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Dutch ODF Plan Could Sideline Microsoft 168

Posted by kdawson
from the because-it's-our-data dept.
Yeti7226 sends word of a discussion coming up Wednesday in the parliament of The Netherlands that could result in mandated use of Open Document Format at government agencies there. If the plan is enacted, public-sector organizations, as well as the government, would have to transition to using ODF by 2010. Microsoft Netherlands has lobbied hard against the provision. Backers say it doesn't exclude Microsoft, because ODF can be produced out of MS Office via the use of plugins. A funder of the OpenDoc Society invited Microsoft to join that organization, saying: "This plan is not about Microsoft, it's about ensuring the perpetual availability of data without any obstacles."
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Dutch ODF Plan Could Sideline Microsoft

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  • by Skinkie (815924) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:25PM (#21649267) Homepage
    The Dutch devision of OpenStreetMap also send in a letter to the commission about the need for Open/Free Data. Standards are important, but the reuse of existing government work is too.
  • Well no wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:26PM (#21649277)

    "This plan is not about Microsoft, it's about ensuring the perpetual availability of data without any obstacles."
    That's the problem now, isn't it?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:01PM (#21649701)
      Luckily Microsoft keeps emailing letters explaining why they shouldn't switch using the latest .doc format, which no one can read.
      • by Goalie_Ca (584234)
        Actually that would be something. It would even be funnier if they gave a PDF or an older version of word.
    • Re:Well no wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rucs_hack (784150) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:03PM (#21649727)
      a bigger problem from microsofts point of view is that they made such a fuss about not being able to implement ODF in office, and now they may have to, showing their previous statements to be lies.
      (well, perhaps it won't be too hard, after all it happens so often :)

      Reliance on plug ins for office ODF compatibility would be crazy, either they implement it on the 'save as' menu, and allow it to be chosen as default, or they get sidelined by users as being too much work when compared to a simple and quick save operation.
      • by overshoot (39700) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:11PM (#21649807)

        Reliance on plug ins for office ODF compatibility would be crazy, either they implement it on the 'save as' menu, and allow it to be chosen as default, or they get sidelined by users as being too much work when compared to a simple and quick save operation.
        They tried playing chicken in Mass. and it worked. My bet is that they want use of ODF to be as painful and damn-well-useless as possible so that (in their wet dreams) people stage riots in the streets and halls of Parliament demanding MSOffice.
        • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NospAm.hotmail.com> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:21AM (#21652241) Journal
          My bet is that they want use of ODF to be as painful and damn-well-useless as possible

          This is though, it's not.

          ODF shouldn't be a cause for excitement. It's a file format. It stores everything any sane person might want to store in an editable document format. The only differentiator between ODF and any other common document formats is that ODF is easy to parse and free for anyone to implement.

          There are already good editors that use ODF too - Open Office for the open source crowd, and Lotus Symphony for those who want to play in the proprietary pool. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but either will serve for 99% of document editing duties.

      • Re:Well no wonder (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:33PM (#21650029) Homepage Journal

        a bigger problem from microsofts point of view is ..... showing their previous statements to be lies.
        I'd be surprised if MS considered that a "bigger problem". It's probably the sort of problem they deal with every day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        If I remember correctly, Microsoft's complaint was not that Office couldn't support ODF but that they couldn't implement all of the Office format features in ODF.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Can't do that in ODF.

          That's why MS is shitting their pants.

          Look at the crap they pulled trying to get their "standard" approved by ISO.
        • by gweihir (88907)
          Well, my guess would be that Office is more overloaded with useless features than ever. But it still cannot typeset properly, which is truely pathetic.

          My personal way to get beautiful typesetting from office is to export to rtf and convert to LaTeX. Not that I have to do that often, fortunately.
          • by rucs_hack (784150)
            My personal way to get beautiful typesetting from office is to export to rtf and convert to LaTeX. Not that I have to do that often, fortunately.

