Bonum Certa Men Certa

OOXML/ODF: Why Everyone Must Care

Dennis Byron, who once criticised me for being too passionate, truly disappoints with a rather poor piece. It elegantly demonstrates the intersection between the Microsoft "me against the world" strand of thinking and other tendencies that revolve around personal greed.

Watch this appalling short article.

Microsoft Continues to Waste Shareholder Value on Standards


But Microsoft (MSFT) continues to waste shareholder value on standards too, trying to placate Brussels. It’s a bunch of European academics trying to dictate that the little thing that turns on the automatic windshield washer in your car always be on the left hand side of the steering column… from the same people who cannot agree on where the steering column should be in the cabin. Or what side of the road to drive on.

Dennis is strongly advised to read:

  1. Think standards are boring? Think again!

  2. File formats: approaching the freedom crossroad

Red Hat has also just published a good short article about this question:

OOXML: Why the debate?


OOXML–despite its complexity–is not currently well-defined enough to be fully implementable. It would take a great deal of time to resolve all of the issues that have been identified, and the current ballot resolution process simply does not provide enough time to fix these issues and create a truly open standard that all vendors can implement.

Without decent standards, where would the world be? This debate goes a long way back and a classic example of it is the acceptance of consistency in the railroads system.

Here is another good piece which Petreley sent for us to share. It comes at a very good time.

Who Cares About OOXML?


It is equally important that the third party application supports OOXML without having to license anything from Microsoft. If any third party depends on Microsoft for its support of this so-called standard, the standard no longer has any practical value. As long as Microsoft builds into its so-called standard the power to eliminate competitors, the practical value of having disparate sources supporting said standard is nil. There is no practical value of having disparate sources support a standard if, with the flick of a patent claim or lawsuit, Microsoft can eliminate those other disparate sources.

In conclusion, anyone who really understands the value of openness and open standards doesn’t even need to pay attention to the soap opera saga of OOXML and the ISO. For the foreseeable future, OOXML should be off limits based on principle alone, no matter what the ISO decides.

The following quote nicely illustrates Microsoft's long-held view on standards.

"We want to own these standards, so we should not participate in standards groups. Rather, we should call 'to me' to the industry and set a standard that works now and is for everyone's benefit. We are large enough that this can work."

--Microsoft Corporation, internal memo (source [compressed PDF])

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