David Overton's Blog and Discussion Site
This site is my way to share my views and general business and IT information with you about Microsoft, IT solutions for ISVs, technologists and businesses, large and small.  

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  • Internet Explorer goes for standards 1st - Microsoft's Interoperability Principles and IE8

    IE8 is cooking along nicely. IE is one of those products that is highly impacted by standards and given the announcements Microsoft made about standards and interoperability last week, the IE team have made some announcements ( IEBlog : Microsoft's Interoperability Principles and IE8 ) Microsoft's Interoperability Principles and IE8 We’ve decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can. This decision is a change from what we’ve posted previously. Why Change? Microsoft recently published a set of Interoperability Principles . Thinking about IE8’s behavior with these principles in mind, interpreting web content in the most standards compliant way possible is a better thing to do. We think that acting in accordance with principles is important, and IE8’s default is a demonstration of the interoperability principles in action. While we do not believe any current legal requirements would dictate which rendering mode a browser must use, this step clearly removes...
  • Something for Vijay - Microsoft Introduces New Interoperability Principles

    I've not had time to digest all of this, but it looks important enough to get a quick note out. I know Vijay is keen on interop. Virtual Pressroom: Microsoft Makes Strategic Changes in Technology and Business Practices to Expand Interoperability February 21, 2008 Microsoft today announced a set of broad-reaching changes to its technology and business practices to increase the openness of its products and drive greater interoperability, opportunity and choice. These changes are codified into four new interoperability principles and corresponding actions: ensuring open connections; promoting data portability; enhancing support for industry standards; and fostering more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open source communities. Highlights: Press Conference Call with Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, Bob Muglia and Brad Smith: 8:30 am PST, Feb. 21 Video Clip: Tom Robertson, General Manager, Interoperability and Standards (.wmv file, 44 sec) News & Announcements Press Release: Microsoft Makes...
  • Office from the past, ODF and OOXML (Office of today and tomorrow) and why is organic growth nearly always bad for software and why re-writing is not good either

    As I have said many times in the past I used to write document conversation tools. I believe this gives me a valid reason to be able to pass comment on the ODF/OOMXL debate that is raging at the moment. If these types of questions interest you, have a look at the book I talk about later ( In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters (UK) or here for US link ) Lets start with some history about the Office 97-2003 file formats. Joel was writing about this today ( Why are the Microsoft Office file formats so complicated? (And some workarounds) - Joel on Software ). Note that part of what he has commented on is the fact that the documentation for the binary file format is now available from Microsoft: Why are the Microsoft Office file formats so complicated? (And some workarounds) This item ran on the Joel on Software homepage on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 Last week, Microsoft published the binary file formats for Office . These formats appear to be almost completely insane. The Excel 97...
  • Web Developers were just tooo smart for their own good - they got web pages to look just right in IE6 and didn't see Microsoft fixing the compatibility issues (or some of them) for IE7. Now IE8 has to clean up it's and others mess

    OK, so the title is mine, but you can see here how the defacto standard that was IE4/5/6 meant that people thought IE7 would live by the same rules. If you care about "standards based websites" then the IE team blog on compatibility is a must for you. Compatibility and IE8 In Dean’s recent Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone post, he highlighted our responsibility to deliver both interoperability (web pages working well across different browsers) and backwards compatibility (web pages working well across different versions of IE). We need to do both, so that IE8 continues to work with the billions of pages on the web today that already work in IE6 and IE7 but also makes the development of the next billion pages (in an interoperable way) much easier. Continuing Dean’s theme, I’d like to talk about some steps we are taking in IE8 to achieve these goals. I’ve been on the IE team for over a decade, and I’ve seen us apply the “Don’t Break the Web” rule in six different major versions of IE in different...
  • Independent study advises IT planners to go OOXML

    I'm not feeling my best, so no comments, but below was an article I found very interesing: Independent study advises IT planners to go OOXML Posted by Mary Jo Foley @ 6:41 am Market researchers with the Burton Group have issued a 37-page study– not commissioned by Microsoft or any other tech vendor — that finds Microsoft’s OOXML document format to be more useful than the rival ODF format backed by Microsoft’s competitors. The new study, freely downloadable (in exchange for registration) from Burton’s Web site is entitled “What’s Up, .DOC? ODF, OOXML, and the Revolutionary Implications of XML in Productivity Applications.” Office Open XML (OOXML) is Microsoft’s XML file format that it made the default in its Office 2007 suite. Open Document Format(ODF) is the file format championed by Sun Microsystems, IBM, Google and other Microsoft competitors. Microsoft is seeking ISO standards approval for OOXML, largely to appease customers who prefer/require standards-compliant products, as well as to head off ODF momentum...
  • Samba developers can now see the Windows Protocols, make their products more interoperable with Microsoft Windows and see where Patents are to then choose to avoid or license

