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IBM Adds More Force to ODF; The OOXML Plot Dissected Further

Posted in IBM, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 8:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM Joins the Conversation

IBM has just taken another step towards helping OpenDocument format through cooperation and collaboration. It’s not exactly news, but now it’s more official. IBM no longer see itself as a party that is outwardly apathetic as far as OpenOffice.org goes. It has just joined that community.

The OpenOffice.org community today announced that IBM will be joining the community to collaborate on the development of OpenOffice.org software. IBM will be making initial code contributions that it has been developing as part of its Lotus Notes product, including accessibility enhancements, and will be making ongoing contributions to the feature richness and code quality of OpenOffice.org.

It is worth pointing out that Lotus Notes is still proprietary software, but nonetheless it’s standards-based.

Has the ISO Become IM$O?

Suspicions were already shared a couple of days ago. There are small clues which suggest that the ISO might (just might) be getting too close to Microsoft. There have been some very bizarre developments in recent months. The following new article, including the fragment below, seems to concur.

Already some curious pieces of wrong information are beginning to appear about the process of this meeting, which is governed by the published JTC 1 Directives. Sure, these Directives leave some room for interpretation (which will appear in the coming weeks and months), but the framework of the meeting is already clearly set out …

Internal weaknesses in the ISO? Biased parties perhaps? We shall watch closely and find out.

Novell’s Definition of Interoperability

In the context of OOXML, the following analysis is very truthful. It is based on the words of one who was caught lying for the benefits of a monopoly several times before.

To paraphrase [from Microsoft]: interoperability is not about standards but rather about patent agreements that lock out customers and third parties, and instead creates interoperability between two consenting firms.


I know Microsoft sees this. It’s part of the plan. I just wish Novell could see this.

Microsoft Loves Multiple Formats, Even If All Are Its Own

Would universality truly be the goal of OOXML? Or does it mean further fragmentation, even within the broad (yet somewhat tortuously narrow) universe of Microsoft Office? Let’s ask Rob, who has spoke to some people and found out.

So Microsoft clearly loves multiple Microsoft document formats! (Discuss among yourselves whether this love is amour de soi or amour propre.) But what about other, standard formats?

Microsoft has incompatibilities in Office. Never mind other products. Let the ‘cattle’ be forced to upgrade whenever a new version of Office comes out. It’s the “network effect” and it’s ‘infectious’. As in, “comply (upgrade) or be unable to communicate with your peers.”

Rob goes on and talks about how difficult Microsoft has made it to use ODF in its products, even when third-party software is involved. We heard such stories before, even recently.

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.

Another essay from Rob explained why Office 2007 was essentially banned by some scientific journals (hint: it does not comply with standards, but ‘extends’ them instead).

It appears that Science, the journal of the America Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), itself the largest scientific society in the world, has updated its authoring guidelines to include advice for Office 2007 users. The news is not good.


Uh oh. Not only cannot you not submit files in OOXML format, but you can’t even use Office 2007 and save in the old binary formats. The choice to invent a new “Open Math Markup Language” rather then use the well-established existing standard, MathML, appears to be a serious flaw.

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