October 31, 2005

Commonwealth Senate Meets on Holloween

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight meets today on Beacon Hill to check whether the Information Technology Division's (ITD) process for declaring the OpenDocument file format policy went above board.

Senators Marc Pacheco (Democrat - Taunton) and the Secretary of State William Galvin (Democrat) convene the Committee to ensure that an important vendor to the Commonwealth has been treated fairly and whether or not The Commonwealth is incurring undue costs or creating problems through the OpenDocument policy.

It should be noted that lawmakers everywhere -- particularly lawmakers of the Opposition party (the administration of Governor Mitt Romney is Republican) -- hold it their solemn duty to make sure agencies of their government act appropriately, legally and according to the interests of the citizenry. Massachusetts in this regard is no different from any state or our own Federal government, and individuals who are interested in the OpenDocument conversation may see clearly that this vetting process of the policy decisions of The Commonwealth ITD has the potential to reinforce a decision that has technical, economic as well as political merit.

On the point of the merit of OpenDocument, Bob Sutor, IBM's VP of Standards and Open Source, filed a letter to the Committee on Saturday which covers all the points thoroughly...

- IBM's long and extensive comitment to Accessibility;
- costs of migration to a new standard need to factor the anticipated disruptive costs of change to the incumbent vendor's technology, too;
- the OpenDocument standard is good for procurement and fosters a guaranteed freedom of action and competition that we have not experienced on the desktop since usage of the Internet has gone mainstream;
- additional rousing points along the lines of 'Your data belongs to you!'

Senator Pacheco and Mr Galvin have not been clear about the reasons for their opposition to the OpenDocument policy. It is all the more puzzling that, in general, Democrat representatives and Democrat citizens alike tend to align strongly with the personal empowerment that results from open standards being widely deployed in software. Thus Messers Pacheco & Galvin find themselves on the wrong side of an issue that is deeply entrenched within their own party's ostensible platform. The hearing today will tell and, if merit speaks, it will consolidate the general confidence in the good sense behind ITD's courageous leadership on information policy.

October 25, 2005

OpenDocument's a Win-Win

Microsoft CTO, Ray Ozzie, indicates that Microsoft is at least watching how work in France on an OpenDocument Format filter for MS Office is coming out. According to Ozzie, the technical questions around doing Office-to-ODF output for office document files center around support resources issues.

This is a change from the messages that came out at a lower level during Alan Yates' and Stuart McKee's Laurel & Hardy public relations displays; it opens up a new tactical branch of pursuit which would culminate in Microsoft's adoption of OpenDocument in MS Office when the market and other avenues indicate no alternative.

Elsewhere, we've been hearing about an Australian software company working on ODF filters for MS Office.

If Microsoft Office adds an ODF output option, then competition is restored to some extent to the office suite market. To quote Ian Lynch, a contributor to the OpenOffice.org project:
Poor old MS. If it adopts ODF it loses its monopoly on document files. If it doesn't adopt ODF it risks losing not only a few US States but the whole of the European Union.
Microsoft's gamesmanship issues down two distinct tracks: one is the political track, trying to call the "bluff" in Massachusetts through legislative hearings (there is no bluff because the CIO is committed to an open multi-vendor scenario which includes Microsoft); another is to prepare for ODF adoption if stalling, PR and legal avenues produce not fruit.

October 21, 2005

OpenOffice2: Disruptive Innovation

We're building here on an earlier PlexNex post, "Sustaining v. Disruptive Innovation", in which we reviewed the old model from Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma.

OpenOffice2 and its OpenDocument file format are bonafide disruptive innovations. You can see where we are today in context of the Dilemma model, and you can see where we're going.

OpenOffice should ostensibly be improved and refined within the acceptable performance band and should prepare to be cannibalized eventually by a lighter-weight, modular, Internet-/PDA-/handheld- ready suite.

OpenDocument is the baby, OpenOffice the bathwater.

October 20, 2005

OpenOffice2 Was Released Today

Feel free to download OpenOffice2 for any of the following platforms:

Mac OS X (10.2+)...I recommend getting "NeoOffice/J"

In addition to a new updated look & feel and improved functionality, OOo2 offers the open XML OASIS OpenDocument file format(s) as the native default format(s) for your text document, spreadsheets, presentations and other types of file creations.

