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Office Open XML (OOXML): Software Patents, Briberies, Binaries, O/S-dependent Bits

Yesterday we wrote about patent traps in OOXML. To illustrate the severity of this issue, consider the following OOXML (Office Open XML) patent. Its description is: Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML. Here is the abstract:

A word processor including a native XML file format is provided. The well formed XML file fully represents the word-processor document, and fully supports 100% of word-processor's rich formatting. There are no feature losses when saving the word-processor documents as XML. A published XSD file defines all the rules behind the word-processor's XML file format. Hints may be provided within the XML associated files providing applications that understand XML a shortcut to understanding some of the features provided by the word-processor. The word-processing document is stored in a single XML file. Additionally, manipulation of word-processing documents may be done on computing devices that do not include the word-processor itself.


So, it would seem as though a fundamental part of OOXML is patented. Although Microsoft has made a pledge not to sue those using or implementing OOXML (with contradictions in deed), in order to implement this properly, it would have to function similarly to Microsoft Office 2007. Then, this particular patent would come into play: US7257772 (B1) [PDF]. As stated several times before, there is plenty of information about patent threats that Microsoft won't talk about. It's actually much worse. Consider many of the deficiencies and dead ends that are hidden somewhere among 6,000+ pages of poor specifications. For example, have a look at this comment that was posted by Andrew Mason a couple of weeks ago:

For OOXML to become a standard it is unacceptable to have OS dependant binary formats.


Here is another example:

Just-fix-it; however, there is an underlying problem here — the proposal is intimately tied to a particular implementation (by MS), and is impossible to implement, or even describe, without reference to it.


Thanks to an anonymous reader for the headsup on these.

This brings us to Novell. There will never be trust as long as a Vice President of theirs continues to push for acceptance of OOXML. Microsoft will continue to use Novell as 'proof' that OOXML is accepted by Free software users and developers. Miguel de Icaza, for example, rebuts those who advocate truly free and open standards. Stephane Rodriguez had this to say some months ago:

As for Miguel's pseudo-rebuttal, perhaps it's time to ask yourself two things :

1) Can you rebutt real examples? I think you can rebutt statements like "we are open and transparent", but I don't think you can rebutt real examples.

2) Miguel works for Microsoft (he thinks it's a pride not to be officially on MS payroll, nevermind the bulk of Novell revenues are a direct influx from MS). But can you guess the retaliation if he said anything negative about this stuff? You have to admit it, he's got no freedom in speech in that very area, plus Microsoft is using him as a tool to break the open source community apart.


As stated on numerous occasions in the past, Novell helps OOXML (it must) and it is therefore a threat to OpenDocument format. OOXML is just a tool for fighting ODF. It's the same proprietary (and partly binary) format restructured. Its only momentum comes from briberies and other means of manipulation. Some of this manipulation is well documented, unlike OOXML which is not.

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