Even more Patrick Durusau fun

Well, Patrick seems to be having more problems. One posting asks Does Microsoft Have Brown Eyes? My response is a quick, “of course not, just because they are full of shit doesn’t mean their eyes are brown!”

Basically, Patrick is trying to compare people’s reaction to Microsoft’s “change in corporate culture on standards,” to the racism experiment and lesson by Jane Elliott. His view is based upon his perception of Microsoft’s detractors being the “’hold Microsoft down so we can compete’ crowd.”

He then goes on to characterize the Appeal of ISO/IEC 29500 (OOXML), as being the actions of those who wish to avoid change. He states that no matter what the outcome of the appeal, the only thing accomplished with be the wasting of around 8 months. His view is that time could be better spent make actual change to the ISO Directives.

First, I believe that Patrick had a good “coming to Jesus” moment when he visited the Microsoft campus some months back. I fully believe that at that time, he met with a number of developers who are devoted to standards and making real, valuable improvements. However, I believe that no matter how well intentioned the feelings of these developers, they are not the ones in charge. If they are told to “embrace and extend” a standard to the detriment of everyone except Microsoft, they have a simple choice, do it, or find another job.

Now, Patrick does make reference to Microsoft’s “long history of broken promises,” but only with technological failures such as the blue screen of death, while making a passing mention of the “browser wars.” It is the browser wars that are the most telling in Microsoft’s history. It doesn’t matter what was the quality of products they have delivered, but how they have used, or abused, their monopoly position in the OS market.

For those of you who don’t know, or have very short memories, Microsoft offered to divide up the web market with Netscape, letting Netscape have the server side, and Microsoft would have the desktop side. The reasoning was that Microsoft did not want any product that would diminish the importance of the desktop OS, and having a browser that would be available on multiple OSes, all working the same way, would undermine their control. When Netscape turned them down, they took action to cut off “Netscape’s air supply.” They then used their control of the desktop OS to force OEMs to not include Netscape’s browser and to stop ISVs from supporting Netscape’s software.

Those actions brought about an anti-trust suit, in which Microsoft was found guilty of abusing their monopoly position in their desktop OS market, to gain control of other markets, specifically web browsers.

This is important, because much like then, a standardized office document format would level the playing field for all office applications. Software that supports the standard would compete with each other on real features, not who has the greatest market share. Therefore, it is in Microsoft’s best interest to find a way to block competitors from using the standard.

The management team that was part of their monopoly abusing practices is, for the most part, still in charge. Paul Maritz, who made the infamous quote from earlier, has left, but many others are still there. Given their track record, it is not unreasonable to be skeptical of any proclaimed change in the company’s attitudes and actions about standards.

Now, mix that with a standard they they proposed, that is not only based on their software, but is completely controlled by them, and they have a RAND which is anything but reasonable or non-discriminatory, and you have a recipe for absolute control over office software. Top that off with Microsoft’s efforts to get the standard approved, which violated laws in some countries, and violated a number of the rules of the standards body. It is easy to see why Microsoft’s competitors are worried about this situation.

Patrick’s advice of that we should wait to “see what the next six (6) to twelve (12) months brings in terms of progress,” is basically asking us to wait and see how hard Microsoft can try to screw their competitors and maintain their monopoly position. Sorry Patrick, I do not wish to wait and see where that leads us.

As for Patrick’s article about the appeals concerning the ISO/IEC 29500 (OOXML) standard, I believe that Patrick is missing how this helps to bring about change. He says that there will be no change from this, and that the next 8 months should be spent making changes, rather than appeals. My question to Patrick would be, how do we come to an understanding of what is wrong with the Directives, unless we investigate the complaints about them? That is the single greatest matter of the appeals brought forth. Yes, there are appeals concerning the technical aspects of the standard, or how those were not dealt with, and with control of the standard remaining with Microsoft only. Yet, the single greatest area of complaint in the appeals is how the rules of the ISO were abused, and how those rules allowed such a complex standard to be fast-tracked in the first place, and how that fast track process went wrong.

It is from a full, and thorough investigation, based upon the appeals, that will actually bring about the understanding of what needs to be changed. I counter that it doesn’t matter how the appeals come out, there will be changes, not wasted time. The appeals will bring to light how things went wrong, and what needs to be changed, or eliminated.

I believe it is Patrick’s own words that best describe his problem, “their appeals play into the hands of those who want to avoid ‘change itself.’” How is this descriptive of him? I believe that he is the one who is afraid of change in the ISO/IEC system. He would rather the system try to change itself, without a complete review of what went wrong with the OOXML standardization process.

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