I downloaded(from the Denmark mirror; all North American mirrors I tried were busy), installed and set up OOo2 on Windows XP in under 15 mins (RoadRunner NYC). The Windows installer is nicely streamlined and easier than the previous one; the splash screen looks&feels like the leather seats of a BMW 500 series (this is special to me because I drive an '87 VW); and it picked up some of my settings from the existing OOo1.9.xy on my system.

Congratulations to the team.

October 19, 2005

The Spy vs. Spy Follow Up File

David Berlind and other opinion leaders like Tim O'Reilly and Nick Carr -- recently and around the time of the conference -- have been talking about Web 2.0 as well as all the alliances between IT and Internet companies.

Berlind's list falls out like this: the Black Hats [my designation] are Microsoft, Yahoo! & Real (they're all "black" because they choose to associate with that bad company, Microsoft); the White Hats are Google, Sun, AOL & Comcast (they're "white" because they represent the forces of good aligning against that bad company, Microsoft).

Now, Gary Edwards (OASIS OpenDocument TC member) in conversation the other night had an interesting supposition to the effect of, 'Where are Intel and AMD on these lists?' It's a rhetorical question because everyone in the IT trade knows that Intel is Black (it is the other half of Wintel, as in "Windows-Intel hegemony") and AMD is White (by dint of being a counterveiling force to Intel and through partnership with Sun...on some really rather nice servers & workstations).

So it's quite simple to extend the lists to include the chipmakers. But the really interesting question -- also Gary's -- then becomes, 'Where the heck is IBM (and the PowerChip)?' And that begs the question, 'Where is Apple, ferthatmatter?'

What I learned doing startups in the dotcom era: it's not about the answers, it's about the questions.

OpenDocument: "What Were We Thinking?"

There's never an opportunity too slim to hype the hyperbole of OpenDocument:

"...turn everything inside out..."
"Now we have the potential to explode the world again, to turn everything inside out again, if we get the widespread use across the office desktops of the world, of a common, open, unencumbered, reusable data format, namely OpenDocument."
Tim Bray | Sun Microsystems

"...biggest battle the computer industry has ever seen."
Warning. If you read any further, you will find yourself at ground 0.0 of the biggest battle the computer industry has ever seen. It is where the biggest warriors from the proprietary software world, the open standards world, and the open source world are engaged in hand-to-hand combat.
David Berlind | ZDNet

Agreeing with these statements, I believe the "battle" will actually be a fizzle. As states and then more major governments around the world joint the OpenDocument cueue, the sense of inevitability sets in and the shock and news-value evaporates as everyone gets used to the idea of choosing their own text, spreadsheet or powerpoint applications.

The idea of free access to documents and format portability is so natural that within 3 years people will be hitting their palms on their foreheads to exclaim, "Frickin' Microsoft Office. What were we thinking?"

Microsoft Doesn't Get the Internet...

...like capitalists don't get software.

Eben Moglen:
“It's really a mistake for capitalists to assume that in these areas--software, information, data--that the best way of guaranteeing the production of this valuable material is the old way [of selling over government-authorized networks]," Moglen says. “There is something different going on here.”
This was in an interesting piece about our own self-described "junk-yard dog" and how he'd like to put the FCC out of its misery.

"Does Open-Source Software Make the FCC Irrelevant?"

by Daniel Fisher | Forbes.com

The London Times on OpenDocument

Gervase Markham of the Mozilla Foundation has a short piece in The London Times today recapping why it's important to have open standards around our data; he also flags the significance of Massachusetts.
Open formats are an important part of computing freedom (although alone they are not sufficient) because they give people full control of their own data. In future years, when this freedom is commonplace, I predict that the Massachusetts Decision will be seen as the turning point.
Gervase Markham | The London Times

October 18, 2005

About that "Windows Pucker"...

Here's one from the internet archive:
March 3, 2003 | Sam Hiser, a technologist who spends much of his time promoting open-source alternatives to proprietary software, has an interesting way of describing the main difference between Microsoft's Windows operating system and Linux, its open-source competitor. "It's something I call the 'Windows pucker,'" Hiser says. "That's the feeling Windows users get when they're about to open a fifth program and they're so worried, they're clenching up their butt cheeks because they just don't want the system to lock."
Tearing the page right out of the Scott McNealy playbook from the Disarming School of PR.

