CyberTech Rambler

April 25, 2007

More on OpenXML vs ODF

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:59 am

Wow, did not expect so much pingbacks/comments on my previous post. For a nobody like me, its like Alice in Wonderland.

First, James Governor commented and say that he cannot see 100% ODF in enterprise to the exclusion of OpenXML. As I had replied, its true. I cannot see that either. A few years back I would not believe it is possible to see non 100% Microsoft format, no matter what it is. However, today this is possible. In the next few years, bar some catastrophic events, we will probably see ODF slowly going into enterprise. Best case scenario is it follows the trend of Firefox but slightly faster. Lets say 15% in two years. That is good enough to break the document format monopoly held by Microsoft.

In “Arguing About Archiving“, lnxwalt give a very good account the technical side of consuming a document. It shows that the state-of-the-art in opening MS binary document is less than perfect and implies that it can never be, even with OpenXML, which I agree. Having tried to open a OpenXML spreadsheet document myself, I can truly says I appreciate this quote from him: “It is not just about vendor X supports it, but the field IT person who will have to work with it twenty years from now after the vendors have found something else to attract their attention.”

I can understand why he disagree with me that in developed country like US, governments are more likely to roll over and pay the perpetual tax than to follow my proposal of wading the magic wand that makes the tax goes away. My argument is that IP laws are just legal instruments. A public outcry, the necessity to allow government to continue functioning and the weight of public interest can just conceivably turn those “Men in black” into the alien enemies they are hunting.

What lnxwalt pick up from Brian Jones’ blog entry which I did not was Jones’ claim that “OpenXML allows anyone to build tools that read and write the formats, and at the same time is designed to cause the least amount of disruption possible. You can move all your existing documents into OpenXML, and you won’t lose a thing.” [emphasis mine.] The least amount of disruption to whom? So far, we can see the least amount of work to Microsoft Office Development Team but more work to anyone who wants to read/write it. As highlighted in National Bodies comments to ISO, we have the date problem, non-standard names, the insistence on using alternatives to well established standards such as the mark up language for Maths and finally the opaqueness of Windows Metafile makes more work for others. These are simply design decisions and in my opinion, controversial at best and lousy at worst.

The situation today is that both ODF and OpenXML wants to be your document format. Both took different routes. For ODF, they stress that you can have multiple applications to open it. With OpenXML, Microsoft can hardly point to an alternative implementation of OpenXML available today. Instead, it focus on third parties who are, we should emphasis, not in the Office productivity business but sees value in importing/exporting data to Office applications. In other words, ODF folks focus on competition within Office Apps, OpenXML folks are focusing on building applications around Microsoft Office, i.e., the value-added market. In the long run, ODF is deploying a better strategy. Why? People who build applications around Microsoft Office can easily retarget to ODF, if ODF gets traction. If so, the advantage enjoyed by OpenXML will be eroded. Its an epic battle, with OpenXML folks hoping to put enough effort in the short term strategy sufficient enough to torpedo ODF’s longer term strategy. It just might work.



  1. hey thanks for the shout out. any chance of a link though? i am sure brian would apreciate one too… that way you might generate even more traffic and “drink this”. linkiness is catching and adds to the semantic richness of the cluster.

    Comment by James Governor — April 25, 2007 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

  2. I assume you meant you want a link to your blog. Sorry for forgetting to do it. Ditto Brian Jones.

    Comment by ctrambler — April 25, 2007 @ 2:20 pm | Reply

  3. thank you sir. no need to “off with your head” now…;-)

    Comment by James Governor — April 25, 2007 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

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