FSFE ignoring OOXML?

Alex Hudson home at alexhudson.com
Tue Apr 24 10:53:15 UTC 2007

On Tue, 2007-04-24 at 12:34 +0200, Bernhard Reiter wrote:
> > > I want to remind you that the ballot period about Microsoft/ECMA
> > > office document format  runs until the beginning of September and
> > > national ISO bodies have to vote about the fasttrack process.
> BTW: Note that using "fasttrack" is a bit confusing, 
> the ballot period is not faster than others, as far as I know.

It is and it isn't :)

"Fast track" just means that the standard has come from an existing,
trusted, standards body. Usually, ISO would form a committee, even to
adopt an existing standard. On the fast track, they don't form a
committee - they send it to an existing one - and simply vote on it.

So, "fast" means "relative to the ISO process".

OpenDocument took around six months to get through ISO, through a
similar process that OASIS have access to.

> Personally I doubt that preventing an ISO standardisation 
> is worth very high costs, because <reasons>

I partially agree with that.

Microsoft aren't putting themselves through ISO just to feel good,
though, and I don't think that it will either help or hinder their
monopoly position. I think they're mainly worried about it because they
want OXML to be considered standardised, and feel that Ecma alone isn't

If OpenDocument remains the only ISO-standardised format, it gives it a
raison d'etre, and maybe a little oxygen. ODF then has a market, and can

Where I do agree with you: I don't think that it would prevent adoption
of free software. In many ways, I could care less what the actual file
format is: at the moment, I have to deal with many .doc files on a day
to day basis, and I don't have any problems with that using free
software. In the field of office software, getting the information out
of the file (& understanding the format) is really only a small part of
the overall "can I use this file" problem.

Additionally, I wouldn't ask free software developers to refrain from
implementing OXML if there is demand for it. Personally, I've seen no
demand - and it seems MS are having real trouble getting people to use
these new formats, so the point may be moot - but there's no reason to
cut our collective noses off to spite our faces.



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