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MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
Monday, November 21 2005 @ 06:51 PM EST

You may have heard the news that instead of just supporting ODF, the format Massachusetts has chosen, Microsoft has announced they are offering their file formats as an open standard. According to the press release from Microsoft, there are some co-sponsors, including Apple and Intel:
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today announced it will take steps to offer the file format technology behind billions of documents to customers and the industry as an international standard. Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, NextPage Inc., Statoil ASA and Toshiba will co-sponsor a submission to Ecma International, the standards organization, of the Microsoft(R) Office Open XML (Extensible Markup Language) document format technology.

Here's an article in ComputerWorld with some thoughts on what this could mean:

Microsoft Corp. today said it will offer its Word, Excel and PowerPoint document formats as open standards, a move that could spark a war with technology rivals over standard document formats.

Microsoft said it would submit its Office Open XML document format technology to the International Standards Organization (ISO) to be adopted as an international standard in time for the launch of the next version of its Office software suite, code-named Office 12.

So, looks like it's war. Read the licenses on these file formats. That's my advice. If the license makes it impossible for GPL'd software to use the standard, then it isn't an "open" standard. It's just an anticompetitive maneuver against Microsoft's only real competition. This is so basic. Does Apple not know? Intel? It is interesting and telling that Microsoft found so few to stand up with them, but two is enough to make the assertion that the standard, if approved, is not tied to one vendor. You may wish to review David A. Wheeler's Open Letter to Microsoft for many more details:

Basically, if you choose Microsoft’s XML format, you have decided against open competition, in perpetuity. . . . If a specification cannot be implemented using the GPL, it discriminates against open source software (because the GPL is the most common such license). If a specification discriminates against open source software implementations, then it is not a specification that allows open competition. This was not as big an issue decades ago, when large-scale open source software systems were uncommon, but it sure is now.

Andy Updegrove has some quick thoughts on the subject on his blog, which I asked if I could share with you. What does it mean? And then after that, I'll provide the full press release.

Update: Note that Andy has updated his blog since this version was published, so do check his blog for latest details.

**************************

Microsoft Drops the Other Format Shoe
~ by Andy Updegrove

Ever since I interviewed Alan Yates at Microsoft back in September in connection with the Massachusetts/ODF story I've been wondering what Microsoft's strategy has been to fend off the challenge to Microsoft Office that the OASIS format standard presented. Microsoft did not get to be what it is today by being less than tough and thorough, and it had to be true that they would leave as little to chance as possible.

While Yates has been very terse and consistent in his public statements, things were certainly moving quickly behind the scenes, and it didn't take too long before the company's targeted Massachusetts strategy and global response emerged into the open.

The first shoe fell when an amendment was introduced in the Massachusetts Senate to remove policy authority from Peter Quinn and the Commonwealth's Information Technology Division. And the second, global, shoe just dropped today, as reported in a ComputerWorld story posted today aptly titled, and subtitled, Microsoft to open Office document format: The move could spark a standards fight over document formats .

Let's get the facts out first, at least to the extent that they are available. The key points are as follows:
- Microsoft claims to have lined up a number of heavy duty supporters, including Apple and Intel (each of which was at the Armonk meeting as an ODF supporter), and two major oil companies

- Microsoft will offer its Office Open XML formats to ECMA International "early next month", a European IT standards body in Europe with a close relationship with ISO

- Alan Yates has said that the ECMA/ISO process would take "about a year" and would yield an ISO imprimatur by the time Office 12 ships.

- Microsoft will make specific licensing commitments to remove "virtually all barriers" that would prevent developers from working with the file formats.

- Microsoft is wrapping itself in the Open flag (sample quote from Yates: "We look forward to the day when people look at this as a milestone, as the beginning of the end for closed documents")

So what does this all mean (and not mean?) The following observations and questions immediately pop to mind:

- What's promised today and delivered "a year from now" can be very different - a distinction that may be lost (for example) on the Massachusetts legislature.

- ECMA and ISO have RAND policies that I believe would fall short of the bar set by Massachusetts (an article by Martin LaMonica at ZDNet.com records RedMonk's Steve O'Grady's opinion that Microsoft's past performance in offering technology to ECMA leaves it "not clear that Microsoft will relinquish control of the Office formats to other companies."

- And perhaps most tellingly, if Microsoft is willing to open its formats and to come up with the necessary converters to allow old documents to be upgraded, why not just support ODF? What's the advantage that will be maintained?

