Interesting take on the open standards war between IBM and Microsoft...
From Microsoft Watch: Microsoft's 'Open' Debate Is Nothing of the Kind
Seems that Microsoft is having to defend on multiple fronts these days...
Behind Microsoft's rhetoric and FUD there is a clear effort to advocate proprietary interfaces that protect the monopoly.
Microsoft contends that OOXML is "open" because of licensing terms, Ecma certification and possible future ISO adoption. In a recent conversation, Jean Paoli, Microsoft's general manager for Interoperability and XML Architecture, applied another "open" definition, in that other vendors could and would adopt OOXML, also making the format available on other platforms.
Paoli could be right someday, but that's not the case today. OOXML is closely tied to Office (arguably a monopoly product), which is closely aligned with Windows (a monopoly product as determined by US courts). From that perspective, at least some of Microsoft's position about open standards is nothing more than pure FUD.
"Open" is a term Microsoft defines for its own benefit. Microsoft also creates FUD around the definition of "choice." From today's letter:
"[IBM's] campaign to stop even the consideration of Open XML in ISO/IEC JTC1 is a blatant attempt to use the standards process to limit choice in the marketplace for ulterior commercial motives--and without regard for the negative impact on consumer choice and technological innovation. It is not a coincidence that IBM's Lotus Notes product, which IBM is actively promoting in the marketplace, fails to support the Open XML international standard."
Microsoft's contention about "choice" is hallow. This is the same company that used marketing about choice to combat Apple's iPod and iTunes in 2004 and 2005. Strange, since kicking loose its PlaysForSure partners and releasing Zune and the Zune Marketplace, Microsoft is no longer talking about choice--even though its directional change limits the choice previously advocated about music services and devices. Microsoft's "choice" included a proprietary interface, Windows Media Audio, tied to its major monopoly product.
Microsoft's FUD about Lotus Notes has a ring of truth. IBM isn't backing Open XML, instead favoring ODF (OpenDocument Format). Microsoft accuses IBM of pushing back against Open XML for competitive reasons. But there is another explanation that is more plausible: IBM backs what it sees to be the more open of the two formats. ODF already has received ISO certification.
Microsoft fails to acknowledge that its products don't support ODF. Sure, at Microsoft behest several open-source companies created a single ODF wordprocessing translator for Open XML, but that is a long way from supporting ODF. If IBM is guilty of anything, Microsoft's format support position is little different.
While I don't expect that ODF will supplant OOXML for quite some time (if ever), I am starting to see that it's becoming a viable alternative for those who don't want to be tied into a single vendor's offerings and product schedule. I can't blame Microsoft for wanting to offer up their specs as a standard, as it's becoming increasingly common to see government organizations opt for non-vendor-specific offerings. And I think it's wise that IBM is trying to redefine the playing field rather than trying to fight the overwhelming numbers that Office currently has.
The times, they are a-changing...