Consortiuminfo.org Consortium Standards Bulletin- September 2005
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Massachusetts and OpenDocument in the Press

Quotes of the Day

A sizable win in the US for the ODF (OpenDocument Format) [September 1, 2005]

 

RedMonk Analyst Stephen O'Grady, on a Massachusetts proposal to require all State documents to be saved in OpenDocument or pdf formats...Full Story

   

Vendors, whether IBM or any other company, now have to be far more responsive to the mandates of government and these companies [September 9, 2005]

  IBM VP for Standards and Open Source Bob Sutor...Full Story
   
A Bit Stunned [September 9, 2005
  Microsoft's reaction to the Mass. Open Document format, as described by MS Office Program Manager Brian Jones ...Full Story
   
The world is about open standards and open source. I can't understand why anybody would want to continue making closed-format documents anymore [September 24, 2005]
  Mass. CIO Peter Quinn, announcing final adoption of a rule requiring Executive Agencies to save documents using the OpenDocument after 1/1/07...Full Story
   
Some in state government have talked about potential hearings to delve into this issue further, and we encourage that additional public review and evaluation [September 24, 2005]
  Alan Yates, Microsoft general manager of information worker business strategy...Full Story

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What the scribes were saying:

We’ve spent a great deal of time researching and writing this issue in order to present what we hope is the most detailed recounting to date of the events leading up to the Massachusetts decision to require use of the OpenDocument OASIS Standard and Adobe PDF by the Executive Agencies.  But ever since the first news of the final Massachusetts comment period reached the marketplace, the stories have been flying thick and fast, many of them short, single message efforts to come up with a daily text bite (well-founded or not) on a hot issue.  Herewith we present a chronological sampling of what the press was saying from August 30, when the news first broke, and September 22, when the first story reported that the Information Technology Division had quietly posted its decision on its Website the night before.

Massachusetts software switch set to hit Microsoft
By:  Richard Waters
Financial Times/FT.com September 1, 2005 -- The state of Massachusetts has laid out a plan to switch all its workers away from Microsoft's Word, Excel and other desktop software applications, delivering what would be one of the most significant setbacks to the software company's battle against open-source software in its home market. The state said yesterday that all electronic documents "created and saved" by state employees would have to be based on open formats, with the switch to start at the beginning of 2007. Documents created using Microsoft's Office software are produced in formats that are controlled by Microsoft, putting them outside the state's definition. ...Full Story

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Massachusetts to adopt 'open' desktop
By: Martin LaMonica
CNET News.com September 2, 2005 -- The commonwealth of Massachusetts has proposed a plan to phase out office productivity applications from Microsoft and other providers in favor of those based on "open" standards, including the recently approved OpenDocument standard. The state described the plan in a posting made to its Web site earlier this week as part of a public review process which ends Sept. 9. Massachusetts agencies have until Jan. 1, 2007, to install applications that support the OpenDocument file formats and phase out other products. ...Full Story

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Legal worries led Massachusetts to open standards
By: Tom Espiner
ZDNet.com, September 6, 2005 -- The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has cited legal concerns over Microsoft's software as a factor behind its decision to only use document formats based on open standards. Eric Kriss, Secretary of Administration & Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, told CRN on Friday that Massachusetts had concerns about the openness of Microsoft XML schemas as well as with potential patent issues that could arise in the future. "What we've backed away from at this point is the use of a proprietary standard and we want standards that are published and free of legal encumbrances, and we don't want two standards," Kriss added. ...Full Story

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Open Season in Massachusetts
By: Jim Wagner
InternetNews.com, September 12, 2005 -- The net effect of the commonwealth of Massachusetts proposal to switch its software to open standards support could be huge for government workers, as well as Microsoft (Quote, Chart). The commonwealth is inviting public comment until today on its plan to switch software only to those applications that support the OpenDocument standard for XML-based (define) text, spreadsheets and charts. The standard was adopted by the Organization for the Advancement of Structure Information Standards (OASIS) in May. ...Full Story

