Jeremy Allison: “Go on. Eat a bug. Go on. Go on. Here’s some money. Eat a bug.” (context)
It did not matter if people insisted that Apache by no means supports OOXML [1, 2]. Microsoft had already had a story manufactured and a press release planned for delivery. The story Microsoft needed to pass on is this.
Microsoft has announced that it will – with a European partner – contribute to an open-source project for reading and writing Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Visio files.
The Apache POI API is already used by various open source projects to handle Microsoft Office documents, but work is needed to add Office Open XML support as used by Office 2007 and 2008.
This Apache thing was a ‘plant’ job. Only yesterday in fact, Microsoft even bothered to announce this to the world using a fancy press release with promotional language. It uses a ‘partner’ to do the job.
All in all, what we have here is compliance by force-feeding. When you don’t want OOXML, Microsoft will shove it down your throat and call it a voluntary contribution. Here are Glyn Moody’s remarks on Microsoft’s attempt to avoid the real standard at all costs. He concludes with the truth that Microsoft strives to hide (confusing choice of applications with choice of standards):
Multiple implementations of a single standard are a good thing, because they encourage competition between products that can be swapped in and out easily. This puts users firmly in control, and makes software suppliers responsive to their needs. Multiple standards for a given domain such as document formats are a bad thing, because you cannot move easily between them as a result of high switching costs. They are likely to reduce the pool of potential competitors for each standard, since not every company can support every standard. Less competition encourages lazy programming and lock-in by suppliers who know that users are unlikely to make the huge effort to move to a totally different standard.
Why is Microsoft so allergic that standards that are vendor-neutral? █
“Microsoft looks at new ideas, they don’t evaluate whether the idea will move the industry forward, they ask, ‘how will it help us sell more copies of Windows?’”
–Bill Gates, The Seattle Weekly, (April 30, 1998)