back to article Microsoft, 'open' data, and the curse of open source

Do the rise of cloud computing and the outbreak of peace on open standards in the browser mean programmers will be forced to find new ways to make money online? In the last few days, Microsoft surrendered to common sense by announcing that Internet Explorer will finally embrace common standards with HTML5. It was a critical …


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  1. Thomas Duffin 2
    Thumb Down


    Not reading all that!

  2. Tom 35 Silver badge

    IE9 lockin

    IE 9 will work better with content built to open standards, but I expect it will still have lockin.

    MS will include non-standard features, to get the best advantage you need to use MS development tools, MS Server(s), and IE 9 (and Windows Vista or better).

    So all the corporate apps that were developed to only work with IE6 can be updated to only work with IE 9. But this time there is a much better chance that they will still work with IE 10.

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    "How the hell do we make money on open data

    Its my data - what the fuck makes you think you have any right ot make money out of it just because you've held back open standards for 15 years?

  4. Spoonsinger


    I thought the whole real point of HTML 5 was to implement a canvas. Something which actually should of been implemented about two minutes after the whole HTML "I like doing what a printer did in the dark ages" band wagon started rolling in the 90's. (Obviously IGMC - lot of vested interest in that).

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, most engineers are logical and sensible

    But the executives of all those giant companies with a vested interest in monetizing all this information are definitely not. From what they have shown us so far they seem to be as dishonest as politicians. Maybe a little bit more dangerous because they don't have to worry about elections.

  6. Sentient
    Thumb Up

    Being a developer...

    Is easy these days. I like to think that both sides BIG Enterprise and lean and mean script kiddies learn from each other.

    Hence the dynamic keyword in .NET 4. and the rise of ASP.NET MVC as an alternative of ASP.NET.

    While I applaud standards they are notoriously slow in their inception and I fear there will always be room for cutting edge non standard implementations.

    Apart from HTML 5 I am then thinking about the new C++ standard. Or about how DirectX always seems to be more feature complete than OpenGL these days.

    As long as there is respect for your fellow developers and you can appreciate what they are doing you can really enjoy programming and learning.

    Loved this article because it tapped so many sources.

  7. Adam Williamson 1

    cough, splutter

    "This trend for integration is starting to reach into the world of the desktop. Lucid Lynx - the next version of the Linux desktop due imminently"

    Lucid Lynx is not the next version of 'the Linux desktop'. It's the next version of the Ubuntu distribution. I know Canonical tries very hard to do this reality distortion field trick on you poor press hacks where 'Ubuntu' and 'Linux' become synonymous, but it really isn't true. Do try to resist. =)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Safari web lock-in?

    Quote "There's also a threat from Apple. Almaer said while HTML 5 provides a unifying force, the iPad - if it takes off like the iPhone - could throw up another proprietary hardware and software island that means a return to the past of lock-in on the web."

    Don't these so-called 'experts' find it a bit embarrassing to make comments that display a failure to do even the most basic research? There's no need to speculate about the iPad's web capabilities or compatibility because most of this is already known. It runs Safari, which has been about as up-to-date with HTML5 (and other standards) as it is possible to be. If the author had bothered to look at Safari, e.g. <>, they might have noted that HTML5 support features prominently (and a perfect score in the Acid3 test).

    Or is this simply a feeble attempt to whip up FUD about Apple? Ironically, Palm's Web OS is based on Webkit, the same foundation as Safari. Talk about sawing off the branch you're sitting on...

    1. Cameron Colley

      Perhaps you need to stop drinking that apple juice.

      You don't even have to look beyond these pages to find that, at present, the video CODEC currently under consideration for HTML5 is proprietary -- and that's before you start thinking a few steps forward to the possibility of Apple introducing "cool web page features" which just happen to use API calls only available in Safari. While Apple may be happy to go along with standards at the moment there is no reason to think that they will in future -- especially when every move they make nowadays seems to be a controlling one.

    2. Sim~


      Despite being a big fan of Ubuntu, I completely agree. This is poor editing/reporting.

