OOXML

Reading the blog entries around OOXML is almost as bad as sitting through an episode of Days of Our Lives.  Most of the opposition comes directly from different people that are directly vested in ODF. And now that the vote looks like it might accept OOXML, the conspiracy stories start, such as claiming of stacking.  One blog post I was reading said it was outrageous that Microsoft complained about the stacking of the Indian committee.  Funny how when Microsoft complains about the stacking that’s bad, but when they complain about the stacking that’s good.  Looking at the Indian panel one really does have to question the role of IBM, Sun and RedHat on the committee as clearly they are in direct competition to Microsoft in this area. One would expect as many of Microsoft’s partners to be invited at a minimum just to balance that.

In the end though, it’s unlikely that any of the irregularities on either side of the arguments really make much difference.  OOXML is indeed worthy of becoming an ISO standard. ODF possibly should have been if they hadn’t of deliberately decided not to support features of existing documents.

But I don’t believe the OOXML is of proper quality at present. That is, although I believe it eventually will be worthy, I think they need to take more time and fix the specification.  One advantage of it becoming a standard now, is that it may encourage working teams to set about that, rather than leaving it purely in the hands of Microsoft.

One thing people talk about is the size and complexity of the standard. I think there’d be value in having a “Lite” version of the standard or feature set levels, such as level 1 is the minimum functionality… level 3 or n is the full specification.  That is, make the benchmark for supporting OOXML in part clearly defined. As it stands it is unlikely there will be full support for the entire specification from anyone (even Office 2007 doesn’t now have full support).  Really, a standard needs to be achievable, and OOXML is a bit vast for that to happen easily by anyone outside of Microsoft.

Regardless of the yes or no at ISO, this really has to be viewed as a first step, and either way, if Microsoft wants to be taken seriously they need to do a lot more, making OOXML more accessible and easier to implement and ensure conformity.

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One Response to OOXML

  1. Morgan Reed says:

    Bill,

    You should take a look at this link http://janvandenbeld.blogspot.com/2008/04/hypocrisy.html if you want to see just how ugly it got from the other side. the former head of Ecma calls out the vote-fixing and member stuffing that went on from IBM and Google. While it seems obvious that Microsoft knows how that game is played, I am blown away by how one-sided the press coverage has been.

    TIme to get the word out.

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