04.06.07

OOXML: Five Month ISO Ballot Process Begins

Posted in ECMA, Formats, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Patent Covenant, Standard at 3:07 pm by Shane Coyle

As previously reported, the 5-month ISO fast-track balloting process has begun as of April 2, and will conclude September 2. Perhaps this is why Microsoft is trying so hard to generate support for OOXML lately.

GENEVA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The JTC 1 Secretariat informed Ecma International today that Office Open XML will move immediately to the next phase of the ISO/IEC’s review of the Ecma standard. The ISO/IEC Information Technology Task Force (ITTF) issued the 5-month DIS 29500 (Office Open XML) ballot on Monday, April 2, 2007; the ballot will close on Sept 2, 2007. This action came after the closure of the one-month “perceived contradiction” period, and after Ecma had provided a review of the National Body comments which had been received.

The best part of this press release is the document it links to, a 57 page pdf containing the ECMA responses to all those contradictions raised, including sections for commonly raised objections – Overlap in Scope with ODF, Intellectual Property Rights, and Undocumented Legacy Features.

2.1.4 OpenXML and ODF Can and Do Coexist
As mentioned, Ecma is already aware of many products that will support both ODF and OpenXML: OpenOffice supports both ODF and OpenXML (due to Novell, which integrated the OpenXML support1), Sun is working on a new spreadsheet import filter for the Calc project,2 Corel announced support for both ODF and OpenXML in Wordperfect, the open-source Gnumeric project is implementing both ODF and OpenXML, and Microsoft implemented OpenXML in Microsoft Office 2007, provided free OpenXML updates for older versions of Office such as Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003 and sponsored an ODF Translator (and finalized a Word add-in January 2007) that enables all those versions of Office to read and write ODF files.

This shows that today, both formats can co-exist, that it is possible to install applications that implement the OpenXML and ODF specifications on the same computer system and to install software that translates in a bidirectional, useful way between the two in a way that meets users’ needs. This way, the issue of formats is of less concern to most users, as translators provide for effective interoperability between them. Translators exist between OpenXML and ODF, as well as between other formats.

As discussed above, OpenXML and ODF were designed to meet different user requirements, and therefore support different functionality. Additionally, users often translate documents in a way that stores only the information needed for the new purpose. For example, one might convert ODF or HTML to PDF to lock in a particular view of a document, suitable for printing or read-only distribution. This conversion intentionally loses the information needed for further editing of the document, or for the application of different style sheets.

The co-existence of these formats allows users to capture information in a manner ideally suited for each of a number of different purposes. Translators designed for different purposes allow for re-purposing of content through translation and storage of just the information of relevance to each purpose.

I haven’t read through all of it yet, and I really hope and expect that some learned folks like Andy Updegrove, Rob Weir, or even our own frequent visitor Stephane Rodriguez will be able to shed more light on the subject.

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2 Comments

  1. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 6, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Gravatar

    On the face of it, Microsoft has found a loophole. It votes for itself in the ISO and Novell just seems to follow Microsoft’s lead. I have collected a bunch of references (with fragments) which I think would complement this post and shed some light on the level of political manipulation.


    Microsoft calls on UK public to raise the Office standard

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | Microsoft is calling on the Great British public to join its campaign
    | to get the XML Office format adopted as an international standard.
    |
    | [...]
    |
    | It is not clear if the UK is an opponent. However, a representative
    | of fellow member the Bureau of Indian Standards recently reportedly
    | complained to the IndiaTime.com over Microsoft’s decision to dump
    | 6,000 pages of documentation on them.
    `—-

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/04/microsoft_office_standards_petition/

    Microsoft’s Open XML Format Advances in ISO

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | Andy Updegrove, a partner with Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove and
    | editor of the ConsortiumInfo.org standards blog, said that 14 of 20
    | responses were clearly negative, two indicated divisions of opinion,
    | three were inconclusive or neutral, and one offered no objections.
    `—-

    http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2110684,00.asp

    Microsoft Fights for OpenOffice XML Standard Approval

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | To win approval, Microsoft must obtain 75 percent of all
    | votes cast.
    |
    | Organizers have said they expect representatives from about
    | 100 countries, including the United States, Canada and most
    | large European and Asian nations, to ultimately cast ballots
    | on the issue.
    `—-

    http://www.linuxinsider.com/rsstory/56642.html

    Packing The Court At The ISO?

