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06.23.08

Microsoft to ODF Technical Committee: Come Enter the Belly of the Beast

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, SUN at 12:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft is trying to grab control of ODF

To some it was predictable [1, 2, 3] and to some it was not. Regardless: Microsoft Corporation, the company that actively fought ODF and force-forced an proprietary alternative like nothing less than a deranged criminal who knows no boundaries, is suddenly inviting all people behind ODF to 'pull a Patrick Durusau' and come to Microsoft’s turf.

The apprehensive reaction from Charles is very telling:

Thank you for this invitation. I have to say I have some trouble understanding why you would like to gather the OASIS TC in Redmond. It seems to me a bit cumbersome, and a bit bizarre to invite everyone here in Redmond as if nothing had ever happened before. Perhaps, as some would put it, “it’s a bit too early for that”. Besides, I’m sure we can have that event anywhere else . As you may know, the OASIS ODF TC (together with its subcommittees and the OASIS ODF Adoption TC) runs several panels and conferences worldwide. The next one, if I am not mistaken, will take place in Beijing during the ODF Track at the OpenOffice.org Conference. It is scheduled to take place around October-November 2008.

This ODF track is independent from the OpenOffice.org Conference as several different and competing vendors attend this conference track. We would really appreciate to have you and the Microsoft Office team
there.

Watch what Erwin says just before his departure.

Maybe this invitation has something to do with Microsoft’s public “ODF has clearly won” statement at a recent event. Thus, if Microsoft has to support ODF in their products due to market demand, what ISV can still ignore supporting ODF? I guess none! Anyway, OpenOffice.org is just one implementation of ODF and is facing more than 1.2M downloads per week (!!!) on average (since the beginning of 2008) with most recent download numbers having been close to 2M.

It’s figures like that which help Microsoft see what’s coming. It’s a matter of critical mass. Reasons for this new strategy are also related to new stories like this one.

Most Danish companies are actually trying to find an alternative to MS Office at the moment.

Microsoft can see that OOXML will not be adopted by everyone, so it’s trying to ensure it can butter its toast on both sides and control all committees. Will it stick?

If this sounds familiar, it ought to. Microsoft plays exactly the same card in order to gain control over "Open Source", having slammed and daemonised it for years. It seems as though it wants to seize as much control as possible over ODF (for self-beneficial purposes of course, even if that means derailing it).

“If this unethical behaviour by Microsoft was not sufficiently despicable, they did the unthinkable by involving politics in what should have been a technical evaluation of the standard by writing to the head of the Malaysian standards organization and getting its business partners to engage in a negative letter writing campaign to indicate lack of support of ODF in the Malaysian market. Every single negative letter on ODF received by the Malaysian standards organization was written either by Microsoft, or a Microsoft business partner or a Microsoft affiliated organization (Initiative for Software Choice and IASA).

A Memo to Patrick Durusau

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12 Comments

  1. The NDA said,

    June 23, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Gravatar

    And just what are the details of the NDA required to participate?

    Sounds like even more reason why we should
    keep the ODF proecess open.

  2. BoomBoom said,

    June 23, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Gravatar

    If you can’t beat ‘em, then make ‘em drink your kool-aid then eat ‘em, eh, Microsoft?
    It’s no wonder anyone with half a brain don’t trust MS. Same old ‘embrace extend exterminate’ tactics, time and again. They’re doing it in desperation this time, because they’re dying and know it despite the noise they make in Redmond to the contrary. It’s only a matter of time before they’re so much bad history, but the amount of damage they can do on their way out is something to be wary of.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 23, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Gravatar

    I see that Bruce D’Arcus now weight in. He carries a similar message:

    http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/office/200806/msg00078.html

    Also to keep in mind:

    http://standardsandfreedom.net/index.php/2008/04/07/the-ugliness-of-it-all/

    Another way for Microsoft to attack ODF would be to oppose the standardization of ODF 1.2. They will use the same tactics they had with OOXML, but in the opposite direction. It will be funny to watch how the ISO and the national standards bodies will switch all of a sudden to a demanding stance on ODF 1.2, which will only be an iteration of an existing ISO standard. I am afraid we will witness such a shocking twist in the standardization bodies’ attitude.

    He said this just before Microsoft announced that it would support (or ‘support’) ODF.

  4. Not Fluoridated said,

    June 23, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes, please come to Redmond. Are you thirsty? Drink THIS. There… feel better now? Now watch this shiny object swinging back and forth, back and forth, back and forth… and when you wake up, you’ll ask that ODF be taken out of the ISO standards and given to us.

    My former employer sure went for the Microsoft line, hook & sinker. Especially the sinker part. They’re now out of business, to a great extent because of MS. If OASIS isn’t careful, it could happen to them too.

    Microsoft had a great opportunity to participate when ODF was being developed. They refused. Then, all they wanted was to steal the good ideas to put into MS-XML (aka OOXML) without contributing back. Now, they want to act like they’re concerned about ODF being a universal format for everyone.

