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Microsoft Receives Open Source VIP Blessing 198

* * Beatles-Beatles writes to let us know that Larry Rosen has given his blessing to the new terms that Microsoft is Making their Office XML Reference Schema available under. Rosen, "the attorney that wrote the book on open source licensing and the man who was the Open Source Initiative's first general counsel and secretary," described this move as the "most significant olive branch to date" to come from the Redmond software giant.
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Microsoft Receives Open Source VIP Blessing

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @06:28AM (#14136393)
    I'm recycling a comment from another AC in another Scuttlemonkey/**Beatles-Beatles post. This guy's getting worse than Roland Picklepail:

    Am I the only person who has noticed the numerous stories that get posted by *--Beatles-Beatles? Am I also the only person who has noticed that the link used in is name is a constantly changing URL (depending on the story) with pointers to various scammy sites? Is it not obvious what he's doing? He's using the awesome PageRank of slashdot do promote his sites based on searches that have the word Beatles in them.

    It's a small price to pay for free advertising. Find a story, summarize it in 5 minutes, post to slashdot, and get a pagerank boost that advertisers would pay hundreds (or maybe thousands) for. (Text links on high-ranking sites is big business - just ask oreilly).

    Slashdot should at least put a ref=nofollow in the links to submitters (or better yet, only link the submitter's name to his/her user page).

    In closing, a quick bit of WHOIS shows that all the sites linked by **B-B are registered to Carl Fogle. Carl, cut this crap out.
  • Back in Mass. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @06:31AM (#14136405)
    This move has put Microsoft back in the race in Massachusetts [vnunet.com]. They were previously threatening to disqualify MS due to not supporting any standards.

    • Re:Back in Mass. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vidarh ( 309115 ) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @07:13AM (#14136518) Homepage Journal
      They were threatening no such thing. They standardised on ODF and made it clear they'd be happy to work with anyone who - by the time the policy goes into force in 2007 - supports ODF in the appropriate way in their software.

      That MS chose to present that as if they were being excluded is more about MS' fear of competition and the free market than about reality.

  • by axonis ( 640949 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @06:36AM (#14136416)
    Isn't this really just a standards specification for the office file format in XML and thus has nothing to do with open source since Microsoft is not providing any code ?
    • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 ) <snarks@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @07:24AM (#14136538) Homepage Journal
      It's about open formats that can be implemented in Open Source. No, they aren't providing any code, no-one said they are.
    • Isn't this really just a standards specification for the office file format in XML and thus has nothing to do with open source since Microsoft is not providing any code ?

      And wouldn't open source advocates raise a lot of hell if they didn't release this specification? So pedantic nitpicking over whether this is technically "open source" per se seems kind of irrelevant. They're opening to us the source [reference.com] specification from which they are creating Office documents in XML.

      And I'm not trying to be an arse here.
    • Did anyone say that this was open source? It's an open specification, not open source — it now allows open source solutions to implement this open specification, too.

    • My big question is, is why does MS feel the need to make it's own open format? If they are going to go through the trouble of making their own format, and making it open, then there must be a reason for doing this, over using ODF. Why would they go through all the trouble to think up and XML based document format, and release a spec, when they could just go ahead and implement the ODF spec? If the format is going to be truly open, then why wouldn't they just implement something that already exists. Obvi
      • I've heard tons of anecdotal reports that a file that takes 3 seconds to open in Word can take 5 minutes to open in OpenOffice. Maybe they just think the ODF spec will always have performance problems?
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @06:38AM (#14136423) Homepage

    Come on guys, cut down the flames and lets think... its only a SMALL start but it is a very significant start. While this might be a one-off tactical move its from one of the most important divisions in Microsoft, its an important move. This is Microsoft ACTIVELY accepting and PROMOTING an Open Source licensing model.

    Dinosaurs take a long time to turn (remember IBM?)... has the first synapse fired?

    Applaud them when they do good things, it gives more weight to your later critisism.
    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @06:46AM (#14136448) Journal
      Or could it be that MS is simply doing a tactical move to hold off OO (and others) from making inroads?

      Personaly, I will wait and see how real this is. So far, every single time that MS has done something to support a standard or OSS, it turns out to be a trap. Think in terms of their recent attempt at stopping spam via DNS.
      • Yes, this is Microsoft pulling an 'Embrace, Extend, Extinguish' on the act of Open-Sourcing a proprietary product. Not only do they get to look good for a while, and throw a wrench into Mass' plans, but they can lessen the impact of other companies that release their products as OpenSource. When companies release their products or technologies as OpenSource in the future, users and pundits will ask, 'Is this a real boon for users, or another Microsoft-ish pseudo-benefit?'
      • "So far, every single time that MS has done something to support a standard or OSS, it turns out to be a trap."

