Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why ODF and Why Not OOXML

Novell seems to have already made up its mind. Since it is financially-dependent on Microsoft and its deal with Microsoft strictly requires it to become a slave of OOXML, Novell is a lost case. Fortunately, there is more to this world than companies that sell out, take a large bag of cash, and betray their suppliers (programmers).

Looking beyond Novell and other similar sellouts, let us consider reasons to shun OOXML. Erwin Tenhumberg wrote about elimination of the 'software tax', referring to the business model on which Microsoft Office and its siblings are based.

European governments, in particular, have spent billions of dollars every year in “software taxes” – in the form of licensing fees – all for the right to continue to use proprietary document formats that don’t allow implementation of alternative programs, and ultimately restrict access to government documents by citizens who do not have the licensed software. As a result, governments have been forced to continue using the same program, and in business, we call that a “barrier to exit.”

So, imagine receiving and opening a document, having the ability to read and edit that document, all from a program different from that in which it was created. Now imagine being able to send that document to anyone in the world. That is the goal of the OpenDocument Format (ODF).


Stephane has posted a very comprehensive technical breakdown of OOXML, showing how it breaks down (literally almost, with "self-exploding" spreadsheets).

The Microsoft Office product team rationale for designing such a poorly engineered file format known as OOXML is that, according to public statements they made, they do this not because they want to advance the state of the art in Office document models, but rather because they have to bring the two-decade worth of legacy and bugged if not broken features into the future.

They have a commercial reason to do so. According to their numbers, there is a 400,000,000 user install base. But with the introduction of the new file format OOXML and the accompanying application that they rushed out the door in order to ship in line with Windows Vista, is it true that Office 2007 is Microsoft's best thing since sliced bread when it comes to compatibility?


Steve Ballmer on ODFEveryone attending the BRM in Geneva, including the many Microsoft employees, clueless proxies and business partners, ought to read this in order to find out what it is that they actually vote on. Clearly, the meeting will be very political, so all these inconvenient technical truths will not bother many of the attendants who are there to slow down the momentum of ODF (that's just what OOXML is all about).

If case you do not know why the BRM in Geneva is misguided, read our previous posts [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It's looking like another sellout, just like in Novell's case. Here is a portion of a good comment which says why OOXML sets a bad example. This portion refers not to ethics and technical matters, but to seemingly-criminal activities that were (and still are) involved in the process.

If the way Microsoft did business is very good, right, and moral, then why not teach this to our kids in our schools? Lacking in creativity? getting bad grades? Pay off your teacher. Buy your way through school through manipulation, power, and influence. Isn't that what Microsoft has done in the real world, except they have bought their way through the government enough to dispell public scrutiny? If we let Microsoft do this, are we not doing our kids a disservice because we are not teaching them the way the world is? Maybe the correct way is not democracy, but to make as much money as possible, any way you can, buying your way through life, and forgetting people who have less power than you?


A lot more damning evidence and stories will be posted throughout the week of the BRM.

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

--Senior Microsoft Rep about OOXML

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