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[News] Bob Sutor on ECMA Passage of Microsoft's 10-Year Implementation History

ECMA passage of Open XML was no surprise

,----[ Quote ]
| Now we all move on. The battle for truly open and non-vendor
| dictated standards is far from over and is gaining momentum.
| Assume nothing. Should you favor everyone being able to
| implement real open standards I think you'll be pleasantly
| surprised come one year from now. (I know you can interpret
| that last sentence in several ways!)
| Let me also clear up one last thing, something I more or
| less said in a comment a little while ago. I would like
| nothing better to see Microsoft try to provide the best
| native and well integrated implementation of ODF on the
| planet. It would represent a real change in the industry
| regarding community developed and maintain open standards. 



"Taking Microsoft's ODF Plugin for a Spin... Splat"


Is Open XML a one way specification for most people?

,----[ Quote ]
| Who will implement Open XML correctly and fully? Maybe Microsoft.
| Why? Since it is essentially a dump into XML of all the data
| needed for all the functionality of their Office products and
| since those products are proprietary, only they will understand
| any nuances that go beyond the spec. The spec may illuminate
| some of the mistakes that have been made and are now being
| written into a so called standard for all to have to implement,
| but I'm guessing there might be a few other shades of meaning
| that will not be clear. Fully and correctly implementing Open
| XML will require the cloning of a large portion of Microsoft's
| product. Best of luck doing that, especially since they have
| over a decade head start. Also, since they have avoided using
| industry standards like SVG and MathML, you'll have to
| reimplement Microsoft's flavor of many things. You had
| better start now. So therefore I conclude that while Microsoft
| may end up supporting most of Open XML (and we'll have to
| see the final products to see how much and how correctly),
| other products will likely only end up supporting a subset. 


Is Office Open XML A One-Way Standard? Ask Microsoft

,----[ Quote ]
| Way back in October, Bob Sutor, IBM's open standards guru, wrote
| a piece on his blog where he described the Office Open XML
| standard as a one way standard, because the format is so complex
| and so geared towards compatibility with legacy Office compatibility
| that it could never be implemented as a fully functional file format
| by any competing personal productivity applications (PPAs) like
| WordPerfect and OpenOffice. I agree with a lot of his points but
| didn't feel compelled to write about it since the issue had been
| covered pretty comprehensively in the blogosphere.


Signs That Your "Open Standard" May Not Be Open Enough

,----[ Quote ]
| If OOXML is an open standard, why must Mac MS Office users wait so
| long for OOXML support? Correct me if I am wrong, but MS Office on
| the Mac is developed by Microsoft themselves, how is it that the
| Windows Office development team had access to the OOXML specification
| but the Mac Office team did not?
| [...]
| Microsoft's ECMA submission comprised more than 6,000 pages. The
| challenge of plowing through so much could drag out
| approval by ISO. (ODF's submission was less than 700 pages.)
| [...]
| So, while Microsoft's own developers struggle to comprehend and
| implement their own proposed "standard" file format, perhaps Mac
| MS Office customers can use Novell OpenOffice for their Windows MS
| Office compatibility needs.


Microsoft Office lock-in and the deal with Novell

,----[ Quote ]
| It details how Microsoft has built into Vista the "trusted
| computing" ability to lock down Office files via DRM such that
| no unauthorized document reader will be able to decrypt and
| read them. This is perhaps one of the biggest hidden weapons
| Microsoft has in its arsenal that could sabotage Linux and
| OpenOffice.org if Microsoft succeeds in its attempt to plug
| SUSE and all Novell's "interoperability" bonuses.


Novell's "Danaergeschenk", by Georg Greve

,----[ Quote ]
| So in the case of OpenXML, Microsoft now seems to be using Novell to
| put a pro forma implementation of OpenXML into OpenOffice.org, which
| will make it easier to migrate from OpenOffice.org to Microsoft
| Office but can never be sufficient to read all Microsoft Word Documents.
| One reason for this is the sheer size of the implementation; another
| reason relates to the containers used within OpenXML, which make use
| of Microsoft's proprietary implementations instead of industry
| standards such as SVG. Moreover, there is really no knowing what
| kind of hooks Microsoft has put into the specification that people
| will not detect at first reading. Indeed, it is quite possible
| that OpenXML will allow what Bruce Perens refers to as "Predatory
| Pratices" in his definition of an Open Standard.
| And while there will be a migration path from OpenOffice.org to
| Microsoft Office, Microsoft avoids opening the inverse path to
| any other ODF-compliant Office program, by neglecting ODF support
| in Microsoft Office.
| [...]
| Bob Sutor, IBM's Vice President of Standards and Open Source has
| written a good analysis why the specification is more akin to a
| denial of service attack than an Open Standard. OpenXML
| basically represents a change of strategy: Instead of trying
| to hide information by not telling anything about their products
| to anyone, they've apparently now switched to hiding information
| in noise, which is by far the more effective method.


How to Write a Standard (If you Must)

,----[ Quote ]
| If possible choose an implementation that has layers of complexity
| from years of undisciplined agglomeration of features. Of course
| this will lead to a specification of Byzantine complexity and
| epic length. But since no one will actually read the
| specification, there is no harm. In fact the length and
| complexity can bring several benefits:  1. Any criticism of the
| specification can automatically be dismissed as nitpicking. For
| example, if you are presented with a list of 500 faults in a
| 6,000 pages specification, you can respond, "That is less than
| 10%. You are just nitpicking. We can fix that in release 1.1".
| ... 2. Further, since review periods at ISO and most other
| standards bodies are of fixed length, regardless of the length
| of the specification, a sufficiently large specification will
| ensure that it receives no, or only cursory review.


Microsoft makes a Basic mistake with Office 2007

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft Office isn't among the apps that will run natively on
| Intel-based Macs--and it won?t be until the latter half of 2007,
| according to media reports. But when it does ship, Office will
| apparently be missing a feature so vital to cross-platform
| compatibility that I believe it will be the beginning of the
| end for the Mac version of the productivity suite.


Microsoft's draft Open XML straitjacket arrives

,----[ Quote ]
| While Microsoft is proposing this as the better alternative to ODF
| (OpenDocument Format), as Andrew "Andy" Updegrove, a partner with Boston
| law firm Gesmer Updegrove LLP and the editor of ConsortiumInfo.org,
| points out, the level is so high, that if Open XML became a standard,
| "only clones can be built, which is good for interoperability, but death
| to innovation. It can also be death to competition, since if (as in this
| case) the standard is based on an existing product, then no would-be
| competitor would ever expect to be able to catch up with the incumbent,
| much less compete on price."
| How extreme is the level of detail? Brian Jones, a Microsoft Office
| program manager, cites "the documentation for the simple type "ST_Border"
| which starts on page 1617 (it's in the WordprocessingML reference
| section under simple types). That shows a list of almost 200 legacy
| border patterns that you can apply to objects in a Word document."
| And, at this point, eWEEK's ace reporter Peter Galli quotes a
| Microsoft spokesperson as saying, "And this is just the first draft."
| This isn't a standard; it's a straitjacket.


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