Microsoft, Novell reported in Linux accord

Levi Pearson levi at
Thu Nov 2 23:03:58 MST 2006

On Nov 2, 2006, at 9:51 PM, Charles Curley wrote:
> I find one thing disconcerting. According to the Open Letter
> (
> 	# Office Open XML
> 		* Novell engineers have been working for the last year
>           together with Microsoft engineers through the ECMA TC45
>           working group in producing a complete specification that
>           would allow for interoperability across office suites.
>         * Novell will develop the code necessary to bring support for
>           Office Open XML into OpenOffice, and we will contribute that
>           support back to the organization. We will
>           also distribute the Office Open XML plug-in in our own
>           edition of OpenOffice. In addition, we will participate in
>           the Open XML Translator open source project.
> I just wrote an article on interoperability between MS Office and FOSS
> for the Society for Technical Communications. Everyone except MS is
> jumping on Open Document.

Who's 'Everyone except MS'?  There are roughly one and maybe a  
quarter viable options for an office suite for the world at large;  
one is Microsoft Office, and the other quarter (if that) is Open  
Office.  OO's marketshare is miniscule, and only exists because 1) it  
runs on Linux and 2) it does fairly well at interoperating with MS  
Office files and 3) is available for free.  What business case could  
be made for Microsoft choosing the Open Document format over their  
own format tailored to their needs?

> MS is the major player in the ECMA standards
> effort and Open XML (MS's XML document format for Office). There are
> several efforts to provide Open Document plugins for Office.

Here we see Microsoft behaving very differently than in the past;  
they are actively working to create published standards for the  
technology they develop, presumably in the interest of enabling  
interoperability.  They are doing a LOT of this lately, across a lot  
of their technologies.  This, in my opinion, is a very good thing.

> In short, we don't need Open XML. Yet here is Novell jumping on the
> Betamax of office document formats. To whatever extent Novell lends
> credibility to Open XML, it is divisive in both the open source
> movement and in the office products market.

You must be looking at this through some weird, distorted Free  
Software glasses or something.  Clearly Open Document is Betamax and  
Microsoft's new Open XML standard is VHS.  Betamax vs. VHS was all  
about market share, and in the real world, Microsoft is still king  

And whatever happened to variety and choice being good?  Or is that  
only true when Microsoft isn't creating the variety?


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