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Microsoft fights bid to drop Office software
By: Robert Weisman
Boston.com, September 14, 2005
-- Microsoft Corp. has launched an assault on a Massachusetts government plan to move computer networks at all state agencies onto an open-file format by January 2007. Such a move, if approved, could displace Microsoft's profitable Office software and, if followed by other government bodies across the country and abroad, could threaten Microsoft's dominance on desktop computers in the public sector. The company now holds more than 90 percent of the global market in office productivity software. ...Full Story

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IBM Warns on Open Documents
By: Sue Bushell
CIO Government September 20, 2005  --  In a subtle rebuke to Microsoft, IBM is warning vendors will have to be far more responsive to the mandates of government and business as governments around the world embrace open standards and open source. The warning came after the US State of Massachusetts unveiled plans earlier this month to phase out Microsoft Office in favour of office productivity suites that support an open-document format from the OASIS standards body. ...[A]s a number of bloggers have pointed out, government officials in Massachusetts, Europe, and elsewhere have repeatedly warned the company to stop posturing and instead address customers' calls for unrestricted interoperability. Now there are signs many other governments are paving the way for adoption of XML-based office formats, which is likely to drive the rest of the industry to follow suit. This has led to speculation that Microsoft might end up being stuck with a proprietary format no-one wants to use. ...Full Story

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Massachusetts Verdict: MS Office Formats Out
eWeek, September 25, 2005 -- The state of Massachusetts Friday made it official: It will use only nonproprietary document formats in state-affiliated offices effective Jan. 1, 2007. Although state CIO Peter Quinn has said repeatedly that this issue does not represent "the state versus Microsoft Corp. —or any one company," adoption of the long-debated plan may result in all versions of Microsoft's Office productivity suite being phased out of use throughout the state's executive branch agencies. Massachusetts posted the final version of its Enterprise Technical Reference Model on its Web site. ...Full Story

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Intellectual Property Issues

This makes a lot of people happy [September 13, 2005]

 

Wilson Sonsini's Michael Barclay, on a Fed. Circuit ruling invalidating the Lemuelson machine vision patent, after $1.5 billion in royalty payments...Full Story


Department of “well, never mind…”:  While the home page of the Lemelson Foundation states that the foundation has given or committed over $90 million in support of it’s mission, to many the name “Lemelson” will always be synonymous with abuse of the patent system and the concept of the “submarine patent”.  And, while $90 million is no small number, it pales in comparison with the estimated $1.5 billion in royalties collected on patents that have at last been held to be invalid decades after their original filing (and continuation, and continuation…)  Some credit the eventual banishment of so-called “continuation practice” to the now-dead, but once prolific inventor and his life-long patent attorney, Gerald Hosier.

Lemelson Patents Ruled Unenforceable
Brenda Sandburg
The Recorder September 13, 2005  -- After hundreds of companies paid inventor Jerome Lemelson more than $1.5 billion in licensing fees, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has concluded that his patents aren't enforceable after all. The Federal Circuit ruled Friday that Lemelson's 18- to 39-year delay in prosecuting patent claims relating to machine vision and bar-code technologies was unreasonable. "Symbol Technologies is one of the few who has stood up to Lemelson," said Michael Barclay, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. "This makes a lot of people happy." ...Full Story

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Remember Copyright Law? So much blood has been spilled over patents and standards in the past several years that it's easy to forget that copyright law is relevant as well. For most purposes, the application of copyright law to standard setting has been non-problematic for years, with little disagreement over what the rules should be. But now, the case described below indicates that the copyright law "fair use" exception that permits copying for purposes of achieving interoperability may be thwarted not only by something as mundane as a clickwrap license, but by utilizing the prohibitions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was enacted in October of 1998. Hopefully, the DCMA trapdoor approved in this case will be narrowed or closed, rather than approved and widened, in other courts.

