Bonum Certa Men Certa

Rebuttal to Rob Weir on a So-called 'OpenDocument Format Civil War'

When a series of handshakes and exchanges of money leave the 'little guy' behind

Rob Weir of IBM has just posted a lengthy reply to concerns raised by Marbux and Gary Edwards (OpenDocument Foundation). There is so much to be said to not only complement but also correct Rob's assessment, but here we shall only refer to the parts which are associated with Novell and the other relationships Microsoft has formed in order to combat ODF adoption and make ODF a second-class citizen. Rob says:

This comment manages to avoid confronting a heap of contrary facts. Microsoft supports the open source ODF Translator project on SourceForge. Sun has made their own ODF Plugin 1.1 for MS Office available for download. And Novell, along with helping with the Microsoft effort, has integrated that translator into their version of OpenOffice and has also started work on more powerful, next-generation support for OOXML. So these three companies are seeking to "limit ODF interoperability and usefulness"?


"Novell is guilty too because it accepted a lot of money to stifle -- along with Microsoft -- ODF adoption."Yes, Rob, they are in sense (excluding Sun). Jump back to 2006 when ODF had tremendous attraction. Then, come to witness how Novell's so-called endorsement (which was paid for), followed by more bought support from 3 other Linux companies (involving patent-tied extortion) changed some dynamics in the game. Come to realise that Microsoft is throwing its money all over the place to protect OOXML, which it claims is all about its financial interests. We are talking about tens of $billions here. it's not about the consumer's needs, but about Microsoft's revenue.

Novell is guilty too because it accepted a lot of money to stifle -- along with Microsoft -- ODF adoption. The same applies to Linspire and Xandros. Let's not even get started wiith that comment from a Novell VP about OOXML being a "superb standard.". Never mind the fraudulent activity that fuels OOXML support... and let's not forget how Microsoft has pressured people out of their jobs for 'daring' to support ODF and serve the needs of the citizens. This type of behavior possibly continues to this date.

Then, Rob says:

They sure have a clever way of disguising their intent. To the ordinary bystander, writing conversion and translation code to allow documents to be shared between OpenOffice and MS Office, would be seen as a pro-interoperability statement. But thanks to the OpenDocument Foundation's in-depth sleuthing, we now know that the opposite is true. Not!


Microsoft was invited to properly support the international standard. Instead, it chose to 'buy' support for another route which leaves us in the same mess that ODF was intended to resolve. One single universal format is needed. It is needed. Until the proprietary one becomes deprecated, there is no chance whatsoever of achieving interoperability. Rob knows this. He even stressed this before. So why are so-called converters and manipulation in the ISO perceived as a route that can somehow be embraced? Time warp back to 2006... we were never supposed to be in this situation in the first place. It is exactly the same story when it comes to the Web and Samba. We wrote about this just hours ago and included examples. To an extent, the same goes for SOA and a variety of other attempted hijacks.

Rob proceeds:

Although I have serious doubts as to long-term technical feasibility of some of these endeavors, they do have the advantage of showing real, running code working with real, running applications. They may not claim 100% fidelity, but this is first-generation work and will undoubtedly improve. But they have an important advantage over the Foundation's DaVinci Plugin in that these other efforts demonstrably exist. Given a choice, I'll always take an open source version of partial fidelity convertor, with a reasonable architecture, over one that claims 100% fidelity, but that I can't see or touch.


Stephane could probably say a lot more about the fidelity of such converters. We could probably say a lot more about licensing and patent mess that are involved. This is by no means a solution and it was never intended to end up like this. It seems like a very half-blinded view on this issue. And that's just exactly the vista Microsoft wished people to have on this issue. Why be so easily fooled?

In a comment, I've expressed some more general thoughts about Rob's item as a whole.

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