I remember when Microsoft introduced the SALT "standard," which — Microsoft employees explained — was an industry standard, instantly, because Microsoft issued it. SALT's purpose was to sabotage VoiceXML, a true industry standard. Eventually SALT vanished without a trace and the entire Microsoft program was an exercise in futility.
Microsoft learned from these old mistakes; they've decided their next effort to sabotage an industry standard should go through a real standards body. Many large organizations, in particular governments, now realize that using a proprietary Microsoft format to run their business is foolish at best; among other things these documents become unreadable as time goes on and Microsoft fiddles with the format to make old documents incompatible with the new systems. Microsoft is absolutely desperate to prevent Open Document Format, ODF, from replacing Microsoft's proprietary Word, Powerpoint, and other Microsoft Office formats. ODF is a full ISO/IEC standard.
To sabotage ODF, Microsoft introduced "Office Open XML," OOXML, which they've placed before ISO. The OOXML specification runs to 6,000 pages and makes many people nervous, both because of its technical content and because of its licensing arrangement. And there's the subtext: six thousand pages of specifications is another way of saying that only Microsoft, the custodian, will ever be able to implement the specification.
What's interesting is that Microsoft is apparently cutting corners to get OOXML adopted; well, "cutting corners" is the polite language. We'll see what the courts have to say about it; Microsoft's attempts to dominate the market have a tendency to run afoul of the law. As always the reason is quite simple: Microsoft impedes market and technical progress, and people won't accept those impediments in a fair and open marketplace.
Comments are temporarily disabled while we work on anti-spam measures.
Trackbacks are closed for this story.