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Monday, April 20 2015 @ 08:26 PM 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
“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 See all Quotes
Latest NewsSAIC Releases Rules on Anti-Monopoly IP Abuse ProhibitionsUSITO.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
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
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
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
Please welcome the UHD Alliance: We've enjoyed assisting this broad representation of industry players create and launch a new consortium whose impact will be reflected in televisions worldwide.
UHD Alliance Calls for Contributor Members to Define the Next-Generation Entertainment Experience
UHD Alliance April 15, 2015 - Founding members of the UHD Alliance, representing leading companies in entertainment, technology, consumer electronics and distribution, today issued a call for contributors to join their mission to advance a new and differentiated entertainment experience for Ultra HD including high dynamic range, wide color gamut, high frame rate and advanced audio.
The goal of the Alliance is to ensure these technologies, coupled with performance metrics, will deliver a premium entertainment experience throughout the Ultra HD ecosystem from content creation to consumer enjoyment.
In addition to working discussions around technical specifications and certification details, the UHD Alliance will help develop industry-standard branding so that consumers can clearly identify certified premium UHD content and devices offered in the marketplace....Companies that want to join the UHD Alliance as contributing members can request membership information from the UHD Alliance at www.UHDAlliance.org/ ...Full Story
Eclipse Announces First Release of Eclipse OM2M Project
Eclipse/OneM2M April 15, 2015 - The Eclipse Foundation and the Eclipse IoT Working Group announce the first release of the Eclipse OM2M open source project. OM2M, led by developers from LAAS-CNRS, implements the ETSI SmartM2M standard and plans to migrate to the new oneM2M standard.
OM2M is a standardized service platform that implements critical service capabilities required for M2M and IoT applications. It allows these services to be implemented independently of the network and the underlying hardware environment, making it easy for M2M and IoT developers to develop applications that integrate different types of devices and networking protocols.
OM2M 0.8 implements the ETSI SmartM2M standard. Later this year, OM2M will migrate the implementation to the global oneM2M standard. oneM2M is a global standards organization involving over 200 companies, including the key regional ICT standards bodies ARIB, ATIS, CCSA, ETSI, TIA, TTA and TTC, and the leading industry consortia Broadband Forum, Continua, HGI, Next Generation M2M Consortium and the OMA. oneM2M released its first specifications in January 2015.
A key issue for IoT is interoperability between different devices that use different protocols. This is particularly important for industries such as eHealth, Industrial Automation, and Home. OM2M 0.8 supports out-of-the-box integration and protocol interoperability with HTTP and CoAP enabled devices. OM2M’s extensible framework allows for easy integration with devices using protocols such as Zigbee, Zwave, 6LoWPAN, Modbus, and more.... ...Full Story
State Council Strengthens Energy Saving Standardization Work
USITO.org Weekly April 15, 2015 - On April 4, the General Office of the State Council published the "Opinions on Strengthening the Standardization Work on Energy Conservation," setting 2020 goals for establishing comprehensive standards on energy consumption limits for all major energy-intensive industries, and ensuring 80% of China's energy efficiency standards are internationally competitive.
The Opinions called for an accelerated development of national compulsory standards for energy efficiency and energy consumption limits, which would serve as market access regulations and force industry transformation. The Opinions require the State Administration of Standards, National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to improve the mechanism of state-led mandatory standards and guiding technical specifics development, and explore ways for government to directly adopt market-driven consortia standards as national standards, so as to drive rapid transformation of new energy-saving technologies, products and services into standards.
The Opinions require all relevant government agencies to take responsibility for promoting and enforcing energy efficiency standards, and mandate that enforcement of mandatory energy efficiency standards will be included in all levels of government energy-saving performance assessments. ...Full Story
Five Stars: A skillfully crafted cyber-terrorism thriller
Amazon Reader Reviews April 14, 2015 - I found Mr. Updegrove's book from a posting on the Passive Voice website. I've found several good books written by indie authors on this website. This was an exciting thriller with well developed interesting characters involved in a timely cyber-terrorism attack. Updegrove knows his subject well, so the information about Internet security or the lack of it has been presented clearly and woven skillfully into his story. I found myself jumping to Wikipedia and Google Maps to dig deeper into the setting and movements of his characters as well as read further about some of the information Updegrove used to develop his plot structure. I look forward to his next book and encourage anyone seeking a well written contemporary thriller to give this book a read. You will not be sorry. ...Full Story