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06.13.08

ODF News Roundup: More Power to the International Standard

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 5:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

To those keeping abreast of ODF news, here are some articles of interest. Remember that open standards, not brute-force market penetration with binary codecs (i.e. short-term compromises and concessions), are likely bring Free software to the mainstream desktop. GNU/Linux must compete based on its own merits rather than the ability to successfully mimic (and this depend on) other parties, in which case it becomes another Mac OS X.

ODF = Free Software; OOXML = Non-Free Software

Here is a very long article from ETYTimes. In concludes with:

Thus, as it may seem to many, it’s not a matter of choosing between ODF and the ISO-approved OOXML anymore — it’s a choice between open and closed source technologies now. What will customers like the government choose?

Of course, OOXML was made incompatible with Free software. As Groklaw pointed out a couple of days ago while citing the Red Hat settlement, “those who claim the GPL isolates itself from standards bodies’ IP pledges are wrong. It is possible to come up with language that satisfies the GPL and still acknowledges patents, and this is the proof. That means Microsoft could do it for OOXML if it wanted to. So who is isolating whom?”

One Standard to Rule Them All

Here is another interesting article from The Inquirer.

ONLY ONE STANDARD type of electronic document will survive the struggle for supremacy between convicted monopolist Microsoft and the Open Source movement, said the world’s leading standards regulator.

[...]

The ISO’s decision in April, along with fellow aedile the International Electrotecnical Commission, to award Microsoft’s OOXML document standard an international certification was tarnished by something of a revolt led by supporters of ODF, a standard that had already been certified. Amidst international appeals, a street protest, law suit and a European Commission anti-trust investigation, the New York state government said the two standards were both as bad as each other.

[...]

OOXML’s role in shoring up Microsoft’s dominant market position is not only the subject of an EC investigation, but the subject of a long-running disagreement with the UK’s education sector and the substance of appeals made to the ISO about its certification. NY state said that Microsoft itself had suggested the ISO merge OOXML and ODF into one format, on the eve of the ISO meeting that endorsed the software giant’s standard.

Microsoft was unavailable to comment. So was the IEC.

This suggests that Microsoft was never supposed to have gone its separate way. It should have embraced the already-existent standard. It was invited, but it declined. It turned down an offer to establish an industry standard because it relies on vendor lock-in.

The High Cost of Justice

It’s still sad to find that the price of justice stands in the way of UKUUG. Should the system not correct its own abuses at its own expense?

Chairman for the group Alain Williams was clearly disappointed to announce the group does not have enough money – they need about £50,000 ($98,000US) – to cover the costs of their action. The UKUUG was looking for the High Court to consider that the British Standards Institution (BSI) had no grounds to vote in support of Microsoft at the International Standards Organisation.

Google for the International Standard

Google seems to be doing some promotional work, this time for OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org Training at Google New York

On June 5, 2008, a new model of technology training was tried out. It was inspired by the “unconference” and “camp” models of technology conferences, and we called it an “untraining.” It was designed to be created by the participants, where they would work together to learn what they needed to know.

OpenOffice.org Can Make ODF a de Facto Standard

Here is another interesting observation. This ought to explain why Microsoft fights so aggressively for large markets such as the one in India (possibly costing it its leadership.

As Schwartz writes, “Where is OpenOffice.org deployed in the greatest numbers? In places where saving $300 per desktop is meaningful.” If you take this view, as emerging markets become an increasingly important customer base for the technology industry, open standards such as the ODF (Open Document Format) used by OpenOffice.org will almost certainly become de facto standards, as well.

ODF Alliance and Europe

Last but not least, let’s remember that the European Commission sidles with open standards now. It expresses this preference very openly. The Managing Director of the ODF Alliance has responded to this.

“The end is near for the era of public information being locked-in a closed format,” said Marino Marcich, Managing Director of the ODF Alliance, in response to Kroes’ comments made June 10th in a speech before OpenForum Europe. “The OpenDocument Format, with its status as the only internationally recognized open standard document format with a wide range of supporting applications, is a critical tool for governments to help end the era of lock-in.”

The future, overall, seems bright for ODF.

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