At this point, there's much more to be learned, and I'll be watching the news as it becomes available. You can look for this post to be updated at this location tonight and tomorrow morning, with more posts to follow.

**********************

Here's the full press release:

PARIS, Nov. 21, 2005 (PR Newswire delivered by Newstex) -- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today announced it will take steps to offer the file format technology behind billions of documents to customers and the industry as an international standard. Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, NextPage Inc., Statoil ASA and Toshiba will co-sponsor a submission to Ecma International, the standards organization, of the Microsoft(R) Office Open XML (Extensible Markup Language) document format technology. Furthermore, Microsoft will make available tools to enable old documents to capitalize on the open standard format. With Office document formats available as an open standard, customers will have even more confidence in their ability to store and manage data for the long term, with many more vendors and tools from which they can choose. The move will benefit the broader software ecosystem because software and services vendors worldwide will be able to more easily build compelling solutions that interoperate across a broad spectrum of technologies.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO )

These global industry leaders have agreed to work together as part of an open technical committee that Ecma members can join to standardize and fully document the Open XML formats for Word, Excel(R) and PowerPoint(R) from the next generation of Office technologies, code-named Office "12," as an Ecma standard, and to help maintain the evolution of the formats. The group will ask Ecma to submit the results of their collaboration to the International Organization for Standardization for approval.

With thousands of documents created every minute in an Office format, Microsoft's Office formats are used in dramatic numbers. More than 300,000 developers have utilized the XML file formats in Office 2003 editions alone. Those documents will be able to take advantage of the benefits of the new open standard, enabling document contents to be accessed, searched, used, integrated and developed in new, innovative ways. Customers, technology providers and developers around the globe will be able to work with the Open XML file formats without barriers, creating a broad ecosystem of products, applications and services that can work with the formats, with or without Microsoft software. As a result, documents and public records can be archived, maintained and maintained in perpetuity with long-term, widespread industry support.

"We are committed to open standards such as XML to provide the highest levels of interoperability between legacy and next-generation software," said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International. "The creation of an XML file format standard is a major industry milestone. We hope this will provide both users and organizations with the peace of mind that they will be able to access their past and future documents for generations to come."

"We are pleased that Microsoft and its partners are making this submission to Ecma International," said Jan van den Beld, secretary general of Ecma International. "Our members around the globe pride themselves in their ability to drive progress and consensus on important technologies."

"Apple is pleased to support an Ecma standard for Microsoft Office Open XML document formats, which will make them more open and widely available to all," said Philip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing at Apple. "Apple and Microsoft will continue to work closely together to deliver great products to Mac users and application developers for many years to come."

"We view Microsoft's move to offer its widely deployed XML file formats for Ecma standardization as a very important and positive step forward for the industry," said Renee James, vice president and general manager of the Software and Solutions Group at Intel. "We are pleased to participate in the Ecma submission and documentation process, and believe our customers will benefit from better interoperability and systems integration."

"Just as our predecessors stewarded the development of the national published archive over the past 250 years, the British Library is committed to preserving and providing access to the U.K.'s digital heritage," said Adam Farquhar, head of e-Architecture at the British Library. "We expect that establishing Microsoft Office Open XML as an open standard will substantially enhance our ability to achieve this. It's an important step forward for digital preservation and will help us fulfill the British Library's core responsibility of making our digital collections accessible for generations to come."

About Ecma International

Since its inception in 1961, Ecma International (Ecma) has developed standards for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Consumer Electronics (CE).

The aims of Ecma International are:

-- To develop, in co-operation with the appropriate National, European and International organizations Standards and Technical Reports in order to facilitate and standardize the use of Communication Technology (ICT) and Consumer Electronics (CE).
-- To encourage the correct use of Standards by influencing the environment in which they are applied.
-- To publish these Standards and Technical Reports in electronic and printed form; the publications can be freely copied by all interested parties without restrictions.

For over forty years Ecma has actively contributed to world-wide standardization in information technology and telecommunications. More than 365 Ecma Standards and almost 90 Technical Reports of high quality have been published, more than 2/3 of which have also been adopted as International Standards and/or Technical Reports. Publications can be downloaded free of charge from http://www.ecma-international.org / .

About the British Library

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation. It includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Further information is available on the Library's website at www.bl.uk.

