In reviewing my RSS feed this morning, I found this interesting blog entry by Alex Brown, titled Microsoft Fails the Standards Test. In it, Alex makes a number of statements, and reaches a number of conclusions, that are likely to startle those that followed the ODF-OOXML saga. The bottom line? Alex thinks that Microsoft has failed to fulfill crucial promises upon which the approval of OOXML was based. He concludes that unless Microsoft reverses course promptly, “the entire OOXML project is now surely heading for failure.”
Regular readers of Standards Today will be aware that hundreds of organizations that develop and promote standards have been formed using a legal and governance model that leads them to be referred to as "consortia." But think for a moment and tell me if you know what kind of model would be wise to use to set up an organization to support any other type of largely virtual activity?
That's interesting, isn't it? Silence would have answered the same question in the standards development community thirty years ago, too. But then a few pioneer consortia were formed, and the word spread. As it did, the structures used to form and govern consortia became more refined, and best practices evolved and became better known by word of mouth. The same phenomenon is happening today in the world of open source development.
By now you've probably read endless takes on the news that Elliott Associates, one of the oldest hedge funds, with over US $16 billion under management, has made an unsolicited offer for Novell. Almost all of these articles have focused on whether Elliott means business, what they'll do to Novell if they are successful, and whether another (and perhaps ultimately successful) bidder will enter the scene.
I haven't seen any article yet, though, that describes in detail how the high stakes game of tender offers is played, and how the usual process maps (and doesn't) to a high tech company like Novell. So I thought I'd provide an overview for those that haven't had occasion to follow a tender offer in the past, and also my thoughts on what may happen over the next several months in this particular game of cat and mouse.
A long running case of great significance to the legal underpinnings of free and open source/open source software (F/OSS) has just settled on terms favorable to the F/OSS developer. The settlement follows a recent ruling by a U.S. Federal District Court judge that affirmed several key rights of F/OSS developers under existing law.
That case is Jacobsen v. Katzer, and the settlement documents were filed in court just after 9:00 AM this morning. Links to each of them can be found later in this blog entry. The brief background of the case, the legal issues at stake, and the settlement details are as follows.
I don't usually post twice a day, but today was opening day in Barcelona of the Mobile World Congress, the biggest mobile show of the year, and the announcements were popping thick and fast. One of those announcements unveiled a new mobile platform called MeeGo - a new open source contender in the race to power the broad array of devices that are rapidly proliferating in the mobile marketplace. And, I'm happy to say, MeeGo will be hosted by The Linux Foundation.
We've been working for some time on this, and we're very pleased that the project has now gone public. The LF press release can be found here, and the Intel version of the joint Intel-Nokia release is here. As usual, both are also pasted in below for archival purposes. I think you'd also find LF Executive Director Jim Zemlin's blog entry worth a read, and I'll quote from it below.
As you may recall, the Linux Foundation last year ran a video contest that drew a lot of entries, many of which were not only entertaining, but had surprisingly high production values as well. Last year's invitation was to use the popular "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ad series as an inspiration, and you can see the winning videos here (all of last year's entries can be found here).
Well, it's that time again, and LF has just annnounced this year's contest theme, rules and deadline. The announcement is here, and also pasted in at the end of this blog entry. This year, the invitation is to submit what a Super Bowl ad for Linux might be like, if there was ever to be such a thing.
As you may recall, the CodePlex Foundation indicated in January that it expected to name a permanent Executive Director within a few weeks' time. That has now happened, and in the "small world" department, the new ED happens to be Paula Hunter - someone I've known for years, and worked with several times in the past. The full press release is below. Paula is someone I like and respect a lot, and a great choice for CodePlex.
As you'll see from the announcement, one of Paula's prior jobs was as the Executive Director of UnitedLinux. UL was a client of mine, and that's where I first met Paula. And if you've never heard the saga of UL, it's a rather fascinating story.
The last issue of Standards Today focused on XML - the underpinning of ODF and hundreds of other standards - and one of the most important standards ever developed. Here is the editorial from that issue.
One of the many intriguing concepts mooted by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and Jesuit priest with polymathic insights (his academic explorations range from paleontology to the meaning of the Cosmos) is the "noosphere." In de Chardin's vision, the reality of the world encompassed not just the geosphere (inanimate matter) and biosphere (all forms of life), but an ever expanding nimbus of knowledge representing the fusion of the minds and knowledge of all humans.
Those that know me know that I firmly believe that there is a Monty Python vignette, or at least a catchphrase, for every occasion. On this occasion, that catchphrase is, “And now for something completely different!”
How completely different, might you ask, as if on cue? Glad you asked. Quitecompletely different. More specifically, what you will find here is a cybersecurity mystery novel called The Alexandria Project, originally shared here in serial form, in the grand tradition of yesteryear, when authors like Charles Dickens presented their latest works in weekly or monthly (often cliff hanging) chapters.