      (I also like Fedora & SuSE)

    3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge


      I am removing Ubuntu from my laptop. The last straw was that it froze four times in one evening, only "responding" to me yanking both the power cord and the battery from the machine. It has proven an unstable piece of fetid dingo's kidneys. OpenSUSE 11.2 works fine on my desktop, will now retake my laptop.

      Integrating Twitter and facebook with an OS? NO THANK YOU. Never use these things, unlikely to change in the short term. This is application-level stuff, and I assume Canonical will actually integrate between applications rather than at the OS level.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Your data safe in their hands?

    I think not.

    Note a *lot* of this stuff seems to depend on leveraging Facebook/Google users to go on helpfully (and freely, as in without payment) assisting these companies to turn their raw data into a nice fat revenue stream.

    No doubt many users are ignorant enough not to realise this and stupid enough not to see why it will be a problem.

    I'd like to know how many people rely on their ISP's email service. I think not many. Microsoft and Google may dream of a 1 world data supplier. They keep forgetting. It's *our* data.

  10. Mike VandeVelde

    IE a "walled garden"?

    As if it's a carefully planned, carefully tended place where you might want to sit for an afternoon.

    More like a construction site.

    It's got the features of a garden - a wall (well more of a chain link fence), trees (well some shrubs over there where they haven't started digging), flowers (well there are a few of dandelions), a gazebo (well there is the manager's trailer), a pond (well there's a big mud puddle in that corner), etc.

    It's not like they deliberately set out to do things with their own stylish flair. Well maybe in the beginning to combat Netscape. But since those days they have mostly been trying to do what others are doing, just failing, failing much more than most since they all fail at least a little bit.

    It's not ActiveX that makes IE such a pain, or any major strategies like that, it's minor CSS and JavaScript bugs. So many bugs! <heavingsobs>

    So excuse me if I don't cheer when they *say* they will support (butcher) HTML 5. What do you lot say, the proof will be in the pudding?

    What are they supposed to do anyway, go to ISO with their own "OHTML" instead??

    Shrugging/tossing hands in the air/yawning icon please!

  11. sleepy

    But two days ago . . .

    The Register explained how IE9 only gets 55% on ACID3, and isn't committed to fully implementing HTML5, and how MS speaks weasel words when asked about these things.

    This new piece seems to be saying what Microsoft wants you to think they're doing, not what they actually are doing.

    It looks more like the first embrace of another "embrace, extend, smother" cycle than capitulation on open standards. Hopefully it will finish off IE once and for all, given IE9 won't run on XP.

    1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge
      Jobs Horns

      Standards compliance

      "It's not like they deliberately set out to do things with their own stylish flair. Well maybe in the beginning to combat Netscape. But since those days they have mostly been trying to do what others are doing, just failing, failing much more than most since they all fail at least a little bit."

      Yes, they actually did try back with IE5 and IE6 to make their own infrastructure with ActiveX and a bunch of other non-standard crap (which has mostly been left behind, because there was ABSOLUTELY ZERO thought of security behind it.) Yes, it's failing HARD to be standards compliant. And *THEN* they expect people to warp their standards-compliant pages to support the fail that is IE, on the simple argument that it's widely deployed. Except, now it's not -- it's just one browser among many, and MS *still* expects people to accomodate them.

      "It's not ActiveX that makes IE such a pain, or any major strategies like that, it's minor CSS and JavaScript bugs. So many bugs! <heavingsobs>"

      Well, they ignored standards compliance at first, then have just not worked too hard to bring it up to spec. So, here's some comparisons on ACID3 scores -- Camino 1.5 (Firefox 1.5-era browser for Mac) was ALREADY up to 49/100. Firefox 2 only improved it to a 50, an early Firefox 3.0 for Mac build was a 56, and 2008-era FF3 betas were up to 76. (It's up to 90 with FF3.5, and 96 with 3.6.) IE? IE6 11, IE7 17, IE8 only scores 20. 20!!!! (Opera and Webkit-based browsers hit 100/100 already in 2008!)

      "So excuse me if I don't cheer when they *say* they will support (butcher) HTML 5. What do you lot say, the proof will be in the pudding?"

