[Fsf-friends] See Groklaw article : Proprietizing Standards

Anivar Aravind anivar@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Fri Jul 20 20:13:38 IST 2007

Updates From PJ of Groklaw

While we wait, there is more on that front, this time from India, where 
the technical committee there is still considering Ecma-376 issues. 
Earlier, we mentioned to you some questions that Dr. G. Nagarjuna, 
Chairman FSF India, submitted to the Working Committee, Board of Indian 
Standards on Wordprocessing. In this Issue Sheet [PDF], we find answers 
from Microsoft's Vijay Kapur, followed by a response from Dr. Nagarjuna.

For example, here's one such exchange:

     Backward compatibility for all vendors: Can any third party 
regardless of business model, without access to additional information 
and without the cooperation of Microsoft implement full backward 
compatibility and conversion of such legacy documents into MS-OOXML 
comparable to what Microsoft can offer?

     Mr V. Kapur: Implementing backward compatibility is an application 
function not a file format specification requirement. The ECMA 376 
specification is capable of faithfully representing information in the 
legacy binary file formats. This point was treated in detail in the 
response to the question raised by Dr. Nagarjuna. Microsoft can offer? 
Availability of Binary File Formats -- It is to be noted that Microsoft 
has made the .doc, .xls, and .ppt binary file format specifications 
available under a royalty-free covenant not to sue to anyone who wishes 
to implement all or part of these specifications in their products. 
Anyone can get access to the specification now, using the method 
described in the following Knowledgebase article at the link: 
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/840817 - How to extract 
information from Office files by using Office file formats and schemas 
(relevant extract below)With both format specifications being available 
for a developer, a converter can be written in such a way that a DOC or 
XLS document can be converted into an Open XML document with content and 
representation intact. This point should be treated as closed as there 
is no contradiction.

     Dr. Nagarjuna: Availability of the specification of binary formats 
does not solve the problem of another vendor's ability to implement. 
What is required is a mapping between the existing proprietary formats 
and OOXML if the stated objective of OOXML, namely, to faithfully 
represent legacy formats in XML is to be met. The link provided by MS is 
not an article. It is misleading to say so. MS did not publish the 
specification of proprietary documents at any accessible place. They are 
promising to provide to those who sign an MOU with the company. This is 
unacceptable since, implementing this standard mandates the need for 
private understandings. That is not the purpose for which standards are 
specified. They are specified precisely to eliminate such a requirement. 
The question asked was a very serious and a CORE issue: the answer given 
is not satisfactory. A satisfactory answer to this consists in 
publishing the mapping between OOXML and proprietary documents. Since 
this is not the case, the issue is open, and forms a sufficient reason 
to vote against OOXML.

I strongly urge any of you interested in OOXML to read the other 
exchanges most carefully. You will find them illluminating. Today is the 
last day to write to Massachusetts, I believe, for those who wish to. 
The address is standards at state.ma.us . Here are two other documents 
from the process in India, also PDFs:

         * Issue Sheet of July 11th
         * Clarification of MS on MathML

  Read More http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070720073215943

Anivar Aravind
moving Republic

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