Wired News: MSFT OOXML Winning

Friday, 2007-January-05 at 11:50

According to an article in Wired, Microsoft's Office 2007 is likely to drive OOXML acceptance, although the battle for dominance versus ODF is not yet decided.

Office 2007, due out Jan. 30, is a crucial product release for the software giant. Its Office franchise — Microsoft’s second-biggest cash cow behind Windows — is facing greater competition than ever before from open-source and web-based rivals. Even more importantly, the update is being billed as the “killer app” for Windows Vista, its long-overdue operating system overhaul. It is no overstatement to say that the future of the company hinges on the success of these two products.

The article has an interesting piece of disinformation from Microsoft's point man in fighting ODF adoption in Massachusetts:

“The ODF format is limited to the features of OpenOffice and StarOffice,” says [Microsoft's Alan] Yates in reference to two popular open-source office suites, “and would not satisfy most of our Microsoft Office customers today.”

The article, which mistakes "open standards" for "open source", goes on to describe the use of OOXML as the default format as a tool to propel that format ahead of the more application-independent ODF.  It admits that the success of that tactic has not yet been determined, as governments (a major customer for the office suite market) have started asking for ODF compliance.

Aside from an obvious lack of deeper research to gain understanding of the subject being presented, a problem that is evident in mainstream print and broadcast media as well, the article does provide an assessment of the chances of MSFT's office suite's chances in the near future.

Needed corrections:

  1. OpenDocument Foundation does not control the format, OASIS does.
  2. The OOXML file format is a more or less "open standard" file format, but it is not open source, and there are questions about whether open source and proprietary competitors will even be able to correctly implement it.
  3. Alan Yates' statement should have been brought to someone from OASIS for comment.  The reason OOo uses the format is, "[We] decided to develop an XML file format for office applications that ensures interoperability and long-time access to documents, and that may be used by other office applications as well…. This meant that the work on the OpenOffice.org XML file format itself was abandoned and instead a file format was developed in an OASIS technical committee, but on the basis of the OpenOffice.org XML file format."

This article's headline differs from its content, that is namely that while OOXML will achieve market penetration, it is not likely to extinguish ODF from its most lucrative markets

In my opinion, it is likely that there will have to be an update to install full ODF-compliance as a native option in Microsoft's office applications in two to three years.  Sadly, they could do the work in a month, if they chose to do so, and could have done it already.

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Entry filed under: ODF, Software, XML.

Is OOXML Really Open? Further Info On ODF, OOXML

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