Stakes High For Microsoft In File Format Battle

Thursday, 2007-April-05 at 09:10

Linux News: Business: Microsoft Fights for Office Open XML Standard Approval

With a ballot on MSFT/ECMA Office Open XML (MEOOXML) set for August – September, Microsoft has started pushing hard to get votes in national bodies in Europe. With the way some of their bloggers are pushing a petition on the issue, the Microsoft & TechNet blogs are starting to sound like a 3 year-old in K-Mart, whining for candy.

Linux Insider writes:

The underlying code of ODF, or Open DocumentFormat, is free, without license restrictions, for all software developers to create new, compatible products. In May 2006, the world’s top standards body, the International Organization for Standardization,based in Geneva, made ODF a global standard.

However, in August, the same organization is poised to give a rival standard from Microsoft, called “Office Open XML,” the same global imprimatur, in effect creating two incompatible, supposedly universal open standards.

They go on:

Microsoft got a wake-up call over document formats in 2003 when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts became the first large government to say it would convert its digital archives to ODF’s format. Since then, eight national governments and 50 government agencies around the world have started converting part of their electronic document archives to ODF or using applications that support ODF, like document and spreadsheet software, according to Oasis.Proposals before state legislatures in California, Minnesota and Texas could also force governments to use open standard software, which could favor ODF.

That could threaten Microsoft’s dominance in digital documents.

More than 90 percent of all digital documents and records in the world are kept in Microsoft’s proprietary format, Gartner estimates. Should Microsoft ever abandon the format, ODF argues, as it once did with WordPerfect, or should the company become incapacitated amid financial distress, much of the world’s digital archives could be lost or recoverable only at great expense.

Microsoft: It will be all right. Your company is not going away. Do not fear.

Consumer choice of vendors and applications is good. Among other things, it will bring lower prices to the market. Consumers forced to suffer through another VHS vs. Beta market shootout is bad.  Give up this campaign to force consumers to endure another shootout.

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