            Is there any particulerly useful procedure you have for doing this? I have a 250 page document in MSword that I would really like to have in latex, but I'm working blind as it were.
        • Re:Well no wonder (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Palestrina (715471) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:10AM (#21651463) Homepage
          But you can't implement all of Office's features in OOXML either. Macros, scripts, DRM, etc., are not part of OOXML.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by h4rm0ny (722443)

            Well yes, but you're assuming that just because MS want OOXML approved as a standard, it means they can't keep modifying it as needed.
        • Re:Well no wonder (Score:4, Insightful)

          by unapersson (38207) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:00AM (#21652441) Homepage
          Well they were part of the standardisation process so only had to ask for those features to be included. So it's a little cheeky to complain afterwards.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gweihir (88907)
      Obviously. How are they ever going to force people to buy new software, if open standards catch on?
      --
      Side question: FR-4 is glass-fibre+epoxy PCB material. What is evil about it? Or does FR-4 stand for something else in your .sig?
  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:27PM (#21649285)

    A funder of the OpenDoc Society invited Microsoft to join that organization, saying: "This plan is not about Microsoft, it's about ensuring the perpetual availability of data without any obstacles."

    ... which actually makes it very much about Microsoft, since they have purposefully done so much to ensure precisely the opposite. Planned obsolescence and crufty undocumented file formats are perfectly in Microsoft's favor as a means of forcing MS Office users to pay the upgrade tax every few years, regardless of whether the new Office versions include any compelling new functionality, what with older versions suddenly no longer able to read the "same" .doc file format produced by the newer versions. With ODF, we know what we're getting -- and that's what scares the pants of Microsoft.

    Cheers,

    • by Sentry21 (8183) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:02PM (#21649705) Journal

      Planned obsolescence and crufty undocumented file formats are perfectly in Microsoft's favor
      For an example of crufy file formats in action, read about Word 98's classic security hole - including random chunks of data/disk into its files. Present in Office 98 for Mac, as well as Office 97 for Windows, and older Mac versions (As far back as 6).

      http://www.macintouch.com/o98security.html [macintouch.com]

      Then again, I suppose this sort of thing isn't guaranteed against with ODF, since anyone can write a terrible parser for any file format. Microsoft is just really good at it, that's all.
    • by houghi (78078)

      ... which actually makes it very much about Microsoft,
      ... from a Microsoft point of view. This was not about killing Microsoft, although it might be a nice side effect.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:28PM (#21649309) Journal
    A funder of the OpenDoc Society invited Microsoft to join that organization, saying: "This plan is not about Microsoft, it's about ensuring the perpetual availability of data without any obstacles."

    MSFT countered saying that it has nothing against its users ensuring perpetual availability of their data residing in their machines and it would gladly join the organization if Microsoft's right to perpetual profits could be guaranteed.

  • Comparable Costs? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by calebt3 (1098475) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:30PM (#21649319)

    Rinsema fears that the current proposal could lead to discrimination against Microsoft products ranging from Office 12 to .Net, even though they offer a proper solution at a cost that is comparable to competing products
    Since when is free equal to $130 or whatever MS Office is at now?
    • Not to mention the time re-training people to use the next horrible UI, at least with OSS a large company can easily tweak OOo to look like *insert word processor here*
    • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:39PM (#21649455)

      Since when is free equal to $130 or whatever MS Office is at now?

      See, that's the beauty of " Free! " (TM) (c) [Pat. Pend.] [All rights withheld by Microsoft, 2007] -- you can " Freely! " make anything equal anything else! What convenience, what ease of use, what utility! A few examples: Winter is the new summer, Stay the course, Up is down, Copyright is good for the consumer! Rinsema is simply worried that not enough people know about this Fantastic! New! Opportunity!, and is trying to make sure everyone knows that " Free! " is actually equal to $130 or whatever MS Office sells for.

      It's all perfectly logical, really.

    • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:14PM (#21649841) Journal

      Since when is free equal to $130 or whatever MS Office is at now?
      Since Microsoft released their mathematical proof showing that all Microsoft products are free:
              * Step 1: Let a = b.
              * Step 2: Then a^2 = ab ,
              * Step 3: a^2 + a^2 = a^2 + ab ,
              * Step 4: 2a^2 = a^2 + ab ,
              * Step 5: 2a^2 - 2ab = a^2 + ab - 2ab ,
              * Step 6: and 2a^2 - 2ab = a^2 - ab .
              * Step 7: This can be written as 2(a^2 - ab) = 1(a^2 - ab) ,
              * Step 8: and canceling the (a^2 - ab) from both sides gives 1=2.
              * Step 9: We then subtract 1 from each side which gives us 0=1
              * Step 8: then multiplying by x where x is the price of the Microsoft suite you are investing in... you will note that x=0 and thus Microsoft is completely free!
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        For those scratching their heads:

        * Step 1: Let a = b.
        * Step 2: Then a^2 = ab ,
        * Step 3: a^2 + a^2 = a^2 + ab ,
        * Step 4: 2a^2 = a^2 + ab ,
        * Step 5: 2a^2 - 2ab = a^2 + ab - 2ab ,
        * Step 6: and 2a^2 - 2ab = a^2 - ab .

        • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:35PM (#21650057) Journal

          Substituting step 2 into the equation at step 7 gives us 2*(0) = 1*(0) ... which is true, but then step 8 which reads "canceling the (a^2 - ab) from both sides" is actually a divide-by-zero error on both sides which is where it all goes awry.
          Shhhhhhh!
          This is Microsoft, there's no error!
          • "canceling the (a^2 - ab) from both sides" is actually a divide-by-zero error on both sides which is where it all goes awry.

            Shhhhhhh!
            This is Microsoft, there's no error!

            Don't worry, It'll be fixed in the next Service Pack, which is going to be "The Most Secure Microsoft Product Ever" (tm) (c) [Patent Pending] !
            While leaving, don't forget to pick up a brochure explaining how to convince your boss to pay for the upgrade.

            • And, by the way, on the 2 Debian DVDs there is more than one error. So, nobody can blame MS on that, Linux is worse.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by mattmatt (855592)
            It's a feature.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Excel says it's 10000...
      • For those who wonder, the fallacy in this chain of thought is that you can't compare a LHS and RHS if both are equal to 0, as it is done from step 5 onwards.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      Oh, they didn't say equal, they just said comparable, and surely you can compare $130 to $0.

      If the MS office software or open office cost $NaN, then that'd raise an exception because the values aren't comparable. But they arent! So MS is telling the truth, as always!
      • by d'fim (132296)
        ". . . surely you can compare $130 to $0."

        Especially when what you really want to charge is $1,000,000 per copy.

        Microsoft has a dream . . .
    • Presumably the government would buy their office package with some sort of support contract.
  • Bluff? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by calebt3 (1098475) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:33PM (#21649367)
    How likely is it that these people have figured out that ODF pushes Microsoft's buttons and are using it to secure better deals?
    • Maybe in 2003, or today in the USA. Not in 2007 AND in he Netherlands. Times change and MS is getting increasingly obsoleted for more economical, more open systems and formats.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Penguinisto (415985)
      Not so sure about that one... After all, MS Office does have ODF plugins, and the MSFT sales droid could easily counter with some variation of "well, we have freely available plugins for that in (insert new MS Office version here) . Now about all those old .doc and .xls files you have laying around... whatcha gonna open those with?"

      Also, one of the benefits of all that FUD that Microsoft has churned out or paid for is that they can use it as reference material to the clueless PHB(s) that purchase (directl

    • Re:Bluff? (Score:5, Informative)

      by risk one (1013529) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:13PM (#21649835)

      It's important to consider the structure of Dutch government in this case. The Netherlands have a system of many parties. There are some big ones, two of which usually make up the government, with a third smaller one. But the Dutch congress (which can veto bills, and bring up points of discussion) comprises all parties that got some minimum number of votes. I suppose most parliamentary democracies work this way, but the difference with countries like America and the UK is that in the Netherlands there is actually great diversity of parties in congress, many of which are small enough to really care about the issues. And a common divisor between all the parties that aren't in government is that none of them will care much about how great a deal the government is going to get from Microsoft (especially when there are free alternatives).