    I don’t believe them any more than I believe Dick Cheney. And that’s pretty far down the credibility scale.

  5. DOUGman said,

    June 23, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, if people are so stupid to believe MS with all the BS that they have done in the past, then it’s their own stupidity. MS, will never change, to the earlier post, ‘embrace extend exterminate’ is the name of the game….SO true.

    Remember the Sun Tzu… know your enemy.

    People should memorize this line, when MS comes a knocking….

    “Frak off…..”

    D.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 24, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Gravatar

    “They are so predictable,” tells me someone who has watched this since day 1. Let’s see who falls for it.

    I bet Microsoft will promise a free trip and all sorts of ‘funs’… maybe even a trip down to Disneyland (sarcasm)

    Mind you, the guy who invites them, Doug Mahugh, on is also known as “Elephant in the Room” for the most disgusting of dirty tricks.

    http://www.openmalaysiablog.com/2008/03/the-elephant-in.html

    Doug Mahugh also said about OOXML that it’s a simple matter of Microsoft’s commercial interest. The guy one of the dirtiest among the bunch. It’s almost like being invited by Satan.

  7. Jose said,

    June 28, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Gravatar

    That attitude makes the anti-microsoft camp lose credibility.

    For years Microsoft opponents complained Microsoft didn’t document their protocols and file formats. That was presented as unfair competition because of their monopoly. Still, the approval of OOXML as an ISO standard encountered tremendous opposition. Microsoft announced they were going to support ODF in Office and again people like you came up with the darkest reasons and plots behind that decision.

    Whatever reasons made Microsoft support ODF or document some of their protocols be happy and let consumers/users decide for themselves what they want.

    You come across as somebody who is afraid consumers are going to choose Microsoft which you consider a bad choice. Now that Microsoft took away one of your biggest argument (closed protocols and closed file formats) you vilify the company.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 29, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Gravatar

    Did you think they would ever properly support ODF? Do you not believe that they only do this to avoid defections (pinning down contracts based on promises)? Why did they not support ODF at the start when they were first invited? What about precedence that serves as a lesson in such scenarios?

    By the way, there is no “anti-Microsoft camp”. There’s a pro-open standards camp; Microsoft just doesn’t want to be part of it; it never did. It wants to be ‘the’ standard (de facto).

    “We want to own these standards, so we should not participate in standards groups. Rather, we should call ‘to me’ to the industry and set a standard that works now and is for everyone’s benefit. We are large enough that this can work.”

    –Microsoft Corporation, internal memo (source [compressed PDF])

  9. Jose said,

    June 29, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft may very well have wanted to keep their standards closed (protocols or file formats). Had the legal context as well as the market context allowed it, I believe they would have done just that. I also believe, however, that any other company in their position would have done the exact same thing.

    Microsoft decided to support ODF now instead of when they were invited. So what? I’m convinced Microsoft, like any other corporation, makes decisions that they think will further their interests. Given the current legal context and market demands, they probably think that now is the time to support ODF.

    You can speculate all you want about whatever dark reasons made them support ODF, that’s irrelevant. You think Microsoft will not support ODF properly! What does that mean? If you mean they are going to support it with their best interests in mind, well of course, like any other company supporting a standard. If you think they are going to sabotage in some subtle way their support of ODF in Office I would say that’s wishful thinking. As much as you don’t like them admit at least that they are smarter than that.

    You claim to be pro-open standards. Yes I believe you are but I believe you are first anti-Microsoft and then pro-open standards. Any objective and reasonable person that is first pro-open standards would consider Microsoft support of ODF and Microsoft submission of OOXML as an ISO standard a victory (which I think it is as well as good for users). Instead you vilify Microsoft and one of its employees.

    So yes there is an “anti-Microsoft camp”. A “de facto” one.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 30, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Gravatar

    Any objective and reasonable person that is first pro-open standards would consider Microsoft support of ODF and Microsoft submission of OOXML as an ISO standard a victory (which I think it is as well as good for users).

    Did you see what they do for OOXML? Do you consider bullying, bribery and extortion to be acceptable? Moreover, have you not seen that OOXML is Windows-specific and a case against the GPL? What about Microsoft’s history when it comes to standards?

  11. RiaD said,

    June 30, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Gravatar

    Pathetic little blog this is.

    For people needing full and correct information read:
    http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/office/200806/msg00084.html

    Even IBM’s Rob Weir confirming that inviting ODF TC members to Redmond is actually a good thing and supporting it fully.

  12. Roy Bixler said,

    June 30, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Gravatar

    It’s a fair point to say that Microsoft is damned if they and damned if they don’t support ODF. Then again I would say that this is Microsoft’s own fault that they have such a bad reputation in the industry that they have earned such deep distrust among so many of us. It would be interesting if Microsoft does the right thing, supports ODF correctly, doesn’t try to undermine it and participates in its further development, but I won’t be holding my breath.

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