        You are absolutely correct. Even if all of our speculation on the details is incorrect, one thing is immutable: Microsoft cannot be trusted. Ever.

        We can be certain that the receiving end of Microsoft's olive branch is poisoned.
        • Microsoft cannot be trusted. Ever.

          Careful there. I got into professional coding in '86. After doing that for a few years, I realized that IBM was the great evil and not to be trusted. So at that time, I figured that IBM would be the great evil of all time and spent the next few years working on MS and pushing it everywhere. Things changed, showing that I was wrong.

          Down the road, we may find that MS will adopt OSS to keep from following SGI, Word Perfect, and Intuit (all these companies will most likely fa

    • This is Microsoft ACTIVELY accepting and PROMOTING an Open Source licensing model.

      No, this is Microsoft making a sacrifice to stop the OpenDocument, which would have a good chance of ruining all of Microsoft's revenue from office products, and even worse (for them), break an important pillar of their TC campaign.
    • Show me the code ;) Sorry but to license specs is a step backward. Specs should be public and free for anyone to implement. Ring me back when they will put their code under an open-source license. Licensing specs is even against the spirit of FOSS.
    • Dinosaurs take a long time to turn (remember IBM?)

      As I said before, Microsoft is currently in Stage 3: Bargaining. The bargain is their proprietary XML format. "OK ok don't leave me out of the business... I'll open my XML format!".

      I really don't think they're doing a good thing. Their XML format is an awful mess, why couldn't they just adopt ODF? Well, let's hope for the best.
  • I just take a wait and see approach, who knows what MS will do when they release Vista in about a year, and what they'll do with office 12.
    I followed MS's moves for a long time now, and am afraid it'll be more of the same over and over again.

    And in 5 years, the world might be a completely different place for software, who knows?
  • by eleknader ( 190211 ) <eleknader@ p h net.fi> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @07:04AM (#14136499)
    Yes, the format will be open.

    What Microsoft is likely to do is:
    - add own extentions and not release them
    - forbid relicencing of patents so that no implementation can be released under LGPL / GPL

    IMHO this is just a trick. MS wants everybody to wait for 18 months before this is really released, and prevent Open Source competition with patent licence restrictions.

    We'll see this after two years, I hope I'm wrong but if this happends, I'll come back and say:

    See, I told you so! :)


    • ...and if it doesn't you won't say "well, I was wrong on that one".

      The number of bad things microsoft get accused of on /. FAR outweighs the number of the bad things they do. Remember when they bought Virtual PC and everyone said they'd drop the Mac version? Guess what, they didn't. Didn't see any "oh I was wrong comments" to that one, or the thousands of other accusations.
  • Our friend Mr. Rosen has given his blessing MicroSoft, a taiwanese motherboard manufacturing company
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @07:13AM (#14136519) Homepage
    "We come swinging the olive branch of peace."
  • yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @08:01AM (#14136599) Homepage Journal
    Its called the bait and switch [wikipedia.org], and I'm surprised someone so experienced falls for it.

    In short: Sure they'll release specs. And just as certainly that which is actually implemented in the next office version will be something different. Probably minor, but crucial differences. Minor enough to be able to say "*shrug*, we just made a few updates and extensions" and crucial enough to prevent interoperability.
  • by mustafap ( 452510 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @08:11AM (#14136630) Homepage
  • by Rick and Roll ( 672077 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @08:24AM (#14136663)
    This doesn't fix the fact that the MS format sucks. It's a lot more confusing for programmers than the OpenDocument format.

    Also, it still isn't as open as OpenDocument. Partly for the reason that Microsoft isn't open to contributions to the format, and that they dictate what the format will be like.

  • by PSaltyDS ( 467134 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @08:25AM (#14136667) Journal
    Quote of Rosen from the article: "The first reaction people will have is, "where's the catch?" I don't see anything we can't live with. We can participate in crafting the standard in ECMA, we can read and write Office 2003 files in open source applications, and we don't have to pay royalties to Microsoft to do so. It's a good start." (Emphasis mine.)

    As I understand it (imperfectly, for sure) there are legaly significant differences between the XML schema for Office 2003 and the upcoming Office 12.

    Isn't this a Microsoft Bait-and-Switch? They make enough changes in terms on the legacy Office 2003 schema to continue their lock-in in Mass., but when the state has to update to Office 12 new patented and licensed "extensions" will lock out any competitive options.

