Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

August

25

by Kaj Kandler

Jim Rapoza makes in interesting argument at eWeek, saying that the ODF Alliance focuses too much on convincing governments to adopt Open Document Format (ODF also known as ISO 26300). Jim argues that he didn’t see a real adoption of ODF before Google did support it with its Docs and Spreadsheet applications. He procalims that states are usually behind the curve of technologies and the ODF Alliance would be better spend their resources in finding more compelling uses for ODF.

I think Jim, a self confessed Open Office user, repeats sterotypes, such as a government is behind the curve of technology adoption. I think there is no real basis for the assumption that government agencies do not to use leading technology. As a matter of fact, some of the most advanced technology is developed for or by the government, weather it is for military purposes or for medical and health purposes, minting coins or printing money that is hard to counter fit.

I also think Jim has not given propper thought to why the state of Massachusetts did want to use ODF. It is not for the purpose of being hip and advanced. The state of Massachusetts did realize that it needs a reliable way to retrieve documents long after they have been created and archived and the formats they are stored in and the applications that created them, are out of favor and often not produced or supported anymore. This is an important function for a government to collect and archive material that has historical significance, such as protocols about procedings, deciscions, laws and documents that can proof guilt, innocence or ownership of property, family relationships, marriage or devorce. So, when the state’s IT people realized that a perfect digital copy of a document is not enough, they acted on their duty to find ways to archive documents in a way that they will be accessible in the foreseeable future. I think ODF was one of the few formats available that fulfilled the criteria required. In that respect the ODF alliance did help the state of Massachusetts and other governments rather than outright lobby them.

I’m not naive and do believe the ODF alliance does lobby governments for the use of their format and that the mostly companies behind it hope to gain with their applications. However, the history of Microsoft’s multiple steps to accomodate the real and vital requirements the state of Massachusetts layed out, shows that they didn’t just promote their competing format. They offered a better product that did fulfill a need that the widely used proprietary formats did not.

I would agree with Jim, that the ODF Alliance should spend more resources to explain to private organizations and individuals that this storage issue is not only relevant for government documents. It starts with every citizen’s interest of having access to the records of their government and it goes further with history as recorded in business contracts, news papers and correspodence. And it continues into our personal lives with e-mail, blogs, notes, contracts, letters, poems, and photographs or home videos.

Ask yourself which documents from your current live do you want to re-read when you are sitting in a nursing home and look back on your live, may be collecting the memories for a book for your grand children. You will understand how important it is you can still share them.

July

11

by Kaj Kandler

The Linux distributer TurboLinux has announced it will participate in the project to convert ODF files into MS Office 2007 compatible versions. TurboLinux will offer its expertise in Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese for converting documents.

The ODF converter is a Microsoft sponsored open source project that wants to bridge the interoperability gap between the new ISO standard format ODF and the proprietary world of MS Office. Its development is behind the abilities of Sun’s MS Office plug-in, only supporting text documents at this time. However it supports Office 2007.

June

22

by Kaj Kandler

Dell Computers is further responding to its customer’s public request. After offering some of their PCs pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux, they now offer an increasing number of PCs with only a minimal set of pre-installed software packages. Gone are the AOL installers, the music players, the DVD player programs, if the customer wishes and specifies so at the time of order.

However three programs remain:

  • Google Tools – for correcting misspelled URL’s
  • PDF Reader – To read documentation delivered in this format
  • Anti Virus Software (trial versions) – “Because customers expect their computers to be protected at first boot”

To me only the Acrobat Reader makes sense, as not being able to read the documentation is not very helpful. Although one could offer the documentation either in MS Help format or in HTML, both being universally accessible with the plain operating system. Although HTML could be debatable, once IE is stripped. but in most cases some kind of browser would be installed.

The utility of Google Tools just for mis typed URL’s strikes me as odd. I don’t like this kind of technology, because it tries to guess what I want and the guesses are more often than not correct.

Last, but not least, trial version of Anti Virus Software, because customers expect it to be installed? You must be kidding me! Doesn’t the current versions of MS already include such protective software? So why need another trial version installed? I don’t like and use any of these resource killers. But this argument does not hold water for me.

So I guess Dell simply has long running contracts with these vendors and it can’t easily bail out of them. With Dell’s responses to its customers wishes, I’m hopeful, sooner or later these things will be gone as well.

It will be interesting to see how this will change the landscape. Removing such programs from PC’s will certainly be not too good for Dell’s bottom line in the short run, as the vendors of these pay a hardware manufacturer to install them. It also should have impact on the companies that use these methods to market their products. One option we might see, is that Microsoft, the still predominant player in this market either needs to lower its prices to make up for the lost revenue or it will integrate these into the OS upfront and make up for its shrinking share of business. However, Microsoft is expanding the OS functionality into anything that has successfully be developed by others. MS included web-browser, anti virus, firewall, multi media player, video creation, and much more and bundled it as part of the OS. We all know what followed.

