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Sunday, July 05 2015 @ 08:19 AM CDT
Thursday, February 21 2008 @ 09:28 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Microsoft has just made a major announcement relating to its core products and involving the degree and manner in which it will make the details of those products available to developers. The importance of the announcement was underlined by those that were brought together for the press event at which the decisions were announced: chief executive Steve Ballmer, chief software architect Ray Ozzie, senior vice president of the server and tools business Bob Muglia, and Brad Smith, the senior vice president and general counsel for legal and corporate affairs.
At first glance, this appears to be an important decision by Microsoft indicating a greater willingness to be both open and cooperative. There are a number of promises in the announcement that I like, including the commitment to publish a great deal of material on the Web, as well as the freedom that will be offered to developers to take certain actions without the necessity of first obtaining a license. However, I have not had the opportunity to read any of the supporting details, and those details will be extremely significant, especially as regards the open source community, where subtle differences in legal terms can permit use under some open source licenses, but not others.
Similarly, with respect to ODF, it will be important to see what kind of plug ins are made available, how they may be deployed, and also how effective (or ineffective) those translators may be. If they are not easy for individual Office users to install, or if their results are less than satisfactory, then this promise will sound hopeful but deliver little. I am disappointed that the press release does not, as I read it, indicate that Microsoft will ship Office with a "save to" ODF option already installed. This means that ODF will continue to be virtually the only important document format that Office will not support "out of the box."
Friday, February 08 2008 @ 08:25 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that EU regulators have announced a third investigation into Microsoft's conduct on the desktop. This latest action demonstrates that while the EU has settled the case against Microsoft that ran for almost a decade, it remains as suspicious as ever regarding the software vendor's conduct, notwithstanding Microsoft's less combative stance in recent years. The news can be found in a story reported by Charles Forelle bylined in Brussells this morning.
According to the Journal, the investigation will focus on whether Microsoft "violated antitrust laws during a struggle last year to ratify its Office software file format as an international standard." The article also says that the regulators are "stepping up scrutiny of the issue." The Journal cites the following as the type of activity it will look into:
In the months and weeks leading up to [last summer's vote on OOXML], Microsoft resellers and other allies joined standards bodies en masse -- helping swell the Italian group, for instance, from a half-dozen members to 85. Opponents said Microsoft stacked committees. People familiar with the matter say EU regulators are now questioning whether Microsoft's actions were illegal. Microsoft said at the time that any committee expansion had the effect of making more voices heard; it also said rival International Business Machines Corp. mobilized on the other side of the vote.
A Microsoft spokesman referred to a statement issued last month, in which the company said it would "cooperate fully" with the EU regulator and was "committed to ensuring" the company is in compliance with EU law.
Wednesday, January 30 2008 @ 06:21 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
As many of you are aware, Alex Brown will be the "Convenor" of the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) that will run from February 25 through 29 in Geneva, Switzerland. Alex has a variety of unenviable tasks, including:
Trying to interpret various standing Directives and other ISO/IEC JTC1 rules and practices that were created for what might be described as kinder, gentler times (not to mention for shorter specifications).
Figuring out how to process c. 1,000 comments (after elimination of duplicates) during a 35 hour meeting week, without the currently contemplated possibility of an extension.
Herding 120 cats, some of which will have strong opinions on individual points, others of which will have alternating suggestions on how to resolve a given point, and many of whom may be just plain bewildered, due to the lack of time to be fully prepared.
For better or worse, the rules that Alex will be interpreting and applying are not as comprehensive, and certainly not as detailed, as the situation might demand to put everyone on exactly the same page regarding what should (or at least could) be done at many points in time. As a result, knowing how Alex's thoughts are shaping up is both interesting and important. To his credit, he has been generous about sharing those thoughts, and often how he arrived at them, at his blog, which can be found here.
While I've often linked to Alex's blog and have had a permanent link in the "Blogs I Read" category for some time, I'd like to point to Alex's latest entry, which covers several important points that others have recently blogged on. In many cases, Alex comes out differently than some others that have stated firm opinions, and since Alex has the gavel, his opinion will be the one that counts.
