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Friday, February 12 2016 @ 08:05 AM CST
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 NewsEC accepts XBRL as standard for procurement SubmittedGijs HilleniusEU Joinup
February 12, 2016 - The European Commission has made XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) version 2.1 eligible for referencing in public procurement. From 17 February, public administrations in the EU can refer to the XBRL specification in their requests for tender. XBRL is a standard for exchanging business information, facilitating automatic retrieval of financial information and improving analysis of financial reporting.
The freely-available standard, developed by the not-for-profit XBRL Consortium, was accepted by the Commission after consulting the European multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) on ICT standardisation and other experts.
The MSP experts evaluate and examine the compliance of technical specifications in the field of ICT that are not national, European or international standards.
XBRL is now the seventh technical specification following this process that can be referenced in public procurement. Others include Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), Extensible Markup Language version 1.0 (XML) and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).... ...Full Story
Influence the Future of Cybersecurity Education—Join the NICE Working Group
NIST February 12, 2016 - Addressing the nation’s rapidly increasing need for cybersecurity employees, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) is seeking members from the public and private sectors and academia to join its new working group and encourages interested individuals to participate in a kickoff teleconference the afternoon of January 27, 2016.
NICE, which is led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is a public-private partnership that promotes a robust network of cybersecurity education, training and workforce development to meet the nation’s demand for skilled cybersecurity employees to protect information systems. The number of job openings in the field greatly exceeds the number of trained workers. The NICE Working Group will collaborate to develop concepts, design strategies and pursue actions to advance cybersecurity education, including sharing existing education initiatives and identifying new ones.... ...Full Story
Companies Form New Alliance to Target Health-Care Costs
WSJ/Yahoo Finance February 11, 2016 - Twenty major companies—including American Express Co., Macy’s Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. — are banding together to use their collective data and market power in a bid to hold down the cost of providing workers with health-care benefits.
The newly formed alliance of companies, which cover about four million people among them, plan to share information about members’ employee health spending and outcomes, with an eye toward using findings to change how they contract for care. Ultimately, some members say, they could even form a purchasing cooperative to negotiate for lower prices, or try to change their relationships with insurance administrators and drug-benefit managers.... ...Full Story
European Parliament repeats call for open source Submitted
EU Joinup February 10, 2016 - For the second time in just three months, the European Parliament has called on the European Commission to to increase the share of free and open source software. On 19 January, in a so-called own-initiative report, the EP also urged the EC to use this type of software to promote reuse in and between public administrations as a solution to increase interoperability.
The European Parliament says that free and open source software will ‘boost competitiveness through interoperability and standardisation’.
In October, the EP called “for the systematic replacement of proprietary software by auditable and verifiable open-source software in all the EU institutions, and for the introduction of a mandatory open-source-selection criterion in all future ICT procurement procedures.”...In addition, the Parliament says free and open source software is instrumental to reinforce ‘trust and security in digital networks, industries, services and infrastructures and in the handling of personal data’.... ...Full Story
NIST Requests Comments on Computer Security Publication on Randomness
NIST February 10, 2016 - The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking public comment on its latest draft of a publication intended to help computer security experts use randomness to protect sensitive data....Random numbers are a crucial element in cryptography, which is often used to protect private messages by encrypting them into a form that cannot be understood without knowledge of a secret value generated using the random number.
Creating the randomness needed requires the use of an entropy source, which includes a natural source of entropy, often a physical phenomenon such as thermal noise — the random motions of particles due to their temperature. Entropy sources that comply with SP 800-90B are intended to provide assurance that cryptographic algorithms provide the security needed to protect information.
“This draft document proposes a lot of tests that you can use to validate your entropy source to tell you how good a job it is doing,” says NIST’s Elaine Barker, one of the publication’s authors. “When you’re assessing your process for generating randomness, you want to make sure nothing is broken and that it is performing consistently. We would like the public’s input on ways we can improve these tests.”... ...Full Story
U.S. Department of Transportation Releases Report to Congress on Dedicated Short-Range Communications
ANSI.org Weekly News February 9, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released a report to Congress assessing the status of dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology and applications for short-range communications between vehicles and infrastructures. While the report found that DSRC is ready for deployment and emphasized that DSRC-based technologies offer a path to a “safer and more efficient” surface transportation system for America, it also revealed that the DOT is aiming to harmonize operational policies and voluntary industry standards to enhance capabilities even more to achieve global compatibility.
