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Microsoft is Trying to ‘Bastardise’ ODF

Posted in Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 3:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Protest against OOXML

WHEN it comes to OOXML shills, it’s clear that they want to ruin ODF as much as they want OOXML to succeed. These two tasks are not mutually exclusive.

Last week we saw one familiar crony making his way into ODF mailing lists and this time we find another who is technically a Microsoft employee too. His mischiefs and misconduct we have already mentioned when his name came up, e.g. in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31]. We’re talking about Doug Mahugh, who earned bad reputation and is known to some people as “Elephant in the Room” for pretty much faking his identity and breaking rules in the midst of many OOXML corruptions.

It is neither secret nor news that Microsoft wants to hijack ODF [1, 2, 3, 4], potentially with the intention of applying an embrace-extend-and-extinguish routine. Well, here they are going loose on the public ODF mailing lists. Microsoft says:

I still don’t understand the intent of removing and/or deprecating support for foreign elements, however, which seems to be a direction that has only come up very recently. There are a growing number of organizations building custom solutions around those sorts of extensibility mechanisms, which allow for the best of both worlds: standards-based formatting markup for use by desktop apps (word processors, etc.), and custom markup for non-visual processing by custom systems.

I won’t belabor the reasons I think this is a good approach, but for anyone who’s interested, here are a few blog posts with more information on this topic:




I think we all agree that introduction of foreign elements can cause interoperability problems, but I’d rather see us fix those problems than give up on custom schema support altogether. The use of class attributes in microformat-tagged HTML and the use of WordprocessingML’s customXml element are both examples of approaches that allow rigorous standards-based validation without foregoing the benefits of custom schema support. It would be great if ODF 1.2 could offer similar capabilities, in my opinion.

You know that Microsoft entered a mailing list when there is no line wrapping, top-posting is practiced despite common conventions, and a flood of links to MSDN appears. Microsoft is interested in OOXML. It is also interested in ODF’s… destruction.

“It’s a Simple Matter of [Microsoft’s] Commercial Interests!“

Doug Mahugh on OOXML

Steve Ballmer on ODF

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  1. Alex Brown said,

    February 16, 2009 at 11:00 am



    I’d have thought you would hailed the inclusion of Microsoft in the ODF committees at the OASIS consortium, and declared yourself positively satisfied with this move.

    Haven’t the contributions of MSFT employees there been both useful and constructive?

    - Alex.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 16, 2009 at 11:12 am


    I know the attitude, Alex, and Weir would not be so naive.

    “We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”

    Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s Platform Group Vice President

    Smile, Alex. It might lull some chaps in the audience. Microsoft calls this strategy “schmoozing”.

  3. Needs Sunlight said,

    February 16, 2009 at 11:36 am


    @Alex: no, the “contributions” have not been useful nor constructive.

    It’s probably about time to have governments declare MSFT as a problematic political movement.

  4. Pho Developer said,

    February 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm


    Did you read the whole set of threads before you posted this Roy? What Doug appears to be proposing is something similar to the IS29500 custom schema functionality, important stuff for ODF if it is to ever advance beyond being a mid-90s file format.

    When you go through the whole archive it looks to me like Doug’s suggestion would bring ODF to a point where it would be marginally useful to developers in an enterprise environment, rather than just being a tool for those who want to interoperate (or try to interoperate) between simple office suites.

    Rob’s responses in return make very little sense, he is supposed to be a supporter of ODF, yet he seems to be doing his best to hold back functionality to a point where it suits one or more of the limited applications IBM builds in this area, I suspect he is afraid of the engineering expectations that the Symphony team would face if this type of capability made it into the ODF file format.

    One more point that you have missed… adding this type of custom schema support into ODF would kill of one of Microsoft’s arguments for why they need OpenXML.

    Reading between the lines, as somebody who has watched this debate with an open mind, I see something very positive for ODF in Doug’s suggestion.

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