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Novell Shoots Down International Standards, Gives Control to Microsoft

Microsoft's Open XML format has a poisonous nature. There is little or no question about it. The highly respectable Bob Sutor explains why.

Who will implement Open XML correctly and fully? Maybe Microsoft. Why? Since it is essentially a dump into XML of all the data needed for all the functionality of their Office products and since those products are proprietary, only they will understand any nuances that go beyond the spec. The spec may illuminate some of the mistakes that have been made and are now being written into a so called standard for all to have to implement, but I'm guessing there might be a few other shades of meaning that will not be clear. Fully and correctly implementing Open XML will require the cloning of a large portion of Microsoft's product. Best of luck doing that, especially since they have over a decade head start. Also, since they have avoided using industry standards like SVG and MathML, you'll have to reimplement Microsoft's flavor of many things. You had better start now. So therefore I conclude that while Microsoft may end up supporting most of Open XML (and we'll have to see the final products to see how much and how correctly), other products will likely only end up supporting a subset.


Several hours ago, Novell announced, in the form of a press release, that it would support Open XML in OpenOffice. Why on earth would Novell boast about it? Is it a Microsoft press release? Just like Corel, which previously fell victim to a Microsoft deal and some time afterwards dropped WordPerfect support for GNU/Linux, Novell is helping Microsoft sabotage OpenDocument adoption. OpenDocument is the ISO standard which is recognised by various office suites.

As a result of this mishap, Microsoft will continue to offer ODF support as a semi-functional plug-in for Office 2007. Novell's move gives backing to this loose 'support', despite its promise to preserve the status of ODF format. Sadly, this type of strategy has the same effect on the EU's antitrust ruling.

This is by no means shocking anymore. Not so long ago, Novell carried a joint full page advert in the UK Financial Times (paid for by Microsoft), which boasted patent protection (in a country where such patents are illegal). This leads to confusions and develops Linux misconceptions/myths, which Microsoft tried to encourage and reinforce.

Thank you, Novell, for helping Microsoft control and manipulate a standard while changing public perception. In other news, Novell continues with the 'chair shuffle'. I can only imagine, based on several such stories, that they have been losing some staff recently. They are quite likely in the process or reorganisation amid the departure of betrayed developers and angry customers.

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