OOXML ("Office Open XML") is far more than an intentionally confusing acronym and a new structured format for Office 2007, it is the lingua franca for Microsoft's assault on Cloud Computing and the Internet. The format plays in so many other new Adobe- and Google-killing mechanisms (XPS, Silverlight) and links to so many of Microsoft's new products (Sharepoint, Exchange, Windows Server, SQL Server, Windows Live, Facebook, among others) that anti-trust regulators have another 10 years of work cut out for them and naive enterprise CIO's letting this stuff in their house will be freezing procurement until their retirement -- so intolerant is this software of non-Microsoft innovation.
The OpenDocument Format is the default file format in Sun's OpenOffice.org and IBM's Lotus Symphony office suite applications. ODF once had promise as a Universal Document Format, but Sun & IBM (with Google, Oracle and others supporting in the wings) have made it into a marketing & political force of opposition against OOXML, devoid of technical merit toward real-world interoperability. ODF beat OOXML to the punch of ISO ratification (2005), so we will be lucky if National Standards Bodies ("NB's) his week do not put OOXML into play as an ISO standard just to rectify a past mistake -- or rather to correct a hopeful move that became subsequently nullified by vendor manipulations. Here, all vendors have behaved badly -- not only Microsoft.
The standards silverbacks have said all along that these things usually degrade into harmonization efforts in which the two opposing standards are merged; however, if centimeters & inches can hold out a few hundred years, I'm not convinced about these byzantine formats. The Harmonization crowd have appointed the German standards group DIN, who have asked the Fraunhofer Gesellshaft to write a long paper -- presumably in a standard language -- about harmonization possibilities (an odd 15% of the thousands of pages of ODF's and OOXML's specifications rigidly do not overlap); early news is they will have to throw in the towel on harmonization of the two formats ("a technical impossibility") without harmonization of the applications ("a commercial impossibility").
It's wait and see if at the BRM ISO should reject OOXML ("... and never come back!"); in such a case we'd have some breathing room. If OOXML is conditionally accepted, we'd better start getting our goodbyes to the Internet made orderly. The most likely outcome is an impossible to comprehend conditional approval or continued meetings scheduled to draw OOXML's fate indefinitely into the future.
National delegations from 37 countries will be participating in a ballot resolution meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on 25-29 February 2008 on the draft international standard ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML file formats.
'BRM' is not even in TheFreeDictionary yet. Read up on the arcane procedures of the International Standards Organization, which are so convoluted they cannot be enforced unless everyone is on birthday-party behavior -- which is decidedly not the case.
Sutor arrives in Geneva for panels wearing a sceptic's hat.
Some interesting questions ...
(Q) Why is it so important to Microsoft to get OOXML approved by ISO (when they are not the slightest bit threatened by ODF)?
(A) Brian Proffit, Managing Editor of Linux Today, says the answer is in the Cloud.
(Q) How will we be able to distinguish real misbehavior at the BRM from the shrill, incongruous & unsupported cries of fraud coming from Roy Schestowitz' Boycott Novell?
(A) You won't.
Sharpen your pencils, it's going to be a snoozer.