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Reminder: OOXML Still Seems Free Software-Hostile

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Several months ago, thanks to the SFLC it was shown that OOXML is not suitable for implementation by Microsoft's #1 competitor. A solicitor specialising in Free/open source software, Brendan Scott, has taken a look at Microsoft's reassurances and formal licence, but he is not convinced much has changed. Loose ends remain in the OOXML OSP.



One of the reasons that the GPL ignorance line was trotted out for so long might have been concern over the the SFLC’s criticism of the OSP. To put it in simple terms, the OSP does not travel with the code. So writing a (eg) GPL* implementation of an OSP covered specification in the expectation that the code may be re-used for other things (which is a cornerstone of interactions in the free software community) creates a problem. That code becomes encumbered by a patent mine which arms itself when the code is (non-conformingly) reused. At best, even with this addition to the FAQ, the OSP still fails to respect the freedom of free software implementations (whether GPL or otherwise) of covered specifications.** It is unclear, for example, what effect the “no surrender of others’ freedom” clauses of the relevant GPLs would be in the event of a successful patent action against a non-conforming implementation.


Here is another good article about bad OOXML. The headline, which poses a question, is overly optimistic, but the body is a concise and accurate summary of recent developments.

Is Microsoft's Office Open XML a functional standard, and if not, why is it being rushed through the process?

Microsoft's problems with OOXML just won't go away. MS-OOXML was supposed to supplant the Open Document Format (ODF), but is becoming an embarrassment. As a format it betrays its hurried origins, and is over-complex. At best, it has technical problems. At worst, it is barely fit for purpose.

Questions are being asked in Europe about the way that Microsoft went about the standardisation process. At least four countries have succeeded in having their objections raised to the fast-tracking of OOXML through the International Standards Organisation (ISO), and as a consequence, the ISO has put the standard on hold, at least for the time being.

Microsoft has no date for implementing OOXML on its own platform, but has agreed to implement the rival ODF format on Microsoft Office. Microsoft has given its blessings to ODF by joining the OASIS committees, and to cap it all, a senior Microsoft spokesman has conceded that "ODF has clearly won".

Clearly, there is a pressing need for an open standard for document formats. Documents that can be shared across platforms, across products, and across time. The solution to the problem is ODF, which was created by a technical committee of the OASIS industry consortium and has benefited from industry wide participation in its development. ODF gained acceptance as an ISO standard in May 2006.


Some time this month, having already coped with leaks, ISO will probably confirm that it has lost its dignity by permitting itself to be exploited by Microsoft for self benefit.

ISO Sold Out to ECMA

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