08.23.08

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ODF vs Microsoft OOXML: Status Snapshot

Posted in DRM, Formats, GNU/Linux, Google, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 8:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some months ago we summarised examples of heavy lobbying by Microsoft. As people may be aware, especially after the Massachusetts fiasco, there was a lot of lobbying directed against ODF (and Free software, by association). The following new article from LWN goes into a few of the details. It also introduces GeekPAC, which is trying to fight fire with fire, just like the Linux Foundation. It won't work.

Last year California Assemblyman Mark Leno authored AB 1668, a bill designed to encourage the state to adopt the Open Document Format as the standard format for government documents. Not surprisingly, Microsoft came out against the bill and it was eventually struck down in committee. CollabNet Community Manager and longtime FOSS supporter John Mark Walker was angry. Realizing that the open source community had no voice during the hearings and no way to fight back against the opposition’s lobbyists, Walker decided to mobilize support from within the ranks of the FOSS community and let them do what they do best — rally behind a cause and prove once again that there’s strength in numbers. So he founded GeekPAC.

GeekPAC’s goal is to pull together enough funding — a mere $2,200 — to file the necessary paperwork to be formally recognized by the Federal Elections Committee as a Political Action Committee (PAC). Then the group will locate politicians or candidates in the House and Senate who support hot-button technology issues like copyright reform and net neutrality. Once identified, GeekPAC will help support their campaigns and lobby together for change.

For those who are wondering, the ISO story is not over yet. It’s still seen as outrageous and it continues to be discussed.

So what shall be done? Has OOXML finally won its way through the ISO? It obviously did buy its way through the ISO leadership, but there are still other ways to show the world how outrageous this process has become. Now OOXML is still left where it is: noone has seen it, or rather, many (including me) have reported to have seen it, but few, if no one, can actually say for sure where it is, as it simply has never been implemented. Conflicting reports exist about file formats called OOXML that do not seem to conform to the ISO/IEC 29500 spec. But the spec itself is rarely seen, and even more rarely witnessed as an implemented standard. Of course, it does not carry any obligation to be implemented. It’s just an ISO standard…

Regardless of all the dirty play, OpenDocument continues to be embraced. Here’s some
fresh evidence of support from Google.

The new entry is context sensitive, so it only appears when you right click supported filetypes, which include Word docs, PDFs, PowerPoint, Excel, and every Open Document format.

Not a word about OOXML.

Glyn Moody suggests that Amazon should be pressured to support ODF on the Kindle. He is not alone because similar complaints were recently made about Sony’s e-Reader/s.

As far as I am aware, there is no support for ODF. Assuming Kindle catches on, that’s going to be an increasing problem for those of us pushing ODF.

Maybe time to start a campaign for ODF support on the Kindle….

Once again, not a single word about OOXML in the cited item.

This gadget runs Linux, so it ought to at least respect open standards, as opposed to its DRM masters. Will it inevitably happen?

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