I’ve been watching with interest the discussions on an ISO standard for office files. There is a standard called ODF (Open Document Format), used by Open Office. Microsoft clearly sees this as a threat since it removes the current dependency on their ‘Office’ products. They responded with their own version called OOXML, which seemed designed to prevent others complying not least since it included binary ‘compatability’ modules that no-one but Microsoft could properly comply with.
They then aimed to get it ratified as an ISO standard via a fast-track process. There was lots of push-back, but MS tried to bully their way through (absolutely not what is expected in an ISO fast-track process). This article picks the story up, noting how they are if anything making things worse as they go forward, including the rather amazing assertion that the latest version of Office does not (and cannot) write files in OOXML. That seems so bizarre that I almost can’t believe it. The reason that the standard is being requested is to ensure that documents are created in a format that can be archived and read in future, even if the software no longer exists or runs. So, to fail to be able to produce the files in the standard form seems an oversight so egregious that I can’t believe it.
It leaves me wondering if Microsoft realise how little trust this will engender? Would you prefer a standard to be well architected and vendor feature neutral, or would you prefer one laden with baggage that is as un vendor-neutral as it can be made? Maybe no-one will notice – oh, no they are – e.g. here. So, it leaves me wondering what their game is? Any ideas?