Bonum Certa Men Certa

ODF Progress Made, OOXML Still Ruled Illegal in the United States

"In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this."

--Bill Gates [PDF]



Summary: Heaps of news and observations regarding document formats

Standards are the key to ensuring that different applications of the same class can communicate with one another. "Interoperability" is not a solution but a mere compromise that sometimes results from independent standards being developed separately, which then makes them mutually incompatible.



ODF is the only real international standard for document exchange. Microsoft's borderline criminal behaviour has made OOXML somewhat of a laughing stock as far as standards are concerned because everyone knows that OOXML is as proprietary as it can get.

Microsoft's stubbornness did not pay off because ODF is alive and all, and a new Web site has just been set up for the ODF Plugfest. We wrote about this annual event in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 9 10] and the next one gets a date:

Date: 2 Nov 2009 - 09:30 - 3 Nov 2009 - 18:00


Also newsworthy is this new artwork gallery for ODF. It comes as an add-on to OpenOffice.org and to quote from the page, "This extension add one theme to your gallery with more than 100 signs dealing with security, not as bitmap but as vector graphic in ODF format : you may modify them or retrieve some parts to build your own signs."

Paul Thurrott, who is known for his affinity and relationship with Microsoft, already does some spinning on the issue of "interoperability". But based on this post, Sam Dean went on to establish a good picture of how regulators must view Microsoft's "interoperability" posturing.

Why is it that only The European Commission seems to be taking a really tough stance against these types of file format lock-in practices? As we reported here, last year European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes took a very tough stance in calling for governments throughout Europe to use open source software and adopt open standards.


Bill Gates is against proper interoperability, whereas some of those beneath him apparently did want to open up. So it's quite likely a leadership problem. Microsoft cannot even properly support ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], but it keeps pretending that it can. Similar OOXML-sympathetic spin finally arrives from Fraunhofer, whose relationship with Microsoft we wrote about in here (and most recently mentioned here).

The spin has proven to be effective so far. "Nice to know that Microsoft Office now support ODF format natively starting from Office 2007 Service Pack 2," wrote someone in Twitter a short while ago. But it's MSODF, not ODF. Another person has just written :"The biggest barrier I feel towards MS is the constant putting profits over what is good for the user. Good example is Docx vs ODF." There is now a whole new book on the subject of format wars.

After the ODF-OOXML was, here comes another potential Format War – this time for e-Books: “Format War Clouds E-Book Horizon“, titles the Wall Street Journal.


The vibrant discussion about the Microsoft Word ban [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] carries on. One person writes: "Microsoft is tasting their own menace ... if they had, but work with ODF, they will have a more peaceful sleep and be... http://bit.ly/TMDqE"

Few people realise just what Microsoft did to i4i. As quoted by GCN:

"The suit is not about file formats, and the verdict has no implications for Open XML,” Kutz added. “It is about the way Microsoft Word handles certain kinds of code. In addition, the particular Custom XML functionality at issue is not used by most customers."


To quote from another new article, "Microsoft knew of the patent held by i4i as early as 2001, but instead set out to make the Canadian developer's software "obsolete" by adding a feature to Word, according to court documents."

Moreover:

"We saw [i4i's products] some time ago, and met its creators," said Sawicki in the Jan. 23, 2003, e-mail. "Word 11 will make it obsolete. It looks great for XP though." Word 11 was the in-development code name for what was eventually dubbed Word 2003.

[...]

"My main concern with i4i is that if we do the work properly, there won't be a need for their product," stated another internal Microsoft e-mail submitted into evidence.


"Why did Microsoft meet with i4i," asks one of our readers. "For what purpose? Is there a precedent for Microsoft getting a look-see at a company's offering, under the guise of 'partnering' only to later on announce the self same functionality appearing in a new Microsoft innovative product?"

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