    I have never been known to sugar coat my opinion and one that has been forming recently is that much of the EU work on opening the Windows Media player is undesired by the consumers or the industry. This is my opinion, but I've seen no evidence to the contra. However, the licensing of protocols, while I don't wholly agree with the pricing structure, I see it as a good thing. This is a classic example of a de-facto standard working how it should. Today yet another organisation licensed the protocols, this time for the Samba community (with restrictions on redistribution and patent awareness) and this should deliver the reality of "interoperability, not standards" that I personally feel is the true desire of the world. Update: Microsoft to hand over Windows secrets to Samba team | InfoWorld | News | 2007-12-20 | By Robert McMillan, IDG News Service Developers of open-source Samba software will find their work a little easier thanks to an agreement with Microsoft, signed Thursday, that will give...
  • Internet Explorer 8 (yep, not yet released) does standards (well Acid anyway)

    Earlier this month on the IE blog there was some discussion about IE8, almost the 1st discussion about this - Internet Explorer 8 . Now they talk about the "Standards Mode" and how for those who want near 100% standards based web sites can live happily together. It is worth saying that it might end up 100% standards based, but since I don't think such a thing exists, all I will say is that is passes all the standards tests. Acid is one of these tests. I strongly recommend you read the the whole blog Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone As a team, we’ve spent the last year heads down working hard on IE8. Last week, we achieved an important milestone that should interest web developers. IE8 now renders the “ Acid2 Face ” correctly in IE8 standards mode. If you’re not a web developer, the details of this blog post probably aren’t all that interesting for you. I’d like you to know that we’re building IE8 for many different customers (consumers, web service providers, independent software vendors...
  • Office Open XML file format information or Standard ECMA-376 and the OOXML SDK information on MSDN

    I saw this question asked internally today, so I thought I would share. If you want to develop to use the Open XML document format you probably want to look at two things. The Microsoft resources (eg http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-gb/office/aa905545.aspx ) and the ECMA resources Standard ECMA-376 . On the MSDN site you will find documentation and a MS SDK (less interest if you are developing using a functional language for your mainframe ). The ECMA site has the following: Standard ECMA-376 Office Open XML File Formats (December 2006) This Standard defines Office Open XML's vocabularies and document representation and packaging. It also specifies requirements for consumers and producers of Office Open XML. An Office Open XML overview is available on the Ecma website. Copy these file(s), free of charge: File name Size (Bytes) Content ECMA-376 Part 1 350 630 zipped DOCX file ECMA-376 Part 1 1 441 795 zipped PDF file ECMA-376 Part 2 341 625 zipped DOCX file with 2 Annexes ECMA-376 Part 2 1 286 494 zipped PDF file...
  • Photos, photography, JPEG XR, Photosynth, the future of photography and Seadragons - why all the excitement?

    It's funny working in an industry where if you are not going at 50,000 miles an hour you are considered to be standing still. One area where Microsoft is speeding along is photography. In this post I will explore the announcements, the demos, short and long term products and then the future that lots of people are beginning to see. For me, the fact that people are already seeing such a future and its possibilities is very exciting (both the visions and the fact they are having them without drugs!! (humour)) Look at the recent events: Raw photo support in 2005 - Microsoft and Imaging Industry Leaders Unveil Support for Digital Photo HD (which some people thought was a JPEG killer.. tut tut) - HD Photo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia JPEG XR - JPEG committee supports Photo HD as next gen JPEG TrustedReviews - Official Jpeg Successor Is Microsoft's HD Photo Now this is all very nice, but so what - a better format for bigger pictures, that could be a bit like FAT disks getting FAT32 format, but it is not...
  • Office Rocker! : Ecma Open XML real world stories

