some consortium has published a document that they refer to as a standard does not automatically imply that it has any sort of widespread industry acceptance. The fact that the publisher might claim international usage or acceptance is not longer a valid reason in these days of large multinationals, and the SABS [South African Bureau of Standards] has previously been approached by local branches of multinationals to vote in support of such PAS submissions, even if we have no local industry involvement or membership in the appropriate JTC 1 SC.

       As result of this, South Africa will tend to vote negatively on all future PAS submissions to JTC 1 where they have not been appropriate SC. We would like to ensure that proper consideration be given to the PAS by technical experts. If the standard is indeed well known within the industry then this process might be very short.

       This will be a change from our previous tendency to ‘abstain’ where we had no direct knowledge of the submission.

    "

    Thank you

            Carlos Birs

  16. Wu MingShi says:

    Andrew,

    [Cross post to Brian Jone’s blog]

    [A bit off topic] Democracy only guarantee you the right to be involved (and limit your involvement to one vote only.

    I think ISO’s procedure goes rather well. It stand up to politicking. There are procedures to reject committee results if necessary although it is rarely exercised. Recently a similar body, IEEE, exercise its right on a Wireless Standard committee.

    So far, it stand up to politicking well. Even in the worst case scenario that this is vote stuffing, I do not necessary see this as a problem. Given that one have to attend the meeting twice before being granted the vote (from Rob Weir’s mouth). If the intention is vote stuffing, it is done with a transparent ballot box for everyone to see. anti-OOXML camp would see it coming. Obviously they did not think it is a problem.

    There is a need to prevent "vote stuffing" but only up to a point. It is not necessary a bad thing to make it possible to overwhelm the results via vote stuffing

    For example, a dictator could easily use the 2/3 majority system (a measure that has the some effect on preventing vote stuffing) measure to stop a lot of  things. But if the opposition grow big enough, it can still gather the 2/3 majority needed to overwhelm him.

  17. jasonmatusow says:

    My hat is off to Rob Weir for his absolutely great post today. My posting still stands as I believe to to be spot on, but I love the blogosphere because of the exchange of ideas between smart, creative people.  

    Great post Rob!  

    http://www.robweir.com/blog/

  18. Rob Weir says:

    A quick fact check, Jason.  You link to my blog post and say that I give the "insinuation is that it is somehow inappropriate that companies and individuals would show up to voice their opinion."  

    Where exactly in my post do I say that? I believe my post is entirely factual, based on verifiable evidence, simply reported, with nothing said about anyone’s inner motivations or thoughts.  Please show me where it is otherwise.

    You also say that, "Rob seems determined to question the motivations behind national body membership in Spain, Portugal and Italy as well."

    Where in the post do I do that?  I don’t mention any other country in my post.  In fact, I’m not even aware of a problem in Spain.  Should I be?

  19. jasonmatusow says:

    Rob –

    I agree that the post is factual. The point you are making though, much as you do with your analogy in the following post, is inferred rather than explicitly stated. If you think my interpretation is incorrect, I will glady restate my comments.

    As for my comments about other fora – that is me going too fast in my posting and blending comments I’ve been reading from others regarding activities. (Mr. Sutor’s blog posting recently for example).

    Thanks for the comment.

    Jason

  20. Sam Hiser says:

    Jason-

    Your customers are high.

  21. Hi Jason,

    sorry, but the fact that an obviously rushed specification is to be turned into an international standard stands. Where was the peer review at ECMA? As far as ODF criticism goes, I’ve seen a lot of complaining about missing parts. That is being addressed. But here, a specification with major problems that even a non-expert on the field like me (just a programmer) can clearly see is fast-tracked through ISO.

    You reason that ODF was not able to represent all MS Office capabilities and thus a second file format was needed. But developing a standard means coming together, expanding and adapting what is in the marketplace and then agreeing on it as a standard. That way you get all of the advantages (100% fidelity) and none of the headaches (interoperability hell). But, since you mention business problems yourself, I think one of the core goals of Microsoft is not to have an open and backwards compatible file format – the goal is to have this while being different enough from ODF so you have significant competitive advantage.

    You and Brian Jones have practically written it: Whenever the incredible size of the specification is mentioned, you say implementors should only consider the parts they need. So what about MS Office competitors? They obviously need to implement everything. Are you admitting that this over-specification will be too much to handle for them? Or that they will need years and years to catch up?

    Microsoft itself is proof of that: look at MacBU. Still no Mac Office with OpenXML support in sight, and even when it eventually ships it will lack VBA support! So much for interoperability – there is none, people! Not even amongst the same product from the same company!

    I’m sorry Jason, but criticizing the people who have realized this and try to defend the standards world from a clearly flawed specification like this is not right. These people (me included) raise valid technical (!) concerns why this standard should not be approved.

    This specification is a prorietary one. It is a basis from which, through long discussion and modification (e.g. throw VML out, throw bitmasks out etc. pp.) a standard could be developed. In no way is this something that should be fast-tracked through ISO. But you seem unwilling to see that.

    Regards,

    Stephan

  22. Andrew Sayers says:

    Jason.

    My intent in my post over on Brian’s blog was to address the issues that I expected to be the inevitable focus of debate there.  I agree that talking about conspiracies is an odd issue, although speaking as a recovering lurker, my primary complaint is that such arguments usually descend into appeals for other people to agree with unprovable assertions.

    I take your point that depoliticising the ISO process is neither possible nor desirable.  That said – and I may be showing my naivety again here – surely it’s doubly important to be encouraging adherence to the spirit of the rules when the system is under unprecedented strain?  For example, by criticising late joiners whose behaviour threatens to turn what should be a consensus-based process into a mere democracy?

    Wu,

    This may just be a semantic difference with what you said, but I think it’s quite important to differentiate between those realities that are unfortunate and those that are fortunate – for example, even if retaining loopholes that allowed ballot-stuffing were the lesser of two evils, it’s still something that should be frowned upon.

    – Andrew

  23. jasonmatusow says:

    Stephan – thx for the comments. It is way late where I am, but just checking in before going to bed – sorry these comments will be short.

    1) there were more than 20 organizations reviewing the specification in Ecma TC-45 including those working from Apple and on OpenOffice

    2) ODF was missing major components and was moved through ISO as rapidly as possible. Yes, those holes are being filled, but the spec is not being maintained by ISO and has already moved beyond the ISO spec thus rendering that work obsolete within months of the standardization.

    3) Our goal was absolutely to have backwards compatibility. TC-45 members were very explicit in the need to further document and create samples to make sure people understood the full capabilities of Open XML as well as to make sure that the backwards compatibilty was handled to the best possible extent.

    4) Yes, business considerations factor into what standards working groups companies support. It is a reality not just for MS, but for all orgs. Why is it that IBM’s 100+ comments for Open XML come now vs. their opportunity to join TC-45 and work on the spec prior to the ISO process? I’m fine with their competing as hard as they can – are you?

    5) The size of the spec has been debated so much. Competitors have the choice of what they want to implement, as does everyone else. Given the sheer volume of independent implementations already showing up within <1 year of the release of the draft spec – I’d say that orgs and individuals are doing just fine on this front.

    6) Raising valid technical concerns is absolutely part of the process and has already made a difference in the specification for Open XML.

    7) Contributed specifications is absolutely a norm in the world of software standards. Greater openness in document formats is good for all parties. Greater openness of MS Office doc formats has long been requested and is very positive for customers, governments, partners, and competitors.

    Thanks

    Jason

  24. Hi Jason,

    thanks for taking the time to reply so late at night. I really appreciate it, and even though we might disagree on some issues, I value the fact that this kind of conversation is possible with Microsoft employees. Great stuff!

    As to your comments:

    1) I know that. My point was that although there were many organizations at ECMA, the specification got approved even though there are glaring mistakes or technical dead-ends in the specification. Seems that those organization’s task was primarily to approve the spec. I cannot investigate further because none of the information (mailing lists etc.) is publicly available. I cannot think of a valid reason for that other than to try to hide something. Might not be such a bad idea, since Microsoft regularly uses information gained from ODF’s very open process against ODF (e.g. how many people participated in making the spec, how much work each one did etc.).

    2) I see the ODF standardisation as a seperate and unrelated issue. I agree with you that not everything went perfect there. I also agree that ODF was approved too quickly. I strongly disagree however that this should mean repeating those mistakes is acceptable. Especially since we are talking about a standard that will be used by the vast majority of Office programs as default (namely Microsoft Office). Don’t you agree that this asks for even more care and thought than went into ODF? ODF is just a rising star, OOXML will be very pervasive very soon. ODF has time to correct mistakes, OOXML arguably hasn’t.

    3) Sorry, I cannot accept this argument. How can I, as an organization participating in ECMA or ISO, check for backwards compatibility if I don’t have access to the legacy file format? That’s right, I simply cannot. And sorry, a (proposed) international standard is not something where I accept Microsofts "believe us, it had to be done this way" as satisfactory. I as an outsider cannot think of a reason why bitmasks had to be stored in XML instead of doing a more XML-friendly conversion beforehand. This just looks like laziness on part of the MS Office programmers. Again, unacceptable if we’re talking about an international, multi-vendor standard (it might be perfectly ok for a one-vendor-spec, but Microsoft chose not to go this route).

    4) I’m perfectly fine with competition – outside of standards bodies. Competition should ensue on the implementation of the standards, not beforehand. I think IBM chose to comment now because apparently trying to change a standard at ECMA is close to unheard of. It’s just an approval machine. ISO, on the other hand, is still one of those organizations where technical issues are taken seriously. I applaud them for that.

    5) Implementations that can rival MS Office in fidelity? Where? Come on. Where is Mac Office even? Do you mean the various translator projects?

