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04.28.08

In Microsoft Speak, “Open” Means No GNU/Linux or FOSS Support

Posted in Apple, Formats, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard, Windows at 1:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

KOffice Logo

Separation between FOSS and
OSS, courtesy of Microsoft

False Marketing of “Open”

Both Microsoft and Novell can be accused of harming perceptions of “Open Source”. Novell seeks justification by clarifying that it really is a mixed-source company, whereas Microsoft shoves the word "open" everywhere it deems possible. Why would they do this? Because the market increasingly demands “open source”. Microsoft and Novell hope to sell their overpriced crown jewels while falling under the same “open” umbrella, whose significance they lessen.

Europe Embraces Open, Microsoft Responds with Closed XML (Calls it “Open”)

Yesterday we wrote about EuroOffice, which is of course an OpenDocument-based product. Just watch what else is happening in Europe at the moment.

The free, open source project management solution OpenProj is now being included in StarOffice boxes available in Europe. OpenProj is a complete replacement of Microsoft Project, offering equivalent functionality, and available on Linux, Unix, Mac or Windows.

In order to suppress this increasing adoption of open source software Microsoft hopes to successfully respond with formats that de-commoditise office suites. At the same type, technical impossibilities aside, it injects an anti-Free software poison pill called "RAND". Ironically, that’s just what Microsoft means by “open”. Free Software Magazine has a nice new cartoon which illustrates just how ‘open’ Microsoft really is.

“In order to suppress this increasing adoption of open source software Microsoft hopes to successfully respond with formats that de-commoditise office suites.”In order to hide the technical and legal issues, Microsoft has turned a lot of this into 'politics'. It’s a tactic which is intended to confuse by diversion of attention to uninteresting or incorrect details. A reader says, in reference to ISO's decision: “Some of the counter arguments being thrown are based on the false premise that the decision is and has been a purely technical one.”

Further, he says: “There are two components. The technical component, which we would all prefer to focus on. And the political component brought into play by Microsoft. Ignoring the politics brought into the debate by Microsoft causes the debate to be lost: politics trump technology. Spending too much time on the politics means the technology languishes. Be sure which one is being discussed. If we could steer the debate back to one purely of technology, Microsoft would be gone.”

It’s particularly interesting when viewed in light of history. Microsoft tried to rush the release of Windows 98 in order to avoid further technical scrutiny (think about “Fast Track”). Watch this:

One wonders, is this the same product Microsoft insisted would irreparably harm the U.S. economy if government lawyers delayed its release? The very same.

Remember the similar use of fear to promote OOXML? Or Bill Gates saying that OOXML will help the families? The fear-mongering or sentimental blackmail techniques must not be forgotten. Further, from the same old article:

Let’s face facts: Windows 98 is less an operating system than an Internet Explorer delivery device, a Netscape killer. To call it anything more complimentary would be to perpetuate a fraud. Windows 98 is the clearest evidence yet of the company’s continuing evolution from Microsoft the Popularizer, into Microsoft the Monopolizer. About us, they couldn’t care less. And if we don’t understand this dirty little secret by now, we never will.

There are similar examples even at present. Windows Vista is a DRM delivery device (media becomes Windows-only, establishing more effective lock-in), among many other things. Office 2007 is also used as a virtual door to be shut at the face of competition, capitalising on OOXML digital handcuffs and thus decreased compatibility.

Microsoft Mesh is Not Open

Once again Microsoft is misusing the word “open”, or at least choosing to define it the way which suits Microsoft marketing routine. Over at Market Watch, Microsoft’s mesh is being called a “mess”, not “open”. However, just minutes ago we wrote about Microsoft's bias in the press and from the obedient CNN comes another example. To quote the slightly more critical part:

Microsoft swears it’s embracing open standards – really!

[...]

Open? Microsoft? Let’s be frank here: The two haven’t exactly gone hand in hand – just ask any number of high courts around the globe. But as computing continues to shift more toward the Web and away from the desktop even Microsoft doesn’t have a choice. Live Mesh may be Microsoft’s admission that the future of computing is open, and that even if it had to be dragged kicking and screaming to that conclusion, it has come to it.

Almost nothing is supported at this stage other than Microsoft’s operating system, partners etc. Even a former Microsoft evangelist says the truth about this mesh:

Unfortunately they aren’t even close to being finished. Mac support? Coming in the future. Nokia support? Unclear. iPhone support? Ask Steve Jobs (translation: will be very limited due to Apple’s complete control of that platform). Firefox support? Yes! Linux support? What’s that?

What is so open about this mesh then? The open confessions about exclusion of Microsoft’s #1 rival?

“[If I ask you who is Microsoft's biggest competitor now, who would it be?] Open…Linux. I don’t want to say open source. Linux, certainly have to go with that.”

Steve Ballmer, February 28th, 2008

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