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Microsoft Loses First Big Open XML Standardization Vote

The ISO has voted, and Microsoft lost in its bid to get Open XML fast-tracked as an international standard. Of the two criteria for voting, Microsoft barely fell short in one, getting 74% of the 104 qualifying members (when it needed 75%) and missed the other vote of P members by a wider margin. Among P members, Microsoft needed two-thirds and got 17 for and 15 against. Nine members abstained, so if Microsoft satisfies the concerns of five or more members, it has a good shot of passing both votes next time.

There’s a lot of controversy about Microsoft encouraging new countries to join the voting group, trying to load the vote with new members who would vote in their favor. While they received 53% of P members, without the 11 newcomers (9 of whome voted for Microsoft) they’d have a mere 42%. Joe Wilcox covers a lot of the controversy, as well as these links:

If This Was a Month Ago, OOXML Would Be Over - Slashdot
Poland vote$ for Microsoft OOXML [it’s official] - polishlinux
Open XML - The Vote in Sweden -Microsoft’s Jason Matusow explains how a Microsoft employee inappropriately encourage partners to vote for Microsoft
Sweden’s Vote on OOXML Invalidated - Slashdot

Keep in mind why this vote is so critical: Microsoft competitors are trying to use their own exclusive international standard status to win government contracts away from Microsoft.

September 4th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Office, Open Source, Applications, General | no comments

ODF Outnumbers Open XML 162,700 To 1993 On The Internet

My Opera web browser, normally the king of stability, crashed and completely screwed up my saved tabs, so I’m posting everything old right now, in order to set things right.

Genii Software looked at the number of documents on the internet in the Office 2007 Open XML format and the competing Open Document Format and found that there are 162,700 ODF documents in Google and 1993 Open XML docs.

Of course, their methodology reveals a major flaw. Open XML is a seven month old format, while ODF has been around for years. They show 149,300 for ODF in May, 162,700 in August, while 664 for Open XML in May and 1993 in August. That means Open XML triples every three months, so…

May: 664
August: 1993
November: 6000
February 2008: 18,000
May 2008: 54,000
August 2008: 162,000
November 2008: 486,000
February 2009: 1.5 million
May 2009: 4.5 million
August 2009: 13.5 million
November 2009: 40 million
February 2010: 120 million
May 2010: 360 million
August 2010: over 1 billion

While ODF should go up less than 10% every three months. Yeah, those numbers look so terrible.
(via Slashdot)

August 22nd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Office, Open Source, Applications | no comments

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Microsoft Making Serious Web Server Gains


After three years of stagnation and ten years of trying to catch Apache, Microsoft may finally be close to taking first place in the web server market. In just the last two years, according to Netcraft’s survey of 127 million websites, Apache’s lead over Microsoft has shrunk from over 50% to just 16.7%. Apache has more inactive sites than Microsoft, with active sites leaving the gap at a mere 12.2%. Under current trends, Microsoft will tie Apache sometime next year.

While Microsoft has been gaining strongly and stealing market share from Apache, it isn’t the only one. Google has been taking a chunk of the market share, claiming 4.4% of the web server market. Yes, Google’s web presence is so large that, even though they don’t sell a web OS, their own websites make up 4.4% of all servers. That’s freakin’ crazy.
(via Bink)

August 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Server, Corporate, Open Source, Linux, Windows | no comments

ODF Plug-ins For Office, iPod Sex Tape, Double Digit Live Video Marketplace Growth, Xbox 360 Rube Goldberg Machine, How Vista Makes Its Thumbnails

I’m in Atlantic City with my wife, celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary, so here’s a post featuring a bunch of items I should have blogged weeks ago.

OpenDocument Plug-ins For Microsoft Office

Both Sun and Microsoft have projects tasked with interoperating the OpenDocument Format and Microsoft’s OpenXML Office 2007 file format. Microsoft is financing a converter project on SourceForge, which released a 1.0 earlier this year for Word. Amit Agarwal reported that Sun released a plug-in for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, that lets them save in ODF, but it doesn’t work with Office 2007, and won’t convert OpenXML to ODF.

Chris Pirillo’s iPod Sex Tape

Chris Pirillo created this funny video of a Zune and an iPod making out, with him and his wife providing the voices and inappropriate noises. I wouldn’t advise watching it at work with the speakers turned up.

