A couple of days ago, Shane mentioned proprietary extensions which Microsoft embeds in its OpenXML implementation. That, as a spurious reminder, is the standard which Novell agreed to embrace. It is a standard which fits an application; not a case of applications being built to support a standard. The 6,000+ pages which describe this bizarre ‘standard’ do not include any documentation of these ‘extensions’ and, to make matters worse, according to Sam Hiser, there are legal barriers as well.
In short, Microsoft promises not to sue you for using the Microsoft Office Open XML formats in your software. But this promise only applies to patents Microsoft may have in the explicit parts of the Microsoft Office Open XML specification and which are described in detail there. It would not cover those parts essential to implementation which are merely referenced in the specification and lying outside the specification. See the language, “only the required portions of the…specification”, emphasized below.
It is not surprising that two supporters who are willing to implement Open XML are already in Microsoft’s hands. Corel is one of them, Novell is another. Sun Microsystems has already criticised (even “slammed”) Open XML, as did IBM, among many more people. who comprehend the value and importance of standards.