Tuesday, November 22, 2005

» Microsoft to open its office format.. yeah, right...

Microsoft announced that they will "open" their "MS-XML" office document format (for Word, Excel and Powerpoint - Access and others are not mentioned) and submitted to ECMA (and later to ISO, at least so they say). Unfortunately, ECMA and ISO don't require to give away the right to use the patents that apply to the formats, and Microsoft doesn't mention what will happen with the numerous patents they already filed on their MS-XML format (and crap like "an office document in a single xml file"). Until Microsoft makes clear that they also grant everyone the free use of their patents that apply to their "open" office document format, that announcement and the ECMA/ISO submissions are worth nothing. If they do, if they really open up their formats, it certainly would be a hurdle for ODF acceptance. But on the other hand, it would also enable OpenOffice.org, KOffice and Abiword to proprely implement 99% compatibility with those formats. If they don't, then ODF still remains the only really open office document format. What's also weird is the question whether ECMA and ISO would accept two open office document formats, as ODF is already in the queue and should be standardized by those bodies before the MS-XML format. Now, if you think that Microsoft is going to win again as always, don't forget OpenDocument (ODF) has a strong fellowship of industry leaders in its back. MS Office is Microsoft's cash printing machine, as it accounts for a very large part of its profits (almost all the other departments, except Windows, actually make loss)... but that's also where they can be hurt really bad. More links: » interesting comments about the announcement by Andy Updegrove, who's very closely following the ODF process » Microsoft's announcement » an eWeek article about the announcement » Groklaw article about it

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