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Saturday, November 01 2014 @ 08:23 AM CDT
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.
Friday, October 26 2007 @ 05:29 AM CDT
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
While many nations, agencies, cities, U.S. States and other governmental units have considered mandating the use of Open Document Format since Massachusetts announced its intention to do so in August of 2005, comparatively few have actually done so. Now, one of the early and consistent supporters of ODF has taken the plunge, and done so. That nation is the Republic of South Africa.
On Monday of this week, the South African Government released a slightly revised version (4.1) of its Minimum Interoperability Standards (MIOS) for Information Systems in Government, with the most significant amendment being the addition of the ODF requirement. Aslam Raffee, the Chair of the Government IT Officers Council Open Source Software Working Group was kind enough to send me a copy, and you can find the complete text here. The foreword describes the goals of the program, and the way that open standards figure in them, as follows:
The main thrust of the framework (in line with international best practice), is the adoption of a structured approach with regard to information systems. To achieve this approach, and to ensure the enhancement of interoperability across Government, a minimum set of standards are included in this document as a required Government-wide standard. To this end, this updated version of MIOS contains an explicit definition of Open Standards as well as the inclusion of the ISO (International Standards Organisation) Open Document Format.
Quote of the Day
“[D]o you want to [hand] a 500-page specification...to a light bulb manufacturer, or do you want source code that you can hand to that manufacturer that enables interoperability?
-Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin on why open source software is replacing open standards See all Quotes
Latest NewsAlexandria Project Review: "Mind Blowing! (5 stars)"Amazon Reader Reviews
October 31, 0214 - This is an absolutely fantastic book. It's a tale of technology and cyber crime told by a seasoned writer who obviously knows his way around a keyboard. The twists and turns that lead you through the story kind of reminded me of Polanski or Hitchcock. It's certainly easy to imagine the main character being played by Harrison Ford.
Bear in mind that this is not an easy read. There's enough here to get your brain worked up into a frenzy. The author seriously knows his stuff. I can't recommend this highly enough. ...Full Story
After Broadcom imbroglio, Open Interconnect Consortium, AllSeen Alliance wrestle with IP issues in IoT
FierceWirelessTech October 31, 2014 - The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) and the AllSeen Alliance are both working to standardize the Internet of Things (IoT) space and make devices interoperable--and in doing so they pit some of the industry's biggest giants against one other. And that battle appears to be entering a new phase over intellectual property (IP) licensing.
The situation crystalized earlier this month when Broadcom, a founding member of the OIC, reportedly left the organization due to a disagreement over intellectual property. GigaOm first reported Broadcom's exodus, citing a source who said Broadcom's departure was due to IP licensing agreements that required companies that were donating code to the project to give up their right to sue over that IP. The source said that the AllSeen Alliance doesn't have as rigorous a policy when it comes to its IP licensing agreements.
The AllSeen Alliance does have an IP policy, which is available here. But leaders of the OIC say it does not include a RAND-Z provision that says companies that participate must offer a zero-rate reasonable and non-discriminatory license to their code for member organizations. The OIC does have that provision.... ...Full Story
Bluetooth Smart Improvements Appear in More Devices
New York Times October 31, 2014 - FOR years, Bluetooth was practically synonymous with irritation....Still, Bluetooth is becoming the default system for connecting our devices wirelessly. It is now responsible for connecting phones with wearable devices like fitness trackers, door locks and even toothbrushes and light bulbs. The reason: Bluetooth has quietly evolved into a much smarter technology....But Bluetooth Smart isn’t the only connection technology available, and its strongest rival, Wi-Fi Direct, offers faster data speeds and possibly stronger security.
Wi-Fi Direct is based on Wi-Fi, but it lets two devices connect without having to go through a wireless router....In the end, we’ll probably find ourselves in a world filled with both Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth Smart. The more difficult question to answer is whether any other connection standards will make a dent in their dominance, like near-field communication and ZigBee, another standard that allows devices (now mostly smart-home gadgets) to talk with one another.
Those other technologies have a steep hill to climb. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are in almost everything these days, and Bluetooth, in particular, is cheap to include and increasingly reliable.... ...Full Story
W3C Declares HTML5 Standard Complete
TechCrunch October 30, 2014 - More than four years ago, Steve Jobs declared war on Flash and heralded HTML5 as the way to go. You could be forgiven if you thought the HTML5 standard — the follow-up to 1997’s HTML 4 — has long been set in stone, given that developers, browser vendors and the press have been talking about it for years now. In reality, however, HTML5 was still in flux — until today. The W3C today published its Recommendation of HTML5 — the final version of the standard after years of adding features and making changes to it....the W3C today notes in its press release that the next version of the standard needs to focus on a number of core “application foundations” like tools for security and privacy, device interactions, application lifecycle, media and real-time communications and services around the social web, payments and annotations. All of these are meant to make it easier for developers to support the web platform.... ...Full Story
Alliance to Promote Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Technology for Enterprise Wired and Wireless Access Networks
NBASE-T Alliance October 30, 2014 - Cisco, Aquantia, Freescale and Xilinx today announced that they have formed the NBASE-T Alliance, an industry-wide cooperative effort to promote the development of 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet (2.5GE and 5GE) technology for enterprise network infrastructure. The objective of the nonprofit organization is to advance multi-gigabit Ethernet technology that enables faster data rates on existing enterprise cabling originally designed for 1 Gigabit Ethernet (1GbE) technology....Early promoters Cisco, Aquantia, Freescale and Xilinx welcome interested parties to join the alliance and contribute to its objectives. More details can be found on the alliance website, at www.nbaset.org.
