Bonum Certa Men Certa

Federal Appeals Court Deals Blow to OOXML as This Proprietary Microsoft Format Becomes Increasingly Irrelevant

"ISO is dead for software standards. Do you need an official funeral?"

--Benjamin Henrion, FFII



Summary: This past week of Document Freedom brings even more abysmal news for Microsoft's corruption-riddled response to ODF (OpenDocument Format)

LAST NIGHT we wrote about attempts being made by Alex Brown to pass the blame to Microsoft, having actually helped Microsoft be where they are. What a fox. Does he really believe that people will forget what he did to promote OOXML while serving as a supposedly-independent participant [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21]? Tim Anderson, a longtime Microsoft booster, has mentioned Brown's mea culpa and so did Andy Updegrove, who apparently foresees failure for OOXML.



In reviewing my RSS feed this morning, I found this interesting blog entry by Alex Brown, titled Microsoft Fails the Standards Test. In it, Alex makes a number of statements, and reaches a number of conclusions, that are likely to startle those that followed the ODF-OOXML saga. The bottom line? Alex thinks that Microsoft has failed to fulfill crucial promises upon which the approval of OOXML was based. He concludes that unless Microsoft reverses course promptly, “the entire OOXML project is now surely heading for failure.”

Wow.


Andy Oram points out in the comments: "The OOXML battle is no joke; it had serious repercussions throughout the public setting. Microsoft launched its OOXML campaign in the mid-2000s at a time when several countries and US states (notably the state Andrew and I live in, Massachusetts) made real efforts to move to ODF for the public good. The fake standardization of OOXML helped Microsoft's propaganda campaign to keep MS Office in government use, although I'm sure it wasn't the critical factor. The movement failed and history has moved on. Microsoft avoided the loss of customers and the PR boost open source could have achieved had ODF gotten into government agencies. Now the question is whether desktop office tools will be replaced by Software as a Service, so there's little point in refighting the old battle. But open formats are more important than ever, and the new power of the movement for transparent government can correct the historical grievance."

“The fake standardization of OOXML helped Microsoft's propaganda campaign to keep MS Office in government use, although I'm sure it wasn't the critical factor.”
      --Andy Oram, O'Reilly
As we pointed out before, fragmentation issues already plague OOXML (there have always been too many Microsoft implementations, none of which complied with the specifications). These are further exacerbated by the i4i case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], which revealed that Microsoft had hidden software patents affecting OOXML.

Some sources have spoken about a potential appeal in the i4i case (or a settlement), but OOXML seems to be dead in the water at least as a 'standard' because the i4i ruling is final, based on Reuters.

A federal appeals court denied on Thursday Microsoft Corp's request that a full panel of judges rehear arguments in its long-running patent dispute with a small Canadian technology company.


 

One of the more troubling patent rulings in the past year involved a Canadian company, i4i, that held a patent (5,787,449) that appears to broadly (very broadly) cover editing a custom XML document, separate from the presentation layer of a document.


The 5th anniversary of ODF is less than a month away. From Rob Weir's Web log:

We’ll be hitting a significant date next month. It was on May 1st, 2005 that Open Document Format (ODF) 1.0 was approved by OASIS.

I hope we can all take time to reflect on far we’ve gone, with the specification itself, with the quality and diversity of implementations and with world-wide adoption.


A lot of coverage about "Document Freedom" has appeared over the past week (included in our daily links), which is evidence of continued momentum for a real standard that everyone can use and many vendors have already implemented. According to this new gem from Glyn Moody, Tim Berners-Lee refuses to accept Microsoft Office files.

We all knew that Sir Tim was a total star, choosing to give away the Web rather than try to make oodles of billions from it. Some of us even knew that he contemplated using the GNU GPL for its licence, before being persuaded that placing it in the public domain would help it spread faster.


Tim Berners-Lee is also against software patents.

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