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Friday, October 09 2015 @ 03:51 AM CDT
Sunday, February 24 2008 @ 02:34 PM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
This rather long essay is in one sense a reply to the open letter recently released by Patrick Durusau, in which he suggested that it was time to acknowledge progress made and adopt OOXML. But it is also an explanation of why I have for the first time in my career become personally involved in supporting a standard. The reason is that I believe that we are at a watershed in public standards policy, and that there is much more at stake than ODF and OOXML. In this essay, I explain why I think we need to recognize the existence and vital importance of what I call “Civil ICT Standards,” and why more than simple technical compromises are needed to create them in order to protect our “Civil ICT Rights.”
As I write this entry, hundreds of people from around the world are converging on Geneva, Switzerland. 120 will meet behind closed doors to hold the final collaborative discussions that will determine whether OOXML will become an ISO/IEC standard. When their work is complete, not everyone will be pleased with the changes agreed upon, but all will acknowledge that the specification that eventually emerges will be much improved from the version that was originally submitted to Ecma two years ago.
Most will also agree that Microsoft’s customers and independent software vendors (ISVs) will be far better off with OOXML publicly available than they would if Microsoft had not offered the specification up at all.
To reach this final draft, hundreds of standards professionals in many nations have spent a great deal of time and effort, including many at Microsoft. And while Microsoft, working with Ecma, has not agreed to all of the changes that have been requested, my impression is that it has agreed to many that will, if implemented by Microsoft, require a substantial amount of work and technical compromise on its part.
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.
Quote of the Day
“The need to adopt ODF is a no-brainer
-Nico Westpalm van Hoorn, chairman of the Netherlands government body responsible for selecting IT standards for government See all Quotes
Latest NewsSpain to overhaul its ICT governance policyGijs HilleniusEC Joinup
October 8, 2015 - The Spanish government is to renew its ICT governance model, the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration announced. Setting strategic objectives and finding new ways to create value using ICT, is one of the priorities of the new ICT Strategy Committee (Comisión de Estrategia TIC, or CETIC), which was appointed in September.
CETIC is to push Spain’s eGovernment strategy, the ministry explains in a statement, by promoting eGovernment processes, improving efficiency, increasing openness and reducing costs.
Following its new ICT governance model, CETIC is to work on a cloud computing solution, that should connect Spanish and European public administrations, allowing information exchange and providing access to government services....The SARA cloud is just one of four communication infrastructure modernisations that Spain is undertaking. The country will continue to extend its data exchange platform to make sure citizens and companies do not need to submit data that is already know by Spanish administrations. The central government will also continue to expand its unified communication platform, already connecting almost 4000 government offices in Spain and 125 countries. The fourth large-scale ICT infrastructure project is Spain’s electronic records interexchange service (Sistema de Interconexión de Registros), allowing public administrations to exchange data and electronic documents.... ...Full Story
Interoperability woes keep Hungary locked-in
EC Joinup October 7, 2015 - A multitude of interoperability problems is threatening Hungary’s central government use of free and open source office applications. Many of the government’s software solutions fail to take open document standards into account, stretching the office project’s support resources. The team is also finding it difficult to sustain support from IT management....Last week, at the LibreOffice annual conference in Aarhus (Denmark), Kelemen spoke about the department’s implementation of the LibreOffice suite of office productivity tools. The project started in 2013, and will end in October this year.
Replacing proprietary office suites by implementing LibreOffice on some 18,000 workstations was never a priority, Kelemen said. The office suites were expected to “just work”, and so no support contract was deemed necessary....In Aarhus, Kelemen concluded the transition to LibreOffice has failed. The project lacks political support, he said: “A transition needs consensus-building and convincing of many decision makers.” He emphasises the need for internal marketing and change management; most of the staff members are open to change, but many county level IT decision makers are resisting. “Switching to LibreOffice is feasible, but not without political support, and it requires organisation of support.”
The LibreOffice project was seen as a way to save costs, while creating two new departments, one of which is the Office of Public Administration and Justice. The other department centralised 15 agencies and grew to over 32,000 employees. The centralisation is meant to improve the IT infrastructure of Hungary’s 198 district offices, by integrating them with the customer service offices. The new organisation is responsible for the majority of Hungary’s government services, including health, pension and unemployment insurances, construction, agriculture and land management, transport, mining and environment.
The new departments are using several free and open source solutions, many based on Suse Linux servers and Suse Linux workstations. ...Full Story
EC survey on ICT standards Digital Single Market
EC Joinup October 6, 2015 - The European Commission has launched a public consultation on Standards for the Digital Single Market. The EC is asking for priorities for standards in important technology areas critical to achieving the single market.
The consultation is open until 16 December.
The contributions to the consultation “will serve to build an ICT Priority Standards Plan, as set out in the Digital Single Market Strategy presented by the Commission on 6 May.”
The Commission is looking for input on standards in:
- 5G communications;
- Cloud computing;
- Data driven services and applications;
- Digitisation of European Industry;
- Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS);
- Internet of Things;
- Smart Cities and efficient energy use.... ...Full Story
Best Practices for Cybersecurity Breaches, Incident Response
Information Management October 5, 2015 - The PCI Security Standards Council has announced new guidelines to help organizations respond to data breaches.
“Responding to a Data Breach: A How-to Guide for Incident Management” provides retailers and service providers with key recommendations so they can be prepared to react quickly if a breach is suspected. It specifically suggests what they should do to contain damage and launch an effective investigation.
