a little too glib
Posted Oct 18, 2006 10:39 UTC (Wed) by khim
In reply to: a little too glib
Parent article: A Question of Choice (Linux Journal)
Open standards that can be read by any compliant software instead of proprietary undocumented standards is completely irrelevant. Even for those agencies that are required by *law* to be able to read all documents for a minimum of 100 years.
This is very important argument. Actually to make situation even more apparent I usually ask people to print small "Misrosoft Word" document for me first. They happily start up MS Office to print it (or sometimes WordPad when I say that it does not even have a lot of formatting) and... see totally mangled text with a lot of strange characters. Usual reaction is: "it's broken document, nothing we can do about it". And my counter is "no, it's perfectly correct document created in Microsoft Word 5.5 for DOS - and it was "state of the art" wordprocessor just 15 years ago. From the same company which talks so much today about compatibility but can not even supply you with tools to read your own documents created just 15 years ago!
After such demonstration my words about importance of the open standards become clear - and it's even easier to explain why access to the source is also very good thing. You see: while you can grab Microsoft Word 5.5 for DOS today you can not run it in your brand new Windows XP Professional x64 Edition since it lacks suport for the DOS programs! And that's only 15 years after document was created! And it's illegal to use this version if you don't keep 15 years old license around. And even if you ignore it and use it anyway - you can open the file, but you can not convert it to something readable by today's MS Office! In short: you are stuck. You need to play quest to convert this document today - and 50 years down the round the quest may be so hard that it'll be unsolvable.
If you do have the sources - you can always ask someone to look at it and change it to make it compileable (you still can compile 30 years old C programs included in Unix Version 1)! If you bet that "Microsoft will help you" then I'll ask simple question: it does not help you now - why do you expect help tomorrow ?
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