About the Microsoft Office System

The Microsoft Office system is an easy way to help more people use information to positively impact their business. Through a system of familiar and easy-to-use programs, servers, services and solutions, users can connect people and organizations to information, business processes and each other -- helping ensure that they derive the most value out of information. The Microsoft Office system consists of the 2003 editions of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office SharePoint(R) Portal Server 2003, Microsoft Office Project and Project Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003, Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2005, Microsoft Office Communicator 2005, Microsoft Office FrontPage(R) 2003, Microsoft Office InfoPath(R) 2003, Microsoft Office OneNote(R) 2003, Microsoft Office Publisher 2003, Microsoft Office Visio(R) 2003 and Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005. Enabling technologies, such as Microsoft Windows(R) SharePoint Services and Microsoft Windows Server(TM) 2003, enhance the features and functionality of products in the Microsoft Office system.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

NOTE: Microsoft, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, FrontPage, InfoPath, OneNote, Visio, Windows and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.


  


MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open | 178 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Over Top threads below here
Authored by: heretic on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 07:00 PM EST
Over Top threads should go here please.

Remember to use proper link formats

<a href="http://www.example.com">www.example.com</a>

Also use HTML Formatted if using links

Thanks

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT here
Authored by: PolR on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 07:00 PM EST
and please make the links clicky as per instructions below the comments window

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: heretic on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 07:01 PM EST
<EOM>

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
Authored by: tknarr on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 07:03 PM EST

My guess: MS is using ECMA so they can retain the license they've already shown, the one with the major patent loopholes in it that let them close down uses of the format if they want.

[ Reply to This | # ]

...commitments to remove "virtually all barriers"...
Authored by: Jude on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 07:07 PM EST
...except, of course, the important ones that allow them to prevent FOSS
implementations.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Will Microsoft relinquish ALL patent claims, licensing restrictions?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 07:12 PM EST
If Microsoft doesn't relinquish all patent claims to MS-XML, and if it doesn't
relinquish sole stewardship of MS-XML to a multi-vendor organistation open to
all vendors, then it isn't open. It will need to do both of these and ensure
that the licensing terms allow OpenOffice to fully implement it without
control or restriction by Microsoft to be on par with ODF.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This actually makes sense
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 07:19 PM EST
OpenOffice already has pretty good support for the current Microsoft binary
formats. When things do go wrong, users may tend to blame Microsoft rather than
OpenOffice (I know I do).

Security through obscurity isn't working for them any more, so they have to try
and head off the threat by actually playing nice and sharing their toys.
Kicking and screaming, but sharing.

Of course, if they revial a zillion submarine patents in a few years, well,
colour me unsurprised.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What's the advantage that will be maintained?
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 07:51 PM EST
The advantage for MS is that they retain hidden hooks
within the OS that allows the hidden tracking (spying on *YOU* or your business).

If the format is truely open, then any software can be written to manipulate the datafile on any platform, which bypasses the hidden tracking.

That is why MS is so alarmed, they lose the ability to collect that information if you don't use their [non-trustable] platform.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Never trust Microsoft
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 07:53 PM EST

With Microsoft, you always need to read not only the lines but between the
lines.



[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards ....in time for Office 12.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 08:06 PM EST

and M$ documents will be "open" provided you upgrade to Office 12 or use another software which supports M$-XML.

If Open-Office supports M$-XML it will negate the immediate necessity of document conversion to ODF.

Will this not pitch one/off staff retraining costs against the longer term difference in costs between M$ Office(and any retraining Office 12 will require) and Open Office or A.N. Other?

It appears to be removing a compatibility obstacle to alternate suites but does little to address concerns on monopoly prices.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: FrnchFrgg on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 08:19 PM EST
    [This is my first post here, and I'm not fluent in english, so please be keen on
    errors/stupidity. Also assume that offending speach is simply misuse of the
    language...]

    The ISO group probably won't do such a stupid thing as issuing two standards in
    a row about office documents, will they ?
    So the question arises : Who will win ? I'd say ODF really is a few steps ahead,
    but with MS, who knows...

    Suppose MS succeeds in its "standard" path, then they won't ever
    support ODF, because/thus nobody will commit to it with the widespread MS format
    around... Or MS will support ODF a bit, and we'll have two standards, probably a
    bit incompatible, and probably evolving in different directions.

    And, why some of the "wanna be in the pro-ODF coalition" companies
    glues behind MS ? Do they naïvely believe that MS will do the Right Thing (TM) ?
    How the previous ODF supporters can think it is a Good Thing for their previous
    "pet" project ?

