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Paul Merrell

Microsoft breaks IE8 interoperability promise | The Register - 0 views

  • In March, Microsoft announced that their upcoming Internet Explorer 8 would: "use its most standards compliant Microsoft, IE8 Standards, as the default." Note the last word: default. Microsoft argued that, in light of their newly published interoperability principles, it was the right thing to do. This declaration heralded an about-face and was widely praised by the web standards community; people were stunned and delighted by Microsoft's promise. This week, the promise was broken. It lasted less than six months. Now that Internet Explorer IE8 beta 2 is released, we know that many, if not most, pages viewed in IE8 will not be shown in standards Microsoft by default.
  • How many pages are affected by this change? Here's the back of my envelope: The PC market can be split into two segments — the enterprise market and the home market. The enterprise market accounts for around 60 per cent of all PCs sold, while the home market accounts for the remaining 40 per cent. Within enterprises, intranets are used for all sorts of things and account for, perhaps, 80 per cent of all page views. Thus, intranets account for about half of all page views on PCs!
    Article by Hakon Lie of Opera Software. Also note that acdcording to the European Commission, "As for the tying of separate software products, in its Microsoft judgment of 17 September 2007, the Court of First Instance confirmed the principles that must be respected by dominant companies. In a complaint by Opera, a competing browser vendor, Microsoft is alleged to have engaged in illegal tying of its Internet Explorer product to its dominant Windows operating system. The complaint alleges that there is ongoing competitive harm from Microsoft's practices, in particular in view of new proprietary technologies that Microsoft has allegedly introduced in its browser that would reduce compatibility with open internet standards, and therefore hinder competition. In addition, allegations of tying of other separate software products by Microsoft, including desktop search and Windows Live have been brought to the Commission's attention. The Commission's investigation will therefore focus on allegations that a range of products have been unlawfully tied to sales of Microsoft's dominant operating system."
Paul Merrell

Introducing the Open XML Format External File Converter for 2007 Microsoft Office System SP2 - 0 views

  • In other words, revising the Open XML Format converter interfaces by adding new functionality does not require any recompilation of existing clients. This guarantees backward compatibility as these converter interfaces are upgraded.
    • Paul Merrell
      But what does it do for forward compatibility? OOXML is a moving interoperabillity target.
  • In addition to allowing converters to override external file formats, the applications allow converters to override OpenDocument Format-related formats (such as .odt). For example, if you specify a converter to be the default converter for .odt, Word 2007 SP2 invokes the specified converter whenever a user tries to open an .odt file from the Windows Shell instead of going through the native load path for Word 2007 SP2.
    • Paul Merrell
      How wonderful. Developers can bypass the forthcoming Microsoft native file support for ODF. Perhaps to convert Excel formulas to OpenForumla?
  • Open XML Format converters for Word 2007 SP2, Excel 2007 SP2, or PowerPoint 2007 SP2 are implemented as out-of-process COM servers. Out-of-process converters have the benefit of running in their own process space, which means issues or crashes within converters do not affect the application process space. In addition, out-of-process 32-bit converters can function on 64-bit operating systems in Microsoft Windows on Windows 64-bit (WoW64) Microsoft without the need for converters to be compiled in 64-bit.
    • Paul Merrell
      Pretty lame excuses for not documenting the native file support APIs. I.e., the native file supoort APIs already throw "can't open file" error messages for problematic documents without crashing the app. The bit about not needing to recompile converters for 64-bit Windoze is a complete red herring. This is only a benefit if one requires conversion in an external process. It wouldn't be an issue if the native file support APIs were documented and their intermediate formats were the interop targets.
    • Paul Merrell
      I.e., one need not recompile the Office app if a supported native format is added. The OpenDocument Foundation and Sun plug-ins for MS Office proved that.
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  • To begin developing a converter, you should familiarize yourself with the Open XML standard. For more information, see: Standard ECMA-376: Office Open XML File Formats.
    • Paul Merrell
      Note that they specify Ecma 376 rather than ISO/IEC:29500-2008 Office Open XML. So you get to rewrite your converters when Microsoft adds support for the official standard in the next major release of Office.
  • External files are imported into Word 2007 SP2, Excel 2007 SP2, or PowerPoint 2007 SP2 by converting the external file to Open XML Formats. External files are exported from Word 2007 SP2, Excel 2007 SP2, or PowerPoint by converting Open XML Formats to external files. The success of either the import or export conversion depends upon the accurate generation and interpretation of Open XML Formats by the converter.
    • Paul Merrell
      Note that this is a process external to the native file support APIs and their intermediate formats. The real APIs apparently will remain obfuscated. Thiis forces others to develop support for Ecma 376 rather than working directly with the native file support APIs. In other words, more incentives for others to target the moving target OOXML rather than the more stable intermediate formats.
  • Summary: Get the details about the interfaces that you need to use to create an Open XML Format External File Converter for the 2007 Microsoft Office system Service Pack 2 (SP2). (16 Printed Pages)
Gary Edwards

