08 April 2008

OOXML a No-No for Some Countries, Anyway

Here's an intriguing hint of what may be to come, in Europe at least.

First, in Belgium and Holland:

Belgium and the Netherlands will not yet consider OOXML, Microsoft's format for electronic documents, it appears from comments by the Belgian Federal ICT advisory body Fedict and the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs.

Asked to comment on last week's ISO approval for OOXML, Fedict's chief IT architect, Peter Strickx, said: "There will have to be multiple implementations, in order for us not to become dependent on a single vendor. It will also have to be compatible with open standards that we already use, in this case Open Document Format ODF."

Also in Germany:

The German Foreign Ministry will not be using OOXML, at least for now.

"We will not be in a position to process OOXML unless it is available independently of the platform", said Rolf Theodor Schuster, who heads the IT department of the German Foreign Ministry. "There must exist an Open Source implementation that can be used without any restrictions, regardless of the platform or Linux distribution."

He said the Foreign Ministry will not accept OOXML if only a single GNU/Linux distribution implements OOXML. "It is not good enough if only Novell will offer it on Suse Linux."

What's particularly interesting about both these is that they show how these people understand that a so-called standard with only minimal implementation is no standard at all. What is needed is multiple, major implementations and real competition.

Maybe one benefit of the extremely argumentative process of considering the approval of OOXML is that is has made people - well, technical people, at least - much more aware of the key issues involved. And we have Microsoft to thank for that.

No comments: