It's been a week now since Microsoft announced its ODF/Office open source converter project - time enough for 183 on-line stories to be written, as well as hundreds of blog entries (one expects) and untold numbers of appended comments. Lest all that virtual ink fade silently into obscurity, it seems like a good time to look back and try to figure out What it All Means
Microsoft's announcement on plugins sounds like new news - but in fact this project has been ongoing for nine months, as Ray Ozzie let slip last October. Why announce it now?
In this fourth in-depth interview focusing on ODF-compliant office productivity suites, I interview Dr. Martin Sommer, of Germany's SoftMaker Software.
Last October 31, the Chairman of a Massachusetts Senate Committee held a public hearing (more akin to a kangaroo court) at which then State CIO Peter Quinn and his general counsel were required to testify, following which a parade of exclusively hostile witnesses was invited to testify against the ITD's ODF policy. Now, the investigative report of the same committee has been issued.
Last year, many countries were up in arms over the fact that the US, via an agency of the Department of Commerce that maintains a contract with ICANN, controls the root directories of the Internet. Now they have an opportunity to make their objections known again.
One of the responses the Massachusetts ITD posted last week to its RFI on ODF converter plugins wasn't a formal response at all, but an informal email sent by Adam Kennedy, of Australia's Phase-N. That didn't mean that Phase-N didn't have something important to say, however.
While a quarter-page ad on the editorial page of the Boston Globe doubtless costs far less than a $30 million in-kind software donation, it's a good bet that the ad titled "Working Together Better by Design" that appeared in yesterday's Globe has something to do with last week's generous contribution.
In early May, Massachusetts issued a "Request for Information" on plugins that could help ease the transition from a Microsoft Office based environment to one relying on ODF compliant software.
An hour or so ago Sun Microsystems made good on an earlier pledge to issue further "non-assertion covenants" (NACs) in support of open standards. That's a good thing, and more vendors should do the same thing.
It's now been more than a week since Microsoft announced that its licensing discussions with Adobe had fallen apart after four months of negotiations. We don't know a great deal more now that Adobe has released a statement, but what we do know is bad for open standards.
Item: "Having the latest computer technology is great. But what e-government users from the public sector as well as citizens really want is software interoperability. Unfortunately IT managers still only pay lip service to such interoperability, concludes a European project assessing today's open-source movement."
Two years ago, a wireless standards war between the US and China escalated to the highest levels of government before a truce was reached, with then-Secretary of State Colin Powell personally intervening. The subject then was the WiFi wireless standard, and the challenger was a Chinese competitor with a security algorithm called WAPI. That truce, unfortunately, is now breaking down.
For a week now, the IT world has been scratching its collective head over the breakdown of PDF licensing negotiations between Microsoft and Adobe. What was there to breakdown over, if PDF is a standard?
In this third interview in a continuing series, I interview Sun's Erwin Tenhumberg, in order to compare StarOffice 2.0 with the other leading software productivity suites that support ODF (previous interviews have focused on KOffice and OpenOffice).
Recently, spokespersons for Microsoft's standards group have been promoting "design, collaboration and licensing" as alternatives, rather than supplements to, open standards. Maybe Adobe's been listening.
Two weeks ago, a Word Trojan with minimal impact was in the news, and now its StarOffice's turn, having taken a single "proof of concept" hit. So far, the "Stardust" virus seems to be bigger news.
Before there was Linux, before there was open source, there was (and still is) an operating system called Unix that was robust, stable and widely admired. It was also available under license to anyone that wanted to use it, and partly for that reason many variants grew up and lost interoperability - and the Unix wars began. The same thing could happen to Linux.
The Word Trojan virus is reported to have infected only two targets - but it received extensive coverage for a week. Given the limited facts to work with, journalists were left to deal mostly with "what ifs."
Three years ago, celebrated security expert Dan Geer lost his job at @stake when he co-authored a paper on the dangers that the Microsoft "monoculture" represented for end-users. He knew what he was talking about.
For the last couple of weeks I've been writing a number of blog entries focusing on poorly researched and deliberately misleading items in the news. One of those pieces is called "The Script Reloaded: Recognizing 'Them.'" Surprise - "They" have written another article.