back to article OOXML vs ODF: where next for interoperability?

Gary Edwards of the Open Document Foundation has a fascinating post on the important of Microsoft Office compatibility to the success of the ISO-approved Open Document formats. It is in places a rare voice of sanity: People continue to insist that if only Microsoft would implement ODF natively in MSOffice, we could all hop on …

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Gary's analysis is flawed

So please don't repeat it without discussion. There are no significant features of MS Office that cannot be mapped to ODF, if not to v1.0 then v1.2.

More importantly, it is absolutely and entirely the wrong approach in developing a standard to start by ensuring you can reproduce all the flaws of legacy pre-standardisation approaches. For certain you should examine existing approaches and learn from them, but not mimic them to satisfy a particular organisation, no matter how dominant.

Note: Microsoft personnel have already stated they could support ODF in discussions around Massachusetts - maybe that would be in a way that would inhibit those documents being used in Sharepoint. I care not if Sharepoint or other Microsoft technologies are so limited. What I demand is that we have a common, documented and unencumbered file format that allows for seamless interchange of documents.

Notes for those who see 550 million installed seats of a product as proof positive that is all we should care about:

(i) they ain't all the same product i.e. are not all compatible with each other in the seamless idealism Gary espouses;

(ii) within 5 years, 550 million will be less than a tenth of the devices in active use capable of read/writing an office-type document.

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Not so flawed

Gary describes very well how Microsoft leverages its monopoly: don't focus on a single product like Office for example, but how the Microsoft's products interact altogether. The point is not just about a file format but its combination with the rest.

For him, the goal is to slow this fiendly strategy which leads quickly the users to the point of no return; so, don't fight in the Office battleground and take an edge in the collaborative battleground.

Besides that, we can consider ourself in a jail: an escape is risky and costly if we get caugth. Hence, we invest in freedom or nothing, but that involves a collective move.

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