Thursday, January 17 2008 @ 01:03 PM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
If you're reading this blog entry, you've probably been following the battle between ODF and OOXML. If so, you may be thinking of that conflict as a classic standards war, but in fact, it goes much deeper than that label would suggest. What is happening between the proponents of ODF and OOXML is only a skirmish in a bigger battle that involves a fundamental reordering of forces, ideologies, stakeholders, and economics at the interface of society and information technology.
Today, open source software is challenging proprietary models, hundreds of millions of people in emerging societies are choosing their first computer platforms from a range of alternatives, major vendors are converting from product to service strategies, and software as a service is finally coming into its own - to mention only a few of the many forces that are transforming the realities that ruled the IT marketplace for decades. When the dust settles, the alignments and identities of the Great Powers of the IT world will be as different as were the Great Powers of the world at the end of the First World War.
It is in this light that the ODF vs. OOXML struggle should really be seen, and for this reason I've dedicated the latest issue of Standards Today to exploring these added dimensions on the eve of the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting that will begin on February 25 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Monday, January 14 2008 @ 10:50 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Regulators in the EU today announced that they are opening two new investigations against Microsoft, this time focusing not on peripheral functionalities like media players, but on the core of Microsoft's business: its operating and office suite software. The investigations are in response to a recent complaint filed by Norway browser developer Opera Software ASA and a 2006 complaint brought by the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), which includes Microsoft rivals IBM, Nokia, Sun, RealNetworks and Oracle among its members.
Both investigations focus on the benefits that Microsoft gains by combining features, such as search and Windows Live, into its operating system. But the investigation sparked by the Opera complaint also includes some novel and interesting features, based upon Opera's contention that Microsoft's failure to conform Internet Explorer to prevailing open standards puts its competitors at a disadvantage (Opera also asks that either IE not be bundled with Windows, or that other browsers, including its own, should be included as well, with no browser being preset as a default).
The investigations will also look into whether Microsoft has failed to adequately open OOXML, or to take adequate measures to ensure that Office is "sufficiently interoperable" with competing products. This would seem to indicate that Microsoft's strategy of offering OOXML to Ecma, and then ISO/IEC JTC1, may fail to achieve its objective, whether or not OOXML is finally approved as a global standard.
Thursday, January 03 2008 @ 01:43 PM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
It's not often I find myself at a loss for words when I read something, but this is one of those times.
Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it isn't really necessary for me to add any words to the following news, other than to characterize them with a Latin phrase lawyers use: Res ipse loquitor, which translates as "the thing speaks for itself." I'll give one clue, though: I've added this blog post to the "ODF and OOXML" folder. That's "OOXML" as in "the world must have this standard so that our customers can open the billions of documents that have already been created in older versions of" a certain office productivity suite.
So without further ado, here's the news, along with what a few other people have had to say about it [Update: see also the comments that readers have added below interpreting the original Microsoft information]:
Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 04:55 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
As the date for the February BRM (Ballot Resolution Meeting) on ISO/IEC JTC1 DIS 29500 (a/k/a Ecma 376, a/k/a Microsoft OOXML) approaches, more and more attention is being paid to how Ecma will propose the disposition of the comments submitted during the general voting period. This level of heightened interest is legitimately urgent, due to both the great number of the comments that need to be resolved, even after elimination of duplicates, as well because of the late date upon which the proposed resolutions will be made public (the deadline, if memory serves, is January 19, while the BRM will commence its deliberations on February 25 of next year).
The words are therefore flying fast and furious at the many blogs covering this question, and tempers are rising in the comments appended to those of bloggers that have a direct interest in the outcome. A particularly contentious issue has been whether Ecma is trying to make it as easy as possible, or is trying to make it as difficult as possible while still scoring PR points, for interested parties to view proposed dispositions of comments, and whether it does, or does not, have the latitude under ISO rules to be more transparent. The fairly opaque, and sometimes contradictory nature of those rules, has not made the debate any easier, and gives rise to the possibility of confusion, at best, and serious mistakes, at worst, as Pamela Jones pointed out at Groklaw this morning.