Farhad Manjoo | Salon

Bacon Sizzles about OpenOffice

Writer-developer, Jono Bacon, gets it right about the need for OpenOffice to restructure along a more frequent 6-month release schedule. (His piece has been up about a month, now.)

My comment at bottom describes how I imagine an OpenOffice Foundation might go.

October 17, 2005

OpenDocument on Wikipedia

Hey, it's growing!

The OpenDocument entry on Wikipedia is wicked up-to-date. Looks like Open Source and secure software developer, David Wheeler, has been quietly keeping up with ongoing developments.

Please thank David for his unselfish contributions.

October 15, 2005

Berlind: Anatomy of a Deaf Monopolist

Microsoft: what part of the word 'open' do you not understand?

(This site is turning into a David Berlind 'zine; however) Berlind offers a long review of the process by which Peter Quinn's MassGov ITD group selected a suitably open file format for its documents.

Berlind goes to unusual length with unusual clarity to explain the Commonwealth's process. Berlind's departure is in response to Microsoft officials' persistent claims of being 'set up.' Like a good journalist, Berlind takes Microsoft's objections at face value and digs into the timeline, public records and audio files of the meetings to find that Microsoft officials...

a) do not understand Open Source licenses; and

b) do not listen

This point, b), in particular deserves fleshing out.

It's possible that Microsoft officials have held the floor so long in their daily dealings (CA's TV commercial: "You'll take five HUNDRED!" comes to mind) that they now forget what it's like to hear other people talking, forget what you're supposed to do when other people speak.

What comes out of the Berlind piece so clearly is that while MassGov senior officials have been explicit for several months about their criteria, their requirements, for an open file format...
  • It must be published and subject to peer review
  • It must be subject to joint stewardship
  • It must have no or absolutely minimal legal restrictions attached
...Microsoft officials (Stuart McKee, in particular) were hearing:
  • Check! We have 400 million users who review our format
  • Check! Our customers give us feedback on features
  • Check! Our MS XML Reference Schemas are royalty-free; we're cool
Now, in light of how Open Source & Free Software has shifted the standard of what represents i) good peer review, ii) basic standard stewardship, and iii) freedom from encumbrance, these listening mistakes seem hilarious until you realize that Microsoft officials have no actual idea how Open Source & Free Software have changed the rules.

This slice o' life highlights the fact that Microsoft is still an industrial entity (working behind cinderblock walls with belief in hard materials) and its Open Source & Free Software competitors are Internet entities (working collaboratively, sharing ideas openly across the ether).

Ignorance of the rules is no excuse.

The only plausible alternate explanation for Microsoft people feeling they were hoodwinked in Massachusetts -- they actually asked David Berlind to write their side of the story, they believe their...side...of...the...story -- is that they missed OpenDocument, that they did not see OpenDocument coming; or, seeing it, they did not take its market potential seriously -- only seriously enough to hire Jean Paoli, one of the creators of XML, and develop their own XML file format for Office 2003.

This is a failure of imagination, that Microsoft's file format for Office -- the lynch-pin of its monopoly for both Office and Windows (yes, and Windows) -- could be challenged at both the technological and the user level under an Open Source & Free Software methodology. Inconceivable. OpenDocument was in full view since year-2000! Yet from Microsoft's vantage, the open XML file format developed by Michael Breuer and Daniel Vogelheim at Sun Microsystems for OpenOffice and StarOffice could not possibly be credible.

If this is true -- that Microsoft missed OpenDocument -- then the culpable officials are in such glaring dereliction of their responsibilities that they should be fired from a catapult into Vancouver or, even better, dropped from a C-130 at 30-thousand feet over the Aleutian Islands. Parachute or not? That would be Ballmer's call.

Now that MassGov has endowed OpenDocument with its due credibility, CIOs, you better get off our duffs. I'm not talking about State Gov CIOs: the guys & gals who just ran by your window doing OpenDocument windsprints. I'm talking about Late Adopter / Laggard enterprise CIOs. You better stop licensing dead-end Microsoft software -- including, God forbid, Vista -- because in 18 months your Board is going to ask you, "Where's my SOA?" and the next thing you know you're going to be standing -- like Alan Yates and Stuart McKee -- looking out the gaping hatch of a C-130 with a dumb look on your face and, optionally, a rip-cord in your hand.