Xbox Live Video Marketplace Enjoying Double-Digit Growth

Microsoft is proudly noting double-digit revenue growth for the Xbox Live Video Marketplace, which sells TV show and movie rental downloads on Xbox 360s. They’ve now got a growing library with over 2,000 hours of content, and the easiest path to the TV of any video download service (almost all others are tethered to a PC), so its only natural that this would be succeeding as it is. Considering the money Microsoft is making selling stuff on Xbox Live, perhaps it should consider making the service itself free, in order to encourage more people to get deeply involved, and thus become purchasers?

Xbox 360 Rube Goldberg Machine

Check out this “Rube Goldberg”-esque setup that turns on an Xbox 360:

Gotta wish the camerawork was better and could keep up with the “action”. At least the music reminded me of South Park’s World of Warcraft episode:

Oh, and if you’ve heard the “Rube Goldberg” term a thousand times, but wished for some background on these things, check out this Wikipedia article.
(via Kotaku)

How Windows Vista Makes Thumbnails

The Windows Vista Ultimate team blog had a post explaining why some videos never get thumbnails, giving you a look into the process Vista uses to create thumbnails for videos. If you like in-depth looks at the workings of Windows, you’ll enjoy their full post, but if you want the long and short: Windows Movie Maker runs the video, finds the first frame that is not too bright or too dark, and makes that the thumbnail, and if it doesn’t find such a frame in seven seconds, you get no thumbnail at all.

August 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Word, Windows Media, Xbox Live, Zune, Apple, Xbox 360, Humor, Windows, Open Source, Xbox, Office, Applications | no comments

Microsoft Backs Competing Open Document Format

Microsoft announced last week it was supporting ODF, the competing document format used by OpenOffice, backing adding it to the ANSI’s list of business standards. Microsoft is looking to get its own, competing, Open XML format supported by ANSI, so it may think that by supporting its competitor’s bid, it improves its own.

In an einterview on Thursday, Updegrove said that by supporting ODF as an ANSI standard, Microsoft is “making it appear it is rising above the squabble to do the right thing.” Instead, he thinks the move serves as a challenge to vocal ODF supporters to support approval of Open XML as a global standard when a final vote for the draft specification comes before the ISO.

To its credit, Microsoft voted for ODF when it came before the ISO (International Organization for Standards), while IBM cast the only negative vote for Open XML when it was up for approval by standards organization Ecma International, Updegrove added.

People talk about Microsoft being all evil and anticompetitive, especially against loved open source movements like ODF, but beneath everything I see the hulking machine that is IBM, trying to cut off Microsoft. Being evil and convincing everyone you’re a happy little open open source movement, that’s true evil. After all, what did we say about the devil’s greatest trick?

May 21st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Developers, Office, Open Source, Applications | no comments

Microsoft And Novell in Linux Deal

A big announcement from Microsoft and Novell late last week. In it, Microsoft and Novell agreed to a very interesting partnership involving interoperability, marketing and patents, one that could make Novell the only huge power in Linux. While Linux users have obviously said no to Microsoft, they would still be more likely to choose the Linux vendor that is far more compatible with Windows, and that is real bad news for all the other prominent Linux vendors, like Red Hat.

Todd Bishop summarizes the deal. The key points are that the companies will collaborate on marketing efforts, with Microsoft offering up Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Server as the Linux of choice for Windows-interoperable systems. Microsoft will even get 70,000 coupons for one-year subscriptions for maintenance and updates on Suse every year, to distribute to Microsoft customers running Suse.

Both companies agree not to pursue any patent infringement claims related to each other. Amazingly, Microsoft also agrees not to sue patent claims against individuals involved in open source projects. In addition, both companies will make upfront royalty payments to release any possible prior patent infringement, and Novell will keep making running royalty payments based on a percentage of its revenue from open source projects.

In terms of interoperability, both companies will offer virtualization technology to allow business customers to run Windows on Linux servers, and Linux on Windows servers. Microsoft and Novell will begin bridging gaps between various products so that they work together, including Windows and Suse Linux, Microsoft Active Directory and Novell’s eDirectory, as well as Microsoft Office and

Seriously, this is great news for anyone not producing a different version of Linux. Microsoft is slowly but obviously softening on open source, willing to deal with Linux in ways you wouldn’t expect an “Evil Empire” to even consider. I can’t way to start seeing results from this deal.

UPDATE: Google’s open source program manager, Chris DiBona, writes this message to his friend’s at Novell:

The Google Engineering Staff and Open Source teams are hiring.