      Agreed! Let's see what they can do. They are only 2 years behind everyone else! 8-) But a few browsers went from low to at least a resonable score, if not 100, pretty quickly so if they want to they could.

      "What are they supposed to do anyway, go to ISO with their own "OHTML" instead??"

      They have tried this several times -- trying to unilaterally push basically documentation of how IE behaves as a "standard". Actually AJAX is based on one of these attempts, it actually did something new & useful so the specs guys said "fair enough". But in general these "standards" were a mess, merely excuses to claim IE was "more standards compliant" than everyone else. Luckily the standards body behind HTML is not corrupt like ISO so they couldn't just force a "standard" through like they did with DOCX etc.

  12. TEQ

    English Muthaf*cker!

    "Do the rise of cloud computing and the outbreak of peace on open standards in the browser mean programmers will be forced to find new ways to make money online?"

    It sure do!

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Oh, I don't know....

      ...sounds OK to me! I mean, it refers to two items: "do X and Y mean Z?" It sure does.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        It do not?

        Shouldn't that be "I doesn't know?". Does I know more than you or wot!

  13. Brian Miller


    You know, the militant "agile development is all" group. Spasmodic development methodology, or development by hallucinogenic random approximation. Explosive web2orhea against the Teflon wall and see what sticks.

    Is there really value (money to be made) in data? For what purpose? Needless government scrutiny and advertising revenue?

    News flash: if your only real revenue stream is advertising, then you are selling fluff. Microsoft is trying to make money from fluff, and has been failing miserably at it since MSN-NBC went online. Google sells billboard space, and it is worth as much as its real customers think. Just because there is a lot of something doesn't mean that there is money to be made with truckloads of it. Yes, Google has my searches. But what is my raw search information worth? About as much as a blog post. This means that it isn't worth anything, yet supposedly savvy executives keep grasping at the mirage of a pie miles up in the sky.

    There is no "curse" here of open source. Open source means "open source CODE" and HTML5 is a text mark-up language, not something meant to be acted upon by a CPU. I never liked writing the same web page for different browsers, and I'm sure others feel the same way. And since IE9 doesn't work on XP, I'm sure that there will be many people miserably (but gainfully) employed for some time to come.

    Is there even "open data" out there? When was the last time that anybody (absolutely anybody) could access Google's information at will? Um, never? So the real term is "closed data" and hoo boy, it takes some legal wrangling to get it. Not something that any of us can do at a whim. So Google's great mountain of data about our searches, etc., actually has a white picket fence around it. Same with any of the others.

    The support of HTML5 does NOT mean that there will be a privacy "invasion." HTML5 is not affected by the laws of various communities, states, and national governments. What *is* affected is the information wrapped up in HTML5 (or HTML4, HTML3, HTML2, HTML, notes wrapped around a pigeon's leg, etc) that makes governing bodies squawk. If the information collected about people was made totally anonymous and never published at all, nobody would care. But it isn't. The data is meant to be used to paint a target on our collective foreheads, all in the name of advertising.

    Open source code is *not* some panacea. It just means that the software can be modified by anybody with the expertise to do so. If the software is crap, then it is simply crap. If the overall concept is good, then someone may come along and toss out the crap and create the next version. This is done by someone with the will and drive to do it. If nobody comes around to change it, then it just stays crap.

    FOSS does not immediately mean ponies for everyone. That's like saying that if someone writes a web page, then you have a business. No, you have a business because you are selling something to paying customers, and you are making a profit.

    There is no curse of open source. There *is* a curse of cluelessness. ("Clues for the clueless, clues for the clueless .. here, can you spare a clue?")

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "agilistas" and "... development by hallucinogenic random approximation"

      I've been wondering how best to express what the concept of 'agile development' does for me and you've just provided it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      A plethora of shiny stuff to you sir...

      Someone give this individual some money or something, for what he speaketh is truth.

      If I could award a thumbs up to you, AND a thumbs down to the article, I would.

      Rest assured, the thumbs down is for the wozzle-head that wrote this fart-icle

      There's just so much twaddle beavered about by so many twaddlers it defies belief.

      How do we begin?

