European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, fresh off her antitrust victory over Microsoft in the European Court of First Instance, has launched two new investigations into anticompetitive behavior by Microsoft:
A coalition of rivals charged on Friday that Microsoft Corp.’s new Vista operating system coming out next week will perpetuate practices found illegal in the European Union nearly three years ago.
The group, which includes IBM, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Adobe, Oracle and Red Hat, said its complaints made last year are yet to be addressed just days before Vista is due for release.
“Microsoft has clearly chosen to ignore the fundamental principles of the Commission’s March 2004 decision,” said Simon Awde, chairman of the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS).
Microsoft said it had no comment. The Commission was not ready to act.
“We are in the process of examining this complaint,” a Commission spokesman said. ECIS disclosed on Friday that the latest additions to its complaint were made only last month, after it studied Vista.
Other complainants in the group include Corel, RealNetworks , Linspire and Opera.
The ECIS press release is here and technologies specifically called out are XAML and Open XML. The European Commission always seems to move at a snail’s place, but they do move eventually so their reaction to Vista continues to be something to watch.
China Martens at InfoWorld:
A group of more than 35 U.S. and international IT vendors, organizations, academic institutions and industry bodies is due to announce the formation of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) Alliance Friday.
The new body, whose initial members include IBM, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems, will focus on further evangelizing the OpenDocument electronic file format.
Open Document Format for Office Applications, also known as OpenDocument, is being developed by the OASIS standards body as an XML (extensible markup language) file format. The format covers text, spreadsheets and other document types created by office productivity suites. Supporters of OpenDocument include offerings from open-source players and Sun’s StarOffice and IBM’s Workplace software suites.
The ODF Alliance has formed under the auspices of trade association the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). Other IT vendors in the alliance include Corel, EMC, Novell, and Red Hat.
There’s more in the article, including how the alliance would have aided Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn in his fight for Open Document. The ODF Alliance web site is now online and has more information.
In the wake of Massachusetts’ requirement for OpenDocument Format support and Microsoft’s refusal to provide it, competitors are stepping up.
First out of the gate is Sun, but IBM and Corel are right behind – Sun Launches StarOffice 8:
On Tuesday, Sun will announce the availability of StarOffice 8, the latest version of its desktop productivity suite.
StarOffice 8 is based on OpenOffice.org 2.0, a popular open-source office suite, which is now in pre-release.
It is designed to be very compatible with Microsoft Office (see also this NY Times article) and:
In addition to all this Microsoft Office compatibility, StarOffice 8 is the first commercial office suite to use the OASIS OpenDocument file format.
Sun won’t be the last. IBM is adding it to IBM Workplace and Corel is expected to be incorporating OpenDocument into its WordPerfect Suite in the near future.
The free software OpenOffice.org 2.0, of course, already has it.
The state of Massachusetts has also made OpenDocument, along with Adobe Acrobat PDF, one of its two official office formats.
Other governments, including the European Union, are also considering such moves.
It’s not just governments that may be considering StarOffice.
“Organizations are seeking out ways to both reduce their costs of using information technologies and also make their IT investments provide real, measurable benefits in a very short term,” said Dan Kusnetzky, IDC’s VP of system software research.
StarOffice may well be “good enough” for most users and the price seems right:
StarOffice will be available in seven languages. The suggested list price for the packaged software product will be $99.95, and a download price is $69.95.
For enterprise customers, StarOffice 8 software is priced on a tiered, per-user basis, starting at $35 for new users and $25 for upgrades.
IBM, typically, is offering a dreadnought – IBM’s potential MS-Office killer to roll out by year’s end:
In an telephone interview earlier today, IBM vice president of Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Products Ken Bisconti told me that IBM not only has an ODF-compliant solution in the works, but that it will also be released by the end of the year. That solution is IBM’s Workplace. Built on top of IBM’s Java 2 Enterprise Edition-based Websphere application server stack, Workplace can trace its pedigree to the collaboration technologies found in Lotus Domino/Notes and to Big Blue’s portal technologies, typically based on WebSphere.
Much more by following the link, but the net is that while Workplace isn’t really a server based application, there definitely has to be a whole server infrastructure in the picture:
Another key IBM proposition of Workplace, said Bisconti (using the term “server-managed clients”), is that upgrades to the components can be rolled out salesforce.com-style. In other words, when the components are upgraded, the user simply inherits those upgrades in their personal portal.
But, by the end of the year, when IBM officially makes the solution available to any enterprise (typical cost runs in the six digit category), ODF-support will be baked in. Currently, the Workplace Managed Client (WMC) supports Microsoft’s file formats. What that means, according to Bisconti, is that users who need to convert their Office documents into ODF-compliant ones (the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will soon have this need) will be able to do so by opening them with WMC and then saving them in ODF.
I suppose this may play in big customers, but it’s a commitment to a lot more than a mere Microsoft Office replacement.