03.03.08

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Updates on OpenDocument Format in Europe

Posted in Europe, Formats, Google, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 2:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We recently summarised OOXML-related misconduct in Denmark, for the sake of those who filed a complaint to fight such abuse. It happend around the time when Jesper Stocholm, a Microsoft partner from the BRM in Geneva, engaged in some conversations with me.

A new article from InfoWorld now covers the recent developments. It ends with mentioning of the opposition.

But Denmark’s decision to support OOXML has stirred opposition. The Danish Unix Systems User Group (DKUUG) has a complaint pending before the European Commission charging that support for OOXML unfairly favors Microsoft, violating European competition law.

They’re asking the Commission to nullify the Danish mandate. If local governments choose OOXML, “then there is only one company that has a fair chance,” said Keld Simonsen, vice chairman of DKUUG.

The Commission has not asked Denmark for input as of yet on the complaint. But Lebech said the complaint appears to ignore that local authorities can also use ODF.

“We want to move toward open standards, but we cannot change the public sector overnight,” he said.

Denmark plans to have a third party evaluate the decision to use both ODF and OOXML in February 2009, which could result in a change of strategy, Lebech said.

Frankly, this seems like a procrastination tactic. There is no route from OOXML to ODF, so they respond too late when the lock-in is irreversible.

Danes are encouraged to be reminded of an incident where Bill Gates blackmailed the Danish government. It’s not just Denmark that becomes prey to such abuses, as the cited item demonstrates.

Heise (from Germany) has another new article which speaks about a declaration for open standards .

The declaration addresses the latter issue in its criticism of Microsoft’s efforts to create the controversial Open Office Open XML (OOXML) specification, an alternative ISO standard to the open document format (ODF) already certified by the international standards organization. In a talk with heise online, internet pioneer Vint Cerf criticised the Redmond company, “in the Internet world we’ve learned that such things have to be nipped in the bud.” As one of the speakers at the Geneva conference, Cerf emphasised that a format would be selected and standardised within the framework of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Extensions would be agreed upon by consensus among the parties involved. The great success of the internet is based on the open standards that have been developed with this attitude.

At the same time, Cerf recalled the standardization work that he influenced to a great extent surrounding the TCP/IP internet protocol, for which a special Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB) was established in the 1970s. At that time, Microsoft did not occupy the role it does today in the computer industry; Big Blue was the heavyweight back then. “If IBM had decided not to implement TCP/IP at that time, pushing its own standard instead, the Internet wouldn’t exist,” Cerf emphasised.

The Redmonders took part in the ODF standardization process, Cerf pointed out regarding the current discussion. That they now want to do their own thing can only be explained, says the Google evangelist, by their recognition of the commercial value of net-based software and that they have a “proprietary interest” in developing such programs.

We wrote about Cerf on several occasions in the past couple of weeks [1, 2, 3, 4]. Microsoft wants him ‘muted’.

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