Microsoft, Novell reported in Linux accord

Charles Curley charlescurley at
Fri Nov 3 08:16:11 MST 2006

On Thu, Nov 02, 2006 at 11:03:58PM -0700, Levi Pearson wrote:
> On Nov 2, 2006, at 9:51 PM, Charles Curley wrote:
> >

> 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?

The business case for MS adopting OD is that OD is already an approved
standard from OASIS, of which Microsoft is a member, thus voiding the
necessity of Microsoft pursuing yet another standard. OD is here now,
OX is not.

> >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.

What Mcrosoft is doing with ECMA is trying to get a standard that
codifies Microsoft's current practices. They want an ECMA fig leaf for
what they've already decided to do. That tells me they are not
interested in interoperability, but in having a "standard" cover for
their own format. Standards can be written in a very opaque manner
(been there, done that, got the door stopper final document), and that
is what I fear will come out of the ECMA OX standard.

To the extent that Microsoft acts on open standards bodies and
contributes I welcome them. To the extent that they adopt existing
standards I welcome them. But I don't see that here.

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

Let them actually create some useful variety. Do we really need yet
another standard that pretty much duplicates an existing open
standard? Do we really need a standard that codifies what one company

Microsoft has joined the real world from time to time in the past,
such as when it adopted the TCP/IP stack for networking, and then made
what is now CIFS run on top of TCP/IP. They can adopt OD as well.

Microsoft's corporate culture has one of the most virulent "Not
Invented Here" phobias I've ever seen, and it is not appropriate to a
company trying to operated in a cross-platform world.


Charles Curley                  /"\    ASCII Ribbon Campaign
Looking for fine software       \ /    Respect for open standards
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