Friday, August 03, 2007

OOXML Marketeers notch another "win"

As reported by Andy Updegrove "Massachusetts announced today that Ecma 376, the name given to the Microsoft Office Open XML formats following their adoption by Ecma, would be acceptable for use by the Executive Agencies of the Commonwealth." To be frank, this surprises me as Massachusetts appeared to be vehemently anti-Microsoft two years ago.

This news has been picked up on Slashdot where the discussion is raging over the Massachusetts open standards initiative failing.

What really surprises me is that this announcement comes despite uncertainty over the status of Ecma 376 within ISO/IEC JTC1. While OOXML has been approved as an Ecma standard, the push to fast-track it through ISO has bumped into negative reactions. South Africa voted against it 13-4 with Spain rejecting it by a narrower margin. There have been predictions that the fast-track status of OOXML will fail as P-members from various countries voice concern over it legitimacy.

My take? I have reservations. First, in the scope of mutable office formats for documents, there already is an open standard -- namely Open Document Format, a standard developed by OASIS. Why do we need another one? Second, there are major concerns with respect to patents in OOXML and Microsoft's apparent failure to guarantee not to sue. The failure to promise not to sue is not necessarily a show stopper by itself as it might be prudent for a company to reserve such a right in case a competitor tries to mutate the format. However, given Microsoft's past activity, this has a few people nervous.

I would love to see someone else implement OOXML and share their experiences to see if there are problems with it. To me, this will be the true litmus test.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of open standards -


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