Re: and I was called paranoid and FUD-monger...

From: Dom Lachowicz (
Date: Wed Sep 03 2003 - 12:19:42 EDT

  • Next message: Dom Lachowicz: "Re: and I was called paranoid and FUD-monger..."

    Our allegation is that this sort of news is premature
    and unsubstantiated, and I still stand by that. We've
    never doubted that Microsoft could do such a thing.
    They haven't done it yet, though. And as such, things
    like this are mere speculation.

    Further, what's the purpose of posting information
    like this here? Can I stop Microsoft? Do I want to
    try? If and when they change their format, we must
    adapt or choose to not support it. It's really that
    simple. We'll deal with it when the time comes. We're
    not going to remove our existing RTF and DOC filters.
    Any discussion on this topic in an AbiWord context is
    thus moot and pointless. We advocate "use AbiWord
    everywhere." Our tune has not changed and will not
    change. We're doing our part to advocate change,
    though we may be feeding into the problem by giving
    people a "crutch to stand on" since we're able to read
    the DOC format. "Oh well."

    Further more, I'd just like to say that I find the
    position held by the FSF (which you most likely agree
    with) here to be utterly heinous, hypocritical,
    detrimental to the free software community, and
    factually inaccurate.

    It's not so much that you and they don't like getting
    proprietary documents from an evil monopoly, who may
    change their formats at any time or sic their lawyers
    on you. I can understand and sympathize with that. I
    agree with that much.

    What I have issues with is that they advocate one
    proprietary, inadequately documented format (PDF) to
    replace another proprietary, inadequately documented
    format (DOC). That's not to mention that DOC and PDF
    don't nearly serve similar purposes, and there are
    *no* good PDF editors (this includes Acrobat - PDF
    isn't meant to be edited, really...), while several
    Free DOC editors exist. I've written one of them.
    Let's not play favorites between 2 giant proprietary
    software companies...

    1) The word format is not entirely secret. Microsoft
    has published specs on it (at least word 97->2003,
    word 5, word 2), which are (surprisingly) fairly

    2) RMS shortchanges the Free Software Community. We
    don't have to use "strings" to find out the text -
    we've got a _ton_ of Free readers and writers for the
    format that preserve both content and formatting. Give
    the GPL and LGPL software community some credit. We do
    a much better job than "not choking on some of the
    documents," as the article suggests.

    3) It suggests that plaintext, PDF, and HTML are
    equivalent forms of the document. Plaintext cannot
    begin to capture the formatting of the document, let
    alone a lot of the data (images, objects, fields,
    ...). PDF preserves none of the semantics - all you're
    left with is a vector picture of what your document
    once looked like. HTML does a lot better job than
    either of the before in preserving both the text and

    "Why did you choose to send me 876,377 bytes in your
    recent message when the content is only 27,133 bytes?"
    - Uh, because there were tables, frames, columns,
    images, and an embedded spreadsheet in the document.

    4) Microsoft does not change the file format with
    every release. The Office XP file formats are nearly
    (if not entirely) identical to Office 97. That's 6
    years worth of backwards AND forwards compatibility.
    It is hardly "forcing people to upgrade with every new
    release". In fact, MS has had office revenue
    "problems" simply because they *can't* get people to
    upgrade as often as they'd like.

    This message would do better to advocate using Abi,
    KOffice, OOo, etc... At least then the suggested
    courses of action would at least be coherent. Their
    underlying message is good, and I largely agree with
    it. However, it's hard to agree with it with so much
    garbage piled on top of it. But such is the way of
    FUD, even when the FUD has a well-intentioned message
    behind it.

    Best regards,

    --- Rui Miguel Seabra <> wrote:
    > Microsoft Prepares Office Lock-in
    > An anonymous reader writes "NEWS.COM has an article
    > describing
    > Office 2003's DRM features for documents[1]. This
    > will not only
    > coerce those running older versions of Office to
    > upgrade, which
    > has been a problem for MS in the last few years, but
    > it will also
    > shut out competing software, such as OpenOffice. Now
    > think about
    > this for a second. Even if the developers of a
    > competing office
    > suite could figure out how to get their software to
    > open an
    > Office 2003 document, doing so would be a DMCA
    > violation, since
    > they'd be bypassing an anti-circumvention device. I
    > certainly hope
    > the OpenOffice team will kick development into high
    > gear. If there
    > was a time we need a viable competitor to Office,
    > it's now.
    > [1] article: New Office locks down
    > documents
    > Hugs, Rui
    > --
    > + No matter how much you do, you never do enough --
    > unknown
    > + Whatever you do will be insignificant,
    > | but it is very important that you do it -- Gandhi
    > + So let's do it...?
    > Please AVOID sending me WORD, EXCEL or POWERPOINT
    > attachments.
    > See

    > ATTACHMENT part 2 application/pgp-signature

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