PC World – ISO Rejects Microsoft’s OOXML as Standard

ISO Rejects Microsoft’s OOXML as Standard

The title is somewhat misleading – OOXML was not rejected as a standard, but the attempt to fast track its approval failed. This is a good thing. While a setback for Microsoft, it now will allow some of the comments raised against the specification to be addressed before a new vote occurs.

Unfortunately, it means we get to listen to much more of the ODF vs OOXML, “Microsoft is evil” babel.

Such is life.

Eight compelling reasons why you should not even think of using Office 2007?

I read Eight compelling reasons why you should not even think of using Office 2007, and I think I would like to respond to these “eight compelling reasons”.

  1. New default file formats? Microsoft offers the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack so that users of Office XP and Office 2003 can work with the new file formats. I am not really worried about OpenOffice, since I do not know anyone who uses it. If you really need to, save as .DOC or PDF from within Office 2007.
  2. OOXML is Evil? FUD from the open source, anti-Microsoft crowd. While I do not support fast-tracking OOXML (or anything else) through ISO, the rest of the rhetoric is just noise propagated (largely) by Microsoft’s competitors (remember, they are in this to make money, too).
  3. The learning curve? The learning curve on the UI is minimal, unless you are a potato.
  4. Need too much hardware? I am running quite nicely on a 2 year old Tablet PC with a 1.5 GHz Centrino, and 1 gb of RAM. Hardly a high end machine.
  5. You will get viruses? More FUD. The DOCX format is safer than the .DOC format.
  6. Open Source is Good for the World? This is a philosophical opinion. If that is the way your philosophy points you, then by all means, stick with OpenOffice.
  7. You have to pay for it? No argument there – if you cannot afford to buy it, don’t buy it.
  8. It is proprietary? More FUD. Apple is worse the MS in terms of being proprietary, but no one cares, right?

Just my thoughts. Cheers 

More OOXML Standarization Noise

I found this post by Mark Shuttleworth interesting and well written (I found it after reading a ZDNet article referencing it – I will not link to it, since the ZDNet blogs do not seem to handle trackbacks) Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard?

I agree with a number of things in this post.

Is Microsoft investing heavily in getting OOXML accepted? I would be pretty sure they are – I would be.

I agree there are technical issues with the current OOXML spec, based upon what I have read elsewhere. I do not believe that these issues are a reason to abandon the spec, only that “fast-tracking” the spec without fixing them is wrong. The OOXML spec should go through as much review as is necessary to satisfy the standards bodies that it is ready.

I agree that ODF supporters (and other OOXML opponents) should make their opinions known in a technically meaning full way to their representatives on the standards bodies.

I also believe that supporters of OOXML should do the same.  

I still disagree with the belief that there must be one “standard”. It still seems strangely ironic to me that the open source community is very much in favour of having alternatives, as long as the alternatives do not come from Microsoft.

Anyone else out there sick of "Us versus Them"?

Well? No, I am not talking about politics, war, or religion (though I guess I could be). I am talking about the software/technology business. There are days the whole business just annoys the crap out of me. Let me step back a bit…

I was just on Google Reader, reviewing my various RSS feeds – specifically my Digg feed. I know I should stay away from that feed, but I just cannot seem to – it is like watching Fox News, or listening to clips from Howard Stern, even though I know something in there is going annoy me, bug me, disgust me or otherwise create negative feelings, I just cannot resist looking.

What typically ticks me off on Digg is a post (usually more than one) on the following ongoing us-versus-them arguments:

  1. Linux versus Windows
  2. Mac OSX versus Windows
  3. Open Source versus Microsoft
  4. Open Source versus any commercial software
  5. ODF versus Open XML
  6. Java vs C++ vs .NET versus any other language
  7. Dynamic languages versus any other languages
  8. Web Applications versus Desktop Applications
  9. And many many more

At any given time on Digg, on blogs, and in the “regular” press, you can find lots and lots of people blathering on about these subjects. Sometimes, you can even find me blathering on about them. Most of these posts are characterized by the following:

  1. They are poorly written, grammatically incorrect, etc.
  2. They are very emotional, and often hate-filled (and occasionally filled with colourful metaphors)
  3. They are low on factual information
  4. They imply (or more often, openly state) that anyone who disagrees with the post is so completely stupid that they do not deserve to live

Here are a few examples: So you think that Microsoft’s Open Office XML is ‘Teh Shiznitz’?, Virtualize Windows on Linux? Microsoft Says No Way!, Surprise: Microsoft not so ‘open’ after all?, Is the era of Microsoft Ending?, and a lot of the VistaSucks blog.