      Don't get me wrong, we don't have a magnificent government at the moment, but the parliament usually works pretty well. The one party that would be most sympathetic to Microsoft here is the liberal VVD, and one of their prominent politicians is the Eurocommisioner that managed to give Microsoft a kicking in the recent antitrust suit. There is some hope for this one.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by BlackCreek (1004083)

        Don't forget that Frits Bolkestein http://eupat.ffii.org/players/bolkestein/index.en.html [ffii.org], is also member of the VVD.

        FWIW, the guy is a big-time defensor of software patents, and calls open source advocates of misinformers (in the context of software patents).

      • by DrFruit (1178261) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @09:26AM (#21654469)
        At the risk of sliding off into OT territory, some points made about the Dutch political system probably need clarification. The Dutch consider their liberal party VVD to represent a conservative or capitalist point of view and do not view them as left wing or bleeding heart; quite the opposite. Our 'liberals' would likely vote Republican in the States.
        Mrs Kroes, the commissioner who made MS bleed, is all the more effective as an antitrust fighter because she knows from past experience how board rooms operate. Apparently, it is possible to be a capitalist and believe that corporations should behave properly.
        I agree that our system, imperfect though it may be, seems to at least resemble something like a democracy.
        • by Fjan11 (649654)
          Saying that the VVD is conservative, is not very accurate. There are far more conservative parties in the parliament. (The VVD does have a conservative faction inside their party, which has been causing them a lot of headaches lately.) It would be more accurate to say that the VVD are economic liberals, as opposed to social liberals.
    • Re:Bluff? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yeti7226 (473207) <arjen@kmphs.com> on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:22PM (#21649919)
      As one of the authors of the parliament motion that started this policy track back in 2002 and someone who had the oportunity to advise the minister personally I can categorically state that this is not the intention of the plan. It is also not the intention to ban any specific product or any vendor. If certain public institutions wish to use a proprietary word processor that is fine. They just have to store their documents in a neutral format so that others remain free to use the tools of their choosing. This is about the freedom to choose, both for government organizations and citizens who wish to access government documents.

      If because of this someone can get a good deal on licenses than that's less cost for the taxpayer so that also a 'good thing'.

      Arjen

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kryten_nl (863119)
        I love M$ bashing as much as the next guy. But Arjen... your company Gendo [gendo.nl] is likely to profit from this as well, isn't it?

        On a completely unrelated note ... do you have any job openings?
        • Nice try (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dbjh (980477)
          If you cannot attack his viewpoints you can always attack himself... Nice try.
          First, this isn't about bashing Microsoft. Second, don't suggest Microsoft isn't opposing this to keep their profit as high as possible.
        • Yes, but isn't that the point he's making?

          With .doc, MS has the whole market. With ODF, customers get a choice: They can go with MS or with Arjen's company.

          If MS Office is the best solution then nothing changes, but if a dutch company can offer anything better (better pricing, support, features, localization, etc.) customers suddenly have a choice they didn't have before. Notice that this move would allow office to coexist with other apps, unlike other countries that mandate open source solutions.

          Just becau
        • I love M$ bashing as much as the next guy.


          Care to tell us where exactly Arjen was bashing Microsoft ?
  • I for one salute the new Document Format overlords ;-)
  • by pilbender (925017) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:37PM (#21649431) Homepage Journal
    The article title talks about getting rid of Microsoft but it's really about doing the right thing to serve the people. The article content has nothing to do with the title. There's no need for a title like this. I hate to see this nonsense. It diverts from what really matters.

    Governments *MUST* do this. Public documents are public domain, not Microsoft's (or any other company's) hostage.

    We need to continue to have articles posted (even though they get old sometimes) here that push these issues and lay them out for people because they are so important.
    • by dwandy (907337) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:51PM (#21649599) Homepage Journal

      Public documents are public domain, not Microsoft's (or any other company's) hostage.
      The problem is that most people believe that MS Word is a public data-exchange format (ie: that if you write something in MS Word that anyone can read it, edit it etc.)