    6) That’s great to hear! Because up until now all I read are justifications why VML or WMF had to be used, why an international standard redefines leap years and so on. Are you saying any of this will change in a future revision or even before the fast-track vote? I was originally very excited to finally see the Office file format be opened. I’m not so thrilled anymore, precisely because of these issues.

    7) I agree it is the norm. By the way, I also think that OOXML is, in the long run, better for everybody than the legacy file formats. I’m just a bit sad about the missed opportunity here. We could finally have had a single, standard power outlet in the world – just for document data, not for electrical appliances. Instead I have to listen to people explaining to me why it is so wonderful to have different types of outlets. If this wasn’t so filled with political and business motives, we’d have no ISO standard now (also no ODF!) and a single, unified one in two to three years that has everything all major Office applications need. But unfortunately, this does not seem to be happening.

    I can understand why this specification needs to be approved as soon as possible. I also understand why it was not feasible to work with OpenOffice.org et al on this together. I really do. I just wish people would be more honest on the real reasons behind all this. It would make it much easier for me (and for many others, I presume) to accept the status quo.

  25. jasonmatusow says:

    Stephan – thank you for the thoughtful comments. This is why I like the blogosphere so much. I think it would be better to grab a beer some day than write essays back and forth, but for now this will do.

    A guy I used to run into often at OSS conferences when I was doing work in that space once expressed a cynical view of standards participation to me. I don’t necessarily agree with this because I am an incurable optimist and think there are other reasons for behaviors…but I think he is closer to the truth than not. He said, "as a company, you join a standards body to either drive adoption of your own technology, or to unseat an encumbant player." I think that participation may also be done in some cases to move the state of the industry forward in order to benefit the ecosystem you depend upon for your livelyhood – but that is where my optimism comes into play.

    There are points I would make for each of the items above, but I think #7 is the most imporptant. In the world of health and saftey standards for example, or in the case of the physical world, having a single standard is the most optimal solution. I just simply don’t agree that is the case for software because it is a fundamentally different medium. That is not to say I am an advocate for the idea that there should multiple standards for all things in the software world. It is absolutely situation dependent (I know this sounds like a convienent argument for my company’s situation today).

    Aside from my employment for MS – I believe this to be true. I think if you optimize for a single document format standard, then the innovation on the application side necessarily is constrained. Because XML was not an option, and the processing power wasn’t there, and the adoption of software was so significantly less – closed, binary formats were the best option. But, during that time you see companies differentiating what they produce, their formats represent that differentiation and an innovator looks around to see an opening for a different means of representing a document…voila – PDF. XML of course has changed that landscape even further, but is XML the pinnacle of what is needed by applications? Is it possible that some software firm could come up with something even more compelling and useful? That may, or may not, occur through a process that involves standardization. (OSS is a great place to see the evolution of the implementation being the standard – and that raises many interesting questions all on its own.)

    Anyway – I love the fact that this whole thing has raised some truly fundamental issues. I can tell you for certain that we are rethinking our whole approach to standardization, and building a more holistic view across the company for our engagement in standards orgs rather than continuing our product-by-product strategy that has existed in the past.

    Thanks again Stephan.

    Jason

  26. hAl says:

    Rob weir said:

    "You link to my blog post and say that I give the "insinuation is that it is somehow inappropriate that companies and individuals would show up to voice their opinion."  Where exactly in my post do I say that?"

    I think that was when you said:

    "This is not surprising since the new members were largely Microsoft business partners."

    You could also have mentioned that several of the voters were IBM business partner (an area in which you should have more insight then in the exact alliances of Microsoft) or even that some voter are Ecma TC45 members. also you could have mentioned that some were developing OOXML solutions whilst other were and still are involved in developing Opendocument and opendocument solutions.

    So you motivated the voting by only referring business partnership of one particular company and that you can easily call that as an insinuation you found that motivation inappropriate as you did not mention any bias in the no voting and as there can be a lot more valid reasons to be in some way biased in the voting than just a business partnership.

  27. Eric says:

    @Stephan

    [quote]3) Sorry, I cannot accept this argument. How can I, as an organization participating in ECMA or ISO, check for backwards compatibility if I don’t have access to the legacy file format[/quote]

    Mayby in the same way you can check for interoperability of spreadsheets in a spec that does not contains any spreadsheet formula’s ????

  28. Hi Jason,

    a beer would be nice, unfortunately I’m from Germany. But if a conference or a holiday brings you here, just drop me a line (sj at sjaensch.org).

    I agree with most of your points. I do think in practice OOXML will be driven by Microsoft and not by some committe or standards body, since otherwise the type of innovation you talk about would just be as problematic as with ODF. Furthermore, I see no problem extending ODF: it’s XML, after all. An OpenGL-type model with vendor extensions that can later be made part of the standard comes to mind.

    Regards,

    Stephan

  29. @Eric: No, I cannot. So we agree that not providing documentation for the legacy file formats means that checking for backwards compatibility (and thus, review of one of the core goals of OOXML) was and is not possible?

  30. "Open"XML is not an Open Standard says:

    The OOXML specs contains references to undefined behavior.

    This in istelf is suffiecient to disqualify it as an Open Standard.

    That’s the trouble, Jason. OOXML does not meet the requirements of an Open Standard.

    An Open Standard is a specification that allows all vendors to implement a 100% comliant offering on any platform available on the planet.

    This allow multiple vendors to compete on a market defined by the standard.

    OOXML does not  meet that criteria, ODF does.

    Why is it, Jason,  that IBM, SUN and all these rabit ODF supporters are not afraid to compete on a leveled playing field?

    Why is it that Microsoft fights ODF tooth and nail, and trys to outcompete a truly Open Standard in favor of its own that is Open onlyb in name? Might it be, Jason, that Microsoft is so afraid of losing its monoply position?

    I’m getting utterly sick of Microsoft’s machinations. And I’m getting utterly sick of the verbal vomit that comes out of the anuses of its corporate mouthpieces. And the latter includes you, Jason.

    Jason. You are nothing but a dispicable, litlle Microsoft propganda whore, In fact, calling you a whore is an insult to streethookers. You are a lower lifeform, Jason… sorry to insult cockroaches, here.

  31. Allen says:

    I believe the biggest reason for such strong opposition to OOXML as a standard is the rush to get it approved.  Based on what I’ve read, OASIS spent several years working on the ODF standard, and Microsoft was welcome to participate but chose not to.  The long effort by OASIS to improve the standard justified a faster track in ISO when it was submitted there.

    OTOH, the time table for getting OOXML through ECMA virtually guaranteed that there would be few if any changes to Microsoft’s original submission.  Using the fast track approach to ISO approval appears to be attempt to prevent fixing the technical problems with OOXML just so that Microsoft can continue selling Microsoft Office to those organizations that have concluded that it is in their long-term best interest to save documents in a standard format, but haven’t yet realized that OOXML as currently specified will maintain the vendor-lock they are trying to escape.

    While some would continue to oppose OOXML because there is good justification for only having one standard or because they are anti-Microsoft, I believe that much of the opposition would disappear if Microsoft would simply drop their fast track demands and allow ISO to spend the necessary time to fix many of the problems with the current specification, especially if that provided time for an independent second implementation of the standard to prove that OOXML can be implemented by someone other than Microsoft.

    But as long as Microsoft is pushing for fast track approval for OOXML, I will support those who oppose it.

  32. Re: hAl says:

    Even if the other attendees where IBM business partners.. even if.. that would be pretty much irrelevant. Since the pro ODF crowd benefits the free market and thereby the consumer. Microsoft´s position benefits Microsoft´s monoply position.

    You don´t understand the issue at hand, I´m afraid.

    IBM, SUN and what have you do not have a monopoly position in the office space.

    Microsoft has.

    ODF is an accepted Open Standard for office document formats.

    OOXML doesn´t meet the requirements to qualify as an Open Standard: only Microsoft can implement it faithfully.

    Moreover, Microsoft’s busness partners where recent additions to the TC’s, contrary to the other members. This is indicative of ballot stuffing. The ODF crowd has not employed this technique.

    How can you equate Microsoft’s behavior to IBM’s et-al’s when 1) the behavior is different and 2) the latter behavior favors the free market whereas the first’s behavior favor a monoply?

    Answer you can’t.

    How can one equate the

  33. backward Compatibility? Whay MS sat on the ODF board for yeras and said nothing? says:

    ODF was drafted by the OASIS commitee. MS was a member of that commitee. The process of drafing ODF took cosiderable time. MS had ample oppurtunity to have its backward compatibilty needs woven into ODF. Rather, it said nothing.

    Rather MS started to push OOXML, as specification that only MS can implement, as an alternative to ODF, a specification that can be faithfully implemented by any vendor on any platform, including MS.

    It is clear that Microsoft is not primararly interested in backward compatibility. It’s primary concern is to get the ODF open standard out of the way, A concern that is perfectly in line with it’s ‘decomodotize open protocols and standards’ and Embrace, Extend, Extinguish stragegies. Strategies that subvert the free market but maintain its monoply position.

    You can argue, spin and squirk whatever you like, Jason. You are only going to fool a few.

    Action speaks louder than words, Jason.

  34. jasonmatusow says:

    I think a few of you need to read my earlier posting providing instructions for insulting me: I refer you to:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/jasonmatusow/archive/2007/06/12/instructions-for-insulting-me.aspx

    Jason

  35. jasonmatusow says:

    It is important to keep in mind that Microsoft was already working on XML-based formats in the late ’90s. In the Office 2000 and 2003 versions there were XML formats available, but they were not yet mature enough, or complete enough, for us to move to them as a default format. The engineering investment was well under way towards the goal of a full-featured XML-based Office format by the time OASIS formed the ODF committee. We have never taken the position that ODF should not happen – in fact quite the opposite. We have consistently advocated that there should be choice in this arena. I’ll point out again that we supported ODF adoption as a recognized national standard in ANSI.

