Microsoft: Open Standards Are Good… If They're The Open Standards We Get Paid For
from the but-of-course dept
Our own Glyn Moody has been doing some digging and has come up with some interesting info about how Microsoft has been trying to derail an effort in the UK by the government to use open, royalty free standards wherever possible. Microsoft, apparently went on the offensive, arguing strongly that the government should reconsider and also include FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licenses. FRAND is better than nothing, but it’s not royalty free, and can certainly limit access to information for those who cannot afford to pay. But what’s impressive is how much Microsoft tries to demonize royalty free offerings — even as it admits in its initial letter than it contributes to “dozens” of royalty free standards.
Moody also notes that Microsoft is misleading in trying to show just how popular FRAND is in open standards when it comes to software:
In a further attempt to downplay RF standards, the letter claims:
one recent study found that a typical laptop contains over 250 technical interoperability standards – with 75% of these being developed under FRAND terms, and only 23% under Royalty Free terms.
But when we look at the study itself, this is what we find:
we created a set of broad categories – display, graphics, sound, storage, BIOS, input device, processor, power, file system, networking, wireless, I/O ports, memory, software, codecs, content protection, security and “other” – and sought relevant standards.
As this makes clear, those “250 technical interoperability standards” were mostly about hardware interoperability. Of the purely software standards a far greater proportion were in fact made available under RF terms. Even more interesting, those RF-licensed standards included many of the absolutely core ones like HTML5, HTTP and HTTPS.
In other words, when it comes to software, the royalty free stuff is the core software that’s used to power much of the internet itself. But Microsoft goes on to suggest that royalty free software is somehow limiting, mainly by highlighting some confusion people have had with the open document format. It’s the typical Microsoft play: spread FUD to try to push people to its (more costly) solutions. Apparently competing on the merits is just too difficult.