Microsoft OSP is a pie crust promise

Microsoft OSP is a pie crust promise

Summary: The Software Freedom Law Center has a paper out today making this charge regarding Microsoft's Open Specification Promise. It was easily made and can be easily broken.


Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins (1964)As any fan of Mary Poppins knows, a pie crust promise is easily made, and easily broken. (Picture from Therapy and Movies.)

The Software Freedom Law Center has a paper out today making this charge regarding Microsoft's Open Specification Promise. It was easily made and can be easily broken.

The subtext here is Microsoft's Office Open XML, which could soon become an ISO standard following what a friend refers to as a Florida election.

The paper, which carries no byline, adds that the OSP covers only specifications, not code, and the provision is inconsistent with the GPL.

While we're still waiting on results in the ISO process many Microsoft opponents are fearful the company has won by bribing the delegations of small countries and putting political pressure on U.S. and European delegations.

Sort of puts that whole "good Microsoft" bit I wrote about last month into a cocked hat, eh?

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software

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  • MS only has our best interest in mind.

    Keep it simple stupid is a good standard, MS standard is
    anything but simple.
    • Microsoft aren't deceitful liars

      they just, ummm, "change their minds quite a lot en-route to bringing us the quality, security and value for money that we have come to expect."

  • Let's see if I get this straight

    The main gist of the paper is that OSP is not GPL and this, therefore, proves that MS is going to break its promises? Gee, the BSD license is not GPL so does that mean that BSD is going to break its promises?

    [i]While we???re still waiting on results in the ISO process many [b]Microsoft opponents are fearful[/b] the company has won by bribing the delegations of small countries and putting political pressure on U.S. and European delegations.[/i]

    I'm fearful that you may have murdered my next door neighbor. Kind of puts that whole "Dana is a kind person" bit I wrote about last month into a cocked hat, eh? Oh how much fun it is to write pure conjecture with absolutely no proof whatsoever! :)
    • How much does MS pay you?

      Or are you really that naive?
      • How do you figure?

        So because I demand logical arguments and proof, I must be on MS's payroll? Hmm, that actually make MS seem like the good guy!!

        MS doesn't pay me enough to prevent me from running Linux on my media PC (MythTV rocks) or SuSE on my home server but just because I like and use Linux doesn't mean that I shut off my brain when I read any anti-MS stuff. Can you say the same? You think MS rigged the election just because some people are fearful that they did? You think MS will break its promises just because OSP isn't GPL? Note that I'm not saying MS didn't rig the elections, nor am I saying MS will keep all their promises, I'm just saying you need to offer something more than pure conjecture to convince me. If pure conjecture is enough for you though, so be it. :)
        • Not unwise

          I don't think its unwise to be cautious of their intent based on their own threats and maneuvers.

          As for the BSD license I believe people read that license and use it in such a way that won't hurt them. The problem here is that you have a corporation offering this that can use interoperability now to further its products and then break it again once its feels comfortable with its market share. I'm not bashing MS. They are a company and have to make money. But for those that seek to get FOSS products into the mainstream it would be a smart thing to at least be cautious with this move.
        • I will not accuse you for not jumping to conclusions.

          That IS a very sound attitude. However, in Sweden MS WAS found to have used "unsound influence/pessure".(Sweden had to do their process over again.)
          In Norway (I live there.) one of the members on the Nationa Standard Committee is on MS' payroll; he is employed by MS. He has full voting rights and he does NOT consider to step back due to conflict of interest in the case of OOXML.
          • And by the way: The member

            on the Norwegian Committee that was representing open source, stepped down because he saw a conflict of interest on his own behalf. He was supporting ODF and was against OOXML.
      • Don't be hard on him

        It's not his fault he can't learn software that doesn't say "Microsoft loves you" during the installation.
        • He uses Linux ! (nt)

    • MS's own words leave an open door

      for them to extend the specification and not make it public.
      Old Indian saying "White man speak with forked tongue".

      We want to play fair and be open, but we retain the right to
      change our mind once we are accepted as the standard.
      • BSD license allows for that too

        I can fork a BSD licensed product and not make it public. Does that mean that Berkeley is going to break their promises?

        Any product protected by this version of OSP will follow these guidelines just like any product protected by GPLv2 are protected by the GPLv2 guidelines. No promises are made that GPLv3 will follow the exact same guidelines and it will be up to those who release products under GPLv2 whether or not they want updates to be released under GPLv3.

        OSP is not GPL. MS never said OSP was the same as GPL. The only people who say that OSP is GPL are those who support GPL and want to make MS look bad by saying "everyone says OSP is like GPL but look everybody, it isn't!!". If the Software Freedom Law Center insists on building up a strawman just to tear it down, that is their prerogative. The question is, are you going to see through this lame tactic?
        • Well, in the BSD and GPL world

          The "promise" or license if you will, keeps on keeping on, it isn't restricted to the "current version." Now that's not to say that there aren't issues in a switch to GPL 3 stuff.
        • "are you going to see through this lame tactic?"

          OSP is not GPL. Check ;-)
          OOXML is not ODF. Check ;-)
          Microsoft are a bunch of self interested liars. Check ;-)

          But by all means keep giving them your money, at least they give you some managerial speak to read, which must you feel clever right?
          • NonZealot says he IS using Linux. Please do not

            jump to conclusions. I know "Conclusion-Jumping" is the worlds favorite sport (not football), but it is still good to avoid doing too much of it.
          • In that case, what an interesting take

    • Just a simple question.

      (Let's leave aside the question of whether Microsoft will break this promise or not. Everyone has good reason to be cynical).

      GPL is a licence that embodies a certain philosophy of software development and distribution. There's nothing wrong with that.

      But, I would like to know why people who subscribe to this philosphy feel they have right to demand everyone else conducts their activities in a way that is compatible with these philosophies?

      When religous groups demand adherence to their philosphies, we hold it up as contempable.

      Bonus marks for any answer that isn't based on the notion that "Microsoft is evil, therefore anything is justified" - If you're going to take the moral high ground, "the means justifies then end" is not an acceptable argument.
      • I think you missed the whole point

        This "promise" as stated does not apply to "future versions." That's what makes it worthless to OSS and anyone else for that matter.
        • A quote from the paper.

          [i]"The OSP cannot be relied upon by GPL developers for their implementations ... because it does not provide the freedom that the GPL requires."[/i]
          • You might have also added...

            Or anyone else who relies on the promise to be ongoing, which it isn't. It's not just a bit of window dressing for OSS folk, but for everyone who can/will/might be hooked by the "promise" that is only for a limited time and not for what would arguably be a promise for the complete and fully functional version (or later versions) of OOXML.