    Companies commit engineering resources, business resources, etc. to technologies and that is just fine. Additionally, industry competition comes into play every time. All of the arguments of whether or not MS should have participated or not in the ODF working group are a red herring. it is good that all of the major doc formats are moving to openness, and even a step further – standardization. Translation between them enables customers to control their data AND to have choice of apps to use. That is the meta issue that is so much more important than what working group any one company did, or did not, join.

    Jason

  36. Jason: Please, stop trying to wash our brains! it’s just plain useless!!! Too many of us know exactly the kind of game Microsoft is playing here. Microsoft doesn’t like standards -it never has-, and MSOOXML was hastily devised in order to counter and derail ODF adoption. Moreover, when Massachussets threatened Microsoft’s state lock-in and shortly afterwards ISO officially backed the format, your company became frightened to death to see a standard it didnt controlled endorsed by government and states: one of your biggest captive customers and cash-cows. After ODF, there would follow OpenOffice.org and Linux!!!! your company definitely had to get a standard one way and other. The underhanded political maneouvers against the Chief Technology Officer in Mass. that came afterwards were plain disgusting. I force myself to try to understand your position just as part of your job, Just I hope you privately are not very proud of the kind of company you are working for (I am sure many honest and good people work there,but MSFT’s business practices are neither good nor honest)

    Remember your own company’s words:

    "In addition to the attacking the general weaknesses of OSS projects (e.g. Integrative / Architectural costs), some specific attacks on Linux are:…

       * Fold extended functionality into commodity protocols / services and create new protocols

    De-commoditize protocols & applications

    OSS projects have been able to gain a foothold in many server applications because of the wide utility of highly commoditized, simple protocols. By extending these protocols and developing new protocols, we can deny OSS projects entry into the market. "

    Microsoft is following Halloween Document’s recommendations by the letter. Any other argument you can give to justify the hastened creation of MSOOXML off Microsoft’s sleeve and the intents to force-feed the EEEing format through the ISO standarization process while corrupting and subverting it in the meantime for Microsoft’s sole benefit is nothing but spin.

    Everyone else who is in doubt or at a loss at what Microsoft is trying to do at the ISO, please have a thorough read over here:

    http://www.catb.org/~esr/halloween/

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070720073215943

  37. Allen says:

    No matter how much Microsoft has invested in OOXML or how many resources were employed in developing it, it is still true that the specification was written by a single company and no one else has successfully implemented it to date.  And the schedule and process used to get it through ECMA and being pushed for ISO mean that if it is approved through the fast track process, it will remain a specification written by Microsoft with minimal input from any other organization, and for which at most implementation exists.  This is not acceptable for an open industry standard.

  38. Andrew Sayers says:

    Adding to what Jason said, arguing over historical details of who did what and when is really a distraction from important issues.  If the ODF spec had been generated by typewriting monkey number 427 the night before the ISO approved it, or if references to the OOXML spec were found on the Rosetta Stone, would that change your fundamental opinion of them?  Who should get the blame/credit for how we got here is only important if it informs us of how to proceed in the future.

    Let’s talk about a meta-issue then – it seems like Microsoft’s opinion is that standardising a format and marketing it to the wider public should be done at the same time, and that OOXML has got a lot more heat from the community than ODF did because when ODF was being marketed, they were able to say "if it’s bad, we can always change it".  Jason, would you agree with that characterisation, and if so, what do you feel the benefits are of Microsoft’s approach?

    – Andrew

  39. jasonmatusow says:

    Allen – thx for the comments. Not true on the implementations. Not only are we seeing Novell work on an implementation for OpenOffice, companies like MindJet have implemented it as well. I was just told by a colleague from Germany that they are aware of 70 independent implementations by software companies there already. The spec has not been out there that long – we will see much more of this.

    Also to other comments above…maintenance of the spec will not be done by Microsoft. It will be done by TC-45 at Ecma and we have already committed to supporting that in our next product (as well as our current one).

    Also – again, a general thanks to everyone for a constructive conversation here. What do you say we keep the personal attacks to a minimum? That doesn’t help anyone.

    Jason

  40. Insullting you? says:

    Look Jasos. You should read the message the insults are telling you. There’s a lesson to be learned from the insults. Get it? No?

    I will tell you.

    The insults are a results of Microsoft’s decades old bag of dirty tricks, lies, spin to screw the competetion. That has made Microsoft the singlemost hated company in the world. That hatred is a prelude to Microsoft’s downfall.

    You Jason, are actively participatiing in Microsoft’s campaign of deceit, lies, spin and machinations to prevent it from falling subject to free market forces. That lost you the respect of the world, Jason.

  41. Jason, your task is very simple: do argue and prove WHY the OOXML specs meets the criteria of an Open Standard says:

    You could convince us very rapidly, Jason/ Just prove that OOXML meets the creteria for being an Open Standard. If OOXML is suitable as an Open Standard, as Microsoft insists, that should be an easy thing to do.

    The criteria are basically that the specification is:

    1) Complete. I.e. the specification either itself

      a) contains all the information needed to implement the specification into a working product or

      b) references other Open Standards.

    2) Unambigious: I.e. There is no room for different vendors  to come up with incompatible implementations.  

    3) a) Is not controled by any vendor and can b) be implemented by any vendor on any platform c) roalty free and free of any legal liablilties.

    That’s the core issue that we see you avoid with all you wondering off into accusing IBM of what IBM is not, but Microsoft itself is doing, side steps, irrelevancies and .. approach ..holistic.. view.. CXO bable.

    Come on, Jason. Give it a try! I’n curious. But I’m afraid completing the task will cause you quite some headaches. Beacuse you see, OOXML does not meet these criteria.

    1.a) The OOXML spec contains tags that encapsulated undefined, old Microsoft products behavior.

    1.b) Dito. Morover, the OOXML spec references but not defines behavior of other Microsoft products. Behavior that is not defined by any Open Standard.

    3.a) the OOXML spec  is controled by Microsoft.

    3.b) The OOXML references but not defines behavior of other Microsoft products. Products that run on Microsoft’s OS product line only and are propreatary to Microsoft. Meaning that these behaviors can 1) only work un Microsoft’s OS product line and 2) only be implemented by Microsoft.

    3.c) Microsoft covenant not to sue does not cover the references to other Microsoft products. Meaning that A vendor, that is not Microsoft, seeking to implement the OOXML spec in full will run the risk for being sued over patent infringement by Microsoft.

  42. jonathon says:

    The big problem with Open Office XMl is that nobody can implement it correctly, using the provided specifications.

    None of the "works as in program x" references can be implemented, as undefined in the  specification.  

    At least six Microsoft patents cover data in the proposed specification.  There at least another six patents that cover material referenced, but not a formal part of the specification.  Microsoft’s "Covenant not to sue" would be more correctly termed "Microsoft’s Covenant to sue all developers".  

    A less trivial issue is the fact that Office Open XML can not be used to correctly enter data in 5,000+ of the world’s existing languages, much less any of  the 10,000+ conlangs and dead languages.

    Another, less trivial issue is that Office Open XML can not correctly handle boustrophedon writing systems.   Nor can it correctly handle vertical bottom to top writing systems.   Nor can it handle diagonal writing systems.  

    xan

    jonathon

  43. You are mighty confused, Jason. says:

    "Participation Hypocrisy:"

    [snip]

    So, I am a little confused. V1 committee participation has increased with organizations who have technical and business interests with the standard being discussed.  If IBM is such an advocate for open standards (meaning process and technology), why then be so concerned when it turns out that the openness invites participation of those who disagree with them?

    Confused you are indeed.

    ODF is a truly Open Stanard. Any vendor is free to implement it on any platform. This will create a leveled playing, quite unlike today’s and yesterday’s situation, field in the office space on which multiple vendors can compete with mutually compatible offerings. In a society that is free market based, that is a desirable situation.

    I cannot see anything negative in individuals and companies trying to pursue this goal. As I said, in a capitalistic society that is a desirable goal.

    Enter Microsoft. Microsoft has a track record of dealing with competetion. On of the techiniques employed by Microsoft to kill competing offerings it calles ‘Emrace, Extend, Extinguish’. As indeed, recent sworn testimony by a Microsoft official in the Comes v Microsoft lawsuit has confirmed. A related technique ‘de-comoditizing open  protocols’  came to light into a leaked internal Microsoft memo which dealt with the issue of how Microsoft could combat Open Source Software.

    Indeed, Microsoft has a decades old track record of making its customers depend on its API’s and file formats. This depenaence, called vendor lock-in, allows, and has allowed it to maintain its monoply position.

    Microsoft is trying to position its own office file format, OOXML, as an alternative to ODF. OOXML does not meet the requirements for an Open Standard. This is not surprising. If it where, competitors would be able to bring 100% MS-Office compatible offerings to the market, thereby making it vulnarable to free market forces, endagering and over time eroding its monoply position.

    It recently has been noted that on several occasions funny things have happend in TC’s advising ISO whether or not OOXML should be accepted as an ISO standard.  In one event, several ODF supporters have been excluded from a meeting on the grounds that there wheren’t enough seats. A decsion that was made by a Microsoft representative. In two other cases it was shown that recent months have shown an upsurge in Microsoft business partners in the TC’s whereas the numbers of ODF supporters have remained rather stable.

    Now, Jason, wherein lies the hypocrisy that you claim to spot? Have IBM, Red Hat, Andy Undergroove or any other ODF supporter been engaged is such behavior?

