Red Hat Statement on microsoft announcement about open standards

nikolas nikolazx at gmail.com
Mon Feb 25 00:31:45 EET 2008



    Eight years ago the U.S. regulatory authorities, and four years ago
    the European regulators made clear to Microsoft that its refusal to
    disclose interface information for its monopoly software products
    violates the law. So, it is hardly surprising to see even Microsoft
    state today that “interoperability across systems is an important
    requirement” and announce a “change in [its] approach to
    interoperability.” Of course, we’ve heard similar announcements
    before, almost always strategically timed for other effect. Red Hat
    regards this most recent announcement with a healthy dose of
    skepticism. Three commitments by Microsoft would show that it really
    means what it is announcing today:

    * Commit to open standards: Rather than pushing forward its
    proprietary, Windows-based formats for document processing, OOXML,
    Microsoft should embrace the existing ISO-approved, cross-platform
    industry standard for document processing, Open Document Format
    (ODF) at the International Standards Organizations meeting next
    week in Geneva. Microsoft, please demonstrate implementation of an
    existing international open standard now rather than make press
    announcements about intentions of future standards support.
    * Commit to interoperability with open source: Instead of offering a
    patent license for its protocol information on the basis of
    licensing arrangements it knows are incompatible with the GPL – the
    world’s most widely used open source software license – Microsoft
    should extend its Open Specification Promise to all of the
    interoperability information that it is announcing today will be
    made available. The Open Specification Promise already covers many
    Microsoft products that do not have monopoly market positions. If
    Microsoft were truly committed to fostering openness and preventing
    customer lock-in, it would extend this promise to the protocol and
    interface information it intends to disclose today. There is no
    explanation for refusing to extend the Open Specification Promise to
    “high-volume” products, other than a continued intention on
    Microsofts part to lock customers into its monopoly products, and
    lock out competitors through patent threats.
    * Commit to competition on a level playing field: Microsofts
    announcement today appears carefully crafted to foreclose
    competition from the open source community. How else can you explain
    a “promise not to sue open source developers” as long as they
    develop and distribute only*/ “non-commercial” implementations of
    interoperable products? This is simply disingenuous. The only hope
    for reintroducing competition to the monopoly markets Microsoft now
    controls – Windows, Office, etc. – is through commercial
    distributions of competitive open source software products.




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