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Microsoft OOXML Gets Fragmented Based on Geography



Summary: OOXML to behave differently and have a different function depending on where one buys Microsoft Office

Microsoft is not giving up in the i4i case, but interestingly enough, while Cliff Saran from the UK claims that Microsoft is removing custom tags, ZDNet UK indicates that this removal won't happen in the UK. Software patents are invalid in the UK and the injunction is based in the US (i4i exports its products from Canada).



An update to Microsoft Word that will remove some XML functionality will not be provided to British users, Microsoft has confirmed.


Since OOXML is a format and not a standard (it is a new name given to Microsoft's proprietary format in Office), the above is interesting. UK users of Office will have XML functionality that their peers in the US are missing. This increases fragmentation and thus it introduces incompatibility.

Here is the reason Microsoft is doing it. This is a matter of urgency.

Microsoft on Wednesday posted an update for Word 2007 that ditches the custom XML tagging technology a federal court banned the company from including in its software after Jan. 10.


CIO Weblog writes about this debacle in a post titled "Patent roulette":

Industry observers have expressed concern over the proliferation of software process patents since they became generally accepted in the mid-nineties, and some of the most egregious abusers of the over-burdened system have been the large, lawyered-up industry giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft. The recent spectacle of Microsoft being hoisted by its own petard has provoked considerable glee in some circles, but that's not why I find it interesting. Rather, it illustrates that, increasingly, conventional on-premises software is becoming just another subset of Software as a Service (SaaS).


IT Business (from Canada, just like i4i) goes further and says that this may provide reasons to move to Free software and abandon Microsoft Office for good:

I also find it more than a little funny to see how Microsoft was crying about how unfair it all was not just to Microsoft but, as Microsoft's lawyers put it at the time, to all the little people out there "who require new copies of Office and Word would be stranded without an alternative set of software." Microsoft's attorneys also claimed that the situation would be a "major public disruption," and would "have an effect on the public due to the public's undisputed and enormous reliance on those products."

Cry me a river. OpenOffice works just fine and it's free to boot.


Yes, this was argued several times before. Microsoft is very arrogant when it comes to its market position. There are more details about it in Law.com, but nothing terribly exciting.

"The reality is that we already have two OOXML variants, and two more are coming when Office 2009 ships: OOXML 1.0 (i.e. ECMA 376 today); Office 2007 (i.e. OOXML 1.0 + all undocumented bits + all fixes); OOXML 1.1 (whatever is the outcome of Feb’s BRM); Office 2009 (OOXML 1.1 + undocumented bits)"

--Stephane Rodriguez

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