The result is that there will be very little real data available to the general public until Ecma opens the curtains on January 19. And the import of what little data does become available is usually the subject of instant disagreement.
With that as prelude, I've pasted in the text of a press release at the end of this blog entry that Ecma issued yesterday. The release gives only a peek at some of the issues addressed in the new dispositions, giving varying degrees of detail on each area highlighted - but that's more than we've had to go on so far. Here is my summary of the press release and its significance, when viewed in the context of other reliable, available information:
Saturday, November 17 2007 @ 08:15 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Those of us who live in America are currently in the midst of that most protracted, expensive and (often) tedious of all democratic processes: the quadrennial quest to find, and perhaps even elect, the most able leader to guide the nation into the future. Part and parcel to that spectacle is a seemingly endless torrent of printed words and video. These emanate from more than a dozen candidates, each of whom is trying to convince the electorate that he or she is The One, while at the same time hoping to avoid offering any point of vulnerability that can be exploited by the opposition.
It is an overwhelming and leveling experience for all concerned, electorate and candidates alike.
Out of the campaign cacophony of the last week emerged a handful of words from Senator and Democratic party hopeful Barack Obama that could not fail to catch my attention. He used them during the presidential debate held in Las Vegas, and they also appear in the "Innovation Agenda" that Obama had released a few days before. He announced this agenda in a speech he delivered on November 14 at an aptly selected venue: the Google campus in Mountainview, California. One of the pledges he made in the course of that speech reads in part as follows:
To seize this moment, we have to use technology to open up our democracy. It's no coincidence that one of the most secretive Administrations in history has favored special interests and pursued policies that could not stand up to sunlight. As President, I'll change that. I'll put government data online in universally accessible formats. [emphasis added]
A presidential candidate that is including "universally accessible formats" in his platform? How did that come about?
Friday, November 09 2007 @ 07:00 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Wednesday I attended the W3C Technical Plenary Day festivities, which included a brief press conference with Tim Berners-Lee, interesting insights into the W3C's work in progress and future plans, and much more (you can view the agenda here). And it also gave me a chance to sit with Chris Lilley, a W3C employee whose responsibilities include Interaction Domain Leader, Co-Chair W3C SVG Working Group, W3C Graphics Activity Lead and Co-Chair, W3C Hypertext CG. What that combination of titles means is that he is the "go to" guy at W3C to learn what W3C's CDF standard is all about.
CDF is one of the very many useful projects that W3C has been laboring on, but not one that you would have been likely to have heard much about. Until recently, that is, when Gary Edwards, Sam Hiser and Marbux, the management (and perhaps sole remaining members) of the OpenDocument Foundation decided that CDF was the answer to all of the problems that ODF was designed to address. This announcement gave rise to a flurry of press attention that Sam Hiser has collected here. As others (such as Rob Weir) have already documented, these articles gave the Foundation's position far more attention than it deserved.
Monday, October 29 2007 @ 12:01 AM CDT
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
About ten days ago I reported that SC 34, the ISO/IEC JTC1 committee responsible for evaluating OOXML, has been unable to make progress on any of its other important initiatives since the OOXML vote. Why? Because the eleven Observer (O) Members that had upgraded to Principal (P) member status in the run up to the OOXML vote have not bothered to cast a vote (even to abstain) ever since. P Members, you may recall, have more influence over the outcome than do O Members.
There is more than one way to look at the voting, of course, and Rick Jelliffe thinks that both sides are equally to blame. I don't think that conclusion can stand up, though, once you really look at the numbers.In the same piece, I observed that this further confirmed the assumptions of those (myself included) that those National Bodies that had upgraded did so solely for the purpose of voting "Yes" for OOXML, as earlier demonstrated by the fact that of the 11 upgrades had in fact done exactly that. What I had not anticipated was that a key standards committee would now be suffering serious collateral damage when these new members have shown no willingness to vote – even to the extend of simply casting an "abstention," which would suffice to meet the requisite 50% participation among P Members for a vote to pass.
