CyberTech Rambler

March 22, 2006

Microsoft playing tricks to slow adoption of ODF by ISO? I do not think they dare (Updated 2x)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:49 pm

An interesting development on the proposal of OpenDocumentFormat (ODF) to ISO, Microsoft got itself signed on to the committee that vet the proposal before it goes to ISO. To put it briefly, Microsoft is on the committee that has the task of combing through comments/disagreements submitted by interested parties before ISO adopt ODF as a standard. The article linked above, by Andy Updegrove, will give you a more detail explaination.

PJ of groklaw is worried that Micrsoft might use its membership of the subcommittee to sabotage the adoption of ODF by ISO. Given the stake involved, especially when it comes to $$$, that is certainly a possibility. If everything is done behind close door, the risk that this happens increased. However, I hope that the committee proceedings are transparent enough to stop this type of things.

If the proceedings are transparent enough, these few factors will make Microsoft think twice before putting the spanner in the wheel:

  1. They are on the record saying that the reason they did not join the OASIS committee for ODF, and the reason that they are submitting their Office XML format to ECMA, is that the OASIS committee did not focus on the needs and constrains of their customers. Any attempt to even slow down the approval on the complains of Microsoft's customers will immediately hit back on Microsoft, for "not adequately representing their customers' interest in the ODF committee while they could had influence the outcome", for "retrospectively attempting to modify a standard, one that they choose not to participate" and for "unjustly slowing down the process".
  2. The fact that Microsoft has a rival proposal, i.e. the parallel track on Office XML in ECMA makes it clear that there are "conflicts of interest" for Microsoft. They know that people are watching. Hence any attempt to promote the interest of Office XML in the committee will probably backfire badly.
  3. If they did actually impeed the process, it will be very bad PR for Microsoft. Trust on Microsoft is already very low, that will push it even lower. In business, if I cannot trust you, there is no business. Most importantly, there will be payback on other , mostly unexpected and not-yet-conceived, occassions.

Moreover, if Microsoft is seen to be impeding the progress of the committee, what is there to stop others from doing the same to Office XML standard when it becomes a proposal for ISO standard. Sure, the same arguments is very likely to apply to Office XML detractor, but they have the high ground of saying "I did what you did and nothing more" and it is "an eye for an eye".

(Update 24th March) According to this article, the reason why Microsoft join the subcommittee is in preparation for its Office XML Standard going through the subcommittee. They will not participate in the ODF adoption process. I hope they are telling the truth here. If Office XML Standard have to go through the same subcommittee, presumably later than ODF, chances of Microsoft mischieving has just become lower. Other member in the subcommittee, in particular, SUN, can give it a taste of its own medicine.

(Updated 30 March) Looks like IBM is joining into the fun. Officially, Bob Sutor of IBM says IBM thinks it is a good idea to join the committee. May be it is true. Also highly possible is that IBM had made up its mind in joining it long ago, after ODF becomes a OASIS Standard. For me, the crucial thing is this will keep Microsoft's evil plans (if any) in check. The dates of both Microsoft's and IBM's joining is so close to each other that they will both acquire the same standing rights at practically the same time. This means the effect of any Microsoft's evil tactics will be diluted. Moreover, Microsoft's own Open Office XML standardization process through the same committee will be even more seriously affected by dirty tricks should Microsoft choose to do it to ODF. The odds is slowly turning against Microsoft employing dirty tricks.


1 Comment »

  1. […] While we do not know who voted for or abstent (there is no negative vote), the fear that Microsoft is going to throw a spanner in the works did not materialize this time. I hate to say it, but I told you so. Given the rather strong support, i.e., no negative work, life will be difficult for Microsoft if it is to start stirring things up in the next stage if it wants to. […]

    Pingback by CyberTech Rambler » OpenDocumentFormat Update — May 17, 2006 @ 7:43 am | Reply

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