    And even if  where the case that TC membership had seen an upsurge in ISO’s TC’s. What would there be wrong about trying to block a proposed standard that can only be implemented by the monopolist Microsoft being accepted as such. A specification that comes from a company that has a decades old history of EEE and ‘de-comoditizing protocols’? Wherein lies the hypocrisy, Jason?

    "Microsoft has repeatedly, and publically, discussed the fact that we are interested in maximizing choice and openness for document formats."

    You are confused, Jason. Having choice of fileformats defeats the whole purpose of having a standard, Jason. You end up with multiple incompatible products. What in a free market society counts is choice amongst several PRODUCTS that are mutually compatible. That file format is there, it is already accepted as an Open Standard, Microsoft has had a seat for years on the board that developed the standard, so it has had plenty of time and oppurtunity to have its needs expressed in the standard. Backward compatebilty and more.

    And of course this  defeating the purpose of a single standard is exactly the reason Microsoft is pushing its only-implementable by itself, file format.  EEE-ing, de-comodizing all over again.

  44. From the article:

    "Participation Hypocrisy:

    ·         Oracle and Red Hat (neither of whom have any work directly associated with Open XML) are among those who have recently joined the committee and both voted no."

    From an above Comment by Jason:

    "I think that participation may also be done in some cases to move the state of the industry forward in order to benefit the ecosystem you depend upon for your livelyhood – but that is where my optimism comes into play."

    So Jason, you think it’s perfectly fine for Red Hat and Oracle to participate?

  45. Chris Clark says:

    Jason,

    You said – 171 were letters of support for Open XML.  Come on.  It was 1 letter written by a person unknown, and sent 171 times by your partners.  The vast majority that were posted or faxed weren’t emailed weren’t even branded – they just received it by email, printed and sent it.  Who wrote the letter?

    Happy to send you a copy if you like.

    Chris Clark

  46. Insult? I did not even get started. says:

    Microsoft will going to be destroyed. Utterly. Every corporate bone in its little corporate body is going to be splintered to pieces by the stamping corporate feet of its competitors.

    Now, that leaves an army of these propaganda scumbags. What to do with them?

    You can’t have them out on the streets. One day they will erect Microsoft, the sequel. After all, their skill set is lie, cheat, deceipt, spin, create evidence, and only that. They have to form Microsoft II. It’s the only thing they can do. It is their natural calling. But, the world has witnessed a monoplist too many, already. One Microsoft has been enough. No thank you. So a sulution is needed.

    Put them behind bars ? Nope… imagene, one being a man of dignity,  serving life for having raped and killed around quite a bit. As I said, a man of dignity, princples and honor, finding one day some Jason occupying the cell next door. The shere insult! No, not an option.

    Electric chairs needs electric power. This power is generated by burning coles in a power plant. These coles where once trees and plants. They had feelings. These coles carry their soles. This little oak tree, living its life piecefully and beautifully. Shaking its leafs in the calm summer winds. Lending its branches to choirs of birds singing to the setting sun. Not an avenue to explore..the pain, the grief.

    Shooting them to the sun and have them sink to its core? Hmm.. eventually the sun is going to explode. All these Microsoft tainted atoms are going to be spread out in the cosmos. The pollution alone. You have to consider the cosmic environment. Moreover, out of this matter future planets and ultimately future life forms will come into existence. You can’t do that to these life forms, really. All these Microsoftized atoms in their bodies. No, not an option.

    Using them to guard nuclear waste deep down in an abonded mine, then? Keeping them in store for using them as shielding material in nuclear reactor cores or construct a sarcofacus from in a future Tsernobyl? No.. you need something reliable fot that.

    I really am out of options. I give in. Its hopeless. An impossable chalenge.

  47. A personal note says:

    I decided to hit the submit button of my previous post after reading Chris Clark’s releavtions that these 171 ‘Community support letters’ are a complete rehash of the phony grassroots campaign in the DOJ vs, Microsoft days. Remember, letters in support of Microsoft that where written by dead people?

    The level of my insults really is completely in line with, completely isomorphic to, completely matches the lowness of Microsoft’s practices to achieve its goals.

  48. Ahum..openxml"community".org registred by MSFT says:

    Let’s do a little investigation

    http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/results.jsp?domain=openxmlcommunity.org

    And what do we get?

    Domain ID:D144023586-LROR

    Domain Name:OPENXMLCOMMUNITY.ORG

    Created On:20-Apr-2007 21:52:01 UTC

    Last Updated On:20-Jun-2007 03:54:52 UTC

    Expiration Date:20-Apr-2009 21:52:01 UTC

    Sponsoring Registrar:Register.com Inc. (R71-LROR)

    Status:OK

    Registrant ID:6122690fae69e953

    Registrant Name:Domain Administrator

    Registrant Organization:Microsoft Corporation

    Registrant Street1:One Microsoft Way

    Registrant Street2:

    Registrant Street3:

    Registrant City:Redmond

    Registrant State/Province:WA

    Registrant Postal Code:98052

    Registrant Country:US

    Registrant Phone:+1.4258828080

    Registrant Phone Ext.:

    Registrant FAX:+1.4259367329

    Registrant FAX Ext.:

    Registrant Email:domains@microsoft.com

    Admin ID:5531913fae606961

    Admin Name:Domain Administrator

    Admin Organization:Microsoft Corporation

    Admin Street1:One Microsoft Way

    Admin Street2:

    Admin Street3:

    Admin City:Redmond

    Admin State/Province:WA

    Admin Postal Code:98052

    Admin Country:US

    Admin Phone:+1.4258828080

    Admin Phone Ext.:

    Admin FAX:+1.4259367329

    Admin FAX Ext.:

    Admin Email:domains@microsoft.com

    Tech ID:5569489faeb97789

    Tech Name:MSN Hostmaster

    Tech Organization:Microsoft Corporation

    Tech Street1:One Microsoft Way

    Tech Street2:

    Tech Street3:

    Tech City:Redmond

    Tech State/Province:WA

    Tech Postal Code:98052

    Tech Country:US

    Tech Phone:+1.4258828080

    Tech Phone Ext.:

    Tech FAX:+1.4259367329

    Tech FAX Ext.:

    Tech Email:msnhst@microsoft.com

    Name Server:NS1.MSFT.NET

    Name Server:NS5.MSFT.NET

    Name Server:NS2.MSFT.NET

    Name Server:NS3.MSFT.NET

    Name Server:NS4.MSFT.NET

    Name Server:

    Name Server:

    Name Server:

    Name Server:

    Name Server:

    Name Server:

    Name Server:

    Name Server:

    HAHAHA. Surprise! Good old Microsoft! Community my arse!

    It realy is true, isn’t it?! The only thing that MSFT is capable off is deceipt! It damnit is actually true. Every little thing it utters is the exact opposite of what it looks to be at first glance! It is true!

    Jason! Joseph Stalin wants to hire you! He wants you to take charge of the Ministry Of Truth!

    And what remarks do we read there? Well, subsitute ODF for OpenXML and these remarks hold as well!

    Take for instance

    "ODF will be a key standard to allow companies to share electonic documents. Approving this standard is key to move to true globalisation and provide services to anyone, anywhere, at any time in the world. Therefore I provide my full support and req"

    or

    "As a consultant and developer, I believe that standardization of the ODF format will allow many IT players to use and create production tools, and handle and manage information without the need for official instruments, reducing costs for customizin"

    or

    "As a leading provider of report mining solutions, Datawatch benefits from the ability to easily integrate ODF functionality in our products. Our customers gain greatly from being able to extract data from a variety of different systems and formats and"

    Or, better said, in some cases, start to hold.

    Take this poor soul:

    Arvatech, Inc. — United States

    "Open XML benefits such as portability, integration, accessibility and interoperability are essential to our business as software solution providers. Arvatech supports the adoption of Open XML as a standard."

       * – Raquel Vega, President

    Well, poor Raquel is going to be bitterly disapointed in the portability and interoperability department as OOXML is a "standard" that can only run on MS-Windows and can only be implemented by Microsoft! Unless, of course, one uses Microsoft’s defenition of these concepts. "Portable" meaning "runs on any Microsoft OS" and interoptable meaning "works with any Microsoft product"

    The same goes for Paul Schmitt of Quark, Inc. or Patrik Döös from 4screen AG:

    "4screen AG is one of the founding members of OpenXMLCommunity.org as we are a strong believer in open document formats. Ecma OpenXML is a key enabler for us to build interoperable solutions which our customers demand. We also support efforts to get OpenXM"

    The list goes on, and on!

    Finally take:

    University of Bologna — Italy

    "Among its activities, the Department of IT Science of Bologna University is very active in the area of standard document formats; the direction to go towards more and more format openness is the proper move to provide (especially to Public Administration"

       * – Fabio Vitali, Professor

    Well, I agree with the professor! A key issue is though, that you take a standard that is an Open Standard in the first place! A standard that can only be implemented by a monopolist and only run on that monoplist’s  platform is quite not an Open Standard!

  49. Dear Jason: I am not attacking you personally, and please, tell me if and where I "insulted" you as suggested by other commenter.

    (By the way is MSFT high leadership who is engaged in name-calling to every one of us that advocate Free Software -yes, that "cancer"- as fundamentalists, extremists, communists, anti-american.. maybe soon, we Gnu/Linux users will be called radioactive mutant terrorists…is the only thing that is left ) ;-D

    I even argued that I tried to understand your position as your job is naturally to advance the interests of your employer.

    But of course, I know the established market practices of the company you work for and I can see the same old (tiring) pattern here. I am just telling you so you don’t waste more time trying to confuse everyone else: Most of us, the people who read this are already in the know.