October 13, 2005

Who Gets It?

...Berlind gets it:
So, where are we? Microsoft/Yahoo/Real vs. Google/Sun/AOL/Comcast
Basically, it boils down to FAT, CORRUPT & STUPID vs smart, thin & clever.

But lest we consider this a case closed, it's helpful to recall Nigel Tufnel's bristling insight:
There's a fine line between clever and stupid.

FoxNews: Fair&Balanced on OpenDocument

Don Parris (on the OpenOffice Marketing List) and Bob Sutor (on his blog) sourced this one:

FoxNews.com just published some letters of response to the Microsoft Astroturf run a few weeks ago against OpenDocument. The letters of rebuttal cover most of the points thoroughly.
Editor's Note:

The column "Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument" that appeared on FOXnews.com Sept. 28 identified author James Prendergast as executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, but failed to disclose that Microsoft is a founding member of that organization.

ATL is a coalition of technology companies, professionals and organizations that advocates for limited government regulation of technology and for competitive market solutions to technology policy. In addition to Microsoft, ATL's founding members include Staples, Inc., CompUSA, Citizens Against Government Waste, CompTIA, Small Business Survival Committee, Clarity Consulting, Cityscape Filmworks, Association for Competitive Technology and 60Plus Association.

Mr. Prendergast's affiliation with Microsoft should have been stated clearly in the article.
My friend, Tom Adelstein, Editor-in-Chief at LXer.com, was among the first to point out Pendergast's compromising position.

Troll Groks-Not the Elegance of OpenDocument

Simon del.icio.us ly points out that Dave Winer hates OpenDocument. Cool!

Dave whines about the foolishness of starting another format when the real companies -- Yahoo & Google -- are on to smarter things. Dave misses the point.

OpenDocument, as Gary Edwards has been saying, is about the Internet: it's not as much about unhinging Microsoft's monopoly lever (though it does that handily) but about open XML tags connecting documents and elements of text (and other stuff) in documents just like Web pages and elements in Web pages are now connected.

Having common documents thus connected -- and the documents and tools that create them not governed by a private entity -- opens whole new planes of linkages and value-creation upon the innerspace of the desktop as well as the outerspace of the Internet. (Similarly, Google's desktop search is under-appreciated for its implications for unifying the inner- and outer-; the analogy does not suck.)

Winer's a masochistic ninny.

October 12, 2005

Banville's Latest Takes the Booker

John Banville's The Sea won him on Monday the 50,000 GBP Man Booker Prize for Supposedly Good Writing. On the slim sales of his imposing and underappreciated 13 previous works, he can use it. For he merits the attention.

Finn Fordham writes:
Banville writes novels of complex patterning, with grace, precision and timing, and there are wonderful digressive meditations. In The Sea we hear about work and mediocrity, how "Be yourself!" actually means "Be anyone you like", on how first love can put an end to the "immanence of all things" and turn the world "into an objective entity".

He is described as a stylist. But he is really more of a ventriloquist.

Emma Brockes writes:
Banville's brilliance is his ability to pull apart the small, external triggers that cause one's huge internal movements - the boy who falls in love with a woman as she passes him an apple - without breaking the surface.
Wouldn't we all like to do that?

John Sutherland, chair of this year's prize committee, gave an intriguing assessment:
Judgment on John Banville's triumph was predictably divided. On one side there were those (in Ireland, for example) who felt it a wholly appropriate award for a writer who was now certified, on merit and achievement, to stand alongside Beckett. On the other side there were those of the Diogenes faction who declared Banville's triumph a "disaster" from which Man Booker, and indeed English fiction, might never recover. An event to rank with England failing to qualify for the World Cup.

There are, as I personally experienced it, a number of difficulties with The Sea. The English ear (mine included) sometimes has difficulty with what Banville calls "Hiberno English", the one good thing, he says, the invader left his plundered isle. The idiom of The Sea is rich. A recurrent objection is that the language gets in the way of the story (what story?). But couldn't one say the same thing about Ulysses?

Joyce's novel, for a certainty, wouldn't have won the Man Booker in 1922. That award would have gone, probably, to Arnold Bennett or HG Wells, and the prize would have been safe from "disaster", 1922-style.