I’m still waiting for OpenOffice.org as optional install.

June

05

by Kaj Kandler

Computerworld writes abut the defeat of bills pro ODF in six states. The proposed legislation would have in one way or another mandated that state agencies in California, Florida, Texas,
Oregon, Connecticut, and Minnesota, need to use open standards for office documents. The only currently accepted open standard that is implemented by more than one vendor is ODF/ISO 26300.

However, lobbying by Microsoft kept legislators from demanding that electronic office documents are stored in non proprietary formats, so they can be accessed in many years to come. Interestingly, most legislative comments do not doubt that this is a worthy goal. However they do feel used by either side of the debate and their lobbying interests. So they squashed most bills without a vote. I guess the companies gathered in the ODF Alliance lost a battle, but they don’t declare the war over.

May

23

by Kaj Kandler

Yoon Kit blogs over at Open Malaysia about the physical size of the Microsoft OOXML spec presented to the International and national standardization boards.

You got to see the pictures of the 6039 pages in context. They are really eye popping.

Yoon also argues that this is probably by far the largest spec reviews in such short time. He puts his weight behind the request of various national organization bodies at the International Standardization Organization (ISO) to not fast track this mammoth of a standard specification. But these requests were ignored. This post is a must read!

May

15

by Kaj Kandler

On Sunday, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general council, gave an interview to Fortune magazine, where he alleged that OpenOffice.org violates 45 Microsoft patents. The article is about the general assertion that various open source project violate 235 patents where Microsoft claims to be the inventor. However, Microsoft chooses not to name which are the patents or the alleged infringements.

The article shines a broader light on the issues with software patents and gives an informative summary about the Novell/Microsoft deal from late last year. It also exposes some of the conditions that Richard Stallmann, the most ardent defender of open source, puts on journalists in order to grant an interview.

In short Microsoft scares people about alleged patents it holds that are violated by open source projects. It even claims that it made already secret deals with some fortune 500 companies to license these patents. This tactic reminds me of the SCO claim that Linux infringes on its Unix patent portfolio. Under scrutiny of the courts and especially IBM’s ability to deal with patent claims it evaporated into nothing. We will have to see if Microsoft has more legs to stand on. In the mean time one should not be scared, such risks are everywhere.

November

04

by Kaj Kandler

I just received a nice message from Intuit about "Decisions ahead on Vista Operating System". It states "Only QuickBooks 2007 will run on the Vista Operating System, as prior versions of QuickBooks were developed on pre-Vista technology and will not run properly on Vista."

That is rather surprising to me for two reasons. Isn’t Microsoft the save bet that invests heavily in backward compatibility? Did Microsoft abandon this principle with Vista? The other reason is that using QuickBooks means I get constant updates. This is even true with my version that is a couple of years old now. So if Microsoft usually does preserve backward compatibility and Intuit has the software update process refined. What can be the reason for only a new version running on a new Version of Windows?

As a matter of fact they are serious that you need to upgrade "We know as a practical matter that many of you are supporting clients on previous versions of QuickBooks. For now the bottom line is that a user who upgrades to Vista will need to run QuickBooks 2007."

From where I stand this is a reason to not upgrade to Vista and may be buy my next PC without it all together. I’m also thinking hard about locking myself to Intuit’s fine products if they are forcing me to upgrade because I upgrade something else.

Do you find this acceptable?

August

24

by Kaj Kandler

The New Marketing” blog has developed a great story starting with an advertisement campaign in Redmont, WA. The campaign for OpenOffice.org, run by Sun Microsystems in the local bus system, pokes some fun at Miscrsoft.

The best part is how the blog follows up a few days later with “Observations on being on BoingBoing.com and Digg.com“. A great read of how the story was reported weeks earlier but did not get much attention. However, the new marketing’s version did get picked up by BoingBoing and later by Digg.com and so generated a buzz of 30,000+ readers.

I love the fact that the authors did follow up with another story about dropping leavlets as a propaganda technique.

I sure learned something about successful blogging from the folks at the new marketing blog.

August

09

by Kaj Kandler

eWeek reports about Microsoft’s plans for the next version of Office for Mac. They will ditch support for Visual Basic macros in favor of AppleScript and and automator integration.

Does this open an opportunity for OpenOffice.org (and its OS-X cousin NeoOffice) to become the true enterprise office suite that ensures macro compatibility across Windows, Linux and OS-X?