Google Chrome: Bad news for Adobe « counternotions - 0 views

  • Agree with much of what Kontra said and disagree with many who mentioned alternatives to JavaScript/Chrome. The main, simplest reason Adobe will be in a losing fight in terms of web platform? The Big Two - Google and Microsoft - will never make themselves dependent on or promote Adobe platform and strategy.
  • Luis, I think that’s already in play with HTML5. As I pointed out in Runtime wars (2): Apple’s answer to Flash, Silverlight and JavaFX, Apple and WHATWG are firmly progressing along those lines. Canvas is at the center of it. The glue language for all this, JavaScript, is getting a potent shot in the arm. The graphics layer, at the level of SVG, needs more work. And so on.
    "What's good for the Internet is good for Google, and the company says its strategic proposition for the newly introduced Chrome browser is: a better platform is needed to deliver a new generation of online applications......." This is one of the best explanations of why Google had to do Chrome i've seen thus far. Kontra also provided some excellent coverage concerning the Future of the Web in a two part article previously published. Here he nails the RiA space, comparing Google Chrome, Apollo (Adobe AiR/Flex/Flash) and Microsoft Silverlight. Chrome is clearly an Open Web play. Apollo and Sivlerlight are proprietary bound in some way. Although it must be said that Apollo implements the SAME WebKit layout engine / WebKit docuemtn Microsoftl as Google Chrome, Apple Safari-iPhone, Nokia, RiM and the Iris "Smart Phone" browser. The WebKit Microsoftl is based on advanced HTML, CSS, SVG and JavaScript. Where Adobe goes proprietary is in replacing SVG with the proprietary SWF. The differences between JavaScript and ActionScript are inconsequential to me, especially given the problems at Ecma. One other point not covered by Kontra is the fact that Apollo and Silverlight can run as either browser plugins or standalone runtimes. Wha tthey can't do though is run as sufing browsers. They are clearly for Web Applications. Chome on the other hand re-invents the browser to handle both surfing Microsoft AND RiA. Plus, a Chrome RiA can also run as a plugin in other browsers (Opera and FireFox). Very cool. The last point is that i wouldn't totally discount Apple RiA. They too use WebKit. The differnece is tha tApple uses the SquirrelFish JavaScript JiT with the SproutCore-Cocoa developers framework. This approach is designed to bridge the gap between the OSX desktop/server Cocoa API, and the WebKit-SproutCore API. Chrome uses the V8 JiT. And Adobe uses Tamarin to compile JavaScript-ActionScript. Tamarin was donated to the Mozilla community. If there is anythin that will s
Gary Edwards

Opt out of PRISM, the NSA's global data surveillance program - PRISM BREAK - 0 views

    "Opt out of PRISM, the NSA's global data surveillance program. Stop reporting your online activities to the American government with these free alternatives to proprietary software." A designer named Peng Zhong is so strongly opposed to PRISM, the NSA's domestic spying program, that he created a site to educate people on how to "opt out" of it. According to the original report that brought PRISM to public attention, the nine companies that "participate knowingly" with the NSA are Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. Zhong's approach is to replace your workflow with open-source tools that aren't attached to these companies, since they easily stay off the government's radar. If you want to drop totally off the map, it'll take quite a commitment.   Are you ready to give up your operating system?  The NSA tracks everything on Windows, OSX and Google Chrome.  You will need to switch to Debian or some other brand of GNU Linux!  Like Mint!!!!! Personally I have switched from Google Chrome Browser to Mozilla Firefox using the TOR Browser Bundle - Private Microsoft.
Paul Merrell

Security Experts Oppose Government Access to Encrypted Communication - The New York Times - 0 views

