Following Suns Lead

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-12-09 Print this article Print

?"> Microsoft had also looked at Suns recent approach with the ODF (OpenDocument Format), an XML-based OASIS international office document standard used to store data from desktop applications, such as word processing, presentation and spreadsheet software. It is meant to enable the free exchange of data between OpenDocument-compliant software packages.
"With minor changes to this for clarification, we felt that it was a simple, clear approach that would reassure customers, governments and developers that there would never be a barrier to working with the formats," the updated Q&A said.
Read more here about Microsofts introduction of new Open XML formats in Office 12. Interestingly, Microsoft invites greater scrutiny, saying that "we hope that this approach will continue to get close scrutiny and will gain positive long-term confidence across the industry as a way to insure that document formats are usable by all types of developers with different intellectual property licensing philosophies." With regard to Microsofts CNS approach, the Q&A document said there is now no longer a license that people need to sign up for and nothing needs to be referenced. "Anyone is free to use the formats as they wish and do not need to make any mention or reference to Microsoft. Anyone can use or implement these formats to both read and write the formats with their technology, code, solution," the Q&A said. With regard to the transferability of solutions and compatibility with the GNU GPL (general public License), Microsoft stressed that anyone was now free to build a solution that worked with its formats. Microsoft first released its Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas in late 2003. Then, in June this year, officials said they planned to make the new XML file formats the default in Office 12, due next year, available to anyone under a royalty-free license. In an exclusive story, Ziff Davis Internet News then reported that that royalty-free license was incompatible with the GNU GPL and would thus prevent many free and open-source software projects from using the formats. Click here for more on what Richard Stallman, the president of the Free Software Foundation and the author of the GNU GPL, said about Microsofts royalty-free license. But Microsoft used the updated Q&A to explain that "the concerns raised with our previous license about attribution and sub-licensing are now eliminated. Because the GPL is not universally interpreted the same way by everyone, we cant give anyone a legal opinion about how our language relates to the GPL or other open-source software licenses. "But we believe we have removed the principal objections that people found with our prior license in a very simple and clear way," the document said. While anyone was also free to work with a subset of the specifications and to create extensions to the specifications, there is a codicil. "Subsets and supersets may create incompatibilities with other uses of the specifications and we want to provide some guidance on this topic in the future, but this will be guidance and not a mandate. "The key is that this is an assurance that no one will be sued for using intellectual property in the specifications as they are written," the document said. While the CNS currently applies to just the Office 2003 specifications "because they are the only ones currently available that are complete," as the up-to-date specifications are released to Ecma, they will be posted on the same Web site and Microsoft will apply the CNS to them, the Q&A said. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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