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02.27.08

Ghosh (Europe), Google and Few Others Publicly Slam Microsoft’s OOXML

Posted in Europe, Google, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 12:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When everyone hates OOXML, it’s time to rethink OOXML

For those who do not know Ghosh, this man is responsible for a highly-cited study on the potential and value of growth through FOSS in Europe. He is well regarded in this field and Reuters quotes his stance in this new article covering OOXML.

“Microsoft could easily provide full support for ODF,” said Rishab Ghosh, senior researcher at the United Nations University in Maastricht.

Ghosh said Microsoft’s drive for a competing standard was part of its broader strategy to encourage consumers to use only Microsoft products, as has been alleged in anti-trust cases in Europe and elsewhere.

Later today, it seems likely that Microsoft will be slapped with a huge fine in the EU. Also be aware that Microsoft might already be considering ODF support, perhaps even working on it. If someone was able to confirm this, it would have a catastrophic effect on OOXML amid the crucial BRM, which leaves another month for decisions to be made (or changed).

The man who said that Microsoft would inevitably support ODF (he said this about half a year ago) comments further.

Microsoft is an adjudicated monopoly in the United States. The EU continues to investigate possible abuse of their market dominance. (Market leadership and innovation are not what’s being punished, but rather the abuse of a dominant position.) Microsoft can complain all they want, but the practices that enabled their success continue to plague them. We cannot collectively rewrite history. Microsoft is indeed held to a different measure. They have forfeited some of the freedoms that other companies enjoy. In many ways, they have lost our trust.

One can not judge Microsoft’s newly declared preference for “openness” against the work they’ve done promoting their own product specification, but against their continued refusal to adopt ODF. In the end, OOXML as an ISO standard (with its attendant market confusion) will best serve the needs of Microsoft over its customers, and that’s a shame.

On numerous occasions before, Google openly expressed its objections to OOXML. Here is Google doing it again — quite strategically in fact — at the very same time as the BRM, which is a farce anyway [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Currently, the technology industry is evaluating a proposed ISO standard for document formats. Given the importance of a workable standard, Microsoft’s submission of Office Open XML (OOXML ) as an additional international standard has caught the attention of many. In September 2007, the original request to ISO was defeated. After further technical analysis of the specification along with all the additional data available on OOXML, Google believes OOXML would be an insufficient and unnecessary standard, designed purely around the needs of Microsoft Office.

Bob Sutor has made his slides available to stress the importance of standard quality.

I’m speaking in Geneva this morning at the Open Forum Europe Conference “Standards and the Future of the Internet.” Here are the slides I’m using: “Raising the Quality Threshold of Standards Development” in PDF format.

Despite the secrecy of the BRM in Geneva, quite a lot is happening and the press remains very active. Everyone seems to hate OOXML, except Microsoft and its business partners, of course.

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