Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Open Letter: Interoperability, Choice and Open XML

Here's an interesting read from Microsoft.

the campaign to block consideration of Open XML could create a dynamic where the first technology to the standards body, regardless of technical merit, gets to preclude other related ones from being considered.

That's an excellent point. Seems like Microsoft is actually doing a good thing by opening it's document format.

On December 7th, Ecma approved the adoption of Open XML as an international open standard. The vote was nearly unanimous; of the 21 members, IBM’s was the sole dissenting vote. IBM again was the lone dissenter when Ecma also agreed to submit Open XML as a standard for ratification by ISO/IEC JTC1...The IBM driven effort to force ODF on users through public procurement mandates is a further attempt to restrict choice.

Sounds like IBM may be in the wrong on this.

We have listened to our customers. They want choice. They want interoperability. They want innovation. We and others believe that Open XML achieves all these goals, and we look forward to supporting Ecma as it works positively with national standards bodies throughout the ISO/IEC process. See for an indication of some of the support for Open XML and for more information on the rapidly growing community that is developing with the Ecma Open XML standard.

Seems as if Microsoft owns this site (they own the copyright, NS1.MSFT.NET is the authoritative name server). So I don't know if I buy this quote. And I think this lack of independent support community is a systemic problem for Microsoft.

In the end, I guess I don't have all the info, but maybe supporting Microsoft opening it's formats, protocols, and processes is a good thing.


Anonymous said...

The point is that Microsoft is not actually opening the standard, even though they are claiming they are. What they are trying to get ratified as a standard is thousands of pages long, massively unclear, and most importantly, lacks a publicly available reference implementation, so people can see, in code, how it works. Open Document Format has a number of separate implementations, many of whose code is publicly available. That's the critical point, and what Microsoft is trying to obscure and confuse.

Hope this provides some information. Sorry for the lack of supporting links, maybe someone else commenting can help with that.

Nick said...

Here's a balanced article from Ars Technica that starts to analyze the issue.

This pretty much echos what anonymous says above. Although it sounds like Sun is already working on an Excel Open XML converter.