CyberTech Rambler

November 29, 2005

MS Office XML Schema License: Lets give Microsoft some benefit of doubt, but not too much….

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:00 am

Analysis of Microsoft’s License

Andy Upgrove has a good analysis of Microsoft’s License Covenant for its office XML format. It covers most of the issue an rival to Microsoft Office product will be interested in.

I agree with the point that the covenant will have more bite if there is some enforcement procedures, such as ECMA or OASIS rules. He is also correct to say that it is dangerous to depend on a covenent for a format described by a company on a website completely under the company’s control (as oppose to a covenant for a format in a published standard). While these are important issues to bear in mind, lets not forget that at present, Microsoft is unable to meet this standard because its XML format is not accepted as a standard yet.

For the question on whether the Office XML format will be truly open, we will have to see what emerge from the ECMA process. I hope it is not something as predicted by David Courtsey predict it to be, i.e., simply a cloak for a proprietary format.

A risk with using Microsoft’s covenant at present, is that Microsoft can withdraw from ECMA process at any time. Sun did it with Java with the same standard body. This will mean that everyone that were sold based on the fact that Microsoft’s format will be opened will have eggs on their face. The chances of Microsoft doing this is small, because this will completely destroy their business reputation, especially if this is seen as a ruse to get their format accepted by government agencies. One just do not spike their customers this way without serious repercussion latter on.


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