    Or has it to do with big ringing money ?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: webster on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 08:22 PM EST
    If they are doing what they imply they are doing, then this can be rushed
    through the standards bodies willy-nilly. It is hard to trust these folks, but
    we will try and pin them down. If they refused to be pinned down on true
    openness, patent openness, and free-for-all openning and producing their format,
    then they are lying again.

    Most important they must commit to support their own format for as long as the
    standards bodies say them must. One fears their opening up a format,
    "improving" upon it with their own software and patents, and then not
    openning up their improvements to the standards bodies or other software. Then
    they can stop supporting the old standard in favor of their improved standard.
    (Of course, once their standard is set, the world will use it and not upgrade
    unless absolutely necessary.)

    One must suspect that this is a delay or tactical manuever to get Vista and
    Office 12 on the ground before anything else gets traction or adoption. Rather
    than suffer ODF, they will sacrifice the new formats on Office 12 as a sales
    ploy. Monopolies are voracious.

    ---
    webster
    >>>>>>> LN 3.0 >>>>>>>>>

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: blacklight on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 08:23 PM EST
    "It is interesting and telling that Microsoft found so few to stand up with
    them, but two is enough to make the assertion that the standard, if approved, is
    not tied to one vendor." PJ

    OK, the "standard" is tied to two vendors instead of one, which twice
    as many vendors as one or two more vendors than zero. I am absolutely shocked,
    shocked that Microsoft has successfully shaped such an industry wide consensus!



    ---
    Know your enemies well, because that's the only way you are going to defeat
    them. And know your friends even better, just in case they become your enemies.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: kirkengaard on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 08:24 PM EST
    The Devil can quote scripture, too. That's why it isn't the words themselves,
    but the God they witness to, that Christians believe in.

    Microsoft can parrot Open Licensing all they like, but it is the Freedoms that
    they refuse to witness to that demonstrate their manipulative deceit.

    No one can serve two masters. They will either hate the one and love the other,
    or hold to the one and despise the other.

    Microsoft has proven thus far to be a servant of Greed and Ownership, over and
    above software users, creators, and their respective freedoms and rights.

    Okay, maybe that was a little bit loaded... ;)

    The next one may be outright flamebait, and I do have on my Kevlar(R)-Nomex(R)
    Boxers...

    Is it me, or does anyone else get the feeling that when someone tries to write a
    non-GPL "Open License", something other than software Freedoms are
    being considered? It may be innocent; the goals may be to some degree
    compatible. The goals may even be to stimulate GPL compliance, as with the
    LGPL. Inevitably, due to the ferocious activism of the Freedoms protections
    built into the GPL, the compromise is a lesser protection of someone's freedoms,
    or a lessened grant of rights. But when the goal is keeping your stuff from
    other people, predatorily, the compromise cannot weigh to the users' side.
    Indeed, compromise of that sort is futile.

    For this reason, I cannot regard any pretenses to Open Licensing and Freedom
    from Microsoft as anything other than risible. I don't think I'm alone.

    --
    "Kevlar" and "Nomex" are registered trademarks of the DuPont
    Company, and are used out of extreme respect for their protective properties and
    safety.

    ---
    IANAL. I'm a JOAT.
    Some rights reserved -- CC (BY:) (!$) (SA) 2.5
    See bio for link. Free and staying that way.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: marbux on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 08:34 PM EST
    Does anyone have a further clue what the underlined portion of the following paragraph means? It's from the ComputerWorld article Pam linked?

    Yates said that the comparison between OpenDocument and Open XML "is an apples to oranges" comparison. "Open XML allows companies to integrate data directly into the documents so the document carries data for the corporation, and [OpenDocument] does things very differently," he said. "Our customers require us to support the full feature set of Office and Office 12. They would not accept us supporting anything that didn't support some features or hid other features."
    Is that the attempt to put lipstick on a pig that I think it is? See this page at the OpenDocument Fellowship web site.

    ---
    Retired lawyer

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Brian Jones of Microsoft
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 08:51 PM EST
    Brian Jones, who works on XML in Microsoft Word, blogged about this

    link

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I am not surprised about Apple
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 08:58 PM EST
    Despite their limited involvement in a small number of projects, Apple is not
    really a friend of Open Source, and is especially opposed to anything that might
    give Linux a leg up on OS X. Things like OpenOffice, Firefox, etc all make it
    easier for people to use Linux, which means less reasons to use OS X.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Jean Paoli
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:00 PM EST
    Microsoft head XML honcho Jean Paoli interviewed on the move:

    link

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Jean Paoli - Authored by: marbux on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:42 PM EST
      • Jean Paoli - Authored by: Stumbles on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:54 PM EST
      • Jean Paoli - Authored by: J.F. on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:10 PM EST
      • Jean Paoli - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 07:43 AM EST
        • Jean Paoli - Authored by: BrianJones on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 03:08 PM EST
          • Jean Paoli - Authored by: kattemann on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 04:17 PM EST
          • Brian, - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 07:43 PM EST
          • Jean Paoli - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 23 2005 @ 01:01 AM EST
    Massachusetts
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:02 PM EST
    I bet anything that the Massachusetts decision forced Microsoft to do this.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I believe the question should be. . .
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:15 PM EST
    . . .what is "open?"