November 5th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Open Source, Linux, General | one comment

Thirty Years Of Bill G. Vs. Piracy

Maybe this will help explain why Microsoft keeps trying harder to fight software piracy. Slashdot links to a letter Bill Gates wrote thirty years ago, printed in the February 3, 1976 issue of Homebrew Computer Club Newsletter, asking hobbyists to please stop stealing his software. Gates was 20 years old at the time, had just left college, and was only a year removed from his history-making Altair Basic scam.

According to Wikipedia, the letter, while unpopular with those stealing the software, was key to gaining support from businesses, and represents the cementing of closed-source software development as the primary model of the last thirty years.


… the subject of the Open Letter to Hobbyists diatribe—Altair BASIC—did not pay any royalties to John George Kemeny or Thomas Kurtz, inventors of the BASIC programming language. However, Microsoft defenders point out that reading software for understanding is probably educational “fair use” (although the company expends considerable effort to prevent its own software being so used) and that being aggressive isn’t necessarily being unethical.

So, what’s your favorite form of development? Does open source work as a business model? Do you miss shareware? Did anyone ever pay for a shareware program?

February 5th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, Open Source, General | one comment

Microsoft Software Lets You Connect To Multiple Wi-Fi Networks

Microsoft Research has developed Virtual Wi-fi, which allows a single wireless card to connect to multiple wireless networks at once for better speed and reliability. Its not the friendliest software out there, but its been featured on Slashdot, so hopefully the open source code (!) will get remixed into some nice (and full-featured) packages.

October 20th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Open Source, General | no comments

July Patch Tuesday (report on Wednesday)

Here are the details for this month’s Microsoft security updates (one day late, I’ve been busy):

Three patches were released, one each for Windows, Internet Explorer and and some older versions of Word (2000 and 2002). All three were rated “critical”.

From ComputerWorld:

The Internet Explorer and Windows patches appear to be the most significant, since the flaws they address could be used by an attacker to take control of a user’s system via a maliciously encoded Web page, said Neel Mehta, team leader of X-Force research at security vendor Internet Security Systems Inc. (ISS) in Atlanta. The Internet Explorer bug is significant because security experts have already shown a way that it could be exploited by an attacker, he said.

And eWeek (via Microsoft Watch):

The July batch of patches also includes fixes for serious hole in the widely deployed Microsoft Word desktop productivity program and the color management module in the Windows operating system.

The JView Profiler fix, addressed in MS05-037, sets the killbit for the Javaprxy.dll COM object to prevent a malicious hacker from exploiting the vulnerability.

Marc Orchant reports that Firefox 1.0.5 was released yesterday, also a security update. He also lists the installation instructions for the Macintosh version of the program:

Once you have downloaded the Firefox 1.0.5.dmg file, double click the Firefox Disk Image to open it in Finder, and then drag the Firefox application onto your hard disk. Drag the icon to your Dock if you want it to appear there.

For Firefox 1.0, double click the Firefox 1.0.dmg.gz Disk Image to uncompress and mount it. Your browser may have already done this for you. Double click the Firefox Disk Image to open it in Finder and drag the Firefox application onto your hard disk. Do not double click the icon in the disk image! Be sure to drag the Firefox application out of the disk image and onto your Hard Disk before running it. Drag the icon to your Dock if you want it to appear there.

He’s gotta be joking, right? No reasonable computer user would put up with an operating system that has trouble installing programs, right? I mean if Windows has it down pat, surely the Mac must have perfected it a decade ago, right?

What in the holy hell is wrong with Mac install procedures?

Apple also released two Tiger security fixes, according to Slashdot.

- Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary Page

July 13th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Apple, Firefox, Word, Office, Internet Explorer, Security, Windows, Open Source, General | no comments

MSN Blocking Right-Click In Firefox?

Reports from HTMLfixIT that is blocking right-clicks from Mozilla-based browsers, like the popular Firefox, with a script that specifically activates in Mozilla browsers and forces the browser to interpret them as left-clicks. This breaks many of the features of that browser, and could be a tactic to frustrate users of Microsoft’s competitor’s products. Coolz0r confirms that when he right-clicks on a link on, it goes right through, no context menu.
(via Opera Watch > Findory)

UPDATE: As Larry points out below, they’ve released an update which points the blame not at Microsoft, but at Firefox. Apparently there’s a bug in Firefox that creates this problem. Looks like the headline should be “MSN Reveals Firefox Bug”, although I suspect this is a known bug:

Update: It has since been revealed by the gentleman apparently responsible for the MSN script causing the problem that it is an unintended effect and could possibly be a bug in Firefox 1.0.4. I should note that I did not state it WAS an intentional effort to block alternative browsers, I simply implied it might be. I believe that that is a reasonable theory in light of the fact that such things have happened at MSN before.