The subject matter of The Sea - alcoholism, melancholy, terminal disease, family disintegration, the decay of age - does not contribute to the cheeriness of life. But neither does life, if you've lived enough of it.
[UPDATE 10/13/2005: As if to underscore the complete illiteracy of Americans, Barnes & Noble (Broadway & 84th St.) had no single one of John Banville's books in stock. Moreover, the obsequious attendant was not sanguine that there would be any in the future. I shall take my business to Amazon, avowing to never return for convenience's or any other sake.]

"High Tidings" by Finn Fordham | TheGuardian UK

"14th Time Lucky" by Emma Brockes | TheGuardian UK

"The Judge's Tale" by John Sutherland | TheGuardian UK

Take the OSDL Linux Client Survey...Please!

If your organization is planning to adopt Linux, please take this short survey. The sample is small now and needs a critical mass to be reliable & valid.

Looks by interim results that the Europeans are winning. North Americans, Get up Stand UP!

Stuart, please do this survey in the Asian langs!

Grisanzio's Lessons Learned from OpenSolaris

Jim Grisanzio (Sun Microsystems) is Community Manager of the OpenSolaris project. By all measure of vibrations emanating from that project -- not just Jim's -- OpenSolaris is felt a significant success.

He blogs today a really interesting list of Lessons Learned, which should be required reading for any organization adopting open source and/or open standard tools as well as for developers and students.

Among my favorites...

7. Dump internal lists or make them public.

8. Transparency increases speed...

10. The conversation is the (Cluetrain) marketing.

13. Be prepared to lead.

...and many more.

It appears that Jim and others have taken on board the available lessons from Sun's 5 years running the OpenOffice.org project, as well as this last few years getting OpenSolaris aloft.

What do you think is the institutional knowledge value of these experiences? I would say it's measured in nine zeros.

October 11, 2005

OpenDocument Redux

'It's time to get aggressive on promoting OpenDocument,' implies Bob Sutor.

Bob -- IBM's Vice President of Standards and Open Source -- is among the leaders in the open standards trade: he sets the tone. Today in his blog he updates his promotion of the idea of "Commitment to Action," effectively sending a wake-up call to CIO's in every kind of organization.

This is suitably forceful message for IBM and the rest of us to take out to the world, given the importance of OpenDocument and XML to the future of all Information Technology tradefolk and to students looking for clues about the most interesting and fertile areas for attention. In my time collaborating with open standards and open source (since 2001), no one has been this direct and no one has deserved to be until now.

The ratification by OASIS in May 2005 of the OpenDocument specification -- a true collaboration across industry -- was the first significant milestone for the open document movement since 2004's encouraging Valoris Report sponsored by the European Union, one of the earliest high-profile efforts by government to acknowledge that OpenOffice, StarOffice and their open XML file format were going to be major market factors and would reliably and completely satisfy the need for open document standards. This woke many people up who mistakenly imagine that Linux is the only example of successful collaborative software development.

The second milestone came six weeks ago when The Commonwealth of Massachusetts declared support for OpenDocument in a wide ranging policy framework for a path to a Service Oriented Architecture built around XML and related standards (and their open implementations). More people woke up.

Since there are few examples of ways organizations have used XML to revolutionize their business processes (there are some really neat examples), it is incumbent upon us to deliver those case studies in clear, understandable and relevant terms -- soon! But this should not prevent us from putting pressure on IT's buy-side to read up, train up and stop licensing certain proprietary software that closes off the pathways in architecture to open standard processes (Gary Edwards just delivered a terrific example of how his wife's new real estate firm uses MSXML, Outlook and Exchange to "pull up" employees into expensive software upgrades they were reluctant to make themselves on merit; the example highlights how this vendor closes off software choice while pretending to enhance experience).

It's high time for Bob Sutor's clarion call: "Insist today...Get a commitment from your vendor...Ask your CIO...Ask your federal and regional government..." CIO's: you're already in the driver's seat but it's time to take the wheel because vendors do eventually give customers what they ask for.

October 10, 2005

GoogleBombing the President

A good & trusted friend sent me a cryptic email recently: 'Google "failure."' This I did to find President Bush's (Dubya's) Whitehouse Bio page at the top of the results. Try it. Aparently the phrase "miserable failure" produces the same kind of giggles.

