08.14.08

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Novell: From OOXML Opposer to OOXML Embracer (a Post-Sellout Novell)

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 8:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…While another state officially moves to OOo/ODF

Novell supports OOXML simply because it's contractually obliged to do so. It made itself a slave of Microsoft in exchange for money. Watch what Novell’s Web site said about data formats before signing the deal that nuked criticism of Microsoft (Web pages disappeared or got replaced).

From the site, like it used to be until ca. 2006:

“Why all the fuss? Modern governments generate a vast number of digital files. From birth certificates and tax returns to criminal DNA records, the documents must be retrievable in perpetuity. So governments are reluctant to store official records in the proprietary formats of commercial-software vendors. This concern will only increase as e-government services, such as filing a tax return or applying for a driving licence online, gain momentum. In Microsoft’s case, security flaws in its software, such as those exploited by the recent Blaster and SoBig viruses, are also a cause of increasing concern.”

Amen to what used to be one of Novell’s brightest moments.

That explains why OOXML is so dangerous (and why decision makers should read that 1,600+ paper about its internals before deploying it), and it explains why we should rather use ODF instead.

He mentions security, which indeed may be a problem.

In the above, Wolfgang Lonien uses the Munich example. Watch this about SoftMaker Office 2008

Beim Einlesen und Exportieren von OpenDocument-Dateien bleiben Zeilennummerierungen erhalten.

The case study of Munich aside, the big new conversion comes from Malaysia again (arguably a ‘domino effect’). The State of Kedah embraces ODF and Free software.

A case study submitted to the Open Source Competency Center by the Center of Information Technology, Office of the Chief Minister and State Secretary of Kedah, has indicated that OpenOffice.org has been installed in 70% of the computers in the Kedah state government agencies. There are currently 2,202 installed seats and by the looks of it, the numbers will just keep rising!

Should it therefore be surprising that Bob Sutor suggests OOXML is a dead-end format?

During the LinuxWorld Expo in San Francisco, I met with Bob Sutor, IBM’s vice president of open source and standards. We discussed document standards and the implications of ISO’s controversial decision to grant fast-track approval to Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format.

Allegations of procedural irregularities in the OOXML approval process have raised serious questions about the integrity of ISO. Some national standards bodies complained that their views were disregarded or ignored during the OOXML ballot resolution meeting because of unreasonable time constraints. Some critics fear that the problems that arose during the ISO evaluation of OOXML will contribute to disillusionment and apathy towards open standards.

[...]

I asked him if he thinks that ISO approval of OOXML will drive implementors and adopters away from ODF. He has seen no evidence of such a trend and argued that uptake of OOXML has been slow. He claimed that the complexity of the standard has deterred acceptance and said that Microsoft’s next-generation office suite hasn’t significantly accelerated usage of OOXML in the wild. The vast majority of existing documents are already in the old binary formats and he contends that many users of Office 2007 still save new documents in the binary formats to accommodate compatibility with the older version. He thinks that implementors want to tap into that massive legacy document base and don’t see much value yet in supporting OOXML in their software.

More about these latest events here:

Government officials often point out how cheap licenses have become. Better competition drives the margins down. Good for Yoon Kit and his Schadenfreude humour. Good for Yoon Kit as a tax payer. Good or bad for business? That depends on your interests. From a procurement perspective you need to avoid all vendor dependencies, reduce procurement costs and put the vendor in chains if you can. A behaviour as moral or immoral as when you are on the sales side and attempt the opposite. Microsoft early understood the need to regard interoperability control as crucial for its business. The awareness among procurement agencies is on the rise to pay similar attention to the strategic importance of procurement policies and interoperability promotion. But also on the sales side of the medal it is a fight between one and many.

it is true that OOXML faces some high barriers now . But… remember what Microsoft’s Mahugh said in Malaysia about OOXML (in the Fast Track):

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

Selfishness is passé. Novell’s gradual demise is proof of this.

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