      "The curse of open source" WTF? - in this article, you've managed to condense open source into a curse? - did you add frogs eyes and newts toes?

      "Thanks a lot, HTML5" - wha? eh? - this has been on the cards for years, why the sarcasm? - keh?

      Developers out there, ignore this fluff ... - it's largely irrelevant, opinionated, fictional and - to put it bluntly - complete bollocks.

  14. David Dawson

    How many programmers make ..

    Shrink wrapped software? Hmm? Stand up at the back!

    Ok . . . last I heard it was less than 10%, closer to 5% of all coders make over the counter stuff that would be affected in the way described here.

    Every one else works in a situation where, whether the deployment is to the cloud, a local server rack or the wind up radio in the corner, they will code and be paid some fixed rate for it, either salary or contract.

    Embedding some apis in the OS to access twitter will make no difference to this, and no difference to the vast majority of programming.

    Maybe 'Software House' would be a better term?

    Also, the idea that the APIs will be the same across windows mobile, palm and apple stuff is, frankly, laughable, so one of the points of this article is kind of off a bit.

  15. Grumpy Fellow

    Bigger can required

    Regardless of the intent, each generation of IE is simply a bigger can to hold the worms from the last can plus the recently added worms. No risk of less developer work being required going forward.

  16. The BigYin


    HTML, dotNet, Java etc; these are tools. When I hire a joiner, they do not charge me for their saws etc (well, not directly). They charge me for materials, but mostly they charge me for knowing how to use said materials, what materials and how to approach a piece of work.

    That's what I pay for.

    If a joiner said I needed to pay $n for a special saw because it was the only thing that would cut a certain material, I'd be off getting a new joiner!

    It's a different (better?) way of thinking and working.

  17. Ponmyword

    Manic Minotaur

    V. Disappointed to learn that Ubuntu is integrating <temporary and fading fashionable web-junk> into the next version.

    Keep it simple, stupid.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    There was I thinking that the implementation of the video tag left people with "some discussion" as to the best codec to use, which seemed to be falling into two camps - OGG and something else I can't remember because it requires a licence to use.

    I was assuming MS would fail to implement ogg and go the licensed route so that Free desktops/browsers still sufferred from being second class netizens.

    html 5 isn't a panacea. its not even a liver.

  19. gimbal
    Jobs Horns

    Oh boy, another "standard" from Microsoft

    I think that the *real* money comes in the executives finding new and inventive ways to justify their paychecks. Harumph!

    I mean, seriously, "OData"? Another odd, probably naively designed, and firstly, proprietarily based "standard" from Microsoft? Aren't people getting tired of that old trick, yet? (Probable answer: Nope!)

    Ahh what they hey, I'd just like to buy the whole world a cola if I could. NARF!

  20. kissingthecarpet


    I upvoted your post - but "embrace, extend, extinguish" does sound better than your new version - you've gotta have alliteration in a catchy slogan :)

  21. austin cheney

    So what is actually being solved?

    How is the openness of HTML5 supposed to save people from browser lock in? Are we supposed to presume then that HTML4 and XHTML 1.0 were not open enough?

  22. Anonymous Coward


    "There's money to me made out of the billions of data points, there's also money to be made out of the personal service points," McAllister said."

    My first reaction is why?

    All the things people can do these days on Facebook and with putting foto's somewhere with GPS tags and all is because everybody can access that *information* freely. The second you start charging for that information is the second that the *data* behind it becomes worthless, since nobody would share that information any longer.

    Companies need to realize that people only pay for things they want! You can't make people pay for things they don't want. Even taxes are nice, since in return you get clean streets.

    So stop trying to charge money for stuff people don't want. And stop being maffia for holding free and open data hostage. Instead look for things you guys can do that people are willing to pay for.

    For instance, governments are apperently not able to build software to support their activities. Google can build very nice software for a lot of users. Hey? Maybe google should sell their software making expertise to governments! The source code and data can then be open since they will get paid by the hour.

    (ps: very good story btw. I very much liked reading it. I wish more people had a bit of perspective like this. Thanks!)

  23. Bugs R Us
    Gates Halo

    Wrong. You don't own your data.

