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Wednesday, July 30 2014 @ 02:12 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
“For the first time ever there is a default open format for Government documents
-OpenForum Europe U.K. chapter celebrating the annointment of ODF by the U.K. Cabinet Office
“The document format world has just been turned upside down
-Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols, writing at ZDNet.com See all Quotes
Latest NewsW3C Launches Push for Social Web Application InteroperabilityW3C.org
July 30, 2014 - W3C today launched a new Social Activity to develop standards
to make it easier to build and integrate social applications
with the Open Web Platform. Future standards — including
vocabularies for social applications, activity streams,
embedded experiences and in-context actions, and protocols to
federate social information such as status updates — will
address use cases that range from social business applications,
to cross-organization federation, to greater user control over
W3C chartered two groups today to carry out these activities:
* The Social Web Working Group will define the technical
standards and APIs to facilitate access to social
functionality as part of the Open Web Platform. These
include a common JSON-based syntax for social data, a
client-side API, and a Web protocol for federating social
information such as status updates.
* The Social Interest Group will co-ordinate messaging around
social at the W3C and formulate a broad strategy to enable
social business and federation. It will harvest use-cases
and review specifications produced by technical working
groups in the light of those use-cases.
The Social Web Working Group’s first face-to-face meeting will
take place the last week of October, as part of TPAC 2014,
W3C’s annual gathering of Working Groups. ...Full Story
Polish NGOs join to open up government Submitted
EU Joinup July 30, 2014 - Polands free software advocacy group FWIOO (Fundacja Wolnego i Otwartego Oprogramowania) has joined twelve other Polish NGOs in the 'Coalition for Open Government', pushing the country's public administrations towards greater transparency and electronic participation. Public administrations using free and open source software solutions help close the digital gap, ease sharing and re-use, and enable citizens to participate electronically with their government....The Coalition for Open Government wants the Polish government to join the Open Government Partnership. This international network aims to get governments to commit to transparency, empowering citizens, fighting corruption, and harnessing new technologies to strengthen governance.
One of FWIOO's aims is to get Poland's public administrations' to use of open document formats. This will reduce the threat of public authorities losing access to digital resources, a risk tied to the use of proprietary document formats.
Together with FWIOO, the Coalition for Open Government will be pushing for open technologies in the field of open data, and for removing technological barriers that hinder public participation and grant applications. ...Full Story
IEEE forms group to address 25 Gb/s Ethernet standard for cloud datacentres
Business Cloud News July 29, 2014 - The IEEE has formed a working group to explore the market opportunities and needs for a single-lane 25 Gb/s speed for server interconnects for Ethernet. The formation of the 25 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group comes shortly after Google, Arista, and Microsoft, operating as part of the recently formed 25G Ethernet Consortium released a specification enabling single-lane 25 Gb/s Ethernet and dual-lane 50 Gbps Ethernet links.
Echoing the 25G Ethernet Consortium, which is composed mainly of networking technology developers and cloud service providers, the IEEE said the reuse of serial lane 25 Gb/s signaling technology, developed to support 100 Gb/s Ethernet, optimises the cost of traffic per GB in datacentres built primarily for cloud – allowing these providers to send more data over the same links.... ...Full Story
Moving to LibreOffice saves Toulouse 1 million Submitted
EU Joinup July 29, 2014 - Toulouse, France's fourth largest city, has saved 1 million euro by migrating all its desktops to LibreOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools. "Free software and open source in general is now an established part of the city’s comprehensive digital policy, and the open model promotes economic development and employment in the region", according to a study published by the Open Source Observatory and Repository today....Currently several thousand people out of the 10,000 who work for the city and Toulouse Métropole use LibreOffice daily. The migration started in 2012, following the political decision in 2011. The switch took a year and a half, and 90 per cent of the desktops now run LibreOffice...."Software licenses for productivity suites cost Toulouse 1.8 million euro every three years. Migration cost us about 800,000 euro, due partly to some development. One million euro has actually been saved in the first three years. It is a compelling proof in the actual context of local public finance",... ...Full Story
What the UK Government’s adoption of ODF really means
Moved by Freedom- Powered by Standards July 28, 2014 - On Tuesday the news that the UK Government had decided to use ODF as its official and default file format started to spread....This decision is a landmark for several reasons. First, it is not every day that you see an entire government migrate to a standardized file format. You may hear about government branches using this or that solution, but nothing that is so “abstract” than a file format. This time the UK Government has made the conscious decision to define a coherent policy in handling its digital documents, from the stage where they are created, edited and circulated all the way to the archival phase....
