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02.21.08

Novell and OOXML

Posted in Formats, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 8:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bad Novell

Due to Novell’s increasing dependence on Microsoft, it has become rather difficult to distinguish between Novell and Microsoft. Both companies are motivated by some similar ambitions and therefore they help one another. In reality, Novell helps Microsoft a lot more than the other way around, so it’s hardly a reciprocal relationship. Novell gives Microsoft business whereas Microsoft gives Novell ‘FOSS bills’ to pay.

Quite ironic is that fact that Novell, a contributor to OpenOffice.org, is harming the very same project it purports to be helping. Have we mentioned that the front page of OpenOffice.org used to link to BotcottNovell.com for a couple of months? Watch what Novell is still doing for Microsoft, based on this new article from the Asian press.

In concert with the efforts to promote interoperability between the two platforms, Novell also announced support for the Office Open XML file formats in their version of the OpenOffice.org productivity suite.

Mind the word “their”. When Novell says "their", one can also interpret that as “Microsoft’s & Novell’s”. It serves both companies, as though they have become a collaborative team that strategises together.

Remember our writings about what seems like a Novell fork of the project [1, 2] and consider other related observations [1, 2]. Sun Microsystems, being a FOSS control freak, must not be too thrilled about Novell’s behaviour. Then again, there are many complex (and sometimes conflicting) agendas, so just like IBM, they ultimately find a way to get along and carry on.

“Hundreds of millions in throwaways is small money for a multi-billion cash cow, so Novell truly sold out here.”Novell ‘supports’ OOXML, but make no mistake. It does not mean that it truly believes in OOXML as much as it is obliged (almost forced) to support OOXML. It signed such a contract with Microsoft. Hundreds of millions in throwaways is small money for a multi-billion cash cow, so Novell truly sold out here. It apparently needed the money.

On several occasions in the past we showed that Microsoft increasingly support ODF. In fact, only yesterday there was the following article with a very telling headline:

Microsoft CTO: ODF is an ‘elegant’ standard

[...]

“What [Microsoft] is doing with OOXML is to further lock down [users] with dependencies on Microsoft technologies as part of their business value chain,” said Pillay.

Microsoft believes that ODF is an elegant standard, which seems to contradict the analysis of its own vassals, the Burton Group's analysts whom it hired for several paid-for gigs. Let’s repeat this headline again.

Microsoft CTO: ODF is an ‘elegant’ standard

Then use it. Remember that ODF is already the one and only international standard. OOXML is an attempt to ‘complement’ the standard with an application and an entire operating platform (Microsoft Windows).

Rob Weir has more to say about what was once described as the fragmentation of OOXML (too many versions).

So let’s reject Microsoft’s push for legacy inflation. Otherwise we will soon find that the next version of OOXML is also unchangable, since Office 14 will be out before the next version of OOXML is standardized. Will we then be unable to change anything in OOXML 1.1 because Office 14 is already in beta? Where does this end?

When one talks about or defends OOXML, the question you should ask is: “which version of OOXML? Or rather — which version of Microsoft Office(R)“?

“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.”

Brian Jones, Microsoft

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