Linux News Asks is Microsoft's Open Office XML Strategy in Restraint of Trade?

Posted by tadelste on Nov 22, 2005 3:52 PM EST
Lxer Day Desk; By Tom Adelstein
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Under an older theory of monopolistic practices Microsoft may be in restraint of trade. In its obsession with Linux, could this be the third strike? You should ask your attorney.


When Microsoft announced its plans for Open Office XML, it threw the entire industry off center. Under an older concept explained as "Paper Machines and Phantom Computers" used against IBM in the 1970's the announcement of a product introduction far in advance may have caused customers to refrain from using existing products and solutions.

I might argue that Microsoft stopped and other office suite manufacturers' momentum. It certainly has made people stop and think about whether or not to implement the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

According to testimony in what became known as the Telex trial, in 1970, IBM formed a secret task force to find ways to reverse a trend of IBM mainframe users buying peripherals from other companies with lower prices and better quality.

The task force recommended many startegies including disguising existing models with face-lifts and new model numbers. They also used strategic timing of product announcements to confuse the marketing plans of other companies and keep computer users expecting something new from IBM. IBM allegedly would plan several improvements and new models for a product in advance, then announce them until they regained the sales.

Aside from announcements for products IBM sold, Control Data Corporation (CDC) accused IBM of announcing machines with specifications it could not and never intended to deliver. IBM supposedly did this to delay or cause cancellation of orders from competitors. CDC devoted a full page, entitled "Paper Machines and Phantom Computers," to IBM's strategy in its law suit.

With Microsoft taking between 12 to 18 months to achieve certification from Ecma International, considered one of the more liberal standards bodies, doesn't that beg us to question if a "Paper Machines and Phantom Computers" is in play? Additionally, Ecma will allow Microsoft to retain ownership of the format. Other bodies require organizations submitting standards to give up the property. Where's the oversight?

Should Massachusetts Investigate?

The concurrence of Microsoft offering to open its Office XML format after losing to the OASIS-ISO standard seems odd. With the recent confession of Michael Scanlon to conspiracy to bribe public officials, Massachusetts officials need to look at the relationship of Preston Gates, the BSA and Microsoft.

The confession of Scanlon, a partner with former Preston Gates lobbyist Jack Abramoff and an aide to Tom DeLay should raise a yellow flag for elected officials in Massachusetts. The events of today and those involving Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff and Scanlon indicate a direct link might exist amongst political officials who have possibly conspired against the Open Document Standard.

Massachusetts officials should also look at the actual standard itself.

» Read more about: Story Type: Editorial, LXer Features, News Story; Groups: IBM, Microsoft

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restraint of trade and racketeering tuxchick 8 2,389 Nov 23, 2005 11:38 AM

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