    Let me also tell you that I really think you must be a nice person due the opennes of this blog (although that can also be  attributed at some kind of entrepreneural jiu-jitsu as directed by your company that it must show a friendlier and more open side in order to deceit the "enemy") and your patience at bearing the bad feelings that are not directed to you, just to Microsoft: you just work there.

    Only one thing: I really think that it would have been much more wise, cheaper and productive (and it would have garnered MSFT much needed good will from its customers and critics alike) if your company actually and HONESTLY cooperated with the rest of the IT world (industry and pro-bono communities: even with a 90% of market domination, there is an IT world -and a most interesting one, mind you- outside MSFT), Jason: you as well as us know that implementing ODF in MSOffice was not difficult at all, and heck, compared with other products, MSOffice actually is one of the best MS Offerings, so it could compete on its technical merits perfectly, no need to play dirty.

    Instead of that your company chose to forge MSOOXML and disregarded the OASIS process, to which you were attending -just in order to sobvert the resulting standard, much as you did with the W3C standards from the browsers-wars era to date-

    And here you are, discussing -in order to deceitfully convince the ISO and the public- on minute technical intricacies of a document format that never needed to exist in the first place, when you could be collaborating with ODF and the rest of the IT world for everyones benefit (including MSFT’s).

    But I am afraid it is too late for Microsoft: Unfair business practices had been too advantageous for MSFT to stop using them, and even if the tech guys at MSFT implemented ODF, I am sure that sooner or later they would be compelled to EEE it by the higher management.

    FUD campaigns, EEE, Lock-in, forced obsolescence, co-opting or screwing your competitors and even your partners, abusive EULAS and licensing terms, illegal software patents, obscure and ever-changing patent deals complemented with litigation threats for those not signing, GPLv2 and v3 shunning and name calling, anti-democratic lobbying in governmental and public bodies, lack of respect for the privacy of your users, disregard for security…. too many bad practices too deep rooted in the core of MSFT corporate culture.

    Hope you understand why so much criticism, again, not to you (you have all my respect, and I apologize if you felt offended) Its your company, that has the utmost disrespect for its customers, partners and competitors and even the courts of justice’s decissions.

    Have a look at: http://www.getgnulinux.org/windows/

    And NO: Killing the competition is not even close to competing. Let alone competiting fairly.

    Best Regards.

  50. Doug Mahugh says:

    Chris, it’s clear that many of the letters of support of Open XML  are the same letter from multiple sources.  In the same way, many of the comments that have been submitted to the various technical committees are the same comment from multiple sources.  In each instance, we see multiple persons/organizations echoing the same sentiment, whether it’s for or against Open XML standardization.  I think that’s good, to have so many people participating in their own name, even if they’re just saying, in essence, "I agree."

    Jonathon, you mentioned that "at least six Microsoft patents cover data in the proposed specification."  Can you help me understand this better?  Which sections of the spec are you referring to?  And which patents are involved?  I think these things are all covered by the Open Specification Promise, but if there’s something that isn’t covered I’d be interested in knowing about it.

    An anonymous comment above states that "In one event, several ODF supporters have been excluded from a meeting on the grounds that there wheren’t enough seats. A decsion that was made by a Microsoft representative."  I believe this is in reference to the rumors that were started about the Portugese TC meeting this past Tuesday.  But according to the translator who was working that event, the person who said that there was not space in the meeting room for those people was from IIMF (Portugal’s IT Institute of the Ministry of Finance), and not from Microsoft at all.  Here’s a link to his explanation of what happened: http://boycottnovell.com/2007/07/18/italy-vote-ooxml/#comment-1286

    – Doug

  51. You are uttering nonsense, Jason says:

    "Hi Sam –

    I know that there is nothing that is going to make us agree on the position about multiple formats. To me, the reason I favor multiple formats is NOT ABOUT THE STANDARDS. The formats represent the features and capabilities of the products that use them. If you go down the path of saything that there can be only one format you are advocating the creation of an innovation dead zone. ODF does not represent all the features of everyone’s products. Open XML does not represent all the features of everyone’s products. That is the whole point; customers want choice – and formats are never going to be the purchase decision-driver – it will be a choice of apps that are innovative and offer high value."

    e

    This is nonsense and is ttelling of Microsoft’s agenda and practices. The format, you say is tied to the application. It reflects the features it has. Ergo, OOXML is tied to Microsoft Office. The "OOXML is an Open Standard" exposed to be a myth. Unless, of course, and given that we are dealing with Microsoft here, that is very likely the interpreation we need to make sense out of what MS is claiming "Open" in MS dictionary is defined as "Only on Microsoft’sofferings" and "Standard" reads as "Microsoft proprietary"

    ODF, my dear Jason, is not tied to any application. In fact multiple vendors TODAY have implemented ODF. And as has been noted countles times, MS was a meember of the OASIS committee and has plently of time to have its needs incoprorated into ODF.

    You see, saying that a format represent the features and capabilities of the product is indicative of poor format design. And of course, OOXML isn’t designed. It is just an XMLified version of the old doc format which itself was the oppositie of designed: it was just a dump of the programs memory. I short, OOXML is just an XMLified memory dump. hence it reflects the features of the products. Hence it is tied to MS products. Hence it is not suitable as a vendor neutral standard.

    Did you notice how colloasial stupid you have been here, Jason?  How extremely damaging this remark is for MS’s attempt to rush OOXML through the ISO process? You have just shouted "OOXML is Microsoft products specific, it is not suitable as an Open Standard"  off the roof. It came from the horse’s own mouth.

    I case you feel tempted to pull your reply, Jason, I just saved this page on my hard disk. Boy, you guys in Redmond are sooo stupid.

    The "inovation dead end" bit is also drivel. Standards do evolve, you know. There’s nothing that stops Microsoft from taking part in the process that develops  ODF, except for its desire to maintain its monopoly position.

    As a final note your "innovation dead and" drivel starts to makes sense when one read "innovation" as "decomoditize standards and protocols"

  52. Kelledin says:

    Jason,

    The problem with your argument is your characterization of each side’s activity.

    IBM, RedHat, Oracle, et al are participating primarily because they *believe* in their position.  They’re representative of, and backed by, a community with a good-faith belief that there are serious problems with OOXML, problems which render it wholly inappropriate as an ISO standard.  I should know, because I’m part of that community.  That’s standard grassroots activism.

    The sudden appearance of a great many MSFT partners, OTOH, especially near the end of the INCITS V1 meeting, looks a lot more like astroturfing.  These newcomers appear to be nothing more than MSFT sock-puppets.  If they have any real stake in this debate beyond currying or maintaining MSFT favor, it’s generally not visible, because there’s little or not ransparency in this so-called activism process on the MSFT side.  Add to that, MSFT seems more interested in simply getting OOXML rubber-stamped rather than actually addressing the problems with it.

    The anecdotal reports from Portugal are much more serious.  If true, they indicate an extremely ruthless, self-centered pettiness  in MSFT that’s quite frankly beyond the pale.  MSFT as a company needs to properly explain itself with regards to what happened; Miguel Dias’s behavior in particular seems completely inexcusable.

  53. observer says:

     it is impossible to get a man to understand something when his income depends upon his not understanding it.

  54. jasonmatusow says:

    Hi Kelledin –

    I have to say, the partners of ours who I have spoken to about this "believe" deeply in the success of their business, the solutions they offer their customers, and the opportunity afforded them by being able to take the document formats and do things they have not done before. I think that a little of Atticus Finch’s advice of stepping into other people’s shoes would be a pretty good idea for you.

    Again, both sides are working hard for the outcome they desire, both sides are bringing more voices to the table, and I think that is really cool. Can you remember a single standards discussion that has had this kind of attention? My finding the participation great will not stop me from pointing out what I think are problematic things. I’m motivated to see this specification adopted by ISO/IEC – I think, and believe, that it is genuinely in the best interest of governments and customers. In fact, I have had government officials, corporate customers, and developers express this to me all over the world in the past few months.

    I will blog separately on Portugal as it has become a topic that clearly needs to be discussed further.

    thx

    Jason

  55. Kelledin says:

    > I have to say, the partners of ours who I have spoken to about this

    > "believe" deeply in the success of their business, the solutions

    > they offer their customers, and the opportunity afforded them by

    > being able to take the document formats and do things they have

    > not done before. I think that a little of Atticus Finch’s advice of

    > stepping into other people’s shoes would be a pretty good idea for

    > you.

    They may indeed "believe" in OOXML as an ISO standard–although I have to notice, your response doesn’t really go straight to that.  I’m concerned about those that joined in late in the process, because it seems as if they joined solely for the sake of rubber-stamping something in favor of a business partner with a well-documented history of astroturfing.  Whether it’s perfectly innocent or not, it smells too much like a straight-up intentional abuse of the voting process.

    These technical committees are supposed to be held for discussion, debate, and rectification of issues, not just casting a ballot.  If the newcomers had joined near the beginning of the process and taken part in the technical discussions in some more meaningful fashion, or if there was more transparency in this process, that might ease my concerns.  But so far we’re seeing only a very rough picture from the outside, and what we’re seeing is a very ugly deja vu experience that’s none too flattering for Microsoft.

  56. Dave Lane says:

    Wow, Jason,

    It’s interesting to see that I don’t even have to pull out any invective – plenty of other posters have already summed up my feelings about your employer.    It’s really too bad that someone as intelligent as you appear to be has chosen to align himself with such a despicable organisation.   I’m still at a loss as to how you withstand the obvious cognitive dissonance.