Most of the migrations from one office suite to another tend to happen without any coherent document management policy. Many organizations moving from, say, Microsoft Office to LibreOffice do not necessarily adopt ODF as their default format and will carry on supporting whatever version of the MS Office file format internally. This usually leads to frustrations and compatibility problems. This time, the UK Government decision takes a different approach. By deciding about the formats first, the UK creates the conditions necessary to have real choices for its government and its citizens, thus setting a level playing field for everyone....While reading among the tea leaves is not my favourite past time, it is relevant to assume that this decision may change a few things around the IT industry as well. By way of an example, I have always been amazed at Apple’s clean support of ODF inside Mac OS X but its constant absence across the iWork editions. Perhaps Apple will feel compelled to introduce ODF files in iWork now? Only time will tell. Cloud solutions will also have to improve or implement ODF and in some cases PDF support in a proper way.
The decision might also have consequences for other European countries and perhaps for the European institutions themselves, as the UK will now be an actual example of a country that has migrated to ODF, and not just one of the countries that made the choice of Free and Open Source Software.... But the whole point is that in 2014, trying to extract revenue by creating lock-in on office files is no longer acceptable. That, I think, is what the UK Government decision really means. And if I’m right, it’s only the beginning.... ...Full Story
Report: US needs to adopt minimal national security standard for cybersecurity
Fierce Homeland Security July 28, 2014 - The United States cannot allow cyber insecurity in information systems to reach a point where weaknesses would result in leaders "unwilling to make a decision or unable to act on a decision fundamental to our national security," said a new think tank report, suggesting a new national security standard for what's important to protect in cyberspace....Danzig said that because IT dependency and accompanying insecurities have come so rapidly evolved, the U.S. doesn't really understand what is acceptable and unacceptable risk let alone what the government's and the private sector's roles are in this area....He also said that the U.S. may need to adopt a strategy that "self-consciously" gives up some cyber benefits in exchange for greater security on key systems.
This might involve "stripping down systems so they do less but have fewer vulnerabilities" and less reliance on digital systems and more on humans, among other recommendations.
Another interesting initiative is to "map the adversarial ecosystem of cyberspace in anthropological detail" as a way to better understand enemies, our own incentives and operational methods, he wrote.... ...Full Story
The Document Foundation congratulates the UK government for their revolutionary and historical choice of open document standards
The Document Foundation July 25, 0214 - The Document Foundation (TDF) congratulates the UK government for the selection of the Open Document Format (ODF), in addition to Portable Document Format (PDF), to meet user needs. LibreOffice, the free office suite developed by TDF, supports both ODF – the native document format – and PDF (including PDF/A)....“TDF has always been a strong supporter of ODF, and a believer in open document standards”, says Thorsten Behrens, TDF Chairman. “July 22 will be a date to remember, as the culmination of a dream inaugurated when ODF become a ISO standard on November 30, 2006. By standardizing on ODF and PDF, the UK government is showing the world that it is entirely possible to find a way out of proprietary formats to enhance user freedom”....Complementing ODF, LibreOffice manages Hybrid PDF files, which combine the advantages of PDF and ODF by embedding a fully editable ODF document into a PDF without breaking any of the standard characteristics of both formats. ...Full Story
We're living in a post-open source world
InfoWorld July 25, 0214 - After years of bitter feuds between free software and open source advocates, open source won. But it was a temporary victory. While proponents of Apache-style licensing had a brief period to gloat, the GitHub generation seems determined to take open source to its logical conclusion: releasing most software under no license at all.
Are developers simply too careless to bother with a license, or is something bigger under way?... ...Full Story
Groundbreaking Operating System Is Named an IEEE Milestone
IEEE The Institute July 25, 0214 - The greatest technological innovations often happen in the most modest of places. In his backyard toolshed in Pacific Grove, Calif., computer programmer Gary Kildall built an operating system in 1974 that, along with the microprocessor and disk drive, would become one of the three fundamental building blocks of the personal computer revolution. His OS, Control Program for Microprocessors (CP/M), was the first commercial system to allow a microprocessor-based computer to interface with a disk storage unit. It paved the way for low-cost computers to be used in business, industry, academia and, eventually, the home.
To recognize the breakthrough, Kildall’s invention was named an IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing.... ...Full Story
EU tenders for Open Data platform Written
Business Cloud.com July 24, 0214 - The European Commission has launched a formal tender for SMART 2014/1072 - Deployment of an EU Open Data core platform: implementation of the pan-European Open Data Portal and related services. This promises to be the worlds biggest open data project to data, eclipsing the UK Data.Gov.UK and the US Data.Gov which currently deliver approximately 15,000 and 111,000 data sets respectively.
This is not just about making data available for third party developers and those with the knowledge and skills to extract, sort, curate and import data into their own systems. The EU wants visualisation tools delivered as part of the project. This will make it possible for users of the European Open Data Portal to do their own analytics and create visualisations of the data on the platform itself.... ...Full Story