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.

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Companies: microsoft

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Comments on “Microsoft: Open Standards Are Good… If They're The Open Standards We Get Paid For”

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blaktron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why? What if an open standard ends up costing more than a closed one (which they frequently do). This is the same open-source vs closed-source software debate, where each has its advantages and disadvantages, but blanket decisions to use one or the other are ALWAYS wrong. The best tool for the job should be used, not the one that ‘feels best’.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s not quite the same discussion, standards aren’t software, they are rules. Charging a tax on following the rules means people will only follow them if they are otherwise pressured into doing so somehow which is not what you want when you are trying to standardize. You want people to want to follow the standard, not to be deterred.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t agree. Closed-source software is inherently unethical, insecure and intellectually dishonest. But that’s a much longer and different debate than the one over open formats.

(Let me pause to note that the entire Internet is built on open standards, open protocols, open formats, and open source. Those are key factors at to why it’s the most successful computing project ever by an enormous margin.)

LDoBe says:

Re: Re: Re:2 IPX/SPX

That reminds me of the cisco ipx format. I learned about it in a network class, and was told that I would never see it outside the classroom. I came across it a few days ago. It was being used as a “security measure” to transmit patient data from an mri computer onsite to another hospital over a leased line setup when they first bought the machine years ago. The idea was that nobody used ipx, so it was secure from packet inspection. That’s what the oldtimer network guy said at least.

It’s unsupported. God help the tech who has to deal with the outage when the lease line operator changes out a switch or router that’s incompatible

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: FRAND-lexic?

Yup. Seeing the name Microsoft followed closely by a five letter word beginning with F will often get that response because the two are so closely linked. At times it’s a bit difficult to tell MS’s FUD from fraud as what happens when a customer switches from IIS to Linux or BSD and suddenly gets all these messages from MS about how hard it is to set all this non-microsoft stuff up, how poorly it’s supported, that it’s stuffed with “old” technology and so on. Which is then repeated by trolls on sites like this as gospel truth. The same trolls who, on other subjects call us “freetards” and other labels.

I’m getting a tshirt whipped up that says “I’m a freetard and PROUD with the Linux penguin on the lower left of the quote and the BSD devil on the upper right”. Might as well go public!

ashley sheridan (profile) says:

I got involved in a debate with a friend about open formats a few years back when Microsoft announced their Office Open XML format, the naming of which is remarkably similar to Open Office and their sponsered format Open Document Format. He was adamant that the Microsoft way was better because it was ISO certified (despite there being some dubious irregularities about how they got that at the time)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Tell your friend he is an idiot ISO certified means they fallow very broad often forgiven GUIDELINES, being ISO certified is not the same thing as completely and absolutely compatible or problem free.


Read what is required to achieve ISO certification for anything and what you see is that they talk about processes but nowhere they tell you how you should implement those and as long as the processes are there you are ISO worthy even if the processes don’t work. Which makes sense why choose one or two ways of doing things but there is no requirement in ISO to test or verify the methods ISO only requires that you have the processes in place and it doesn’t bother to see if they work or not.

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