    As an example ECMA Java and Sun's Java do not always play nice together. In
    other words a website utilizing Sun's Java may or may not render correctly in a
    browser that utilizes Ecma's Java flavor. Opera comes to mind in that regard.

    Further, "Microsoft said it would submit its Office Open XML document
    format technology to the International Standards Organization (ISO) to be
    adopted as an international standard in time for the launch of the next version
    of its Office software suite, code-named Office 12" (quoting
    Computerworld).

    Now going strictly by the above (quote'ed) verbiage it becomes clear that
    "its [...] format technology" is what M$ is seeking as a global
    standard.

    An M$ propritary format. *Not* M$ and everybody else. M$ only.

    To add some emphasis to my theory, Louis Suarez-Potts of both open document and
    open office said " 'With an open standard, any application can use it,' he
    said. 'With an ISO standard, it's not quite the same thing. It just means you
    have a reference for it' " (quoting Computerworld).

    Hence, if all of that holds true M$ will not openly share its xml technology
    with anyone. Period.

    krp

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Boycott
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:35 PM EST
    Oh Well, I wasn't likely to buy Apple even before they
    announced a switch to Intel, now....I'm definitely an AMD
    man. Intel just lost any business from me for next few
    years.

    Do you hear that Intel? bub bye!

    What was that? Buy MS? Gonna be a cold day in hell first.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: Stumbles on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:51 PM EST
    Well you know, Microsoft has made many, many promises about a
    lot of things. So of those have promised to cure what ails ya. Along
    with many other consistant behaviors they have displayed. The
    most apparent is promising the moon and then later reneging on
    those promises.

    What they will do now is generate tons o' hype about all the many
    endorsements they have, how open they *will* be and how all
    these pesky little problems (never mind their ones they
    themselves have created) will go away.... if everyone would just
    get behind them.

    And just at the most critical moment, like always they will jerk the
    rug from underneath everyone. But by then it will be to late as the
    ball has already gained to much momentum to stop. And lo, guess
    what, it won't be as interoperable and open as they promised. No
    doubt to some technical difficulty.

    Now I wonder where Longhorn is?

    ---
    You can tune a piano but you can't tune a fish.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Joe Wilcox
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:56 PM EST
    Joe Wilcox of MicrosoftMonitor.com weighs in:

    link1

    link2

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:01 PM EST
    The Microsoft press release is domonstrably false.
    Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today announced it will take steps to offer the file format technology behind billions of documents to customers and the industry as an international standard. ... submission to Ecma International, the standards organization, of the Microsoft(R) Office Open XML (Extensible Markup Language) document format technology.
    The Office Open XML format is not the Office 2000 format. It is the Office 97 and Office 2000 formats that are found in billions of documents. Converting these documents to Office Open XML will not be any easier that converting these documents to ODF. How can Microsoft make such an obviously false statement and not have anyone notice? Truely the emperor has no clothes.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: jsusanka on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:03 PM EST
    All I got to say is hogwash. This is purely a publicity
    stunt and some boys crying and throwing a tantrum because
    we aren't doing it their way.

    This is just microsoft's way of saying you are going to do
    it our way and we are not going to work with anybody else.

    That sure is an odd group they have there. Why isn't
    there any other software vendors in that group. Looks like
    hardware and some finance firms - not very impressive.

    I don't buy apple and intel so they don't get my business
    anyway but I wouldn't especially after this.

    Does anybody really trust this? I know I don't. All they
    are doing is buying time till office 12 is out and then
    they will just continue with their defacto style standard.

    They don't care about any of their customers - just their
    stockholders and holding on to their vice grip on office
    software.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Funny, I don't see Sun listed as a backer
    Authored by: Waterman on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:05 PM EST
    of the MS XML format. StarOffice ( and OpenOffice ) use XML and you would have
    thought that if MS was being so good with their offer, that Sun would have
    joined the group backing it too.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    "about a year"
    Authored by: mrcreosote on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:55 PM EST
    What was Microsoft saying about Longhorn/Vista 12 months ago?

