On Thu, 11 Feb 2010 10:18:18 +0000, a...@ashleysheridan.co.uk (Ashley Sheridan) 

>On Thu, 2010-02-11 at 10:16 +1100, Ross McKay wrote:
>There's a good reason for OpenOffice having some difficulties with MS
>Office documents. Back when MS rushed through getting their document
>standard ratified by ISO (which itself is a whole other story) they
>didn't explain all the details quite as well as they might have. Later
>on, MS found they were having some difficulty following their own
>'standard' and so altered it in various ways in Office2007. Needless to
>say, ISO weren't too happy when MS asked if they could just 'change the
>specs' for their file format, and quite rightly refused to do so.
>In short, this means that there is a MS ISO standard that MS is the only
>one not trying to follow, and software like OpenOffice is left to
>reverse engineering the format again.

When the first Word Macro virus appeared in the early 90s, the AV industry 
Microsoft for the specifications of the internal structure of the Word 
documents. After
some discussion Microsoft agreed to make these available to firms who signed an 
Several large firms did so, but when they got the specifications they 
discovered that they bore very little relation to the actual documents. When 
Microsoft was
approached about this their reply was "Well, that's all we've got!"  

The industry had to run a joint program to reverse engineer the specifications 
before they
could work out how to remove the virus.

The story that went around was that with each update Microsoft hired a new 
batch of young
graduates <aside>they don't have preconceived notions (a.k.a. experience), and 
they don't
have extravagant ideas of their own worth</aside>, told them vaguely what they 
wanted, and
left them to it. Then, as soon as they had something that sort of worked, they 
let them go
again. So there was no continuity, no documentation, no hope of bug fixes, and 
very little
likelihood that the next update would be improved in any meaningful sense.  I 
have seen
nothing to suggest that anything has changed.

And Bill actually likes it this way!  Someone who did a lot of support work for 
small and
medium enterprises told me that the biggest pressure for updating to the latest 
came from workers envious of the new employee, with his new computer and the 
new version
of the Microsoft rubbish --- sorry, wonder product.

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