$9,000 is the new 'free' for Oracle

The open-source world has long debated alternatives to the word "free" to describe open-source software. It's "free as in freedom," they declare, "not free as in free beer."

For Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, however, the answer is much simpler--"free as in $9,000."

As noted by The H, Oracle still touts its Open Document Format (ODF) plug-in for Microsoft Office as a free download. But clicking through reveals that Oracle has changed its license terms for the formerly free plug-in, which enables Office users to read, edit, and save to … Read more

Microsoft's 'Custom XML' patent suit could put ODF at risk

The infamous U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has slapped Microsoft with a permanent injunction that "prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML," according to CNET. This likely won't stop Microsoft Office from shipping, as CNET's Ina Fried writes, but the bigger question may be whether the lawsuit will reach beyond Redmond to also threaten the Open Document Format (ODF).The lawsuit doesn't affect all of Microsoft Office, … Read more

Microsoft under fire for ODF glitch in Excel

Microsoft has come under fire for spreadsheet interoperability issues in its recent release of Office 2007 Service Pack 2, but the company says it is an issue inherent in OpenDocument Format 1.1.

The software giant released last week the second service pack for Office 2007, which provides support for documents saved in the ODF 1.1 format.

However, Rob Weir, chief ODF architect at IBM, posted a report on his blog saying SP2 had problems reading some ODF spreadsheets saved by OpenOffice.org and lost data by "silently stripping out formulas" from cells. The resulting spreadsheet displays &… Read more

Microsoft's file format perestroika

Microsoft plans to open Office to other file formats, a move the company hopes will placate government and business concerns about document interoperability.

Describing this as a step to foster greater transparency, Microsoft intends to document how it incorporated Open Document Format support into Office 2007 Service Pack 2, which is still in beta. That product is expected to ship sometime in the first half of 2009.

(You can read the notes on how each element of the specification was implemented at the Document Interoperability Initiative Web site.)

Tuesday's announcement concludes a pledge Microsoft originally made last spring to … Read more

Hopping robots display pack instinct

Release the fleas! SWAT and other urban assault teams could soon be deploying packs of all-seeing, hopping robots armed with mini missiles to ferret out the bad guys.

The EyeDrive unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) uses remote-controlled 360-degree panoramic video technology and a patented Point & Go sensor guidance mode to run down and "instinctively eliminate" human targets at ranges of up to 90 feet, according to ODF Optronics.

Built-in navigation allows multiple units to work in robotic unison, thus doubling, and even tripling, indoor reconnaissance capacity, according to the Israel-based company. In fact, the standard kit comes with … Read more

Microsoft's interoperability dodge in U.K. schools

In an attempt to get its Office 2007 program on the desktops of U.K. youth, The Register reports that Microsoft is saying all the right things to the U.K. government in its attempt to placate the European Commission over interoperability with open file formats. Everything, that is, except how it intends to make its software more interoperable

Now Microsoft has stepped in to appease some of the education tech body's grumbles by announcing a new Open Licensing Programme (OLP) for government that will launch at the start of next month.

The company said the OLP offered "… Read more

EU to investigate Microsoft file format support

A new plan by Microsoft to allow its Office software to save and edit files in a rival format will face a probe by the European Commission.

The Commission said late Wednesday that it will investigate whether Microsoft's decision to add support for the Open Document Format to Office will result in greater consumer choice.

Microsoft's move, also announced Wednesday, is seen as a concession to regulators concerned about competition and to customers, mainly governments, worried about product lock-in.

"The Commission will investigate whether the announced support of Open Document Format in Office leads to better interoperability … Read more

Microsoft boosts support for rival formats in Office

Microsoft is opening up Office to other file formats, slowly but steadily.

On Wednesday, the company said it plans to add new formats to Office 2007, including the OpenDocument Format (ODF), Portable Document Format (PDF), and XML Paper Specification (XPS). The new formats will be added to Office as part of Service Pack 2 for Office 2007, due in the first half of next year.

ODF, a rival document format to Office's native format, has become popular with governments and schools. Microsoft, acknowledging requests for compatibility with ODF, released a converter to allow Word users to open documents saved … Read more

ISO takes up Open XML-ODF 'harmonization' as Norwegians protest

Correction done to Alex Brown's affiliation.

The ISO has taken over control of the Open XML specification and started a committee to consider harmonization with the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Wednesday was the last day that all resolutions to the new standard, called ISO/IEC 29500, were accepted, according to Brian Jones, a program manager for office at Microsoft who has been involved in the standardization process.

Last week, the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) announced that Office Open XML (OOXML) gained enough votes to pass as a standard.

Alex Brown, a member of the U.K.'s national standards … Read more

EU investigation into Open XML vote still ongoing

European antitrust regulators are investigating whether Microsoft abused its desktop software market dominance in its effort to standardize the Office Open XML file formats.

The European Commission's antitrust regulatory body sent queries to several European countries to see how the standards-setting process was working, a spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.

The investigation is still ongoing, he added.

The effort stems from a complaint lodged by anti-Microsoft lobbying group ECIS (European Commission for Interoperable Systems). The Commission said in January that it is exploring whether the Open XML file formats are sufficiently interoperable with competitors' products.

The Wall Street Journal in … Read more