Court Prevents Gamers From Creating
By: Lee Gesmer/Joe Laferrera
Gesmer Updegrove LLP September 12, 2005  -- This month, the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in Davidson & Assoc. (d/b/a Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.) v. Jung. This is the latest in a growing line of cases dealing with attempts to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to prevent competition through interoperability. In Blizzard, the plaintiff was a developer of computer games. The games were intended to connect to Blizzard’s own network on the Internet, allowing far-flung players to compete against each other online. The company sued the defendants, who had developed a competing, alternative network designed to be compatible with Blizzard’s games....Though offensive use of the DMCA to prohibit inter-operability is still an unpredictable game, contractual steps can help alleviate the uncertainty. In the Blizzard case, a simple click-wrap agreement trumped the defendants’ statutory “fair use” right to reverse engineer. By handcuffing the public’s ability to experiment with a product in this way, a developer may impose a practical bar to third parties trying to create interoperable parts or services. In these circumstances, the reach of the DMCA may be secondary, with the inquiry focusing instead on the scope and enforceability of the contractual prohibition against reverse engineering. ...Full Story

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Open Source

We have based the technology on open standards, so the computer is compatible to existing hardware and software used in different environments. [September 8, 2005]

 

Matts Brunell, participant in a group that has developed a ruggedized, 12 volt, low power drain, under US $200 computer for use in Third World countries...Full Story


Keeping it all together:  Those of us with (how to say this delicately) a certain number of years in the trenches well remember the rise of Unix as the Great Interoperable Hope of the IT industry, followed by its fragmentation, industry efforts to reunify the various resulting Unix flavors, and the ultimate abandonment of efforts to accomplish that evanescent goal.  Today, everyone’s darling is Linux, but just as occurred with Unix 25 years ago, the more powerful and acknowledged the open source upstart becomes, the more its distributors are tempted to think unclean proprietary thoughts.  Can Linux be saved from the fate of its tragic progenitor?  That’s the mission of the Free Standards Group and its Executive Director, Jim Zemlin.  With the release of Version 3.0 of its Linux Standards Base and pledges of support received from all of the major distro vendors, it's one step closer to achieving that worthy goal.

FSG touts LSB 3.0 features, acceptance
LinuxDevices.com, September 20, 2005 -- The Free Standards Group (FSG) is touting a major new version of the Linux Standards Base (LSB) approved in July. LSB 3.0 improves POSIX compliance and internationalizability, updates C++ compiler requirements, and adds new interfaces while removing deprecated ones. It is supported by "all major distributors," the LSB claims. ...Full Story

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And that’s not all:  Meanwhile, semi-eponymous Debian creator Ian (as in Deb+Ian) Murdock is leading another effort to ensure the success of Linux, which began to release information on its efforts to assemble a common, standards-based Debian core for Linux Standard Base compliant, Debian-based Linux distributions.  Stay tuned for further news of its progress in the months ahead.

First code release for Debian consortium
By: Renai LeMay
ZDNet Australia, September 15, 2005 -- Founding members of the group, dubbed the Debian Common Core Alliance (DCC Alliance), include Knoppix, Linspire, MEPIX, Progeny, Sun Wah, UserLinux and Xandros. "The first preview release of DCC 3.0 PR1 was made available last week," Progeny chairman and Debian founder Ian Murdock wrote in his blog. He added that the next version was due late this week or early next week. The initial release only runs on 32- and 64-bit x86 architectures, as well as Intel's Itanium chips, he said. ...Full Story

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It’s a small world after all:  If you use Google Alerts or otherwise stay tuned into global IT news, you know that the sun never sets on the open source empire, and that it appeals to governments everywhere, not least of all in the third world, where the licensing terms are particularly attractive, and where the positive impacts and opportunities represented by information and communications technologies (ICT) can be particularly profound, as demonstrated in the following two stories.

