Ashley Sheridan wrote:
> On Thu, 2010-02-11 at 22:38 -0500, Paul M Foster wrote:
>> On Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 12:13:11PM +1100, wrote:
>>> On Thu, 11 Feb 2010 10:18:18 +0000, (Ashley
>>> Sheridan) wrote:
>>>> 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
>>> approached
>>> 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 NDA.
>>> Several large firms did so, but when they got the specifications they
>>> immediately
>>> 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.
>> I suspect any lack of continuity was more due to the shifting of
>> personnel internally to differing projects, rather than the hiring of
>> all new coders each time.
>> But more importantly, I suspect MS coders just coded without writing any
>> docs. Coders usually suck at documentation and will avoid it unless
>> forced. And if forced to write docs, the docs were just a toss-off no
>> one ever actually looked at.
>> Microsoft's attitude, I'm sure was, "Why should we care about other
>> players in the market? Just buy our crap and you won't have to worry
>> about our formats." (Except until the next upgrade.)
>> I think ISO's policy should be that if you're a company forwarding a
>> standard, your off-the-shelf software should verifiably duplicate that
>> standard. Otherwise, go pound sand. Same if you're a community proposing
>> a standard. Produce some software which adheres to that standard or shut
>> up.
>> Paul
>> -- 
>> Paul M. Foster
> Microsofts XML format should never have been made an ISO standard
> anyway. There's a bit of a conspiracy behind how they managed it,
> including large amounts of money and trade agreements trading hands, as
> well as secret voting...

There was a great article in the NYT about microsoft from Dick Brass (a
former Vice President) that's well worth a read:

regards :)

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