09 March 2007

Has Microsoft Blinked on Office formats?

Microsoft Corp's director of corporate standards has conceded that 'legitimate concerns' have been raised in response to its attempt to fast-track the approval of its Open XML format by ISO.

The level of criticism targeted at Microsoft's XML-based office productivity file formats is significant, raising the potential that Open XML might not gain ISO approval, but Microsoft's Jason Matusow insisted there is still a long way to go.

This is interesting: it's the first time that I've come across Microsoft expressing any kind of doubts about OOXML, its rival to ODF, romping home to become an ISO standard. I can only assume that there was a presumption on the company's part that for all the free software world's whingeing, the national bodies who have the right to object, wouldn't.

But they did. As Andy Updegrove explains:

14 of 20 responses were clearly negative, two indicated divisions of opinion, three were inconclusive or neutral, and one offered no objections.

This is very different from Microsoft's own summary:

"Of the 19 submissions, some are very supportive of XML and the process, some are neutral, and some had legitimate concerns that were raised."

Clearly, this is stretching the truth to breaking point. I get the impression the company's really getting worried over this one, as it begins to spin totally out of its control.


Anonymous said...

If we take the ISO definition of quality as being "fitness for purpose" in terms of fulfilling a customer's requirements, needs or desires, then not only does OOXML need to prove it is just as open as the current benchmark (ODF) but also demonstrate how it is distinctive enough to prevent further calls for merging parts of OOXML into a future ODF, effectively taking MS's carpet from under them. The devil is always in the detail with MS, and with the fast-track looking less likely now, MS must suspect that the detail will be smoked out.

Glyn Moody said...

I don't pretend to understand the labyrinthine complexities of the ISO process, but it will certainly be interesting to see how this pans out now.