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | …P member countries (‘participating member’ countries) sending
    | representatives, and I am interested to note the majority of
    | their representatives are, as individuals, also Microsoft employees.
    |
    | [...]
    |
    | How can they not see that OOXML (ECMA 376) is unwanted by anyone outside of
    | Microsoft? How about it Brian Jones? Are you really so desperate that you
    | have to resort to that?
    `—-

    http://lnxwalt.wordpress.com/2007/03/23/packing-the-court-at-the-iso/

    Q&A: Former Mass. CIO feels ‘bittersweet pride’ after battles with Microsoft, legislature

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | As CIO of Massachusetts from February to November last year, Louis
    | Gutierrez had to endure most of the brunt of Microsoft Corp.’s political
    | wrath over a state policy calling for the adoption of the Open Document
    | Format for Office Applications, or ODF — a rival to the software vendor’s
    | Office Open XML file format.
    |
    | [...]
    |
    | Do you see any reason for there to be two standards? If you were
    | starting blank-slate, there certainly would not be value to creating
    | two separate standards. Over time, it has sometimes been useful to
    | have the competition of two standards to keep both sides honest.
    | But I don’t see particular value in the long-term co-existence of
    | two separate standards.
    `—-

    http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9012760&source=rss_news50

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | Quinn: Almost to a person, to anybody involved or who knows about
    | the ODF issue, they attributed the story to Microsoft, right, wrong
    | or otherwise. Senator Pacheco may be a bully but I do not believe he
    | is disingenious and would stoop to such a tactic. Senator Pacheco and
    | Secretary Galvin’s office remain very heavily influenced by the
    | Microsoft money and its lobbyist machine, as witnessed by their
    | playbook and words, in my opinion.
    |
    | Quinn: I believe that the ODF decision will stand. I believe MS
    | will continue to do anything and everything it can to stop it. And I
    | know my seat wasn’t even empty and they (MS) took another shot at
    | the title, to no avail. This horse is out of the barn and I see no
    | way for it to go back in. Remember, all we are asking for was and is
    | for Microsoft to commit to open and the standards process; so
    | everyone looks really bad if the plug gets pulled at this juncture.
    `—-

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20060119232859729

    MA Governor-Elect Names MS Anti-ODF Lobbyist to Technology Advisory Group

    http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20061128161343183

    The Sorry State of Massachusetts

    http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=2006111603531029

    Microsoft offers schools in Mass. free software [to stop ODF adoption]

    http://news.com.com/2100-7344_3-6090196.html?part=rss&tag=6090196&subj=news

    Microsoft plays Massachusetts Senate card

    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=32515

    Microsoft playing three card monte with XML conversion

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | Gary Edwards of the Open Document Foundation, a leading member
    | of its technical committee, says Microsoft is playing proprietary
    | games aimed at controlling XML file formats and preventing the
    | Open Document Format from gaining a foothold.
    `—-

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/open-source/?p=959

    Some internal links:

    Promoting a Competitor to Openness, on Behalf of Your New Partner

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/03/06/novell-helps-ooxml/

    OpenOffice Novell Edition… for… Windows?!?!

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/03/14/novell-openoffice/

    Has Novell Made OpenOffice Incompatible with Itself?

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/03/24/openoffice-compatibility/

  2. shane said,

    April 7, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Gravatar

    Deja Vu all over again?

    Microsoft’s Fast Track debacle with C++/CLI

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