    ---
    ----------
    mrcreosote

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:57 PM EST
    To me the main question is what parts of Microsoft's XML will not be included in
    the standard. They say they will submitt Word, Excel, and Power Point. What
    other standards will not be a Part: Sharepoint? Access?Exchange? these may or
    may not be included.
    They did this with .NET. C#, the runtime, and enought classes to compile a C#
    program are part of the standard. Winforms, Webforms, Databases, and anything
    else needed to a a program work were not included.
    The technical and marketing folks said Mono and DotGNU were cool, the execitives
    and lawyers said we do not give up any rights to the non-ECMA stuff.
    My understanding is that Microsoft does not yet have any patents for .NET. They
    applied for a patent to cover the names and orginzations of the class library,
    but to the best of my knowledge it is still being reviewed by the USPO.

    My understanding is that if Microsoft give the standard to ECMA, for future
    versions, Microsoft will have the privlage of submitting the first draft of all
    future version, which the committ can modify as much as they want before
    ratifiying it.

    Patents will likely be a non-issue. ECMA requires RAND, which means they can
    charge whatever they want, as long as they charge everyone the same. Once they
    provide them for free to ECMA, they lose any rights to charge anyone.

    Another point is that the storage formats are just part of the issue. This will
    not cover program functianlity or rendering, which is where th epatents are
    likely to be anyway.

    Dennis

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    There is a famous saying--
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 11:38 PM EST
    Beware of geeks bearing gifts.

    billwww (formerly addicted to punning)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Get involved in the standards process?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 11:38 PM EST
    Can people get involved in this, and attempt to make the format that comes out
    of the standards process a good XML format? I mean, if MS is putting their
    effort behind this, it'll probably get through; it would be nice if we could
    make what gets through something with which we could live.

    If it can't happen at all, then it's not a real standards process. If we can't
    get the people to do it, well, that's a shame. I'd hope, with all of the people
    here, that there would be at least one who was placed somewhere that some effort
    could be applied.

    Now, I'm assuming that, given the name of the standards body with which MS is
    dealing, one would need to be European, and I'd guess it couldn't be just any
    European, but rather one that the standards body recognizes as someone. If this
    isn't the case, it would be nice if someone in the know could let us know what
    the process is for getting involved.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    They have proven them self lying.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 11:51 PM EST
    So what they say now is that their format wasn't "open enough"

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Houston, we have delineation. Sorta all at once.
    Authored by: bbaston on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 12:21 AM EST
    Who are the guys I can trust and support with my music and technology buying decisions?

    Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, NextPage Inc., Statoil ASA and Toshiba appear to demonstrate a resistance to the concept of end users in control of their own data. That doesn't make me happy at all.

    All vendors with the letters DRM buried somewhere on their software, music or video product labels believe I am a thief and treat me accordingly. Sony is only one of them, so I'll be sure to ask about the use of Digital Rights Management before making a buying decision. You see, I insist on being recognized as one who obeys the law and on being considered innocent unless proven guilty.

    It does seem nice and is very convenient to know where all the main vendors stand now, and that these stands have been made so very loudly in the press. This makes it very simple for me to delineate the vendors who support my point of view and therefore make properly informed buying decisions.

    ---
    Ben, Groklawian in training
    IMBW, IANAL2, IMHO, IAVO
    imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold
    Have you donated to Groklaw this month?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Billions = zero
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 12:37 AM EST
    "it will take steps to offer the file format technology behind billions of
    documents to ..."

    "to standardize and fully document the Open XML formats for Word, Excel(R)
    and PowerPoint(R) from the next generation of Office technologies, code-named
    Office "12," as an Ecma standard,"

    MS claims that it will offer the technology behind 'billions' of documents, but
    the actuality is that it will be offereing the _next_ format which has exactly
    _zero_ documents in productive use.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Fool me once
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 02:25 AM EST
    Microsoft... fool me once, shame on you;
    Fool me 2^32 times, shame on me.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Obligatory Abraham Lincoln story - Declaration of Paris and Death-Bed Conversions
    Authored by: Wesley_Parish on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 03:23 AM EST

    Seems that once upon a time, there was a conference in Paris, 1856, on the matter of marine warfare, and the codification of expected behaviour from all the Great Powers. It prohibited among other things, privateers - private persons granted a Letter of Marque from their Head of State to commit commerce raiding on enemies during wars; liable to be hanged as pirates if the enemy refused to acknowledge the Letter of Marque as legitimate. The US I think attended, but refused to sign the treaty at the end of it, the Declaration of Paris, on the grounds that it prejudiced the rights of states without navies to wage war.