Think of the words "standards war," and unless you're a standards wonk like m...oh, never mind...you're likely to think of the battle between the Betamax and VHS video tape formats. That's because videos are consumer products that just about everyone uses, and therefore the bloodshed in that standards war was not only shed in public view, but the some of the blood that was shed was shed by the public (i.e., those that bought video players supporting Betamax, the losing, but arguably superior, format). Fast forward (pun intended) to the present, and the trademarks "HD DVD and "Blu-ray" may ring a bell - and that's no coincidence.
Why? Because different industries have different business models and strategies that involve standards, and these often perpetuate over time - decades, in this case. In the case of the consumer electronics sector, that culture has too often been one of a patent-based, winner take all effort to cash in big time while your competitors take it on the chin. And it's not just media formats, either. As I noted in a blog entry a few weeks ago, we're seeing the same type of behavior in eBook readers. Since there's only one market, and the market demands one format to win in the end, that means that the camp that owns the bundle of patents underlying the winning format standard wins a bonanza.
Why? because the losers must pay through the nose for the license rights to build the players that implement the format standard that wins. The winners, on the other time win twice: once, by receiving the royalties, and again, because their own players have a lower cost to produce, because they don't have to pay royalties to themselves.
So guess what? Here we go again, but with a bit of a twist this time.
Quote of the Day
“Pulling an open-source project upon which people may depend is total jerk behavior”
-Anonymous hacker commenting on Apple's pulling the FoundationDB codebase off of GitHub
“Apple is essentially saying that everything that FoundationDB, and its community, created during the lifetime of the project is now wrapped up and for the sole benefit of Cupertino. Ouch”
-Ben Keppes, writing in Forbes Magazine following Apple's acquisition of open source vendor FoundationDB
Interoperability across Europe in 2014: main findings from the analysis of the National Interoperability Frameworks EU Joinup April 23, 2015 - The 2014 State of Play Report on Interoperability in Europe measures an average alignment of 74% for 19 assessed countries. Of these countries, 5 reach over 90% alignment.
The report details all areas of progress and identifies the main trends and challenges that administrations face when designing and implementing their National Interoperability Frameworks (NIFs)...."A centralised regular monitoring of interoperability initiatives and a strong cooperation effort among public administrations are the basis for an effective NIF implementation", the report says. There is a need to establish effective monitoring activities to ensure NIF implementation. The report identifies a wide divergence in the scores which reflects the different levels of maturity of the NIFs in the countries analysed....One of the challenges listed in the report are the budgetary constraints hindering the pursuing of current work or carrying out new initiatives. Legal aspects such as multiple and conflicting laws on base registries are also underlined. Other challenges can be found in the area of semantics and multilingualism, and in the legacy technology in place.... ...Full Story
Dutch parliament: Vendor dependence too high a cost Gijs Hillenius EU Joinup April 22, 2015 - The Dutch government’s lack of vendor independence is too high a cost for society, the Dutch Parliament concludes. The government should enforce its policy on open standards in ICT procurement and should also devise exit strategies - to reduce its dependence on ICT suppliers.
This week Tuesday, the parliament adopted a resolution criticising the government for having no open source ambition. The resolution was adopted with 136 votes in favour and 14 against.... ...Full Story
TC260 Discloses 2015 Standards Formulation and Revision Plan USITO.org Weekly April 21, 2015 - On April 7th, the National Information Security Standardization Technical Committee (TC260) released a Notice on Application Guidance for 2015 Formulation and Revision Projects of Network Security National Standards.
The Notice highlights the prominence of network security and indigenous innovation in this year's plan for standards development and revision, with the stated aim of implementing key tasks designated by the China Leading Small Group for Cybersecurity and Informatization and the standardization reform agenda led by the State Council.
The Notice outlines six main focal areas of standardization:
- network security review
- critical information infrastructure protection
- network trusted ID management
- new technology/application security
- other urgent issues... ...Full Story
ANSI Announces June Webinar Series Highlighting the American National Standards Process ANSI Weekly News April 21, 2015 - This June, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is offering a number of webinars that will provide information and guidance on topics of interest to ANSI-accredited standards developers and those looking to learn about the American National Standards (ANS) process. The webinars are coordinated by ANSI’s Procedures & Standards Administration Department.
Participants may take part in these webinars at no charge, but are required to register online in advance in order to participate.... ...Full Story
SAIC Releases Rules on Anti-Monopoly IP Abuse Prohibitions USITO.org Weekly April 20, 2015 - On April 13, China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) added another piece of anti-monopoly regulation in the IPR field, with the official release of Rules on the Prohibition of Abuses of Intellectual Property Rights for the Purposes of Eliminating or Restricting Competition, which will take effect August 1, 2015.
