As predicted by Sun Microsystems Inc before the event, the Open Group deferred the sanctioning of Microsoft Corp’s proposed Active Group independent standards body scheme at its meeting last week, with the board apparently unanimous in its decision that it hadn’t enough data to extend its hands in blessing, and so withdrawing the vote. The […]
As predicted by Sun Microsystems Inc before the event, the Open Group deferred the sanctioning of Microsoft Corp’s proposed Active Group independent standards body scheme at its meeting last week, with the board apparently unanimous in its decision that it hadn’t enough data to extend its hands in blessing, and so withdrawing the vote. The issues that remain, according to Open Group board members like Sun Microsystems Inc and IBM Corp, are such substantive little items such as whether Microsoft intends Open Group’s X/Open arm to drive ActiveX, or whatever is actually on the table, into a standard – which is what this whole thing’s supposed to be about – and how licensing is supposed to work. There is also the little matter of ActiveX or distributed common object model interoperability with the Object Management Group’s rival Corba scheme. The proposals emanate from Microsoft’s hand-picked steering committee of vendor firms, not through X/Open’s usual Pre-Structured Technology submission process. Sun said that the board would keep voting [the proposal] down until Microsoft learned to play by the same rules as everyone else, and said Microsoft has until the next board meeting in Rome on December 12 to clarify its positions. Microsoft, meanwhile, despite rumors that it was canceled, held the first meeting of the Steering Committee last Thursday November 7 in Long Beach, California where it was having its Professional Developers Conference. A second meeting is supposed to be held this week. The committee includes Microsoft, Digital Equipment Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co, SAP AG, Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG, Software AG, Sybase Corp’s Powersoft unit, Computer Associates International Inc, NCR Corp, Lotus Development Corp, Adobe Systems Inc, Borland International Inc, VideoSoft Inc, Wall Data Inc and Sheridan Systems Inc. Reports from the meeting say HP’s Object Group board member told it the X/Open submission process would absolutely pass on December 12.
Microsoft need a majority
Microsoft needs a majority of nine out of 16 votes to establish the submission and formalise the Active Group. Microsoft’s man- on-the-spot Cornelius Willis claimed, however, that it was more complete and more thorough than any other Pre-Structured Technology they’ve even had. A Steering Committee member, however, said that the Open Group is rewriting the Pre-Structured Technology submission and that there is now an authoring group as is usual in Open Group submissions. Perhaps because of the shoddiness of the draft submitted to the board there is a good deal of confusion about what the submission says even among those who claim to have read the confidential document. One said it sought to replace the Microsoft remote procedure call, which is already based on the distributed computing environment remote procedure call, with the distributed computing environment remote procedure call with Microsoft extensions. Willis, who said he had not seen the document, however, said No, that’s not true. That was an eventual intent but it was too soon and the immediate point was to license ActiveX on Unix – still apparently a blending of Software AG’s distributed common object model on Unix port with Digital’s distributed computing environment – and make distributed computing environment security an ActiveX option. IBM, however, claims it seeks to reinvent server interaction that already exists in the distributed computing environment and Corba. Willis claimed that just as soon as this submission business is resolved and the Active Group is up and running that Microsoft would be willing to come to grips with Corba provided the Corba contingent tells it which part of the fragmented chaos that is Corba it is supposed to address. Corba is a specification not source code like Microsoft is providing, Willis went on, and there are 15 implementations of the thing and they’re all different. The unaccommodating Mr Willis also denied that his chief Paul Maritz has had a proposal from the Object Management Group on his desk for the l
ast few weeks and said all that was there was the message Let’s talk . Bogey men could easily be read into this since Microsoft’s old buddy Digital allegedly had a hand in preparing the submission and the whole thing calls to mind the battle royal that raged back in late 1994 – that DEC lost – over which object request broker should be mandated for Corba 2 interoperability between object request brokers: the Sun-backed TCP/IP-based Universal Network Objects protocol or the DEC/HP-driven distributed computing environment- based Common InterORB Protocol. The defeat was seen at the time as a serious political loss for Microsoft and Digital swore its alternative would become the de facto standard no matter what. No matter what anyone says the Pre-Structured Technology submission process is, we suspect, a fight for control of the base infrastructure and he who controls the infrastructure is set to win. á