    Then the Civil War started, Abraham Lincoln being the then President. And the Unionist Federal Government realized that the Confederate Government took the refusal of the previous US Government to sign or accede to the Declaration of Paris, and they were better at Privateer Commerce Raiding than the Unionists were. So they high-tailed it over to the Foreign Office in London, which was the Depository of the instruments of ratification and accession, and demanded to accede to the Declaration of Paris, otherwise everybody would ignore them. I forget just what the Foreign Office's reactions were, but I think there was a good amount of diplomatic sneering and sniggering at the uncouth and stupid Americans not having the foresight to join when they were invited rather than desperately trying to join as a kind of death-bed conversion ...

    And Microsoft's belated death-bed conversion to the Standards Process strickes me as being precisely the same blind stupidity as the US Government showed on the Privateer issue before the Civil War showed them just how deep it could dig.

    ---
    finagement: The Vampire's veins and Pacific torturers stretching back through his own season. Well, cutting like a child on one of these states of view, I duck

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    PJ - Suggest a page dedicated to this
    Authored by: Felix_the_Mac on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 04:47 AM EST
    This story is going to run and run.
    People will need a 'resource' to help them keep up with the FUD. Leave out the
    other ODF stuff etc.

    I suggest that you have a page specifically dedicated to the 'MS Office Format -
    Open Standard or trojan horse?'


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A bit rich - like rich text format
    Authored by: atheist on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 05:23 AM EST
    Remember that Micosoft broke the existing RTF format with the release of Office
    97. They attempted to excuse their behaviour by sayind that they'd notified
    their partners.

    There was little need for the parallel change to the Word 6/95 format as the
    documents are made up of seperate streams, and the additional features could
    have been made backward and round trip compatible.

    More embrase and extend likely making this proposal unacceptable as a standard.

    Amongst other qualifications, Word MCP.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    vaporware timeframe
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 05:37 AM EST
    MS says it hopes to have an open standard accepted by the time Office 12 is
    released with Vista. So that would be ... what ... about a decade from now?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    History Tells Us That It's A Trick
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 06:23 AM EST
    Historically, when Microsoft has claimed to be supporting an open standard, it has turned out to be a lie.

    While Microsoft always tries to give the appearance of supporting open standards, that "support" always comes with a hook, ensuring that the Microsoft implementation will be the only one that works in the long run.

    We should recall when Microsoft claimed to be supporting Java, while they were actually introducing extensions to their J++ Java implementation -- extensions aimed at killing Java's cross-platform compatibility.

    In a memo, Microsoft's Thomas Reardon explained the need for Microsoft to maintain the illusion of continuing to support the open standard:

    > "at this point its not good to create MORE noise around our win32 java classes. instead we should just quietly grow j++ share and assume that people will take more advantage of our classes without ever realizing they are building win32-only java apps."

    Of course, this is business as usual for Microsoft. The strategy was summarised quite nicely by Microsoft's Vinod Valloppillil in the Halloween Document:

    > "OSS projects have been able to gain a foothold in many server applications because of the wide utility of highly commoditized, simple protocols. By extending these protocols and developing new protocols, we can deny OSS projects entry into the market."

    And so, the standard rule applies:

    DO NOT TRUST MICROSOFT!!!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Jean Paoli - again saying anyone may "use" MS formats.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 06:37 AM EST
    Q&a mp;A: Microsoft Co-Sponsors Submission of Office Open XML Document Formats
    PressPass: How open a file format is Office Open XML?

    Paoli: Office Open XML is an open format because, as I already mentioned, the committee that will ratify Office Open XML as an open standard is open to anyone that is a member of the Ecma standards body and wants to be part of the process.

    Another reason Office Open XML is an open format is because XML itself is an inherently interoperable text-based standard that has been defined by the W3C. We have used this standard as the foundation for the Office Open XML file formats, and we have worked very hard to ensure that the work we have accomplished using XML is open, too. For instance, two years ago, we announced a program to publish our Office 2003 XML formats on the Internet. We also provided a simple, open and royalty-free licensing program to support republication of the specification and development of format converters, and we were very happy when this program was favorably acknowledged by public sector experts like the Danish IT ministry and the European Commission’s IDA (Interchange of Data between Administrations) committee.