    Until Microsoft does something that’s actually graceful, lacking deceit, and "genuine" (in the original sense, not the way Microsoft has unforgivably corrupted it), it’s going to be totally despised, and with every justification.  Remember, if Microsoft wasn’t already sliding inexorably towards oblivion, it wouldn’t have to exhibit the desperate behaviour of which your post above is a prime example.  The world is smart enough to see that Microsoft’s evasive action, such as turning its back on the ODF standard it had every opportunity to shape and creating instead the 6000 page disaster that is OOXML as a "competing standard" (how stupid is that concept?!) – is a last dying gasp.  Life is a hoot, death is peaceful… it’s just the transition that’s troublesome, eh.  Just please ask your employer to be uncharacteristically considerate and avoid taking out too many innocents on its way down.

    Best of luck, Jason.

    Your old friend Dave

  57. jasonmatusow says:

    Thanks for the compliment Dave. I’ve been kicking around Microsoft for about 12 years and have found it to be a very good place to work. Intellectually, business practices, the whole bit. I think the problem may stem from the fact that I have been a NY Yankees fan since I could walk.

    I have no misconceptions about our motivations for doing what we do. MS is a business that is based on selling software for commercial gain. Not services, not hardware (XBox, Zune…IMHO are still software plays). We are going to build Office, and Windows, and SQL Server, and Exchange, and Project, and, and, and for profit. If anything, this makes our motivations incredibly simple to follow. At the same time our focus on customers is huge (that way they like the stuff we make and will buy it) and in this case it was clear that openning the doc format was the right path technically, business-ly, and even socially.

    We had reasonably good earnings this year and I’m anticipating that the company will be around a while to come. I love the fact that you are dedicated to competing with MS – that is a very good thing. I have been engaged in the business models/dev modes/etc. debate since 2001 and have always held that the increase in competition is a really good thing.

    Anyway – thx for the comments.

    Jason

  58. Dave Lane says:

    Thanks for your response, Jason.   I encourage you to enjoy the compliments where you can get them :), faint though they might be.  I am pleased to see that your able to justify your employer’s behaviour in the guise of "returning value to the shareholders".  There’re a couple small problems from my perspective, however:

    1. as a convicted criminal monopolist, it’s fairly hard for Microsoft to make a case for "playing fair" (I notice you don’t make that assertion, either, which is to your credit),

    2. on a practical level, as a monopoly, it doesn’t take too many smarts to see that your motivation of maximising returns to your shareholders is diametrically opposed to providing value to your customers (the motivations are, in true open market, largely aligned).  The inertia of Microsoft’s users is, after all, its primary competition.  You have to convince the poor buggers (I don’t own any MS software so I don’t consider myself one) that what you’re shovelling now is somehow worth more than what they bought from you last time…  Yet, your company adds very little value to the solutions it buys or steals from others and the market needs a "little help" to see the value in what you’re offering.  As such, your employer routinely uses anti-competitive and unethical means to "move product".   I’m thinking of conditional "marketing co-payments", XP buy-backs and artificial scarcity, file format incompatibilities, and other less flagrant but no less unethical tactics.

    3. Microsoft’s ill-gotten gains have given it substantial resources which it uses without conscience to manipulate the highest levels of government and regulatory organisations to ensure that it retains that level of influence.   In fact, on a level playing field, many of the tactics in 2. wouldn’t be as ethically problematic as they are, but then again, Microsoft won’t let ethics stand in the way of ensuring that the playing field is well slanted, eh.

    For those 3, I can only say enjoy it while it lasts.  No dynasty lasts forever, and I believe that the one to which you’ve aligned yourself is suffering from "the bottom falling out"…  And, sorry, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing">astroturfing</a&gt; support for ill conceived not-at-all-open "open" standards isn’t going to do anything more than slow down the inevitable…  

    Unfortunately, your participation in that disingenuous process is simply going to result in you being tarred by the same brush.   Microsoft isn’t despised by envious also rans, Jason, it’s abhorrent behaviour are causing me to take time out from an otherwise pleasant Saturday afternoon (in NZ) to expound on the injustices I see.  Jason, Microsoft is an amoral corporation, no matter how many smart people work for it.  Hell, the Nazi regime had lots of nice people working for it, too, but they still achieved their influence by withstanding their pangs of conscience and  trampling plenty of honest, righteous, noble people.  And they still got hanged for war crimes after it all came tumbling down.  Again, I wish you luck, but not success, in your mission.

    Dave

  59. Dave Lane says:

    Sorry – last post had HTML in it.  Here’s a tidied update:

    Thanks for your response, Jason.   I encourage you to enjoy the compliments where you can get them :), faint though they might be.  I am pleased to see that your able to justify your employer’s behaviour in the guise of "returning value to the shareholders".  There’re a couple small problems from my perspective, however:

    1. as a convicted criminal monopolist, it’s fairly hard for Microsoft to make a case for "playing fair" (I notice you don’t make that assertion, either, which is to your credit),

    2. on a practical level, as a monopoly, it doesn’t take too many smarts to see that your motivation of maximising returns to your shareholders is diametrically opposed to providing value to your customers (the motivations are, in true open market, largely aligned).  The inertia of Microsoft’s users is, after all, its primary competition.  You have to convince the poor buggers (I don’t own any MS software so I don’t consider myself one) that what you’re shovelling now is somehow worth more than what they bought from you last time…  Yet, your company adds very little value to the solutions it buys or steals from others and the market needs a "little help" to see the value in what you’re offering.  As such, your employer routinely uses anti-competitive and unethical means to "move product".   I’m thinking of conditional "marketing co-payments", XP buy-backs and artificial scarcity, file format incompatibilities, and other less flagrant but no less unethical tactics.

    3. Microsoft’s ill-gotten gains have given it substantial resources which it uses without conscience to manipulate the highest levels of government and regulatory organisations to ensure that it retains that level of influence.   In fact, on a level playing field, many of the tactics in 2. wouldn’t be as ethically problematic as they are, but then again, Microsoft won’t let ethics stand in the way of ensuring that the playing field is well slanted, eh.

    For those 3, I can only say enjoy it while it lasts.  No dynasty retains its position of influence forever, and I believe that the one to which you’ve aligned yourself is suffering from "the bottom falling out"…  And, sorry, astroturfing (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing) support for ill conceived not-at-all-open "open" standards isn’t going to do anything more than slow down the inevitable…  

    Unfortunately, your participation in that disingenuous process is simply going to result in you being tarred by the same brush.   Microsoft isn’t despised by envious also rans, Jason, it’s abhorrent behaviour are causing me (and others like me who are largely uninvolved) to take time out from an otherwise pleasant Saturday afternoon (in NZ) to expound on the injustices I see.  Jason, Microsoft is an amoral corporation, no matter how many smart people work for it.  The Nazi regime had lots of nice and smart people working for it, too, but they still achieved their influence by withstanding their pangs of conscience and  trampling plenty of honest, righteous, noble people.  And they still got hanged for war crimes after it all came tumbling down.  Again, I wish you luck, but not success, in your mission.

    Dave

  60. Marturisesc ca mi-am schimbat, un pic, parerea despre IBM fata de luna iunie cand am scris ca " E timpul

  61. observer says:

    Looks like the  dirty tricks dept at M$ has been active at the European Commission.  M$ has given away Office 2007 licenses to the Commission’s administrative staff – for free.

    See link – http://www.kluge.de/2007/07/how-to-gain-market-share.html

    Extract given below :

    Customer: So can you also help us with infrastructure and hardware problems?

    Me: Yes, of course!

    Customer: We need help upgrading to Vista and Office 2007.

    Me: Ooops…

    Customer: Is there a problem?

    Me: Well, you have now Windows XP and Office 2003 – and to be honest thats everything you need. In fact I would recommend taking a look at Open Office 2.2. So why do you want to upgrade?

    Customer: Very simple: We want to read and edit Office 2007 DOCX files.

    Me: But why? Nobody in the world uses that format except Microsoft itself?

    Customer: We receive every day documents in that format from the European Commission in Brussels, we are part of many groups in Brussels, and they send out their stuff as DOCX.

    Me: So tell them to convert it to DOC or even Open Document Format. There are probably hundreds of other interest group outside in Europe that receive these files and cant open it – and don’t want to spent thousands of Euros to upgrade the systems.

    Customer: No way. Everybody in Brussels uses now Office 2007, and they will not stop sending the documents out in DOCX. We tried and failed.

    Me: But what is the reason for this bullshit?

    Customer: Microsoft gave away Office 2007 licenses to the Commission’s administrative staff – for free.

  62. Jason, you once again are mighty confused says:

    "Hi Kelledin –

    I have to say, the partners of ours who I have spoken to about this "believe" deeply in the success of their business, the solutions they offer their customers, and the opportunity afforded them by being able to take the document formats and do things they have not done before. I think that a little of Atticus Finch’s advice of stepping into other people’s shoes would be a pretty good idea for you.

    Again, both sides are working hard for the outcome they desire, both sides are bringing more voices to the table, and I think that is really cool. Can you remember a single standards discussion that has had this kind of attention? My finding the participation great will not stop me from pointing out what I think are problematic things. I’m motivated to see this specification adopted by ISO/IEC – I think, and believe, that it is genuinely in the best interest of governments and customers. In fact, I have had government officials, corporate customers, and developers express this to me all over the world in the past few months.

    I will blog separately on Portugal as it has become a topic that clearly needs to be discussed further.

    thx

    Jason"

    You once again do not understand.

    In short: ODF offers the same benefits to these partners and more.

    Let’s see. Current situation: proprietary, intangable, binary .DOC formated files. Want to do data mining, indexing? Frustrating.

    Now comes OOXML. XML, searchable, indexing possible? Is this an improvement over DOC. Yes! Partner happy! Willing to sign petetion!