      So the fundamental issue is that most people aren't even aware that there is a problem to deal with.

      • by webmaster404 (1148909) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:00PM (#21649683)
        That though, has changed with Office 2007, most people that I know of are considering a change to a non-MS word processor such as OOo, buying a used copy of 2003 and some that are fed up with Vista running slow on their 3 Gig dual core system, are changing to XP while others are even thinking about Linux as an option. MS ends up profiting when people don't have a choice, in trying to make Office and Vista look "different and new" they have alienated people who are now looking at non MS solutions. MS isn't a big selling point anymore, people think of it as the creator of the BSoD and for Windows most people fail to realize there is a choice, Vista and Office are changing that. Rome only collapsed not because of people conquering it but because of civil unrest, MS is the same, its power is fading quickly and Open-source and Linux are the only logical things to replace it.
      • by jc42 (318812)
        The problem is that most people believe that MS Word is a public data-exchange format (ie: that if you write something in MS Word that anyone can read it, edit it etc.)

        True. I've had a bit of fun with this when I've received Word docs in email. What I sometimes do is mention that here in the US, we now have a law that makes "decrypting" docs without explicit permission from the encrypter is a federal crime, for which you can get a $500,000 fine and 5 years in a federal prison. Since Microsoft hasn't given
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:53PM (#21649621)

      The article title talks about getting rid of Microsoft but it's really about doing the right thing to serve the people.
      Same thing?
    • "The article title talks about getting rid of Microsoft but it's really about doing the right thing to serve the people."

      Are you implying both are not the same thing?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:37PM (#21649433) Homepage
    It *IS* all about Microsoft.

    I say this jokingly, but also quite seriously. Jokingly because technically, it isn't about Microsoft... it could easily have been about Word Perfect if they were still the dominator in document formats. Truly, it is about perpetual access to data through the used of non-proprietary and fully documented formats. "ODF" isn't here to stay... it might last another 10, maybe 20 years at most before something far superior comes along. But ODF is fully documented and could be translated into whatever the next great format standard will be.

    But seriously, it *IS* about Microsoft because Microsoft has lost the trust of their users and customers. They have done this with amazingly consistent and persistent erosion. With every new release, with every security problem, with every denial, with every DRM addition, with every copyright protection service, with every Genuine Advantage(r), with every BSA audit, with every criminal conviction, with every attempt to evade or forestall punishment, with every shameless act for which they have become quite notorious in the IT community... the ignorant public has started to notice what upsets their nerds ever so much. And now they are starting to re-think the way they store their data because at any moment, they want to be able to change their operating platform. They trusted Microsoft for at least the past 10 years with their operating systems, applications and data. Microsoft had their, our and even my personal trust for quite some time. The trust is gone or disappearing and now people are taking action.

    And is it really the best way for Microsoft to handle this problem? I mean to lobby and complain? Why not attempt to save their business by changing their course and direction!? What is so bad about change?! Is actual competition too much for Microsoft to handle? Can't they just make a "better product" instead of playing all of these government games?

    Perhaps the Microsoft apologists would care to suggest a possible reason why they can just serve the interests of their customers rather than fighting to save their business model? The customer wants ODF. Why shouldn't Microsoft provide that to them?
    • by calebt3 (1098475)

      They trusted Microsoft for at least the past 10 years with their operating systems, applications and data. Microsoft had their, our and even my personal trust for quite some time. The trust is gone or disappearing and now people are taking action.
      That's because Microsoft stayed out of it's customer's way for so long. They didn't take advantage of those clauses that say that you paid $400 merely for permission to use their software for as long as they see fit.
    • by el cisne (135112) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:19PM (#21650755) Journal
      "And is it really the best way for Microsoft to handle this problem? "
      It is the only way they know how.

      "I mean to lobby and complain? Why not attempt to save their business by changing their course and direction!? "
      They can no more change this course and direction than we can change our own DNA (excluding retroviruses, etc). Besides, they'd have to want to change. And they don't. They pride themselves in this method and culture and approach.

