No reason anymore to mandate anything but ODF?

by jlundstocholm 22. May 2008 19:37

Yesterday the news broke about Microsoft adding support for ODF in Microsoft Office 2007 SP2. Within minutes the news spread like fire on the hills of Malibu, California and blog-entries started to pop up everywhere - even Brian Jones has apparently returned from Winter hibernation and has made his first blog post in almost 6 weeks. Welcome back to the party, Brian.

Smile

The Denmark IT-news sphere was not hesitant on the keyboard as well and ComputerWorld Denmark posted an article yesterday evening and the competition on version2.dk followed up on the news this morning. I myself got the information from Luc Bollen in his comment in the article I wrote on document translation (and why it sucks). I was sitting under a maple-tree (or some other wooden artifact) having a beer with a friend after a fabulous sushi-dinner and could do absolutely nothing about it.

Dammit!

Well, the reactions to Microsoft's move has actually been surprisingly positive. Even the ADD-bunch at noooxml.org said "If this is an honest attempt to play nice, it is a very welcome move" and even IBM has been quite positive - prompting Bob Sutor to turn the axe on Apple saying: "Hey, Apple, what about you? Let’s see you do this in iWork!". Simply starting to beat on someone else reminds me of the John Wayne quote "A day without blood is like a day without sunshine".

But what is missing from the reactions?

OSP coverage of ODF

One of the side-effects of Microsoft joining OASIS ODF TC is that ODF will likely be included in the list of specifications covered by Microsoft's Open Specification Promise (OSP). The list of specificationshas not yet been updated, but I would expect it to be updated soon - or at least when they officially join the ODF TC. When you think about all the fuss around IPR in this Spring, it is quite surprising that noone has picked up on this. It rams a huge stick through the FUD about the OSP not being applicable for GPL-licensed software. Now the OSP covers ODF as well and thereby the native document format of OpenOffice.org [LGPL 3.0 license] and (I think) OpenOffice Novell Edition.

But why OOXML, then?

A lot of people are now spinning information about this move pulling the rug under OOXML and that ODF should be mandated everywhere - but nothing could be further from the truth. The reason why we approved OOXML still stands and the incompatible feature-sets of OOXML and ODF did not suddenly become compatible. There are still stuff in OOXML that cannot be persisted in ODF and vice versa. The backwards compatibility to the content in the existing corpus of binary documents is still a core value of OOXML and this incompatibility of ODF has not dissapeared. You will still loose information and functionality when you choose to persist an OOXML-file in ODF ... just as you would when persisting it to old WordPerfect formats. Insisting that having ODF-support in Microsoft Office (12 SP2) makes the need for OOXML go away is a moot point - since I am sure no one would argue to replace OOXML with TXT - simply because TXT is a supported format in Microsoft Office.

Comments

5/23/2008 3:02:19 PM #

pingback

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ODF Support added to Microsoft Office System - Additional Reading : Oliver Bell’s weblog

osrin.net |

5/23/2008 10:13:24 PM #

Ole Andersen

A lot of people are now spinning information about this move pulling the rug under OOXML and that ODF should be mandated everywhere - but nothing could be further from the truth. The reason why we approved OOXML still stands and the incompatible feature-sets of OOXML and ODF did not suddenly become compatible.
Which is why the mandate should read "All NEW documents must be ODF".

Ole Andersen Denmark |

5/23/2008 11:24:57 PM #

jlundstocholm

Hi Ole,

Which is why the mandate should read "All NEW documents must be ODF"

That doesn't make any sense at all.

jlundstocholm Denmark |

5/25/2008 5:56:36 PM #

hAl

but I would expect it to be updated soon - or at least when they officially join the ODF TC.

Actually in OASIS terms they are not required to put licensing on any versions that they have not participated on in the TC.
So I would expect that it the OSP will not cover already released ODF versions 1.0, 1.1
There is no need at all for Microsoft to cover those versions using OSP licensing.

hAl |

5/26/2008 7:07:59 PM #

jlundstocholm

hAl,

There is no need at all for Microsoft to cover those versions using OSP licensing.

Yes - the requirement seems to be only ODF 1.2 (the current version). However, the OSP covers the technology required by implementation of the spec, and since ODF 1.2 is practically a complete superset of ODF in previous versions, including ODF 1.2 in OSP will be "backwards compatible" to ODF 1.0 and ODF 1.1.

I don't see the real, practical problem in this.

Smile

jlundstocholm Denmark |

5/26/2008 8:53:51 PM #

Rick Jelliffe

Also, the IP licenses for patents covers required implementation techniques not formats.

You would not expect completely separate implementations for a product generating ODF 1.1 (or OOXML) and one generating 1.2, you would expect the outputters to be some kinds of modules. Would software not suddenly be  acting outside the license merely because the user selected a different output format? It sounds unworkable and goes against the purpose of these licenses like OSP etc.

(However, I think there is still a big hole in all these licenses, that they strictly only seem to kick in when they are the only way of implementing the standard. However, for all IP, the thing is that it is only worth suing when there is money around. For MS and IBM and Google it is an interesting issue: for small fish it is academic.)

Cheers
Rick Jelliffe

Rick Jelliffe Australia |

5/27/2008 3:27:22 AM #

hAl

I don't see the real, practical problem in this.

The pratical problem in this is that if Microsoft is blocked from contributing in the ODF TC then they will not have licensed anything under OSP yet. So if Microsoftis unable to contribute certain technology to the new 1.2 versions they might quit the TC and will not have licensed any technology for previous versions that they might still be implementing in MS Office. And several of their current patents are likely to apply to ODF as well.

Also they might still implement technology that is blocked by the TC into extensions for the ODF format without of course not having to license it either.  

hAl |

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