    The point is that Microsoft is  going to use this petition as an argument that OOXML should be accepted by ISO as an Open Standard. The problem is, OOXML does not meet the creteria of an vendor nutral industry standard. From partners being happy that it offers them the prospects of improvement to meeting the cretiria for qualifying as an Open Standard is quite a gap. The latter does not quite follow from the former.

    These partners would have expressed even more happynes when you’ve asked them about Microsoft’s goal to have office swtich to ODF. Data mining, indexing! All possible, and more! Now they can develop ODF based products! Now they can utilize Now they can exchange documents with other platforms. Now they can when dissatisfied with their current office product vendor switch to another’s vendors office product!

    The point is Jason, that Microsoft is going to use this petetion to have this ODF Open Standard that offers your partners what OOXML offers and way more to have ODF get out of the way! So they aer going to get more what day have to day but far less than what they could get!

    This is propaganda typical of Microsoft! Remeber the ‘Some vendor saves $ 10,000,000 in choosing Windows over Linux’  headlin from the ‘Get the FUD’  campaign? The 7 figure costs differential was not bteween Linux and Windows. These 10 million bucks costs differential was between this vendors old legacy platform and Windows.

  63. I witness no willingness on Microsoft part to fix OOXML's problems. says:

    That istelf is telling. Read the TC’s meeting notes. Just sidestepping, weasel wording.

    Nothing of the kind "We’ll fix that."

    Undefined hooks for backward compatibility? if this OOXML is so "rich" as you claim, why not just read in the legaccy doc, translate it to OOXML and save it? See, no need for these undefined hooks.

    But if course, Microsoft wants these hooks, not because of BC, but because they wat to be the only vendor capable of implementing OOXML. Microsoft doesn’t want OOXML problems fixed. Microsoft doesn’t want it to be a vendor nutral standard. Heck, Microsoft does not want a Open Standard in the first place. Such a thing runs against their vital interests: maintaining its monopoly. That’s the whole point of this excercise. Getting ODF out of the way. Have OOXML, which only MS can implement, dominate the market place. Monoploly position maintained. And after that has happened (and I want to make a bet, Jason, if you win: I’ll give you 1 years wages, If I win you commit suicide, ok?) some Microsoft propaganda whore is going to say "We allways beleived in choice and competetion between multiple formats. It is now clear that our customers overwhelmingly have chosen the superior format." or words to that effect.

  64. You really are death, dumb and blind, aren't you Jason? says:

    "I have no misconceptions about our motivations for doing what we do. MS is a business that is based on selling software for commercial gain. Not services, not hardware (XBox, Zune…IMHO are still software plays). We are going to build Office, and Windows, and SQL Server, and Exchange, and Project, and, and, and for profit. If anything, this makes our motivations incredibly simple to follow. At the same time our focus on customers is huge (that way they like the stuff we make and will buy it) and in this case it was clear that openning the doc format was the right path technically, business-ly, and even socially."

    There’s nothing wrong in selling software for commercial gain. However, that’s hardly how Microsoft’s busness practices can be characterized.

    The problem with Microsoft is that it abused and is abusing it monoply position that it was early on shot into by the, then, monoplist IBM, in every conceivable way. It has and is using every dirty trick in and not in the book to maintain its monoplyn position.

    That’s the problem with Microsoft. And that it why the world at large will annihilate Microsft. Jason. Yes. It is going to be slaughtered.

    Wait.. just a few more ideas.

    Maybe you could drive all these propganda whores that remain after Microsoft is 6 fix down under together on a cold, windy desolatate russian tundra and drive over them with rusty, old, smokey soviet era tanks. But wait, all these fungi and maggots that would start to feed on that slurry of blood, flesh, bone splinters and mud.. they have feelings, these are creatures that God created and loves too. You can’t do that, making them feed on Microsoft slurry. Oh no, so insulting.

    Offering them as training material to Bin Laden? Nope.. when you think of it, terrorists are human too.

    Maybe you could make them outlaws: "Wanted dead or alive". A bounty of 0.01$ a piece. That would be nice. Have had a terrible fight with your wife and need to let of steam. Just take a baseball bat and ram it through the skull of some Microsoft whore. Or get the revs up in your car and have some Microsoft scumbag being crushed betwwen it an a concrete wall. That lets of steam. Your car will let of steam as well. Or invite hundered of them to a party and test your brand new AK-47 on them. Useful and fun.

    That does sound liek a good solution.

  65. Another idea just hit me says:

    Use them to carpet bomb the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area. Load them in B52’s, fly 10000 miles  and drop them from 30.000 ft. After you’ve desposed off all of Microsoft employees one of them will have hit Bin Laden.

    This is a win-win situation. Great idea, if I may say so myself.

  66. Wesley Parish says:

    Well, Jason, I doubt my invective’s operational, so I guess you’ll just have to settle for some more settled remarks from me – anyway, now I’ve discovered Alexandre Dumas (pere) and The Three Musketeers, I’m thinking of borrowing his invective, since he’s no longer using it.

    A source of comment on the idea of two standards dealing with the one topic that might be of interest, is the comments that are routinely made in the consumer computing press about the successor for DVD.  And the various enhancements that have been made to the DVD standard – all the -W, +W, =R, +R, etc.  As a consumer of computer hardware, I find that sort of comment from various consumer watchdogs and journalists more informative than the bunfight between the two sets of XML file format backers.  And since most of them have no dog in the fight between either DVD successor format, they comments are so much more valuable.  (I mean, my own allegiance is to the ODF format, since i use MS Windows, Solaris and Linux boxes, and anything I write has to be transferable from one to the others, and MS Office has no Linux or Solaris version as of now … so I won’t make any comment on either XML file format here-and-now. 😉

    I’m sure you could explain in detail to the various consumer computer magazines why having two directly competing standards for the one thing, is better than standardizing on one – with direct reference to the said DVD successor issue.  I look forward to reading articles by you on this self-same topic in the likes of PC Magazine, etc.

    Thanks

  67. nksingh says:

    Wow, looks like Sam Hiser is off his rocker…

    All those "<Sentence here>, Jason" comments seem to bear his style.  I don’t know what’s wrong with you man, but your passion is misplaced… and maybe your liver will thank you from laying off the booze a bit.  Whoever you are, you’re just embarrassing yourself.

  68. nksingh has got it wrong says:

    It’s not Sam Hiser.

    My liver is doing fine. I’m not on the booze.

    My passion is not misplaced. I’m utterly fed up with MS’s practices. That’s all. The passion is just a mirror image of MS’s lowless. If that bothers you, fine.

  69. jasonmatusow says:

    Hey Wesley –

    Competition will sort out the DVD battles over time, as will be case in any situation where multiple technologies are coming to market. I think it worthwhile to look at the balancing factor of competitive investment going into technology development as a net gain compared to the preemptive drive to a single standard as a matter of principle. Is networking better today because TCP/IP won – yep. Did it win solely because it was a standard? I don’t think so. The implementations, and combinations with other technologies along with the massive investment from hardware and software players on complementary technologies certianly played a roll with that. Standardization of a spec is a powerful thing – but the implementation will always rule. The idea that there are multiple standards that do not contradict, but do compete is not a problem in my book from a macro sense. For those who use/purchase these technologies this can lead to integration pain etc. Yet, that same use/purchase community is interested in seeing constant progression forward and want to see vendors pushing the envelop of innovation.

    I am not insensible to the power of uniform standards, yet I think there are certain patterns that will repeat for very good reasons.

    Jason

  70. No DVD vendor holds a monopoly says:

    The ODF OOXML matter as hardly compraible with the situation on the DVD market.

    None of the DVD drive suppliers holds a monoply. And history has shown that over time the consumer can purchase a drive supporting the winning format from any vendor on the market. Including the vendors that brought the loosing format to the market.

    Microsoft holds a monopoly position in the office space. Microsoft has a track record of a bag of dirty tricks to maintain that monopoly position. ISO already accepted a vendor and platform neutral standard for office suites. Now Microsoft is pushing its own standard that only Microsoft itself can implement. Now, given Microsoft’s monopoly position in the office space, what will be the winning format? And given that only Microsoft can implement that format, how many vendors a consumer will be able to choose from?

    Jason, your are sidestepping ignoring the central issue. You are constintly devulging into avesive rambling.

    IBM sandbagging TC’s? There’s no evidence in support of this contention, there is though, that MS was involved in this behavior. And even if it where true, what is wrong with a vendor pushing an Open Standard the holds the promise of opening up the office market? That’s the pinacle of capitalsim, is it not? Consumers being able to ditch an office suite from vendor X and start using one from vendor Y and just continue being able to open, modify and save their documents.

    Your partners being happy with OOXML? How is that relevant? Does that imply that OOXML meets the criteria of an Open Standard? Would your partners be happy with MS supporting ODF as well? Have you asked them? Given that ODF offers the benefits of OOXML over DOC and more, if I where your partner I would opt for ODF.

    Microsoft gaining experience with XML in the late 90’s? I feel to see how this is releevant. Everybody in the industry was at the time. Does that little gem suddenly make OOXML a vendor and platform nutral specification? Don’t think so. But well, since you think this gem is important in supporting OOXML and since you like to spit on IBM for, oh the dispicable act, of supporting ODF, may I inform you that IBM invented SGML, XML’s big brother, in the late 60’s. Well, gauging by your standards for what is an solid argument in favor of a particular format, that is very strong support in favor of ODF, is it not? 3 decades more, and not merely using it a bit, but actually inventing it. But af course these 2 gems are irrelevant to the merits of a particular format.

    Well, Jason, I’ll ask you again: build a conclusive case for OOXML being suitable as a vendor nutral, roalty free, platform independant format, free of lega liabilities.