      "What is so bad about change?!
      It hurts. It is unfamiliar. The outcome is not certain. Like Dell now trying to do retail. Don't think that was the first thing on their list. They are having to play in a game in which they are newcomers.

      "Is actual competition too much for Microsoft to handle? "
      Yes. They don't know how to compete the normal way. With an actual salable product, on the merits.

      "Can't they just make a "better product" instead of playing all of these government games?"
      This IS their product. It is what they do, what they are best at. What they do better than anyone else. Software is just the arena. They are not so much a software company as they are a "protect windows and office at all freaking costs" company. That is the bottom line to everything they do.

      • by jc42 (318812)

        Is actual competition too much for Microsoft to handle?

        Yes. They don't know how to compete the normal way. With an actual salable product, on the merits.

        And why should they? Right at the start, they learned an important lesson: Market competition is for the little guys. If you want to be a winner, you don't compete; you dominate.

        Remember that Microsoft started of as a subcontractor to IBM. They used IBM marketing to sell their first systems, and IBM had a marketing budget larger than the operating budg

    • by mwvdlee (775178)
      You are right in that IF microsoft would publish complete and freely (in all meanings of the word) implementable specifications of their file formats, those formats would be just as acceptable as ODF.
  • "This plan is not about Microsoft, it's about ensuring the perpetual availability of data without any obstacles."
    Yeah... and he contradicted himself with his second breath. Microsoft want to be the gatekeeper to your data. That's incompatible with "data without any obstacles."
     
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wijsneus (1181415) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:38PM (#21649445) Homepage
    As a dutch web-developer who has to adhere to the Dutch Guidelines for the accessibility and sustainability of government websites [overheid.nl]. I can finally meet the requirement to:

    [...] use (open) standards - if available - for structure, meaning, representation, identification, presentation, storage and access. [...]
    Which means no more PDF hell. As most PDF-formats have proprietary extensions, or have accessibility issues, currently I can only officially/legally use PDF/A-1a. As you can imagine, this is a royal pain in the back for my customers who have to export all their documents and get the PDF settings juuust right. In the future they can just upload the documents and link to them. (Yaay for us!)
    • by daBass (56811)
      It is a step in the right direction for sure. But what would be even better is a PDF-like version of ODF, one just for publishing. Light-weight with not enough information in it to edit it, like PDF, with a special light-weight viewer. (not that Adobe Reader for windows is light-weight anymore, but luckily Preview on the Mac is)

      I really hate getting Word documents from people (like all the MS documentation on their website) that when opened in Word get re-formatted automatically, show spelling mistakes with
    • Which means no more PDF hell.

      Please elaborate. I personally don't remember any major problem ever with PDF files. I sure must have had minor issues (which I have forgotten since), but "PDF hell", come on?
  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:38PM (#21649447)
    Mass. tried to do the same thing and they eventually caved in. As a Mass. resident (and something like 10th generation Dutchman) I can only hope that they don't succumb to the pressure like my local lawmakers did.
    • by leomekenkamp (566309) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:04AM (#21653547)

      Being Dutch I can tell you that it will be highly unlikely that something like what happened in Mass. takes place here in NL. The whole structure of our political system is based on cooperation, on finding the right compromise that works best for the largest group of people, without ignoring minorities.

      We've got legalised euthanasia: if someone really wants to die because he faces very strong suffering with no way out, our society gives him the right to let him die in a humane way. Even the christian parties in our government do not try to roll this back.

      If you want to smoke pot, hey, no problemo.

      Gay marriage: why not? Abortion? yes: under the right circumstances.

      Prostitution is also legal; allows for better regulation, less health issues and last but not least: taxation :-). You actually put money in the treasure chest here if you visit a prostitute.

      The crux of this all: our political system is more focussed on getting our society to work better. There will be prostitution whatever you do, so its better to legalise and regulate. There were cases of euthanasia and abortion before our laws permitted it, so again better to regulate. Pot, idem. Over here we do not only implement the stuff lobbyists would like; we have no legalised system of bribes here, ehhm, in the US they are called 'campaign contributions' I believe. Also we do not have a winner-takes-all 2 political party system; anyone can start a political party and be elected in our parliament. There is even one seat for the 'Animal Rights Party' right now.

