Tag Archives: Microsoft

File format war

At work, I’m currently helping out with a report. In our department, there is a mix of different OSes en office suites, mainly Mac OS X (MS Office 2008), Windows (Office 2003) and Linux (OpenOffice.org 2.4 and 3.0). Because of this, I very often get involved in the office file format mess these days.

Mac and Windows users never have heard of things like open standards and OpenOffice.org. They use whatever is used by default by their MS Office suite, which generally gives either proprietary doc files or docx files which are in practice almost as proprietary as doc (office 2008 docx definitely is not OpenXML!). While doc is pretty universal, docx is much more problematic, because it makes MS Office 20O3 users on Windows complain (of course they have never heard of the docx plug-in for Office 2003), and also OpenOffice.org does not know this file format perfectly yet (although it’s already good and very usable).

Microsoft admitted that OpenXML has lost the standard war. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that proprietary docx has won. The number of times I have received an OpenDocument file can be counted on one hand, but I see fairly often docx files passing here…

Anyway, I’m happy with OpenOffice.org: it can open all of the involved file formats, and can save in a format which everyone can read (which is unfortunately MS Office 2000/XP/2003 DOC/XLS/PPT formats). Now I should go find a way to get OpenOffice.org a bit more generally known on the department…

Anti-competitive behaviour

Finally Microsoft lost the appeal against the ruling of the European Commission. I heard an analyst say on the radio here that this would be bad for customers: users would receive an OS without multimedia player now, and would have to search for such a basic application themselves. Not so knowledgeable people, would even pay for such software. It’s unbelievable that people who don’t even know what this case is about, are being considered as “experts”. Microsoft is still allowed to sell the version with media player, and actually as history has proven already, almost nobody will be interested in distributing the OS without the media player. The most important thing of this ruling (and always ignored in popular media), is that Microsoft is forced now to publish “interoperability information”, which can be used by for example the Samba team, to better implement things like Active Directory support. This is what matters in this ruling! For those people who think that Europe is only trying to bully a successful foreign commercial company, please read the whole ruling. As you’ll see, this was not a light decision. See paragraphs 807-809 for the decisions related to the interoperability information.

Speaking of anti-competitive behaviour, Apple currently is not much better than Microsoft. The new iPOD generation, protects its internal database with a hash, making it impossible to play any files uploaded with programs other than iTunes. All other alternatives cannot be used anymore, and because iTunes only exists for Windows and Mac OS X, Linux users are completely locked out. A few days later, the hash was already cracked, so this proves once again that all this DRM-alike stuff is not working at all, and just annoying users. Actually this is not the first time Apple is trying to block its competitors. It already has done something similar with the DAAP protocol in the past, also locking out all non-iTunes users. Hello Europe, will you continue accepting this?

If anybody knows of a good alternative for the iPOD, supporting Ogg Vorbis and having a capacity of at least 20 GB, I would like to hear about it. And don’t answer Cowon’s iAUDIO. Owning an iAUDIO M3 for a bit more than 3 years, I know that this player has a very serious hardware design flaw, actually making the whole device almost unusable in the end, and technical support in Europe is almost non-existent. So no more Cowon for me anymore…

Why people hate Microsoft…

I found this nice article by Jeremy Allison, developer of Samba, the widely used *nix implemtation of Microsoft’s CIFS protocol. I think it illustrates very well why lots of people started hating Microsoft. Apparently this company is all for standards if it’s in its own interests in order to defeat the competition, but once it is in a leading position itself, everything will be done to kill any standardisation and openness…

http://tuxdeluxe.org/node/255