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Gary Edwards

Independent study advises IT planners to go OOXML: The Bill Gates MSOffice "formats and... - 0 views

  • 3.2.2.2. A pox on both your houses!

    gary.edwards - 01/22/08

    Hi Robert,

    What you've posted are examples of MSOffice ”compatibility settings” used to establish backwards compatibility with older documents, and, for the conversion of alien file formats (such as various versions of WordPerfect .wpd). These compatibility settings are unspecified in that we know the syntax but have no idea of the semantics. And without the semantic description there is no way other developers can understand implementation. This of course guarantees an unacceptable breakdown of interoperability.

    But i would be hesitant to make my stand of rejecting OOXML based on this issue. It turns out that there are upwards of 150 unspecified compatibility settings used by OpenOffice/StarOffice. These settings are not specified in ODF, but will nevertheless show up in OpenOffice ODF documents – similarly defying interoperability efforts!

    Since the compatibility settings are not specified or even mentioned in the ODF 1.0 – ISO 26300 specification, we have to go to the OOo source code to discover where this stuff comes from. Check out lines 169-211. Here you will find interesting settings such as, “UseFormerLineSpacing, UseFormerObjectPositioning, and UseFormerTextWrapping”.

    So what's going on here?

  • From: Bill Gates Sent: Saturday, December 5 1998 To: Bob Muglia, Jon DeVann, Steven Sinofsky Subject : Office rendering "One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities. Anything else is suicide for our platform. This is a case where Office has to avoid doing something to destroy Windows. I would be glad to explain at a greater length. Likewise this love of DAV in Office/Exchange is a huge problem. I would also like to make sure people understand this as well." Tuesday, August 28, 2007
  •  
    The IOWA Comes vs. Microsoft antitrust suit evidence is now publicly available. This ZDNet Talkback posts an extraordinary eMail from Bill Gates concerning the need to control MSOffice formats and protocols as Microsoft pushes onto the Web.

    The key point is that Chairman Bill understands that the real threat to Microsoft is that of Open Web formats and protocols outside of Microsoft's control. It's 1998, and the effort to "embrace and eXtend" W3C HTML, XHTML, SVG and CSS isn't working well. The good Chairman notifies the troops that MSOffice must come up with another plan.

    Interestingly, it's not until 2001, when OpenOffice releases an XML encoding of the OpenOffice/StarOffice imbr that Microsoft finally sees a solution! (imbr = in-memory-binary-representation)

    The MSOffice crew immediately sets to work creating a similar XML encoding of the MSOffice binary (imbr) dump. The first result is released in the MSOffice 2003 beta as "WordprocessingML and SpreadsheetML".

    XML was designed as a structured language for creating specific structured languages. OpenOffice saw the potential of using XML to create an OpenOffice specific XML language. MSOffice seized the innovation and the rest is history. Problem solved!

    So what was the "problem" the good Chairman identified in this secret eMail? It's that the Web is the future, and Microsoft needed to find a way of leveraging their existing desktop document "editor" monopoly share into owning and controlling the Web formats produced by Microsoft applications. MSOffice OOXML is the result.

    ISO approval of MSOffice OOXML is beyond important to Microsoft. It establishes MSOffice "editors" as standards compliant. It also establishes the application, platform and vendor specific MSOffice OOXML as an international "open" standard.

    Many will ask why this isn't a case of Microsoft actually opening up the MSOffice formats in compliance with government antitrust demands. It is "compliance", but not in the sense of what
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