  • An elite group of security technologists has concluded that the American and British governments cannot demand special access to encrypted communications without putting the world’s most confidential data and critical infrastructure in danger.A new paper from the group, made up of 14 of the world’s pre-eminent cryptographers and computer scientists, is a formidable salvo in a skirmish between intelligence and law enforcement leaders, and technologists and privacy advocates. After Edward J. Snowden’s revelations — with security breaches and awareness of nation-state surveillance at a record high and data moving online at breakneck speeds — encryption has emerged as a major issue in the debate over privacy rights.
  • That has put Silicon Valley at the center of a tug of war. Technology companies including Apple, Microsoft and Google have been moving to encrypt more of their corporate and customer data after learning that the National Security Agency and its counterparts were siphoning off digital communications and hacking into corporate data centers.
  • Yet law enforcement and intelligence agency leaders argue that such efforts thwart their ability to monitor kidnappers, terrorists and other adversaries. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to ban encrypted messages altogether. In the United States, Michael S. Rogers, the director of the N.S.A., proposed that technology companies be required to create a digital key to unlock encrypted data, but to divide the key into pieces and secure it so that no one person or government agency could use it alone.The encryption debate has left both sides bitterly divided and in fighting mode. The group of cryptographers deliberately issued its report a day before James B. Comey Jr., the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Sally Quillian Yates, the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, are scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the concerns that they and other government agencies have that encryption technologies will prevent them from effectively doing their jobs.
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • The new paper is the first in-depth technical analysis of government proposals by leading cryptographers and security thinkers, including Whitfield Diffie, a pioneer of public key cryptography, and Ronald L. Rivest, the “R” in the widely used RSA public cryptography algorithm. In the report, the group said any effort to give the government “exceptional access” to encrypted communications was technically unfeasible and would leave confidential data and critical infrastructure like banks and the power grid at risk. Handing governments a key to encrypted communications would also require an extraordinary degree of trust. With government agency breaches now the norm — most recently at the United States Office of Personnel Management, the State Department and the White House — the security specialists said authorities could not be trusted to keep such keys safe from hackers and criminals. They added that if the United States and Britain mandated backdoor keys to communications, China and other governments in foreign markets would be spurred to do the same.
  • “Such access will open doors through which criminals and malicious nation-states can attack the very individuals law enforcement seeks to defend,” the report said. “The costs would be substantial, the damage to innovation severe and the consequences to economic growth hard to predict. The costs to the developed countries’ soft power and to our moral authority would also be considerable.”
    Our system of government does not expect that every criminal will be apprehended and convicted. There are numerous values our society believes are more important. Some examples: [i] a presumption of innocence unless guilt is established beyond any reasonable doubt; [ii] the requirement that government officials convince a neutral magistrate that they have probable cause to believe that a search or seizure will produce evidence of a crime; [iii] many communications cannot be compelled to be disclosed and used in evidence, such as attorney-client communications, spousal communications, and priest-penitent communications; and [iv] etc. Moral of my story: the government needs a much stronger reason to justify interception of communications than saying, "some crooks will escape prosecution if we can't do that." We have a right to whisper to each other, concealing our communicatons from all others. Why does the right to whisper privately disappear if our whisperings are done electronically? The Supreme Court took its first step on a very slippery slope when it permitted wiretapping in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 48 S. Ct. 564, 72 L. Ed. 944 (1928). It's been a long slide ever since. It's past time to revisit Olmstead and recognize that American citizens have the absolute right to communicate privately. "The President … recognizes that U.S. citizens and institutions should have a reasonable expectation of privacy from foreign or domestic intercept when using the public telephone system." - Brent Scowcroft, U.S. National Security Advisor, National Security Decision Memorandum 338 (1 September 1976) (Nixon administration),   
Paul Merrell

Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the - 1 views

  • “The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. The British-born scientist is known for his dry sense of humor. But in this case, he is not joking.This week, Berners-Lee will launch Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.
  • In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building.
  • f all goes as planned, Inrupt will be to Solid what Netscape once was for many first-time users of the web: an easy way in. And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid.
  • ...4 more annotations...
  • On his screen, there is a simple-looking web page with tabs across the top: Tim’s to-do list, his calendar, chats, address book. He built this app–one of the first on Solid–for his personal use. It is simple, spare. In fact, it’s so plain that, at first glance, it’s hard to see its significance. But to Berners-Lee, this is where the revolution begins. The app, using Solid’s decentralized technology, allows Berners-Lee to access all of his data seamlessly–his calendar, his music library, videos, chat, research. It’s like a mashup of Google Drive, Microsoft Outlook, Slack, Spotify, and WhatsApp.The difference here is that, on Solid, all the information is under his control. Every bit of data he creates or adds on Solid exists within a Solid pod–which is an acronym for personal online data store. These pods are what give Solid users control over their applications and information on the web. Anyone using the platform will get a Solid identity and Solid pod. This is how people, Berners-Lee says, will take back the power of the web from corporations.
  • For example, one idea Berners-Lee is currently working on is a way to create a decentralized version of Alexa, Amazon’s increasingly ubiquitous digital assistant. He calls it Charlie. Unlike with Alexa, on Charlie people would own all their data. That means they could trust Charlie with, for example, health records, children’s school events, or financial records. That is the kind of machine Berners-Lee hopes will spring up all over Solid to flip the power dynamics of the web from corporation to individuals.
  • Berners-Lee believes Solid will resonate with the global community of developers, hackers, and internet activists who bristle over corporate and government control of the web. “Developers have always had a certain amount of revolutionary spirit,” he observes. Circumventing government spies or corporate overlords may be the initial lure of Solid, but the bigger draw will be something even more appealing to hackers: freedom. In the centralized web, data is kept in silos–controlled by the companies that build them, like Facebook and Google. In the decentralized web, there are no silos.Starting this week, developers around the world will be able to start building their own decentralized apps with tools through the Inrupt site. Berners-Lee will spend this fall crisscrossing the globe, giving tutorials and presentations to developers about Solid and Inrupt.
  • When asked about this, Berners-Lee says flatly: “We are not talking to Facebook and Google about whether or not to introduce a complete change where all their business models are completely upended overnight. We are not asking their permission.”Game on.
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