According to Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), total mobile data traffic will surpass 30 Exabytes per month in 2018. An estimated 52 percent of that traffic will be offloaded from cellular networks to the fixed network through WiFi, adding to the vast amount of wireless data transmitted over WLAN in enterprise branch and campus networks. The 802.11ac WiFi standard was developed to deal with this massive amount of wireless data. As the Wave 2 of the technology gets introduced, traffic aggregated on APs will quickly surpass multiple gigabits per second, and therefore require both the access point and the Ethernet Switch ports to scale beyond the 1GbE used in most networks....In most enterprise campus networks around the world, Category 5e (Cat5e) and Category 6 (Cat6) twisted-pair copper cables are the most common deployed. These cables do not support 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) up to 100 meters, therefore the need for intermediate rates between 1 and 10 Gigabit has gained support throughout the industry. To advance the enormous potential for rates greater than 1GbE on legacy cabling, the NBASE-T Alliance founding companies teamed up to promote the development of 2.5GbE and 5GbE that will extend the life of the installed cable plant.... ...Full Story
NIF observatory: interoperability platforms boost data exchange, eServices and eSignature
EC Joinup October 29, 0214 - The National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) community is making available an updated series of NIFO factsheets. The updates track interoperability initiatives in European countries.
Recently published on the Joinup platform, the updated NIFO factsheets provide new information on interoperability for over half of the countries. The update replaces factsheets from May this year. The observatory identified new interoperability platforms in many fields, including data exchange, eServices and eSignature.... ...Full Story
Take Control With Open Source Hardware
Linux.com October 29, 0214 - Free and open source software are no good without open hardware. If we can't install our software on a piece of hardware, it's not good for anything. Truly open hardware is fully-programmable and replicable. So what is open hardware, exactly? OSHWA, the Open Source Hardware Association, defines it as:
"Open source hardware is hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design. The hardware's source, the design from which it is made, is available in the preferred format for making modifications to it. Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware. Open source hardware gives people the freedom to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through the open exchange of designs."... ...Full Story
NISO Launches Open Discovery Initiative (ODI) Standing Committee
NISO October 28, 0214 - The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is pleased to announce the next phase for the Open Discovery Initiative, a project that explores community interactions in the realm of indexed discovery services. Following the working group’s recommendation to create an ongoing standing committee as outlined in the published recommended practice, Open Discovery Initiative: Promoting Transparency in Discovery (NISO RP-19-2014), NISO has formed a new standing committee reflecting a balance of stakeholders, with member representation from content providers, discovery providers, and libraries. The ODI Standing Committee will promote education about adoption of the ODI Recommended Practice, provide support for content providers and discovery providers during adoption, conduct a forum for ongoing discussion related to all aspects of discovery platforms for all stakeholders, and determine timing for additional actions that were outlined in the recommended practice.... ...Full Story
How a USB key drive could remove the hassles from two-factor authentication
PC World October 28, 0214 - We've had enough malware campaigns and data breaches to confirm the need for better data protection online. The Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) standard is a step in the right direction, and the first compatible devices are coming out now.
U2F is an open authentication standard. It was initially developed by Google, but it's now managed by the FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance....Two-factor, or multi-factor authentication has long been promoted as a more effective security mechanism, but it's a hassle, requiring you to juggle passwords with a second factor such as a texted code or an authentication app. U2F proposes to streamline the process using a U2F-enabled USB or NFC key fob, card, or mobile device alongside traditional authentication methods.... ...Full Story
The Future of the Internet - 20 Years Ago The birth of Netscape and its browser
ComputerWorld.uk October 27, 0214 - By Glyn Moody | Published 15:15, 20 October 14
Facebook 3 Twitter 34 LinkedIn 0 Google Plus 2 Share This 75 Article comments
Last week, the following tweet appeared:
Netscape Navigator was released 20 years ago [last week]...The fall of Netscape was not entirely down to Microsoft's aggressive moves. Netscape made a number of serious missteps, and the quality of the Netscape Navigator code started deteriorating. Eventually, that led to most of the Netscape program being released as open source, and the creation of the Mozilla project - something I wrote about in detail in an Open Enterprise column published seven years ago.
But here, I'd like to dwell on that moment in October 1994 when the first beta version of Netscape Navigator was released, and many of us sensed that this was the start of a new era in computing. Below is a column I wrote at that time, exactly as it first appeared; I hope it conveys a little of the atmosphere of those heady times.... ...Full Story