  71. Wesley Parish says:

    Thanks, Jason.  But that is part of the reason for my backing of the ODF file format – I can boot my MS Windows box, my Solaris box, or my Linux box, and know that on MS Windows I have OpenOffice.org, IBM’s WASCE, or MS Office with ACME 376 – and they are all independent full reimplementations of ODF; on Solaris I have OpenOffice.org, KOffice, etc, and they are independent full reimplementations of ODF; on Linux I have OpenOffice.org, IBM’s WASCE, KOffice, etc …

    As far as ECMA 376 goes, the only full implementation of that I know of, is MS Office 2k7; I’m aware of various fragmentary reimplementations of aspects of ECMA 376, but no full independent reimplementations of it – and Ballmer has been alleged to have said that even the translators won’t be fully compliant.

    A friend of mine in the early nineties had an early 1980s Sony PC clone, except it wasn’t.  Its BIOS was definitely unique to Sony, not a proper copy of the IBM BIOS.  Sure it ran MS DOS 2.0 – as extensively modified by Sony.  It was a museum piece.  More extensively accurate copies of the IBM BIOS won the day.  And that was because once Compaq won its case in court and made secure its position in the market, other people starting cloning the IBM BIOS – and partial copies just didn’t cut the mustard any more.

    Microsoft’s position vis-a-vis the vast amount of legacy document file formats now enshrined in MS OOXML reminds me of the DEC Rainbow – a truly wonderful machine.  But stuck in between CP/M and DOS, neither flesh not fowl – and consequently another museum curiosity.  I enjoyed my copy so much I donated it to a local museum of computer machinery.  But I bought it mostly as a research project.

  72. and, and, and for profit! says:

    Jason: Finally, you spoke your mind: there seems to be one AND JUST ONE thing for MSFT corporate mindset: You argued that:

    "I have no misconceptions about our motivations for doing what we do. MS is a business that is based on selling software for commercial gain. Not services, not hardware (XBox, Zune…IMHO are still software plays). We are going to build Office, and Windows, and SQL Server, and Exchange, and Project, and, and, and for profit."

    Ok let me remind you something:

    I could probably make some money selling my mother’s blood, if I had no conscience. Or I could rob a liquor store. There’s money in that, I hear. I could just tell the judge and everybody else: But look: there’s business sense in that! MSFT is a convicted monopolist, I remind you. It is a pity that the law limits a corporation’s employee’s criminal liability to that of the corporate entity.

    Anyway: Profit isn’t the only indicator of whether a deal is a good idea or not.

  73. DVD vendors don't hold a monopoly says:

    None of the DVD vendors hold a monoply position. History has proven that in the end the consumer can purchase drives from any vendor, including the vendors that marketed  the losing format.

    Let’s consider the OOXML-ODF situation. ODF is a vendor and platform nutral roallty free standard accepted already by ISO. Microsoft is pushing its own format to be accepted as an ISO standard. Microsoft holds a monoply position. Microsoft is the only vendor capable of implementing its format.

    What will be the winning format, Jason? What will have been the reason for it winning?

    Now, I’mm going to ask you again. You keep avoiding the key issue. Being: does OOXML meet the creteria for being a vendor and platform nutral, roalty free format, free of legeal liabilities?

  74. L Steinberg says:

    Microsoft’s position is that OOXML and ODF serve different goals and so there is room for both as ISO standards.  This is half right – they do serve differnt goals.

    However, the goal of making OOXML a standard is to document the file format used by a current version of one office suite. This is clear from the charge to ECMA.  This is a good thing to have, and I guess ECMA is the rational place to do it.

    But this is not what an ISO standard is for.  And therefore I can only interpret the big push to get the ISO standard as an act of dishonesty – an attempt to make the word think OOXML is something it is not.

    I might ascribe it to honest misunderstanding, or some sort of organizational effect that causes the group of compentent people at Microsoft to act as if they were stupid.  However, the hostility of Microsoft management to interoperable standards has been documented over and over by Microsoft’s own internal documents, as leaked or revealed in litigation.

  75. Jason is afraid says:

    Hmm hmm the only polite posts I made Jason does not dear to publish.

    Is that bcause they expose your ‘the best standard will win’ argument for the fraud that it is? Is it because these posts so consisely expose Microsoft’s agenda?

    A lower life form indeed.

  76. jasonmatusow says:

    Ah…I would not say afraid to post. I moderate all comments due to spam. I studiously post everything related to the topic at hand. I have recevied quite a few comments on this as you may have noticed and there were enough comments that yours were pushed off the top 10 listing I see in my control panel and I was not careful about looking at the next page. I went back and just made sure that all are posted. My apologies.  

    I have had people pull my comments from their sites when the arguments don’t fit their desires and that is frustrating. I will not do that to those taking the time to comment here. Sorry again.

    Jason

  77. Andrew Sayers says:

    How much spam do you get, and does the MSDN blogging software support after-the-fact moderation?  Personally, I’m willing to put up with a small amount of noise for the ability to continue the debate while you’re asleep/offline.

    I’ve also seen people take issues onto Brian Jones’ blog even when discussing things that aren’t strictly related to his interests, because that way they don’t have to ask permission from a stranger in order to air their views.

    Then again, that makes the comments section even less "ask Jason" and even more "chat amongst yourselves about topics of Jason’s choosing".

    – Andrew

  78. S_Petry says:

    As many have pointed out, Microsoft has a lot to prove before this will get by the Open Source community.  Lets not forget too quickly that MS has been found guilty in numerous trials, and received questionable penalties.  The recent sabre rattling about patent infringement may bring more legal attention to MS than they desire, and not the kind they expected.

    Now, back to the topic.. The idea of a "standard" is exactly as it’s defined.  This is something available to all parties so that competition thrives.  If I stated that my new standard weight measurement is 8 hydrogen atoms, then it can be fixed in all places.  If I claim my new standard is 8 atoms of some type, how can anyone standardize?  Anyone with high school chemistry understands that hydrogen does not weigh the same as iron, or carbon, or anything else.  Noone could make such a vague standard.  Microsoft is in full knowledge of this while pursuing a "Standard".

    Broken functions within the standard, and Microsoft will not acknowledge the errors, let alone offer to fix them.

    The last complaint from most people is the patents locked in to the standard with no guarantee of protection if used.  If you sign a special agreement with MS, then they give you access to what you think is the hidden goods.

    I’m sure many developers out there remember the "fair" treatment Microsoft gave to Borland in regards to compilers.  The giant that was the majority of the market received incorrect API information, bad libraries, etc.. etc.. from Microsoft.  In the meantime, Microsoft boosted up it’s development tools and for a long time was the only functional compiler suite for Windows NT 4 on the market.  It took Borland over a year to recover, at which point most companies had to purchase MS compilers, costing Borland most of their business.

    You will not be able to fool many developers into thinking that they will get fair treatment, especially if they make a comparable or better product than a MS brand.  We have seen how the company works.

    The solution for Microsoft would be very simple.  Open it all up!  Do not hold anything back, and people may embrace M$-OOXML.  As long as MS has loopholes and hidden information in the format, people with interests beyond M$ pocketbook will shun the format, and not accept it.

  79. No DVD vendor holds a monopoly says:

    (Jason: you missed this one…. twice)

    None of the DVD vendors hold a monoply position. History has proven that in the end the consumer can purchase drives from any vendor, including from the vendors that marketed  the losing format.

    Let’s consider the OOXML-ODF situation. ODF is a vendor and platform nutral roallty free standard accepted already by ISO. Microsoft is pushing its own format to be accepted as an ISO standard. Microsoft holds a monoply position. Microsoft is the only vendor capable of implementing its format.

    What will be the winning format, Jason? What will have been the reason for it winning?

    Now, I’m going to ask you again. You keep avoiding the key issue. Being: does OOXML meet the creteria for being a vendor and platform nutral, roalty free format, free of legeal liabilities?

  80. hAl says:

    It looks like Stephane Rodriquez has now decided to publish his comments anonymously as he was already banned on Doug Mahugh blog.

    I seem to recognize his destroy the evil Microsoft style. Lots of text but little substance providing any practical information to discuss.

  81. Jason Matusow and I were sat next to each other at a meeting at the end of last week. I was laughing

  82. Doug Mahugh says:

    The various members of INCITS here in the US have been busy the last two weeks, with the technical committee

  83. The various members of INCITS here in the US have been busy the last two weeks, with the technical committee

  84. Andre says:

    Jason, if multiple standards are fine for you, why ISO?

    We have the ECMA specification of Open XML. What is the gain for us when Microsoft’s gets an ISO approval?

    Why wasn’t ECMA able to produce a bug-free format?

    Why didn’t Microsoft fully specify the standard?

    Why doesn’t Microsoft sign the same patent license agreement as SUN Microsystems did?

    Why fast-track for the shit?

    What do you think about this scenario:

    – ODF as the ISO standard

    – Open XML as an ECMA standard

    Everybody agreed that ODF would be a better tabula rasa implementation. Microsoft went into file conversions. So all it has to do is:

    a) Develop its converters and support the ISO standard. I can’t see why an ISO format should support word95 slack

    b) help to improve the next generation ISO standard

    c) component standardisation, e.g. of the container only.

    We like to get:

    – more open patent conditions

    – more detailled specification

  85. Andrew says:

    Jason-

    My (and I think many other people’s) biggest problem is that the covenant not to sue only includes "required" items from the spec. How can we build a thriving, equal ecosystem of applications when only Microsoft will be allowed to provide a full implementation without fear of legal retribution?

    Cheers-

    Andrew

  86. I just saw this come through in email, and would point you to Doug Mahugh’s blog that the US V1 technical

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