The DOT defines “DSRC” as a Wi-Fi derivative technology developed to meet specialized needs for secure, low latency, wireless mobile data communications. The technology has the proven the ability to provide all of the critical attributes needed to support mobility and environmental applications, in addition to lifesaving safety-critical applications. DSRC supports connected vehicle safety applications, for example, and can be configured to enable real-time crash-avoidance alerts and warnings. The DOT reports that in this capacity, DSRC has the ability to transform transportation safety—with the potential to address 83 percent of light-vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers.... ...Full Story
Open Compute Project Extends Focus to TelecommunicationsChristopher Tozzi
The Var Guy February 9, 2016 - The Open Compute Project, with the backing of several telecommunications providers and other new partners, wants to make telco more open.
David Ramos/Getty Images
The Open Compute Project (OCP), the Facebook-born initiative to make datacenter computing more scalable, efficient and affordable through open software and hardware, has taken another step forward by securing the support of several telecommunications companies as it launches a new telco project.
OCP, which was founded in 2011 by Facebook, Intel, Rackspace, Goldman Sachs and Andy Bechtolsheim, originated from an effort by Facebook to keep its datacenter open in order to lower costs and avoid vendor lock-in.... ...Full Story
Industrial Internet Industry Alliance Created Under MIIT
USITO.org February 8, 2016 - On February 1, the Industrial Internet Industry Alliance held its inaugural meeting in Beijing, with Minister of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) minister Miao Wei delivering a keynote address.
In his remarks, Miao Wei highlighted that the industrial Internet has already emerged as the critical driving force for smart manufacturing, and the playing field upon which countries are competing for manufacturing leadership. Minister Miao added that because China is in the midst an of economic transformation, the importance of industrial internet development is even more critical, and that the newly formed alliance should strive to serve as a catalyst for industrial internet promotion measures such as China Manufacturing 2025 and the Internet Plus Strategy.
The alliance will be under the guidance of the China Academy of Information Communications Technology (CAICT) but has a total of 13 vice chairman-level supporting companies, including Huawei, China Telecom and Haier. CAICT president Cao Shumin will serve as chairperson of the alliance, while Minister Miao will serve as director of the alliance's guidance committee. The alliance has 143 founding members. ...Full Story
Get Involved: U.S. TAG Participants Sought for ISO/IEC Subcommittee on Automatic Identification and Data Capture Techniques
ANSI.org Weekly News February 4, 2016 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is seeking U.S. experts to participate in the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Joint Technical Committee (JTC) 1, Information Technology Standards, Subcommittee (SC) 31, Automatic identification and data capture techniques. As the U.S. representative to ISO, ANSI encourages all U.S. stakeholder organizations in relevant information technology fields to get involved, and those involved in radio frequency identification and data encoding are especially sought....SC 31 works to provide standards for data formats, data syntax, data structures, data encoding, and technologies for the process of automatic identification and data capture and of associated devices utilized in inter-industry applications and international business interchanges and for mobile applications.... ...Full Story
ANSI to Host OMB A-119 Revision Webinar on February 16
ANSI.org Weekly News February 3, 2016 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) will host a free webinar discussing the recently published revisions to White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119, "Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities.” The webinar will take place from 3:00 to 4:00 pm Eastern on Tuesday, February 16, 2016.
ANSI strongly encourages all interested parties – and especially ANSI member organizations – to take this opportunity to learn more about the revised document, which will continue to have a significant impact on future U.S. government use of privately developed voluntary consensus standards.
The circular, in conjunction with the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) of 1995, instructs U.S. federal agencies to consider using voluntary consensus standards developed privately instead of government-unique standards whenever possible. It was last updated in 1998 and has been revised again to reflect notable changes that have occurred in the ensuing years in connection with voluntary consensus standards, conformity assessment activities, and the federal government's participation in and use of standards.
Guest speakers at the webinar will include:
- Jasmeet Seehra, Policy Analyst, OMB
- Jeff Weiss, Senior Advisor for Standards and Global Regulatory Policy, U.S. Department of Commerce
- Gordon Gillerman, Director, Standards Coordination Office, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
The webinar will be listen-only, but participants will be given the opportunity to submit questions via chat. Following the event, the slide deck and a recording of the webinar will be made available for future viewing.
All individuals interesting in taking part in the webinar must register in advance. ...Full Story