This final version of the Rules shows little change from previous drafts, leaving in place a number of key concerns, most notably that the Rules could allow charges of IP abuse for legitimate exercise of intellectual property rights. Outstanding issues include:
- Provisions that would mandate compulsory licensing by dominant companies
- Disclosure and licensing obligations with regard to standard essential patents that go beyond the relevant standard-setting organization's patent policy and broadly recognized international norms
- Vagueness and uncertainty of the standards for determining IP abuse... ...Full Story
ANSI Launches Redesigned Standards Portal Website ANSI Weekly News April 20, 2015 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is pleased to announce the redesign of its Standards Portal, an online resource and educational tool for global trade which provides answers to critical standards, conformance, market access, and trade-related questions that companies require for U.S. and international operations. The updated site, at www.standardsportal.org, features a new interface with links to need-to-know information on international trade.
Standards Portal originally launched in 2006 as part of a collaborative effort between ANSI and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in cooperation with the Standardization Administration of China (SAC). Designed for industry stakeholders and policy officials, the portal initially focused on U.S.-China trade, and has since expanded to include resources for export markets in India and Korea....Site visitors can also find links to access a database of national, regional, and international standards and guidelines that are considered integral to successful international trade. Dual-language (Mandarin and English) educational materials on the structure, history, and operation of the U.S. and Chinese standards systems are also available, in addition to helpful standards information for India and Korea in the portal’s export markets section. ...Full Story
UK Government Now Main Driver of ODF Advance: Kudos Glyn Moody ComputerWorld.uk April 17, 2015 - Back in July last year, I wrote about an incredible opportunity for the open source world. After years of disappointments, and despite the usual lobbying/threats by a certain large US software company against the move, the Cabinet Office announced that it was officially adopting the Open Document Format (ODF) for sharing or collaborating on government documents. At the time I exhorted everyone involved to do their utmost to make this work, since it was the biggest chance to show that open standards and open source were not just viable as a government solution, but actually better than the alternatives.
Since then, we've heard very little - either in terms of the move being a raging success or a dismal failure. That makes this update from Francis Maude, who has been one of the key people driving this move, particularly welcome, as it seems that real progress has been made:..."A number of departments are starting to publish in open formats, including the Department for Transport, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department of Health, Department for Work and Pensions, and HM Revenue and Customs. Many more departments will follow by the end of the year."
Clearly, those are huge wins.... ...Full Story
Core Technology for WhiteSpace Alliance Wi-FAR™ Specification Approved to Become ISO Standard Press Release WhiteSpace Alliance April 17, 2015 - The WhiteSpace Alliance (WSA) ®, a global industry organization enabling sharing of underutilized spectrum, today announced that the core technology underlying its Wi-FAR specification has been approved to become an ISO standard.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), an independent, non-governmental membership organization and the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards, announced this decision on 8 April. The approved standard will be referred to as ISO/IEC/IEEE Std. 8802-22:2015.
Wi-FAR, a derivative of the IEEE 802.22 Standard, provides industry-recognized, cost-effective broadband Internet access through dynamic allocation of underutilized TV band spectrum (“whitespace”). Wi-FAR is an inter-operability and certification point-to-multipoint wireless broadband specification optimized for operation in the VHF and UHF TV bands, in the frequency range between 54 MHz and 862 MHz. Incorporating learnings from the TV broadcast community, the Wi-FAR specification is the first and only specification that has seriously addressed the requirements of long distance, non-line of sight transmission for Internet traffic to provide cost-effective backhaul and middle mile solutions.... ...Full Story
HDMI Forum releases 2.0a specification that adds HDR support Jan Willem Aldershoff MYCE April 16, 2015 - The HDMI Forum has announced the HDMI 2.0a specification has been updated to enable transmission of High Dynamic Range (HDR) formats. Users can likely upgrade their devices to the updated specification through a firmware update.
HDR should provide enhanced picture quality by simultaneously enabling greater detail for both the dark and bright parts of an image. The HDR-related updates include references to CEA-861.3, CEA’s recently published update of HDR Static Metadata Extensions.
The HDMI Forum isn’t really clear on whether the new standard requires new hardware, however TP Vision previously stated that it should be possible to get support for the new standard through a firmware update. HDMI 2.0 was announced in 2013 and allows 4K video at 60FPS. Most Ultra HD TVs released in 2015 will support HDMI 2.0....Although the first TVs with HDR support were demonstrated at CES this year hardly no HDR content is available. ...Full Story
Linux Foundation to Host Open Encryption Project Press Release Linux Foundation April 16, 2015 - The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced it will host the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) and its Let's Encrypt project, a free, automated and open security certificate authority for the public's benefit. Let's Encrypt allows website owners to obtain security certificates within minutes, enabling a safer web experience for all....A tremendous amount of data is passed over the Internet every minute of every day. This data includes usernames and passwords, credit card information, cookies and other types of sensitive or personal information. Encryption can help ensure this information doesn't land in the hands of hackers or identity thieves. However, the SSL certificates required for encryption on the Internet have historically been very difficult for website owners to obtain. Let's Encrypt will allow website owners to obtain SSL certificates through a free and simple process that will take no longer than a few minutes to complete.... ...Full Story