Science Minister Wants State to Embrace Open Source
By: Lesley Stones
AllAfrica.com, Johannesburg, September 15, 2005  -- EFFORTS to increase use of open-source software in government departments have found a champion in Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena. The use of open source rather than proprietary software would have enormous benefits for the economy and society of SA, he said. But the unwillingness of some hi-tech suppliers to adopt more open, accessible and flexible technologies would mean technology remained unaffordable and inaccessible to most people in developing countries. ...Full Story

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African women pledge allegiance to ICT
ITWeb, Johannesburg, August 29, 2005
-- Delegates to a Women's Mutingati on the Information Society held in Cape Town last week adopted a communiqué highlighting the importance of ICT in advancing women's causes and pledging to support open source software. Delegates from various governmental and non-governmental organisations from several African countries attended the Mutingati. The document issued after the event recognised the importance of ICT as a tool to support the empowerment of women. It also said the delegates intended to contribute meaningfully to, and implement the outcomes of, the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society to be held in Tunis from 16 to 18 November. ...Full Story

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Europe

Yes, that’s “billions:”  If you ever had any doubt that Europe is serious about standards, the first story below should set you straight.  It tells the tale of how the Europeans are joining forces with the Japanese – and pooling 2.5 billion Euros while they are at it – to steal a march on the United States in the middleware market.  What does it take besides enough money to buy a principality to pull that off?  A collaborative effort to “define standards for interoperability and the rules for governing the use of open-source software.”  There seems to be something about the number 13, because the second story describes another brand new European-based consortium, again with 13 founding member companies.

European consortium promises to beat US and Japan at middleware
By: Simon Taylor
IDG News Service September 9, 2005  --  A major new European research cooperation project will develop the next generation of middleware, according to the 13 founder companies. The initiative will have a 2.5 billion euro budget with part of the money coming from the companies involved and the rest from public sources including the European Union's funds for research and development. A key part of NESSI's work will be to define standards for interoperability and the rules for governing the use of open-source software….Full Story

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Companies launch networked software research initiative
Simon Taylor
IDG News Service September 8, 2005 --  Thirteen software and telecommunications companies are launching a consortium to work together to develop new software and services based on open standards. The initiative aims to help Europe develop a "knowledge-based economy" in line with the European Union's Lisbon strategy of boosting competitiveness and growth by encouraging innovation, according to a representative of one of the companies involved in the consortium. The thirteen companies involved are: Atos Origin, BT Group, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica, IBM, HP, Nokia, ObjectWeb, SAP, Siemens Software AG, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, and Thales. ...Full Story

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Web Services

The motive behind limiting what browser you develop for is laziness. If you develop Web applications, you must develop to the W3C standards. [August 27, 2005]

 

Richard Stiennon, VP of Tthreat Research for Anti-spyware Maker Webroot...Full Story

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Web Services and Changing Times That another Web services specification has been offered to a standards organization is hardly remarkable, given the long line of submissions that has come before. What is interesting in this story, though, is not what is the same as past stories, but what is different. This time, a specification is being offered to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), and does not include IBM among its sponsors. In a way, it's a sign of the times, and a reflection how much things can change over time in the technology industry. The initial Web services standards went to only a few core capability consortia, such as the W3C and OASIS, while the suite of Web services and (now Service Oriented Architecture standards as well) now extends in various directions, and therefore logically looks for the support of a wider array of consortia. The team of submitters for some time now often includes former Microsystems archenemy, and now ally, Sun Microsystems. And the concept of a group of companies deciding what standards are needed outside of a consensus-based standard setting organization, and what these standards should address before offering them to such a standards body, no longer excites comment. And last, but hardly least, Web services have become a reality, rather than a speculative, and often doubted, methodology.

WS-Management Specifications Submitted to DMTF for Standardization
By: Robin Cover
Cover Pages September 19, 2005 -- Microsoft and eleven industry partners have submitted the Web Services for Management (WS-Management) specification (V1, Edition 3) to DMTF for further refinement and finalization as a Web services-based management standard. WS-Management describes a general SOAP-based protocol for managing systems such as PCs, servers, devices, Web services, and other manageable entities. The Catalog describes default metadata formats used with the WS-Management Protocol. ...Full Story

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Wireless

Hang on to your rooftops: After years of anticipation, hype and hardball between competing design groups, WiMax -- the equivalent of Wi-Fi, but with a 40 mile range and faster (70 megabits/sec) transfer speeds -- is finally on the near horizon in its fixed-station form (a mobile version is still several years away). It's also close enough now that hard facts and figures can begin to be cited on costs, vendors, first markets and so on. And, in a reprise of the boon for owners of tall buildings in the early years of cell phones, prime urban, campus and similar high-rise locations for WiMax base stations will be at a premium -- and reap a premium rent from erstwhile WiMax service providers. The following article provides a concise overview of what the near-term future for WiMax will look like. For a more qualified opinion, see the second article (requires registration).