There are days that I feel if I hear/read/see one more of these stories, I am going to trash my computer, tie my belongings in a kerchief on the end of a stick and become a hobo. In a more productive vein, I would like to suggest the following guidelines:

  1. Use whatever OS you like. If you like Linux, use Linux. If you like Windows, use that. Same for OSX. Heck use CPM if you want.
  2. If you are a programmer, use whatever language you want, or which makes sense for a given project. If your employer will not let you use the language you like, stop whining and get a new job.
  3. If you like MS Office, use it. Same for OpenOffice or StarOffice.
  4. If Web Applications make sense for you, use them. If you like desktop apps, use them.
  5. Whatever you use for whatever you do, please shut up about it, and stop trying to convert everyone in the world to your point of view!

Apple and Open XML

This post Apple Beats Microsoft at its Own Open XML Game and PC World article to which it refers are both mostly just more Microsoft-bashing fluff.

It is very interesting to me, however, that Apple has implemented programs which are able to read Open XML format documents. Given that one of the major complaints from the ODF camp is that the Open XML specification is too large and complicated, and contains references to Microsoft proprietary material, making it impossible or impractical for anyone except Microsoft to implement.

How do they answer Apple’s apparent ability to import and display Open XML documents?

Also, a question for anyone actually using the Apple programs – how is the format fidelity when importing these documents? 

Open XML versus ODF, Part III

Well, since I did not receive any pointers to more analyses from my last post, I went searching on my own (doing the work myself always being a last resort!) I have found a number of articles which were very informative and seemed well put together. I am still reading and re-reading some of them, so my opinions my changed, but they all seem to be at least thoughtful analyses.

ODF/OOXML technical white paper has a fairly detailed analysis, though from the outset the author admits that the underlying philosophy of the paper is

“We are of the view that the format appears to be designed by Microsoft for Microsoft products, and to inter-operate with the Microsoft environment. Little thought appears to have been exercised regarding interoperability with non-Microsoft environments or compliance with established vendor-neutral standards [11].”

This seems to be an underlying theme of most of the articles – to start with the purpose of showing “why ODF is good and Open XML is bad”, as opposed to being purely unbiased form the start. This paper appears to be relatively fair in its analysis, however.

I also stumbled across a number of articles related to errors in the spreadsheet formula portion of the OOXML documentation, such as Microsoft OOXML spec ‘dangerously flawed’. While I would agree that these flaws (if they exist – I have not searched for them, but I beleive they do) are important, you do not through out a proposed standard because of flaws like this, you fix them and move on. I would be relatively surprised if a 6000-page document did not contain any errors. I would see this as an argument against fast-tracking standardization, but not for throwing the Open XML specification out altogether.

Then there are the documents presented on http://www.noooxml.org/arguments. While I am sure there are some great documents on this site, for my purposes I excluded them from the outset, since the site is obviously biased. For similar reasons, I did not go searching around Microsoft’s web site, or Microsoft Blog’s for information supporting Open XML.

The wiki at http://www.grokdoc.net/index.php/EOOXML_objections maintains a substantial list of concerns with the Open XML specification. There are concerns in there with which I agree, and others with which I do not. It, also, starts from the premise that “Open XML is bad”, and so is not really an unbiased analysis.

One thing that struck me as interesting, is that outside of the purely Microsoft sphere of influence (the Microsoft web site, Microsoft blogs, etc.), I came across no information presented from a Microsoft perspective, or analyzing why Open XML is better or as-good-as ODF. It seems the Microsoft camp is focusing purely on “we would like to get this specification standardized”, rather than attacking the alternative.

This leads to the question, isn’t that the correct approach? Let the Open XML specification be standardized (with identified “real” problems fixed, and let Darwinism decide which format survives?  (I can hear the Open Source community crying already!)

But, isn’t that what having alternatives is all about?