Bill Gates finally tries to own the world and its wife by pissing on XML document formats
Microsoft has recently been going on a patent spree, trying to patent the likes of the FAT file system, through to patent 525484 – `Word processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML`. What does this mean? It means he wants to stop any word processor being able to read, write, or update XML, and claim the idea as Microsoft`s.
This is absolutely crazy, yet worrying, knowing the types of ridiculous patents granted in the States. The man (and whoever thought up this bright idea) is nuts. Time to buy him a Darth Vader helmet and be done with it.
I would suggest that every company that has developed any kind of editor before Microsoft should then jump on the boat and try to patent `text document stored in a single text file that may be manipulated by applications that understand text`. That`ll be $2 for using vi, thank you very much; however you can use Notepad for $35 – decisions decisions.
Now bear in mind that MS Office supported XML (a typically bloated representation) in Office 2000, which was released in 1998. I don`t remember the XML specification being provided as part of this software (I don`t believe Microsoft own W3C just yet), even whilst I was developing XML based applications in 1998. Perhaps I`m confused and Microsoft invented XSL? Either way, they may as well try to patent web browsers, TCP/IP, black computer monitors, keyboards… and be done with it.
Essentially what has happened, is:
- Microsoft has tried to open its crappy proprietary Office formats, offering XML documents, possibly because they will at some point get a bollocking for anti-competitive behaviour
- This backfired, and open source and other commercial software vendors have used this to provide interoperability with Office, taking away revenue by giving users some choice
- Microsoft isn`t making the money it used to out of its operating systems and applications (who really needs any of the Office features post Office 95?) and wants yet more money
If this patent is approved, IT software developers had better start looking for new careers, because Microsoft will have the likes of W3C by the short and curlies. Next up they`ll have a patent for rendering XML in web browsers or storing XML in relational databases.
Curious indeed that Microsoft haven`t tried this stunt with SGML (XML`s slightly smelly father).