The fight against the adoption of OOXML as an ISO standard is continuing in many countries. In the UK the UK Unix & Open Systems User Group (UKUUG) unsuccessfully, sought a judicial review of the British Standards Institute's decision to vote yes. UKUUG are now seeking to appeal against that rejection of a review and you can help them.
Microsoft declared yesterday (May 21st, 2008) that Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 would include (among others such as PDF 1.5, PDF/A and some more) built-in support for OASIS OpenDocument Format version 1.1 (finalized, submitted to ISO, supported by OpenOffice.org, Kofffice, GNOME office apps and their forks) while ISO-submitted OOXML support would wait for Office 14.
Latest from the Bizarre Cathedral
Today evening (15th April, 2008) a candle light vigil/protest was organised at the Town Hall, Bangalore, India to observe Document freedom and also to apply pressure on the Indian Govt. to file an appeal with the ISO regarding the passing of OOXML amid serious irregularities. The vigil was organised by the Free Software Users Group, Bangalore and was attended by Engineering college students, IT profesionals and even members from a local slum computer training centre. This is just the beginning as more serious and sustained activities are being planned.
Unless a small miracle happens, OOXML is a standard. What's next?
(I withheld the release of this video in Free Software Magazine until I managed, with the help of a fantastic community member, to make it available in OGG format and in embedded video format. Thank you Michael Fötsch!)
This is an editorial about file conversions. It starts with a story about Free Software Magazine and our struggle with article formats, and continues explaining why the world needs to get rid of Office Open XML, which could create more problems than the Microsoft monopoly itself.
Are you still using Microsoft Office 2003? If so, get ready to have problems opening older file formats with it once SP3 is applied: Microsoft has decided to disable file parsers for the older file types (Word 95 and older, Wordperfect, Lotus etc.) by default. Why? Security reasons.
The free software world is being attacked by a large, wealthy, brutal monopolist, who I’ll call “Megatron” for today. As I wrote last month, Megatron is driving its OOXML tank through the village church of open standards, doing unspeakable things to the ISO process, with the intention of locking in a generation of computer users to its stack of patented, restricted, and undocumented formats. It’s about freedom, some of us want it, others want to take it away from us.
In August 2005 Peter Quinn, now retired Chief Information Officer of Massachusetts, decided that OpenDocument was the best way to store documents with the guarantee that they would be able to be opened 10, 30, 50 years from now. For a state government, this is particularly important. He led Massachusetts toward OpenDocument and OpenOffice.org. The move, which sparked controversy and ferocious lobbying, is likely to end-up in history books (and while we’re at it, I’ll mention that history books in particular ought to be accessible 50, 100, 1000 years from now!).
The normally boring world of international standards has turned into a bloody fist fight between the most brutal monopolist of modern times, and the Community. Just the name, “Office Open XML” makes my head spin, and when I start to read Microsoft’s so-sincere explanations that “users demand multiple standards”, my blood begins to boil. But before I turn green and rip off my shirt, let me take a deep breath and look calmly at how Microsoft is trying to do to ISO what Borat wanted to do to Pamela.
I was asked by the UK Action Group of the Open Document Format Alliance to write a white paper on the technical differences between ODF and OOXML. After much agonizing, correcting, having others correct my mistakes, suggestions, changes and drafts I still have got something that may be alright to be previewed by all. The actual documents are in ftp://officeboxsystems.com/odfa_ukag both as a “PDF” and an “ODT” (Open Document Format).
The following is a transcribed version of the white paper. Although it has all the Free Software Magazine formatting constraints which means that the information is not as clearly presented, so therefore I recommend you to download the document from the above URL. It is here primary for reference purposes.
This week, I have been forced, through threat of domestic misery, to sacrifice a section of one my shelves on what I like to call my “Computer Rack”. No longer can that area be used to house a masterpiece of IT equipment that has been assembled from various cast-offs, loaded with interesting software to run exciting server programs. Instead, that section is used to perform the mundane task of storing light bulbs. Let me explain the reason why...
I had a massive argument with my brother the other day over an IT issue close to my heart. I had to be careful because he is a member of the Metropolitan Police, part of the Domestic Violence Policy Unit. To clarify, his department is responsible for the policy of policing domestic violence.
What he was saying was that he, and the entire metropolitan police force, use Microsoft Word, all the police departments and stations he deals with do as well, as do all organizations he needs to interact with outside the police including the name drop-able big-wig departments in the UK government. He said they had "standardized" on Microsoft Office formats and did not see a problem with that, nor did he see my objections.
Microsoft have published an open letter entitled "Interoperability,Choice and Open XML". I often like to think that I am neversurprised by the exaggerations, obfuscations and general untruths thatcome out of Microsoft: this letter shows their capacity of doing justthat.
I have, in a past incarnation, worked with Microsoft’s Office products closely in a professional scenario. To this end, I was subscribed to an electronic newsletter then called “Woody’s Office Watch”, and now simply “Office Watch”. This is run as a newsletter for users of Microsoft’s Office Suite, but it is independant and not affiliated with Microsoft in any way. In fact, they have no problems laying into Microsoft hard when the boys in Seattle mess up and inconvenience their users.