Quote of the Day
“Open standards are simply better for developers
-Professor William Webb, CEO of the Weightless SIG, announcing the SIG's first standard See all Quotes
Latest NewsRussia to replace proprietary software with open sourceAdrian OffermanEU Joinup
July 3, 2015 - The Russian Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications has announced a plan to replace proprietary software with open source and locally produced software. The plan is one of the measures aimed at promoting sustainable economic development and social stability announced earlier this year.
The plan consists of three parts, each containing key activities and stages for their implementation. The first section states a preference for Russian products when procuring software for government needs. Public agencies will specifically look for local solutions providing business applications, antivirus software, information security software and internet servers now deployed in business environments. The current draft decree will be submitted for consideration to the Government of the Russian Federation next month.
The second part of the plan calls for support for the joint development of software for which no Russian solution is available, i.e. client and mobile operating systems, server operating systems, database management systems, cloud and virtualisation software, and office productivity software. The Russian Linux distribution Alt Linux and the Windows-compatible operating system ReactOS have already been selected.
The Ministry, local IT companies and inter-branch organisations are working on a draft decree to set up an autonomous non-commercial agency that will be responsible for the joint development of software for which the Russian Federation is currently highly dependent on foreign countries....the Russian Federation aims to cooperate and share development costs with the other BRICS countries. According to the Ministry, Brazil, India, China and South-Africa have already expressed their support for this "demonopolisation" initiative.... ...Full Story
W3C MathML 3.0 Approved as ISO/IEC International Standard
ANSI Weekly News July 2, 2015 - The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), together with Joint Technical Committee JTC 1, Information Technology of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), have announced approval of the MathML Version 3.0 2nd Edition as an ISO/IEC International Standard (ISO/IEC 40314:2015).
MathML is the mark-up language used in software and development tools for statistical, engineering, scientific, computational, and academic expressions of math on the Web. The Mathematical Markup Language provides ways to describe in XML both the visual presentation of formulas (with mathematical symbols, built-up formulas, and font styles) and their semantics (with reference to different domains of mathematics). Its first version, MathML 1, was released in 1999.... ...Full Story
IT Innovators: OCP Aims To Create Common Standards For Software Containers
Cheryl J. Ajluni
WindowsITPro July 1, 2015 - ...industry leaders like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, CoreOS, Docker, and others are joining forces to create an organization known as Open Container Project (OCP).
OCP’s charter is to establish common standards for software containers. To get the ball rolling, Docker—the original author and primary sponsor of the Docker open source project—will donate existing code for its software container image format and its runtime, along with all associated specifications. The technology donation will serve as the foundation on which the new open standards will be based. OCP hopes to publish a draft specification in the very near future....According to Docker, just in the past year alone, containers based on its image format have been downloaded more than 500 million times. There are also now more than 40,000 public projects based on the Docker format....According to Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, the organization that will house OCP, “With the Open Container Project, Docker is ensuring that fragmentation won’t destroy the promise of containers. Users, vendors and technologists of all kinds will now be able to collaborate and innovate with the assurance that neutral open governance provides.”... ...Full Story
Can LibreOffice successfully compete with Microsoft Office?
CIO July 1, 2015 - It's hard to imagine an open source project more likely to fail than one that attempts to go toe-to-toe with Microsoft's Office productivity suite.
That's because, as the de-facto standard used by businesses, educational establishments and government departments around the world, Office is a product that's exceptionally hard to compete against....Yet LibreOffice, sponsored by a nonprofit organization called The Document Foundation, aims to attract users with a free, open source alternative to Office with many of the features of Microsoft's offering. The project has been around for more than four years, and is a fork of OpenOffice.org,...Michael Meeks, a leading LibreOffice developer, says the open source suite is currently being used by about 20 million Linux users. (LibreOffice is included in many Linux distributions.) He adds that update requests are also regularly received from 120 million different IP addresses – with one million new ones appearing every week -- and suggests that in total there may be 80 million LibreOffice users around the globe.... ...Full Story
Please Welcome the R Consortium I'm pleased to highlight the latest consortium I helped the Linux Foundation structure and roll out. R Consortium is one of an ongoing stream of important projects that have chosen LF to host and support their activities.