WiMax Keeps Gathering Momentum
By:  Kenneth M. Leon
BusinessWeek.com August 29, 2005 --  A number of recent developments since my last column (see BW Online, 6/20/05, "Here Comes WiMax World") indicate that all of the pieces are coming together for WiMax service. We at Standard & Poor's Equity Research feel confident that WiMax service will be commercially available in 2006. Trials by telecommunications carriers around the world are already under way. ...Full Story

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WiMax: Wireless pie in sky or the next tech revolution?
By:  Matthew Foredahl
AP/Mercurynews.com August 29, 2005 --  On a stormy day at an Argentine agricultural school, Maria del Carmen Villar stood in front of a camera that streamed her image over the Internet to a conference here - more than 6,500 miles away. The demonstration showed WiMax can fulfill at least some of its many promises over the years. Trouble is, despite years of promises, WiMax has yet to move beyond trials and carefully scripted demonstrations, including those at the Intel Developer Forum….Full Story

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Story Updates

Remember Rambus?  Sure you do.  Well, here’s the latest on this ongoing legal saga.  It appears that Rambus has decided that perhaps its best not to sue its biggest customer after all.  And, as usual, the day traders are in on the action, gnashing their teeth and flipping their stock with equal abandon.  (No no, don’t tell me…Rambus…isn’t that Darl McBride’s company?)

Rambus says it won't sue Samsung, any more
By: Cher Price
The Inquirer, September 25, 2005 -- THE CASE CONTINUES and continues to continue in the 830 patent suit filed by Samsung against Rambus earlier this year. That one followed Rambus terminating Samsung's licence on stuff. Is it all coming back to you? A flurry of activity starting on the 20th of September is possibly responsible for the price of RMBS flying high again. ...Full Story

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Standards and Society

With most medical records [of New Orleans evacuees] gone, if there ever was a case for electronic health records, this is it [September 11, 2005]

 

Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt, announcing the expedited formation of a public/private organization to set ehealth record standards...Full Story

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You don’t need a weatherman to know which way your records blow:  While the need for national eHealth records standards had already been recognized and the mechanisms put in motion to begin the process of creating them, Hurricane Katrina supplied a sobering reminder why secure, readily accessible eHealth records are vitally important.  With over a million evacuees spread across the nation and the medical records of most either destroyed or inaccessible, the need for such a system became painfully apparent.

Health IT standards body in the offing
By: Mary Mosquera
Government Computer News.com September 11, 2005  -- Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt this week will name the members of the public/private organization that will set standards to enable the exchange of health care data. Within two days, Leavitt said, he will select 17 members from federal and state government and from industry, including health care providers, insurers and IT vendors, to form the American Health Information Community. Interoperability will jump-start a market and spur adoption of such health IT systems as electronic health records, Leavitt said.... Katrina destroyed the paper medical records of thousands of New Orleans evacuees, many of whom are ill and no longer have medications. "With most medical records gone, if there ever was a case for electronic health records, this is it," Leavitt said. ...Full Story

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Religious and financial standards do mix:  While the Great Books of many religions are intended to serve as guides to their followers, in Islam the Koran is regarded as a complete guide to modern life, as relevant today as it was when it was written, almost 1400 years ago.  In the late 20th century, it became necessary to reconcile modern needs with sacred teachings in the world of finance, when modern banking proliferated in the Arabic world.  The following article reflects the success of that effort.

 

IFSB to hold first Islamic financial services forum in Europe
The Edge Daily, September 21, 2005 -- The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) is organising the Islamic Financial Services Forum: The European Challenge, which will be hosted by the Banque Centrale Du Luxembourg (Central Bank of Luxembourg). The forum will be held on Nov 8–9, 2005 in Luxembourg. IFSB is an international-standard setting body of regulatory and supervisory agencies for the Islamic financial services industry. ...Full Story

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