She, my friend, who is not a techie but is quite sophisticated in many areas (but politically naive) said something like, 'See what those clever people at Google are up to.'

I had to reply to explain that it's not the people at Google but a certain way certain people are abusing the Google search system. It's called "Google Bombing" and here's Google's rather vague but official explanation.

In fact, Microsoft officials -- or interns or some sub-group of the invertabrates that run the Microsoft Corporation -- do this all the time to people on their shitlist. I know because I've been on it: there was once a fake site, Sam & Carol Hiser's Herbal Remedies (or something to that effect), lurking high on the list if you Googled my name (I don't know any Carols, and the only other Sam Hiser I'm aware of is an aerospace engineer at NorthrupGrumman...I was getting his email for a spell...it wasn't that interesting). Likewise, Tom Adelstein's past as a Grammy-winning musician was bombed to high-up among his links. We found out this was accomplished through a bot connected with the MSN service that was automatically generating a lot of hits to these phoney or obsolete sites. The banality of mechanized evil.

What's so encouraging and ridiculous is that Microsoft people should have this perception that being a musician or having herbal interests or talents should compromise one's credibility or judgement at seeing Microsoft people as the Fascist Cabal they are.

Visualizing a "Universal Transformation Layer"

It's not just me who sees the advent of XML and the adoption of OpenDocument as a world-changing sequence of events...part of the plumbing of Web 2.0.

Gary Edwards is the uniquely articulate member of OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee ("TC") who has been sketching out the future of systems interoperability for us less imaginative members of the open standards trade.
OpenDocument is already in heavy use as a universal transformation layer at Boeing and with things like the ORACLE Collaboration Suite. I expect that Massachusetts, and everyone else for that matter who has an SOA effort underway, will make similar use of the OpenDocument Format. As organizations make the transition to SOA, greatly leveraging the value of their legacy systems, the sooner they can get XML layers of universal interoperability implemented, the better. Metadata may be quickest way for SOA directed efforts to work with systems vendors to perfect a near term value that seems rather extraordinary to me. But that's just me.
The reason Massachusetts' OpenDocument migration is so important is that it represents the baby steps of an SOA ("Service Oriented Architecture") transition, and everyone around the world is watching not only to see how MassGov handles the political stickywickets but also the technical banana peels as well as those unpredictable human factors.

Seems rather extraordinary to me, too, Gary.

October 05, 2005

Sun + Google: a Napkin Deal

Dana Gardner at ZDNet has the last word on Sun + Google at "Between the Lines":
Do you think it took as long to reach a deal with Google as it did with IBM when Big Blue re-upped for 11 more years of Java license?
Or as long as Sun's technology pact with Microsoft took to negotiate? This "deal" seems so vague that it was more likely sketched out on a napkin at Buck's Diner.

"Google Takes a Leisurely Stroll..." | ZDNet

October 04, 2005

Sun + Google is about Desktop Java

Friends who are asking -- who are as confused as I was by the Sun/Google Non-Announcement -- need only look to that most perceptive commentator, David Berlind, for a possible answer:

Although Sun would probably dispute this (after all, the deal has Google leveraging Sun's distribution of Java, not the other way around), desktop Java has long needed a sugar daddy. And, as one of the few companies with the reach, the resolve (to disrupt the status quo), the cash, the Java expertise (Adam Bosworth, anyone?), and various desktop application implementations that fall an imperceptible sliver short of where desktop Java can start to take them, Google is the hottest prospect to come desktop Java's way in a long time. Maybe forever. With Outlook Web Access (OWA), Microsoft may have been the first to take Asynchronous Javascript and XML (AJAX) mainstream. But, in a variety of applications from email to maps, Google has been the one to not only perfect it, but to also turn it against Microsoft. Now, all Google must do is give the "J" in "AJAX" the dual personality that Microsoft would have never given it, and there's very little if anything that Google and Sun won't be able to deliver to our destkops that, until today, required a significant amount of local resources (processor, hard drive, memory, etc.). Required resources by the way that are going up in the next wave of the fat client's cartel's alternative, not down.

(That last bit is the kicker.) According to this thread of reasoning, Google will use Java and or AJAX to run just about any application on our desktops delivered from server-side via the browser.