Update: Google, Microsoft, Oracle back new R Consortium at Linux Foundation
ComputerWorld June 30, 2015 - As foreshadowed on Twitter yesterday, a new R Consortium of major vendors launched today aimed at "strengthen[ing] both the technical and user communities," according to a Linux Foundation announcement.
Founding members include Microsoft, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, along with well-known R players such as RStudio, Tibco Software and Mango Solutions (Revolution Analytics is a member under the Microsoft umbrella). Alteryx and Ketchum Trading are also founding members.
The consortium's home at the Linux Foundation may ease some R users' worries that major vendors could disrupt the open and collaborative spirit that now exists throughout much of the R community.
"The R Consortium will complement the work of the R Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Austria that maintains the language," according to this morning's announcement.... ...Full Story
CEA, LONMARK Announce New Home & Building Automation Standards
CEA, LONMARK June 29, 2015 - The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and LONMARK International today announced two new standards available for home and building automation. These standards provide multiple parties – including users, developers, vendors, integrators and specifiers of open building control systems – a mechanism to develop and deliver a higher level of device-to-device interoperability using any open control networking communication platform.... ...Full Story
China Lifts Restrictions on E-Commerce Foreign Investment
USITO.org Weekly June 26, 2015 - On June 19, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced that e-commerce online data processing and transaction processing businesses will be opened to 100 percent foreign ownership across China, effective immediately. According to the MIIT announcement, foreign-invested enterprises will now be able to apply for permission of to hold a 100 percent stake in e-commerce online data processing and transaction processing businesses in China, but are still subject to other requirements of approval conditions and procedures as regulated in the Management Rules of Foreign-Invested Telecommunications Companies (State Council Circular No. 534).... ...Full Story
ITU defines vision and roadmap for 5G mobile development
ITU-T June 25, 2015 - ITU has established the overall roadmap for the development of 5G mobile and defined the term it will apply to it as “IMT-2020”.
With the finalization of its work on the “Vision” for 5G systems at a meeting of ITU-R Working Party 5D in San Diego, California, ITU has now defined the overall goals, process and timeline for the development of 5G mobile systems. This process is now well underway within ITU, in close collaboration with governments and the global mobile industry.
The meeting also agreed that the work should be conducted under the name of IMT-2020, as an extension of the ITU’s existing family of global standards for International Mobile Telecommunication systems (IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced) which serve as the basis for all of today’s 3G and 4G mobile systems.... ...Full Story
The need for industry standards in the fight against cyber-crime
SC Magazine June 24, 2015 - In order to address the threat facing the financial services industry, the Bank of England (BofE) recently created the CBEST testing framework. This framework uses intelligence gathered from commercial and government sources, and can be tailored to the business model and operations of individual firms...This is clearly a strong step forward. Yet even though CBEST has robust certification requirements for testing companies, it does not provide a certification standard for the financial services institution itself....Making these assessments voluntary highlights an inherent weakness in the financial services industry outside of payment cards. It would be stronger to make the assessments compulsory, as is the case for PCI DSS.
It is time for us to develop a similar standard across our industry – a Financial Services Industry Data Security Standard. This standard could build on the foundations set by PCI DSS to cover the full scope of financial services cyber-security. By cooperating around such a standard, the industry will be able to deliver a stronger collective response to the cyber-crime threat than any single company could do alone.... ...Full Story
Open Standard Weightless-N IoT Network Goes Live In London
TechWeek Europe June 23, 2015 - An Internet of Things (IoT) network using the open ‘Weightless-N’ standard has gone live across London, with the government-backed Digital Catapult Centre in London lending its support to the project.
Weightless-N was published only last month and is pitched as a cheaper, more innovative alternative to proprietary standards, allowing for cheaper hardware as any manufacturer can create base stations or endpoints.
The Weightless Special Interest Group (SIG) claims a terminal device can be made for as little as $2 and a base station for less than $3,000 – less than other platforms that lock users into one ecosystem.This, the S IG claims, results in excellent signal reach of several kilometres, even in “challenging” urban areas like London, and allows for multiple networks in a single location....Weightless-N is one of two standards made available by the non-profit Weightless SIG, the other being Weightless-W, which uses white spaces – unused portions of TV broadcast spectrum.... ...Full Story