      So in this case common sence prevails again: there is simply no way anyone can seriously state that it is better to have all of our documents unreadable in 10, 20, 50 whatever years time. There is also no way that someone can seriously state that you must use products from 1 (even foreign) company in order to communicate with each other. Fortunately our politicians see this also, so the chanches of this getting a Mass. handling are quite small, since there is little incentive to cater to the wishes of some convicted foreign monopolist.

  • Dutch tradition (Score:5, Informative)

    by starfishsystems (834319) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:03PM (#21649725) Homepage
    The Netherlands has a strong tradition of liberal democracy based on a sense of people taking care of each other. And it has given the world some great thinkers in Computer Science as well.

    Intitiatives like this one are likely to succeed here because they will be widely seen to make good sense.

    There is nothing to prevent Microsoft from being part of the solution. Or it can be part of the precipitate.

    • by johannesg (664142)
      The Netherlands that I know happily eats from Microsoft's hand, and is positively terrified to leave its safe, well-known, familiar, warm embrace. Choosing the Microsoft solution is always the correct one; choosing something else has to be justified, and the justification can always be buried with the magic phrase "but it is not the standard."

      And even if it passes, there will surely be some cop-out clause like "proprietary alternatives are allowed if better suited". And everything will remain as it was.
  • by McDutchie (151611) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:30PM (#21650001) Homepage
    FYI, Microsoft is whining in the Dutch-language press [www.nrc.nl] (Google translation [google.com]) about how unfair to them this all is and how disadvantaged they would be if the government used open standards.
    • by grahamd0 (1129971) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:54PM (#21650191)
      The funniest thing about the whole situation is that if Microsoft just shut up and added ODF support to Office, they could turn around and say, "Buy your Office 2008 licenses! It's got ODF support, you NEED ODF support!".
      • by setagllib (753300)
        What, and watch as people realise the average user can survive with OpenOffice.org for a flat price of nothing? They can't have that. They can't stand competition at all. Even a 50% drop in annual Office purchases would be a bombshell to Microsoft.
      • by jmorris42 (1458) *
        > The funniest thing about the whole situation is that if Microsoft just shut up and added
        > ODF support to Office, they could turn around and say, "Buy your Office 2008 licenses!
        > It's got ODF support, you NEED ODF support!".

        And kill the revenue stream forver. That is why you post on slashdot and Balmer buys legislatures with his ill gotten gains. The whole point of all Microsoft products isn't to just be sold once per customer, but to be sold over and over, preferrrably as a regularized revenue
    • Microsoft would be extremely disadvantaged. So much so that their crushing dominance of office software might actually be dented a little! If all of the other ISVs out there trying to make their mark in the office could have their individual voices heard as much as Microsoft does in the press then comments about being disadvantaged would be thrown out of the window (ODF is open and documented, and plugins for Microsoft's software exist. Try saying the same about Microsoft's closed formats, which are putting
    • by kryten_nl (863119)
      I especially liked this quote of Microsoft spokesman Rinsema, from Webwereld [webwereld.nl](in dutch):

      'Je kunt open source zonder open standaarden hebben. Het lijkt dat ze onlosmakelijk met elkaar verbonden zijn, maar dat is niet zo.'

      You can have 'open source' without 'open standards'. It may seem like they are inextricably linked, but that is not the case.

      If I only had a Microsoft memo on what "open standards" means, I could understand this statement.

  • Mmm. I posted this story as well, hours ago - but I also posted links and the Microsoft Netherlands reaction. Not sure I want to repeat all that, so I hope someone approves the post.

    if not, I shall see if I can re-write it.

  • Although approval of OpenXML as an open standard is pending, Rinsema argued that the format should be treated as an equal alternative to ODF.

    You know how I know there isn't a God? Because this Rinsema fellow isn't a blackened and charred remnant of a human, struck down for blatant lying.