What I am wondering is why they chose to announce this and did not keep it quiet. It would ceteris parabis be better to surprise the FAT CLIENT desktop incumbent -- even if this is a quasi-practical joke.

The wide scope of the possibility of Google delivering almost any app, now makes my OpenOffice-centered view earlier today seem myopic.

I think they're just grabing Microsoft by the tail and whirling it around their heads. McNealy & Schmidt -- the old Sunnies -- are farting about having a laugh. Just funnin' while Ballmer throws chairs.

Sun & Google Turn Out Flaccid Announcement

The joint press release today by Sun & Google -- the anticipation of which sent MrSofty stock tumbling -- turned out to be just more marketing papp.

We were all getting ready to hear about "GoogleOffice" in which Google & Sun would team up to deliver StarOffice to paying enterprise and individual customers via the browser for something like $19.95 per year (individuals for $4.95 a year plus a manditory annual subscription to Jonathan Schwartz's blog feed; $7.95 without the feed).

[These are my numbers, and no one from either Google or Sun has ever discussed this idea with me.]

Despite the disappointing announcement -- something exciting about the Java Runtime Environment and the Google Toolbar -- we're still keen on GoogleOffice and feel it should be in the cards one fine day.

Microsoft: Ever More Poppycock & Balderdash!

Microsoft officials lie with a straight face. About Microsoft's proprietary file formats SVP of Office, Steve Sinofsky, said:

We've always felt that the primary value that we deliver to people is not in the format that the information is stored in but in the tool that's used to create the format. At the same time, what the format does is it affords us a way of delivering scalable, robust secure applications. There are engineering reasons why we invest in different formats over time.

Yet, from a marketplace perspective, we continue to focus on the experience. That's why you see the new user experience in Office 12 as being a really big focus. We think, at the end of the day, that's where customers make their decisions about what's really valuable.

"...the format...affords..."

The format may afford Microsoft's Information Worker segment the ability to stay in business; the file format lock-in not only perpetuates that company's control of people's documents and application purchases but provides most of the stickiness of the Windows operating system, itself.

"..secure applications..."

LOL LOLOL lol LOLOLOLOL-LOL lololol lol LOLOLOLOLOL-LOLOL lol lolol lol lolololol lol.

"...engineering reasons..."

There are engineering reasons, too, why OpenOffice (1.1.5 & 2) and StarOffice 8 produce a file format (OpenDocument) which is not compatible with OpenOffice 1.1.4 (and earlier) and StarOffice 7. But there are mainly commercial reasons why Microsoft so eagerly and frequently (about every 3 years) cuts off its earlier applications. Sinofsky conveniently avoids this Elephant on Microsoft's coffee table.

"...focus on the user experience..."

See Sustaining v. Disruptive Innovation -- "as incumbent technologies begin to over-serve customers' requirements..."


Microsoft is out of touch with value and customer needs because the alternatives (OpenOffice, StarOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Evolution & Linux) are building different value networks in Korea, Japan, Malaysia, China, Australia, Peru, Brazil, South Africa, the Bronx and East LA among the more cost-sensitive users and where governments are stimulating local IT industries based on Open Source.

The proprietary file format today makes no sense. Eventually acquiescing to market forces, Microsoft will adopt the OpenDocument file format. This will occur sometime after most of the State governments in the United States declare for OpenDocument, following the example set by Massachusetts. It will happen sooner if rumors of a Google & Sun partnership around StarOffice/OpenOffice are true.

Thank you, Dan Farber | ZDNet

October 03, 2005

Cool Site in Dispute with NYC MTA

William Bright had the idea to put subway maps up online for download. The maps are formatted for use on any color-enabled iPod.

He's got many cities' maps so far, including Metro DC, Paris, London, Seoul, Montreal, Tokyo and others. But the New York City MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) is asking for an annual license fee of $500.

You can accept the MTA's right to charge a reasonable license fee like this -- acknowledging their imperative to protect their map's usage (they give the map away for free) -- while also accepting the idiocy of doing so in this connected world. It is a self-defeating objection, given that Mr Bright's usage is legitimate and helpful in the spirit of the purpose of the map and also given that the MTA could retain control by offering royalty-free terms.