Rob Weir has posted a look at standards, interoperability, and how allowing a vendor to control a standard tends to make the standard non-standard and to remove the interoperability. He draws from documents in Novell's court filing against Microsoft to show how the same moves we see with OOXML (Not-so-open XML) were used with RTF, another "interoperability" format controlled by Microsoft.
It really should not surprise anyone that OOXML is intended to be a differentiator, rather than an integrator; to discriminate rather than interoperate. We've already seen that Microsoft could implement ODF in their office products if they wanted to give end-users the choice of what products to buy. It is their fear that they will not be the choice of enough buyers to remain on top that drives the urgency of DIS 29500. It is their fear that without an ISO stamp of approval, they'll lose the powerful government market, and with it government contractors, which are often the largest and most influential businesses.
As I asked in January, I’ll ask in December:
Mr. Jones, if you really care about choice, implement ODF as a fully-native peer to OOXML and automatically download it in the next batch of updates, rather than using a partially-functional plug-in that has to be searched out and then downloaded. Or is it really Microsoft that is afraid?
We all know that ODF is not perfect. Neither are the implementations of it. But at least with ODF, we know that implementers and end-users both can have a say in the committees that formulate the standard and that the standard's purpose is to enable interoperation between implementing applications. As with RTF, there is no such knowledge with OOXML.