Microsoft Drops the Office Open Standard Ball
From eWeek: Microsoft Drops the Office Open Standard Ball
When Microsoft announced a week ago Monday that it had decided to open up its Office 12 XML file formats and had submitted the formats to be considered as a formal open standard by ECMA International, Alan Yates, the general manager of Microsoft's Information Worker Strategy, said, "The new license that will accompany the Open XML format with the standards organization will go well beyond traditional standards licensing and will be very positive for the vast majority of developers, even open-source developers."
This new license was to have been released last Wednesday. Instead, all that Microsoft did was to release its Patent Protection Covenant for its Office XML formats.
The only difference between Microsoft's November 2003 open and royalty-free license for the Office 2003 Reference Schemas and today's Office 2003 license, according to the company, is that "Microsoft is offering a covenant not to sue for the Office 2003 Reference Schemas."
Microsoft also said it "will also be offering this same covenant with respect to the forthcoming specifications for the 'Office 12' schema specifications. More information about this program will be forthcoming at or before the time of the commercial availability of 'Office 12.'"
And they wonder why people don't trust them? This is a prime example of how Microsoft can use language that they conveniently redefine as they go along. To the rest of the world, "formal open standard" means that it's not owned by a single company and that there is a group that accepts input from a variety of sources for growth of the standard. And you can't tell me that Microsoft didn't expect that reaction when they made their announcement. But now, we find that "formal open standard" means that they just promise not to sue someone for using the technology behind the standard. And what's to prevent *that* definition of "open standard" from changing later down the road... The track record isn't good...