Sun, IBM Hide Behind "Document Freedom Day" to Attack Microsoft

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Includes: IBM, JAVA, MSFT
by: Dennis Byron

An obscure web-based organization has declared March 26, 2008 Document Freedom Day [DFD], “a global day for Document Liberation with grassroots action for promotion of Free Document Formats and Open Standards in general… A "DFD Starter Pack" containing a flag, t-shirt, leaflets and stickers is in preparation and is planned to be sent out… to the first 100 teams that sign up.” The quote is from the group’s web site, Orwellian double-think, propagandistic capitalized nouns and all.

It is unclear whether the group plans on boycotting file cabinets around the world… or breaking them open with crow bars. There is no indication that they plan document burnings. But signs of what used to be called a front group when Orwell attacked totalitarianism are all over the web site. The document liberators that join a protest on March 26 in their DFD T-shirts are just pawns on the chess board. DFD in fact fronts for two major technology suppliers, Sun (JAVA) and IBM (NYSE:IBM).

Sun and IBM, with the DFD group’s adolescent help, is currently attacking Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Somehow, in best Orwellian revisionist terms, the DFD folks avoid the fact that IBM and Sun are no better (or worse) when it comes to standards. ‘Open Standards’ is really a political manipulation of language anyway. They are simply words certain technology junkies hurl at others to indicate displeasure over technical features and functions they do not like… and therefore believe no one else should be allowed to choose. The words ‘Open Standards’ themselves represent good old Orwellian double-think. After all, what good would a closed standard be?

More specifically, DFD day is a political-theater sideshow in a battle over the way the three technology companies’ respective next-generation office suites natively “save” word processing, spreadsheet and presentation files. Microsoft invented and uses the Open Office XML [OOXML] format; Sun (via a 2000 acquisition) invented and uses the Open Document Format [ODF] format; IBM has adopted ODF for one of its less popular Lotus office products. DFD is simply about Sun and IBM trying to recapture market share they have lost over the years because of inferior products.