[Reprint] Microsoft’s Ugly Daughter
You know you are ugly when your father has to pay someone to go out with you. Seriously.
Microsoft has a new daughter, Microsoft Office 2007. This product uses a new set of file formats. Using Ecma’s Buy Yourself A Standard process, Microsoft got Ecma to stamp its format, OOXML, as approved [PDF]. OOXML is designed to be compatible with the file format that Microsoft’s ugly daughter uses, without any changes, and to be unimplementable in competitors’ products. Since the reason for an open file format is so that buyers and users are in control, not software vendors, formats that promote vendor lock-in are on their way out.
The problem for Microsoft is that the governments of the world are going with ODF, which Microsoft’s ugly daughter does not support. Few large companies will want to support both formats, and since nearly all large companies are government contractors, they will have to adopt ODF in their operations. (Few small companies will want to support both formats, either.) Once a substantial number, perhaps twenty to thirty percent of organizations, have moved to ODF-supporting applications, even the mighty Microsoft, the Raider from Redmond, will have to join the tide of ODF.
Oh, and Mark Blafkin, blogger for the anti-FOSS group ACT, believes that pro-ODF people are anti-Microsoft. The truth is that pro-ODF people are focused on the buyer and user of software. It isn’t that vendors are irrelevant (at least not yet), but they and their products have been the focus too long. ODF is about the user’s needs and enhancing market competition so that vendors once again have to focus on the user in order to prosper. Office Not-so-open XML, on the other hand, is about trying to maintain control over the market with this proprietary format in drag. We have seen the conflict between large corporations on one side and individuals and small businesses on the other. We choose to support the individual and smaller business without reservation.
But you already knew that. ACT has run to the rescue of Microsoft before, sacrificing the interests of small businesses and other buyers and users of software in favor of the interests of one large corporation.
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