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09.26.07

Even Microsoft Might Not Obey That Broken OOXML

Posted in ECMA, Formats, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Implementing OOXML, let alone all of the undocumented bits, is an impossible task.”What would be the point of establishing a comprehensive set of specifications and then engaging in corrupt activities if what you lobby for is not even your target? It surely begins to seem like OOXML is just a scarecrow that permits Microsoft to crow about “openness” and standardisation.

As various articles pointed out before, OOXML might be implemented by no-one. It does not seem like Microsoft will avoid subverting OOXML in its published form. It might actually apply for and add its own little ‘extensions’, making the real OOXML a moving target. It has already been pointed out that Microsoft Office 2007 does not implement OOXML, but only a derivative thereof. And here’s the new nugget of information, which comes right out of the horse’s mouth:

Now consider this from Brian Jones, a Microsoft manager who has worked on OOXML for six years. In July, Jones was asked on his blog whether Microsoft would actually commit to conform to an officially standardised OOXML. His response:

“It’s hard for Microsoft to commit to what comes out of Ecma [the European standards group that has already OK’d OOXML] in the coming years, because we don’t know what direction they will take the formats. We’ll of course stay active and propose changes based on where we want to go with Office 14. At the end of the day, though, the other Ecma members could decide to take the spec in a completely different direction. … Since it’s not guaranteed, it would be hard for us to make any sort of official statement.”

Now that’s cynical. After all this work to make OOXML a formal, independent standard — a standard created and promoted by Microsoft, remember — Microsoft won’t agree to follow it.

This is something for everyone — including Novell — to consider. Implementing OOXML, let alone all of the undocumented bits, is an impossible task. Even if this goal was ever achieved, it would most likely be pointless. Microsoft will have moved somewhere else by then, so there will be no cross-application compatibility.

As frustrating as the OOXML fiasco may be, Microsoft has similar plans when it comes to squashing PDF. We mentioned the XPS plan/plot/scheme before. It is now back to some headlines.

This working draft 1.0.1 “XML Paper Specification” submitted to Ecma TC46 by Microsoft in September 2007 is available in PDF format and XPS format.

Isn’t it ironic that PDF format is used to contain the specification of something which strives to have it destroyed? Either way, this brings back memories of the ISO, which sort of rejected votes and comments unless they were embedded in proprietary Microsoft Office formats.

In other news, OpenDocument-formatted files can now be displayed seamlessly in Mozilla Firefox. To some people, such integration was desirable.

If you are running OpenOffice.org and Firefox at the same time you can view OpenDocument and other OpenOffice.org supported file formats using the provided Mozilla plug-in.

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A Single Comment

  1. Zaine Ridling said,

    September 26, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft has also gone through some incredible — and sadly useless — gymnastics to create sites and “projects” that supposedly implement MS-OOXML “solutions.” Of course, no one has yet to actually use them, and to date, when you do a google ODF vs. MS-OOXML document count online, ODF is killing MS-OOXML even nine months later.

    September has not been kind to Microsoft. Let’s hope every month is the same!

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