    Make no mistake, locking out others and maintaining position as The Monopoly is the business plan here.

    • You are correct, Sir (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tony ( 765 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @11:05AM (#14137653) Journal
      As I understand it (imperfectly, for sure) there are legaly significant differences between the XML schema for Office 2003 and the upcoming Office 12.

      There are major differences, both technically and legally, between MS-Office 2003 XML and MS-Office 12 XML. Microsoft is submitting the MS-Office 2003 XML schema to ECMA; so far, they have not indicated they are doing the same with the MSO 12 schema. Also, their covenant not to sue over patents is specific to the 2003 schema. Finally, the 2003 xml schema is optional; it's my understanding that the MSO 12 schema is the primary format for the upcoming version of MS-Office.

      Microsoft loses nothing by offering up the 2003 schema as a sacrificial lamb; most people still use .doc as their primary format within MS-Office. Near as I can tell, Microsoft is merely trying to cloud the issue in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

      Of course, I could be wrong. But I don't think so.
  • How about a... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @08:29AM (#14136678)
    ...Firefox plugin that reads ODFs? I know this is offtopic, but this would really be an easy way to spread ODF and show the world that ODF can really be usefull in interoperability....

    Sorry again for the offtopic...
  • by dsmog ( 934677 )
    Still what we now have is one promice and one questionably enforceable quasilegal statement. And you know what worth are MS promises. OK guys, however it's high time somebody did a sensible comparison: - what can be done and what can't with respective formats - what is the quality of documentation (you know, there are subtle details about layout and formatting rules, tu just explain what tags mean is not enough). I guest reasonable docs about format should be of size of a dozen W3 specs. - are there any i
  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @09:44AM (#14137058)
    This still does not meet MA's Defininition of a Open Format. Anyone listening to the hearings knows that MA's definition of a Open Format includes the ability of mulitple vendors to have equal input to the format specification. MS soley controls the MS XML format therefore it does not meet the MA qualification as a Open Format.

    Now of course I fully expect crooked politics and money to fix that little loop hole.
  • by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @10:37AM (#14137407) Homepage Journal
    Goofus (AKA * * Beatles-Beatles) runs a pointless business simply to make money without providing any useful service or good other than serving his own avarice by raising his Google rating.

    Gallant works as a programmer for a company that releases most of their products into the Free/Open software world and simply has a social conscience that extend beyond himself.

    Goofus works very hard at finding quick and easy ways to make money with nothing productive being done.

    Gallant knows the value of hard work combined with the end goal of making the world a better place to live and uses his work as a way of improving life for others. Anything that he benfits from is incidental and not the reason for working.

    Goofus loathes REAL work and is always keeping his eyes open for scams like abuse of Google link ratings as opposed to actually making a product or providing a REAL service of any kind.

    Gallant spends his free time trying to warn citizens of the internet of the various ways in which supposed "businesses" abuse internet resources to try and raise page ranking.
  • what about this [consortiuminfo.org]
  • by hkb ( 777908 )
    This seems to be a great redirection tactic from OO.org's open format announcement that was reported a few weeks ago. Now all we hear about is Microsoft's open format. And we're caring why? Why don't we focus on a format that is truly free and open and keep it out of the hands of an organization designed to profit?
  • Horse Cart (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @12:47PM (#14138634)
    Larry Rosen is blessing something that hasn't even happened, won't happen for awhile, may not happen as completely as people seem to think it will, can't be implemented by competitors effectively for a good while after that, and is still subject to the Microsoft E-E-E strategy if MS can figure out a way to make that happen.

    Personally, if MS ever does fully release their current MSWord Document Format to to the public, my belief is that two things will happen:

    1: It will become the default save format, and essentially require everyone back to the days of Word 95/97 to upgrade to the next Office suite giving MS lots of $$$ that the haven't been able to get otherwise with their bloatware releases of features almost nobody needs -- except to read documents from other people.

    2: The moment XML Doc comes into use, MS will introduce Enhanced Document+ as their preferred format, complaining that they need to get new important features to the user as quickly as possible and that the standards process is too slow for this. Of course by the time that ED+ format is standardized and implmeneted by anyone besides MS (who didn't announce this to anyone until they had their fully debugged version rolling off the CD presses) MS will again be years ahead of the competition. They'll just wear down the other implementers on the basis of their larger bankroll to pay for new development, and this post will become an interesting historical curiosity under the I-Told-You-So department of Slashdot.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.