    Finally, Office Open XML is open because the license for Office Open XML is open to anyone. We are expanding the language of the current royalty-free license to specifically enable developers who work only with open source licensing to also be able to work with Office Open XML. This will enable any customer or technology provider to use the file formats in its own systems without financial consideration to Microsoft.

    Still no clear indication that Open Source will be allowed to fully implement the formats in a competing Office application. There is talk about work with and use but they never say IMPLEMENT.

    It definitely seems (to me anyway) that Microsoft are after some sort of one-way only compatibility - probably anyone (even open source applications) will be able to read the formats (ie. use them, or work with them), but not write them (or create them, or fully interoperate with MS Office).

    Finally, there is a caveat "open to anyone that is a member of the Ecma standards body and wants to be part of the process." Why not just say "open to anyone" period?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What if ...
    Authored by: overshoot on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 09:43 AM EST
    The usual suspects (IBM, Sun, etc.) who are ECMA members were to join the working group and bring in the same kind of review that went into years of OpenDocument work?

    I suspect that the minutes would be very interesting, amounting to "this is a take-it-or-leave-it offer, we've already written the software and nothing you do here can change the real standard. Just rubber stamp here, thank you."

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What is ECMA?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 12:00 PM EST
    ECMA is basically a trade association. It has rather a motley assortment of members. It is difficult to see what it represents - certainly not a particular industry or even a particular sector of one. It is not dominated by M$, rather, despite its European origins, Japanese companies seem to be represented disproportionately.

    Why should M$ be making use of it? The answer is that it provides them with a back-door into ISO. ECMA standards tend to become ISO standards. In fact, the one-to-one correspondance makes me think that any changes to an ECMA proposal made by ISO is automatically written back into the ECMA 'standard'.

    Rather curiously, non-voting members include: Novell and the Mozilla Foundation.

    I should imagine it is fairly easy for a member to get a "standard" accepted as there are unlikely to be many other voting members who would be affected by it. The standards are mainly concerned about the interchange of data.

    Alan(UK)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • What is ECMA? - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 12:45 PM EST
    Isn't Office Open confusingly similar to OpenOffice?
    Authored by: cjk fossman on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 12:35 PM EST
    Is there a trademark infringement suit in there somewhere?

    It sure seems like a closer match than Windows - Lindows!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: ThrPilgrim on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 01:14 PM EST
    Isn't Office Open, sufficiently close to Open Office for OOo to sue.

    Just thinking of Lindows here :-)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Pretty clear what Microsoft is thinking here
    Authored by: billyskank on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 01:57 PM EST
    ok, they think, so we can open our formats to allow commercial competitors to
    write interoperable software, using "reasonable and
    non-discriminatory" licencing terms (which exclude free software
    implementations). That will leave Microsoft with some competition (which I'm
    sure has them gritting their teeth) but at least it's competition by commercial
    entities. They know how to deal with those. They could even keep some
    commercial competition on life support themselves if they wanted, in order to
    maintain the illusion of a competitive marketplace.

    The objective at all costs is to nullify the free software competition, because
    all of their traditional tricks are ineffective against it.

    ---
    It's not the software that's free; it's you.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Offer File Formats as Open Standards, Sorta Open
    Authored by: eskild on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 03:15 PM EST
    So what is the status of the specification right now?

    CD (Committee Draft), DIS or what?

    and what is the status of ODF?

    are the two specificstions submitted to the same or different workgroups?

    ---
    Eskild
    Denmark

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I smell a rat...
    Authored by: Atticus on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 10:34 PM EST
    ...and the best way to catch a rat? Try a little cheese!

    I suggest the Open Office developers create the software necessary to implement
    Microsoft's doc format. GPL it. Place it before the software behemoth and pose
    the question to their lawyers, "Hey, what do you think of this?"

    Likely they'll wait 5 years down the road before bringing the lawsuit...


    ---
    --
    -Atticus (who is not a lawyer :-) aka Mike Schwager)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    How about VFAT?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 22 2005 @ 11:11 PM EST

    In this newly found world of "openness," and the accompanying MS fondness for the wonders of free competition, where are the corresponding covenants concerning VFAT? As it turns out, user's also store data using that format, on diskettes and such, in addition to fixed disks (and disk images).

    Hm. Maybe there isn't a new spirit of openness here. Maybe, MS is doing it usual absolute minimum to try to turn the tide in MA ODF affair. Could that possibly be?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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