    Data doesn't belong to anyone. You can't own data. I can hold data about you but that doesn't mean it's *your* data and I have no right to it. I can hold data about anyone I like, with or without their permission. It's what I do with the data that matters. I could keep details about everyone I know and there is nothing they can do to stop me. If I choose to exploit that data, then that's when they can do something about it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    adhere to web standards ?

    > While IE might be free, billions of hours were spent on custom coding as Microsoft, partners, and an entire industry built web sites, applications and online services first for Microsoft's browser and then for everybody else that bothered to adhere to web standards

    I don't understand that bit. You seem to be implying that MS created 'web standards' to which the rest later caught up to. My recollection is that MS took the base standard and built-in non-standard extensons that would only work on Iexplorer under Windows. Or to put it in MicrosoftSpeak "how to prevent Netscape from sabotaging our protocol extensions".

    'In worst case scenario, Netscape will move .. to .. explicit sabotaging of any protocol extensions we make'

    "Our goals going into the meeting were (in priority order); Establish Microsoft ownership of the Internet client platform for Win95"

  25. Anonymous Coward

    removing Ubuntu from my laptop?

    > I am removing Ubuntu from my laptop. The last straw was that it froze four times in one evening, only "responding" to me yanking both the power cord and the battery from the machine ..

    I was a SuSE fan until the MS covenant and I got bumped from the support forum. While open SuSE was stable it did come in a very basic form with a lot of features switched off or hidden. This I assume to enthuse us to move to the commercial version. Ubuntu on the other hand demonstrated a polish and usability out-of-the-box, that was impressive.

  26. Jonathan


    i don't think the technology/APIs are the issue (at least in the article context)

    functionally there isn't much difference in requesting data from a datastore via. a database api or via. a google/micorsoft/facebook api

    there also isn't much difference in the presentation layer either (its still get data, format, render) whether you are formatting in HTML4/5 or gobbledook2.0. as long as its an "ML" it will always involve tags and stuff in tags.

    the big poblem is... i can write my code to access the data, but its not my data so... so can anyone else.

    now to make money I have to add more value to that data, in the way that it is split and aggregated and in how linked together and in what inferences I draw/faciliate being drawn.

    and, i have to do it cheaper than somebody else can, with the same access AND who has the ability to look at what I have done and copy it!

    i.e. I have to provide the service cheaper than somebody else does who has lower costs than I do!

    presumably its back to Mr. Heinz and (to paraphrase): "if you want to be successful you just have to do something slightly cheaper or slightly better than everyone else"

    so.. maybe its not a problem, if you are good and constantly ahead of the curve :-)

    (but how do you get investment in such an environment?)


    My ability to charge going to be very limited, so how do i make money?

    - Ads (google gets the money for the data and for the ads!)

    - New IP laws to protect what I have done (seems utterly preposterous and horredndously complicated)

  27. The First Dave Silver badge


    "Microsoft's decision to surrender on HTML5 and tear down its browser walled garden"

    Sorry, but could you give some kind of reference for that line? There was never any doubt that MS would _pretend_ to support HTML5 eventually, and I see no evidence of any tearing-down at the moment - all of the 'good parts' will surely remain for ever and ever, as with IE8 that is effectively three or four different browsers all wrapped up in a single package.

  28. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    @Jonathan it's what you DO with data that counts

    Maybe Microsoft and Google have this sewn up too... but... I work at a vertical database business, and where we score over a competitor that we've got on the run, is, our product doesn't just take in users' data and hold it, we make the data work. We automate the business processes that use the data - sometimes without user intervention at all.

    So, storing data is good, you can get paid for that, but USING the data is the clever part.

  29. Eddie Johnson


    Did I read that right? Is Linux following Microsoft's bad design example of integrating the browser into the desktop? Well Linux fanboys, welcome to the world of rebooting to install the most mundane patch, of being exposed to numerous security flaws without ever (knowingly) browsing the web.

    Looks like a bunch of lost Linux coders found themselves a Pied Piper.

  30. Keith Oldham

    Re : Seriously?

    "Did I read that right?"

    You did not!

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