    OOXML looks less likely than ever to become a standard, particularly after the embarassments over Microsoft's mutilation of an international standards body. And even if it were on track, why should it be treated as an open

  • Sounds almost as if MS was certain that Optionally-Open XML will be approved as open standard by the ISO. Which is ridiculous at the very least, let ISO drop all their reputation and approve an standard for something there already is an standard for! I guess next we'll see other industry's leaders doing the same to have fair standard competition and use ECMA and lobbying to push their own standards to replace other established standards in the name of freedom of choice...
  • Although approval of OpenXML as an open standard is pending, Rinsema argued that the format should be treated as an equal alternative to ODF.



    But as long as OOXML is not approved an open standard, it's not officially an open standard.

    I read TFA, and I must say I'm surprised at MSs reaction. They seem to me to be genuinely terrified about this. Instead of making a plugin for ODF they go crying about how many jobs this would cost and what not. Amazing. Why do they do that?
    • But as long as OOXML is not approved an open standard, it's not officially an open standard.

      I read TFA, and I must say I'm surprised at MSs reaction. They seem to me to be genuinely terrified about this. Instead of making a plugin for ODF they go crying about how many jobs this would cost and what not. Amazing. Why do they do that?

      Perhaps because Office and to a lesser extent Windows, are the roots of the Microsoft empire. They pay for the Zune and the Xbox, and all the other pies that Microsoft have a finger in. If they support ODF, they can't control who gets to use it. Then the Microsoft Office lock in is gone. Once that happens, people can use alternative office suites, and it is one giant step towards Windows becoming irrelevant.

  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:38AM (#21652621) Homepage Journal
    I'll hold my cheers until the government actually starts _using_ open formats.

    There is also an approved motion, filed in 2002, that "requests the government to ensure that, by 2006, all software used in the public sector complies with open standards" (full (dutch) text of the motion [wikisource.org]).

    This is what we want. This is what we _should_ have. It's outrageous for a government to force us to deal with prorprietary formats.

    Furthermore, the motion expresses concern about the cost of the government using proprietary software that uses proprietary formats, and requests that the government "stimulate the adoption and development of open-source software in the public sector".

    Regardless, the (previous) government inked a $$$ deal with Microsoft, apparently without even considering alternatives. I do some work for government agencies, and Windows is everywhere. Having said that, Linux is, too. I don't know about document formats they use for interacting with citizens; they always give me paper forms. But in my communications with them, it's Outlook and MS Word and Excel.

    It's now 2007, one year past the target of the motion, and there's a long way to go still.
  • by Tom (822)

    "This plan is not about Microsoft, it's about ensuring the perpetual availability of data without any obstacles."
    Which, we all know and MS knows but could never say publicly, is very much about MS. :-)
    • And that is why it is so brilliant: of course there are people behind this who like to put MS on its place, but by focussing on the data-availability argument they can sit back and relax. The only was MS can say "Hey, you are doing this to bug us" is for them to publicly admit that lock-in and your-data-is-our-hostage are the bottom line of how MS works. As brilliant as copyleft if you ask me.
  • When previous government edicts on software came out M$ complied without complaint, eg: accessability. Now it is saying that it is impossible.

    This only shows the lie that what M$ is trying to do is to prevent the competition from competeing on a level playing field on what M$ considers to be territory that it owns.

  • According to Microsoft the government is imposing unnecessary restrictions on itself as the ODF standard is still hardly used. Users of Microsoft software will have to look to third party software to read the format, thereby acting to exclude Microsoft from the process. Microsoft also critcises the use of open source software as this imposes restrictions on the commercial developement process...

    Microsoft hekelt belied open standaarden [feedburner.com]
  • The choice of ODF over MSOOXML doesn't "sideline Microsoft" in any way -- they are always free to implement the ODF specification in their product lines, either natively or as a plug-in. THe full ODF specification is avaiable to them.

    Instead, this action is directed at their arguably non-open OOXML format.

    It's important to make this distinction, as many pro-Microsoft advocates take the position that a vote for ODF is a direct attempt to remove MS's product lines from the marketplace, and that simply isn't

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