    I don't know how many of you read the Office Rocker blog from Darren Strange ( http://blogs.msdn.com/officerocker ), but I did like this entry given all the recent discussions about Open XML. At the end of the day the discussion is not who's standard it is (ISO, ECMA etc) although there does appear to be a pecking order, but more about what people can do once it is in use. Darren has highlighted some people who are actually using Open XML to extend their business. Ecma Open XML real world stories This afternoon I was presenting at the Office Business Applications architects council with the good looking chaps on the right here. I was talking about some of the stories I've come across from our customers and partners who are using Ecma Open XML in their solutions. I have 4 stories published recently about Ecma Open XML that illustrate what I think are 3 significant categories: 1. Integrated add-in Fractal:Edge have a great visual concept for representing the drill down on data using what they call a...
  • Microsoft Passes OpenAjax Alliance Interop Tests

    More evidence that Microsoft is playing very nicely with its "open" buddies. The Open Ajax Alliance has confirmed that Microsoft has passed its interop tests. Microsoft Passes OpenAjax Alliance Interop Tests By Darryl K. Taft Microsoft joins several other companies and open-source projects in meeting OpenAjax guidelines. Microsoft has passed the OpenAjax Alliance's suite of interoperability tests to prove that its software can interoperate with other parts of the OpenAjax ecosystem. On the eve of the AJAX World Conference and Expo 2007 West taking place Sept. 23-26 in Santa Clara, Calif., Microsoft officials said the Redmond, Wash., company's software passed the OpenAjax InteropFest 1.0 tests and is interoperable with other AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) components in the OpenAjax ecosystem through the OpenAjax Hub. The OpenAjax Hub is a set of standard JavaScript functionalities defined by the OpenAjax Alliance, with strong focus on being small and fast. Brad Abrams, a project manager...
  • The Open XML Vote (OOXML) and why I hate politics

    This is a rant and it is my opinion and does not reflect that of Microsoft or others - It is my Opinion! From 1992 to 1995 I had to write document converters - I had to pick apart binary file formats and translate them to another format. It was hard work and I JUST WISHED people would create a largely encompassing standard for documents that was documented so I did not have to do all the work myself. Role forward to today, Office is still the prominent document format (which is now documented on http://msdn.microsoft.com ), but there is a new kid in town that encompass everything that an Office document is and more. This is the Open XML document format. People have cried for years that they wanted the Office Document standard to become more than a defacto standard, they wanted it to become a format an open standard. It was always going to be large, but to cover all the features and functions available in Office, it would have to be. There is no point in the standard being something different to that used in Office...
  • Spreadsheets and documents based on standards - OpenXML and ODF, ODF and Excel or all 3

    I have been using and referencing standards for a long time. They are great. C# is an ECMA standard for example as are parts of .Net which is how project Mono has managed to come great strides in delivering part of the .Net experience on non-Microsoft platforms. Also my 1st job out after University was writing document converters. So there are two things here - one, what is wrong with more than 1 standard - we have several for networks, several for character sets. Often one standard will work where another will not. Nearly always one standard is driven by an interested party. Open Office is very keen to see greater adoption of ODF. Microsoft is very keen to seen greater adoption of OpenXML. OpenXML is already a European standard (ECMA) and one of the nice things about that is the stability you are offered if you are developing against it. There is no requirement to have Office to use this file format. OK, so we could say "lets not use the European standard and create a similar one, but not quite the same"...
  • Getting data out of or into Office 2007 documents just got easier with the Open XML gets an SDK

    If you are still undecided in the Open XML debate, or decided but want tools to make it easier then hop over to James blog and have a look at Views on Windows Vista : Open XML gets an SDK : Yesterday Microsoft announced a SDK (Software Development Kit) for SDK which allows developers to create code which works well with the Open XML thanks to the libraries, samples and documentation provided by the SDK. You can download the SDK here . If you now think that having this as a standard is a good idea, please go to here to add your vote. ttfn David Technorati tags: open XML , Office 2007 , Office System
  • Microsoft Rolling Out ODF Document Converter and participating in Standards processes

    This is not new news, but when I was at the Technet event yesterday it did come up. Someone asked about the what and why of Open XML and Open Document format. Luckily Darren Strange was on hand to answer the question (which he has done before). ODF is a great standard, but does not allow for amny of the things that our customers want, such as charts (to name just one). It is not unusual to have more than one standard way to do things (such as ASCII and EBDIC for character sets), so while ECMA has ratified OpenXML we are now working with a 2 nd standards body (ISO) to also get OpenXML ratified there too. For more information about the ODF converter, have a look at http://sourceforge.net/projects/odftranslator/ for the code and this article for news - Microsoft Rolling Out ODF Document Converter . Ttfn David

(c)David Overton 2006-18