And here’s part of what Scott Isaacs said, which they linked to:

The reality is the right click button is not working most likely due to a bug in Firefox (mozilla is still investigating). Firefox is incorrectly firing the onclick event on the document when the right mouse button is depressed. We are capturing the onclick event and canceling it to stop the page from navigating ( does some processing first). This has been the spec’ed behavior of onclick since 1997 (I wrote the original DHTML event bubbling spec). Now that we are aware of this issue in Firefox, we are implementing a work-around.

Now, for the script referenced as the culprit. That script is an API compatibility layer so we can develop scripts once without having to do any browser detection. Yes, that’s correct, that script enables us the opportunity to more efficiently deliver a better experience to Firefox users. The reason the right click menu started working after disabling the script is because all the page’s event handlers were also disabled.

Furthermore, we were notified by Mozilla about the problem on when the blog entry was posted (yes we talk - I have known the chief architect of mozilla for over 8 years, and I will even request the help of the mozilla team when we have technical issues). I discussed and isolated this specific issue with the mozilla organization.

Our goal is to provide the best possible user experience. Before yesterday, Firefox users on Spaces had to enter their HTML manually (while IE users got a rich editing experience). Yesterday MSN Spaces shipped a brand new rich text editor that works in both Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Overtime you may find other “differences” in functionality. Unfortunately, each browser has its own idiosyncrasies and occasionally these type of issues will crop up. Instead of assuming the worst, contact us, let us know, and we will do our best to understand, fix, and explain the issue. Posting unsubstantiated claims in a blog entry (and all the residual blogs that post about it) serves no purpose and causes much more harm than good.

June 28th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Open Source, MSN, General | 3 comments

Firefox Takes Another Point Of Market Share

TechWeb reports that Firefox has taken another percentage point of market share from Internet Explorer, capturing 6.75% of the market. This is from numbers provided by WebSideStory, which show a one point increase since the previous numbers in February. Over the same period of time, IE saw its share decrease one point to 88.8%, considerably down from the 95% it enjoyed a year ago. Geoff Johnston, an analyst for WebSide Story, predicts Firefox will reach 10% by the end of the year.

Interesting enough, added Johnston, the U.S. isn’t the leader in Firefox fever. In Germany, for instance, 22.6 percent of Internet users hit the Web with Firefox. Under 70 percent, meanwhile, rely on Internet Explorer.

Japan, on the other, hand, has essentially ignored Firefox. WebSideStory’s numbers show that only 2.8 percent of that country’s users run Firefox, compared to 93.9 percent who use Internet Explorer.

May 11th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Internet Explorer, Open Source, General | no comments

Catching Up…

Okay, so here I am going to touch on some of the news I missed out on over the last week and a half. In addition, all InsideMicrosoft news will be here for a short time, since that site isn’t working. The reason? Some error I get when trying to login. If someone is familiar with the inner workings of WordPress and could give me a hand, I would be eternally grateful. So, in no particular order:

Wow, I thought I’d never get caught up! Well, back to your regularly scheduled blogging (and for god’s sakes, someone help me fix the other blogs).

May 3rd, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Longhorn, Open Source, Desktop Search, Xbox, Windows, Security, Blogs, MSN, Search, General | no comments

Microsoft Reinvents Software Development

The most surprising and revolutionary Microsoft product ever was revealed to the public today, and its not Longhorn, or any mega-millions software product. Its Neutrino, a new tool that is essentially a marketing > engineering & engineering > marketing conversion system. Neutrino works for either software developers or software marketing departments.

Developers who need to produce presentations for marketing (or for the general public, if their company is too small to have a marketing department), can use Neutrino to do the work for them. Neutrino indexes the code in the program and generates a PowerPoint presentation extolling its virtues. The program is versatile enough to create presentations for many different audiences.

Marketing departments now no longer need to deal with pesky software engineers. If the bosses need a program written, they can go into PowerPoint, create a presentation that extolls the virtues of the non-created product, then run the presentation through Neutrino. As impossibly as it sounds, Neutrino actually writes the code for them, eliminating the need for coders at all.

Channel 9 has a video of Neutrino in progress. It is clear that it will revolutinize the software industry. Microsoft plans to license it to all companies at nominal rates, except for companies whose names start with “G” and have two “O”s.