The guide was developed in collaboration with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Forensic Investigators (PFI) community. The PCI Security Standards Council is a global forum responsible for the development, management, education, and awareness of the PCI Data Security Standard and other standards that increase payment data security.... ...Full Story
The Dutch government is determined to speed up ODF adoption
IT World October 2, 2015 - Governments across Europe are steadily moving away from vendor-locked, non standard technologies towards open standard and vendor neutral technologies. One such example is the adoption of Open Document Format (ODF) across European government agencies.
In a recent interview with ITworld, Italo Vignoli, the co-founder of TDF gave us a glimpse of massive adoption of ODF and LibreOffice in Europe:
"In France, 15 ministries for a total of 500,000 PCs, in Spain the region of Valencia with 120,000 PCs plus the region of Extremadura with a smaller - but always large - number, in the Netherlands the Ministry of Defense with 45,000 PCs, in Denmark the hospitals of Copenhagen, in Germany the city of Munich with 15,000 PCs plus a number of local governments.
In Italy, Regione Emilia Romagna with 3,500 PCs, Provinces of Perugia with 1,200 PCs, Cremona with 500 PCs, Macerata with 500 PCs, Trento with 4,000 PCs, Bolzano with 6,000 PCs, cities of Bologna with 3,000 PCs, Piacenza with 600 PCs, Reggio EMilia with 500 PCs, Galliera Hospital in Genoa with 2,500 PCs (now at their 10th migration anniversary), healthcare ASL 5 with 2,500 PCs, and many others."
Now, the Netherlands government is looking to speed up the adoption of ODF.... ...Full Story
Open source ‘essential for heritage preservation’ Submitted
EC Joinup October 1, 2015 - Working together on open source tools based on open standards is very important for those involved in the preservation of digital information, says Barbara Sierman, board member of the Open Preservation Foundation.
The foundation, some 15 libraries in Europe and the US, is maintaining a growing collection of open source solutions used for digital preservation....The Open Preservation Foundation is stewarding dozens of software tools. Some of these are mature; the result of research projects funded by the EU, others are still being developed in new and ongoing digital conservation projects....Another example is Jhove, an extensible software framework for performing format identification, validation, and characterization of digital objects. Development of JHOVE was funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York.... ...Full Story
London boroughs back common standards-led data approach
Government Computing September 30, 2015 - Ensuring the wider availability of open standards and common platforms will be vital to ensure local authorities are better able to engage in collaborative and shared service technology and data initiatives when opportunities arise, a London-based council ICT lead has said....
The Tri-borough partnership, made up of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham councils, was formed as part of a strategy to combine services across specific areas to ensure public funds go further.... ...Full Story
Please Welcome ODPi We've been rolling out new collaborative project initiatives at a pretty impressive pace this year at The Linux Foundation. Please welcome the latest one to join the club.
Linux Foundation and ODPi Promise Open Source Hadoop Big Data Standard
Var Guy September 29, 2015 - One of big data's biggest problems is lack of standardization. Today, the Linux Foundation announced a strategy for addressing that challenge by promoting open source standards for Hadoop big data in collaboration with ODPi.
ODPi defines itself as "a shared industry effort focused on promoting and advancing the state of Apache Hadoop and big data technologies for the enterprise." The group has grown its membership steadily since launching last February under the name Open Data Platform Alliance....Today, ODPi takes a major step forward by securing official endorsement by the Linux Foundation, which promotes Linux and other open source software. The support turns ODPi into a Linux Foundation collaborative project.
It also signals the launch of a new platform called ODPi Core, which aims to become "a common reference platform that enables users to realize business results more quickly," according to the Linux Foundation. The Foundation adds that ODPi Core development will proceed under "an open and transparent planning and release" process directed by the Apache Software Foundation.
The Linux Foundation says this initiative will bring badly needed standardization to the Big Data world—particularly the one centered around Apache Hadoop, the open source big data platform. According to the Linux Foundation, the next major steps in ODPi Core's development include the release of a specification and reference implementation, as well as the launch of an ODPi Certification Program. The open source community can follow ODPi's progress via its GitHub repository.... ...Full Story
Have your say on standards to help achieve a Digital Single Market
European Commission September 29, 2015 - Standards are important tools for making different systems work together and stimulating the emergence of new eco-systems across a digital single market of more than 500 million people in Europe. They can boost innovation and reinforce the competitiveness of the European industry. Today the Commission launched a public consultation on Standards for the Digital Single Market (DSM). With this consultation, the Commission seeks input from Standards Development Organisations, companies, researchers, stakeholders' associations, public authorities and any interested party. The public consultation is open until 16 December....The contributions to this consultation will serve to build an ICT Priority Standards Plan, as set out in the Digital Single Market Strategy presented by the Commission on 6 May.... ...Full Story
ANSI Issues Response to CEN CENELEC White Paper
ANSI Weekly News September 28, 2015 - As coordinator of the U.S. standardization system, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has published today a response to a CEN CENELEC white paper entitled “Risks of mutual recognition of voluntary industry standards within the context of a future EU-US trade agreement (TTIP) and alternative approaches,” which was published in June 2015.
The CEN CENELEC paper raised a number of issues that ANSI and the broader U.S. standardization community strongly felt could benefit from further clarification.
ANSI’s response is available.... ...Full Story