FSFE ignoring OOXML?

Sean DALY sean.daly at wanadoo.fr
Wed Apr 25 22:50:19 UTC 2007


> 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 sufficient.

It *will* help their monopoly -- that's why they are going to such
lengths to slow ODF and push their format to ISO. Ask yourself
this question: why, since 1987, has Microsoft never submitted
their Rich Text Format pseudostandard to any standards body? Or
Excel CSV?

ECMA is a rubberstamp organisation, and was chosen by Microsoft
precisely to avoid the same level of ISO review ODF went through.
It has been an effective shortcut; as ECMA is not a standards body
but an association of major IT companies, no review or criticism
took place.

The Microsoft Office suite has over 70 import and export filters,
but you won't find ODF among them. You won't find it in any Word
menu, either. There are add-in tools (including a one-way tool
developed by a Microsoft partner), but their use is anti-intuitive
to basic users. We computer whizzes probably have no problem
reading and writing MS binary blob .doc files, but then again none
of us probably is allergic to the command line, either. Microsoft
claims that ODF came along too late to be included in the next
version of Office, but they have been careful to avoid announcing
that they will include it in future. They are still betting on
marginalising ODF.

> 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

There is no need for market "demand" for the MS format to appear;
as it is in the current version of Office, every Office upgrade
means another MS-OXML installation. If Microsoft really cared
about the "billions" of binary blob documents, they would publish
the binary formats, which they have not done. They are willing to
make the binary blob Office formats available, but only on terms
prejudicial to Free Software developers (you must be a company to
ask for the formats here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/840817
or subscribe as a company to their developer network).

Although ECMA doesn't care about writing Excel bugs into a messy
standard which disregards ISO standards such as 8601 (dates), ISO
standards bodies take their work seriously and don't like the
Microsoft maneuvering. Perhaps it's all for the best that the
fast-track ballot was maintained, it might make it easier for the
national bodies to strike it down.


More information about the Discussion mailing list