UPDATE: Word is now spreading that the developers of Neutrino, Peter McKiernan and James Tinsdale, have been brutally murdered by a legion of software developers, fearful of being made obsolete. Their computers were stolen, and this great program may never be released.

UPDATE 2: In an odd twist of fate, murder has brought rival companies together. A new sense of togetherness is forming, as companies agree to develop products in tandem, sharing everything. As a results, the next computer you buy will have MacinWindows OSXP as its operating system, your browser will be known as Firefox Explorer, and the default search engine will be MSN Yahoogle Search. For some reason, the Linux guys are staying out of this one.
(via Scoble)

April 1st, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Open Source, Google, Yahoo, Internet Explorer, Linux, Humor, MSN, Search, Windows, Longhorn, General | no comments

Internet Explorer - Like The Dinosaur…

Jason Dowdell at Marketing Shift talks about the emergence of Firefox and why he thinks it is going to crush Internet Explorer. I have to disagree. I think if you read the article, you’ll see that every point he makes is a valid one, except for those two little words he uses: “average folks”. See, while Firefox is a great browser (and I won’t deny it, it is), it offers very little advantage to average folks. The extensions Jason lists, like HTML validators and referral info disabling would just confuse most internet users.

While Firefox does have some great advantages, it like Linux, primarily caters to the very people creating it, and not to the rest of the world. While Firefox is easier to use than Linux, I still would never give it to my grandmother, who would just be confused. Maybe one day, we’ll get special distros of Linux and Firefox meant for regular people, but until then, those programs will just have to hold onto their niches.
Hat-tip: Devin from Business Bits

January 21st, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Internet Explorer, Open Source, General | 4 comments

Bill Gates Calls Copyright Violators “Communists”

In an interview with C|Net, Bill Gates said:

There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don’t think that those incentives should exist.

Boing Boing calls copyright violators “Free Culture advocates”, and thinks BillG said something wrong or “evil”. Look, I violate copyrights every day, both in my private life and my jjjjjjjj—, but I harbor no illusions about what I do. I’m no more a “Free Culture advocate” than a abortion activist is a “Free Choice advocate”. I’m sorry, but Boing Boing can’t make jokes about stupid political correctness and then follow it up with the same stupidity. If you can’t use the real words for what you are advocating, then you should be embarressed to call yourself an advocate. Besides, complaining about Bill Gates saying that copyright violators are wrong is a waste of time while the RIAA is flooding file sharing networks with computer viruses. Microsoft puts barely effective piracy controls in its software, but when it comes to copyright violations, its pretty tame.

Another detail from the interview: close to a million people have already set up MSN Spaces. Wow. Also:

What do you think of Apple’s success so far? I mean, they clearly have had a hit with the iPod.
Absolutely. They had a hit with the Apple II, they had a hit with the Macintosh, and they have a hit with the iPod, so this is a company that’s had three hits, and that’s very impressive. There are a lot of companies that don’t have three hits. And in the same way that Macintosh helped get people exposed to the graphical user interface, the iPod is doing a great job getting people to think about digital music.

Read between the lines: Just like the Mac created the market we eventually took over, so will the iMac. Bill also says Microsoft is working on updates to IE, and doesn’t see Firefox as much of a competitor, because far more people try it out than actually switch to it. Are there any statistics on that?

January 6th, 2005 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Open Source, General | one comment

Venezuala Moves Towards Open Source

Slashdot reports that the latest news out of Venezuela (English translation) is a presidential decree that prioritizes open source over regular pay software. My family on my father’s side hails from Venezuela, and I won’t turn this into a political discussion (feel free to use the comments and Junto for that), but I will say this: President Hugo Chavez’s every move seems to manage to piss off U.S. interests. Supposedly, the first attempt at this decree was thwarted by non other than Microsoft.

December 31st, 2004 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Open Source, General | no comments

Microsoft Discusses Open Source And Linux

Ripped from Slashdot

Microsoft Compares Windows And Linux
Operating Systems
Linux Business

Posted by timothy on Wednesday December 29, @08:46AM
from the horses-for-courses dept.
Halcyon-X writes “Microsoft is hosting a discussion on Windows and Linux between its two top Linux consultants. Martin Taylor and Bill Hilf talk about the various OSS licenses, focus on the open source development model, competing implementations of administration tools, TCO, and risk assessment. Also available in offline formats, doc (which looks fine in and wma as well.”

December 29th, 2004 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Open Source, Linux, Windows, General | no comments