Wow, time really flies. Haven’t been blogging for almost a month now. I know December is always a slow month in tech as people (rightly and they deserve it) wind down the year, but this slow?
PJ had another go at Novell/Microsoft agreement. I am not quite clear about the chronology of the events, but it appears to me that the original redacted work agreement between the two is now fully available as a requisite of Novell being bought out by Attachmate. I will proceed assuming that this is the case.
First impression: Like PJ, I am amazed that the lawyers and business people really leave nothing to chance. That, to an outsider, is the American style as oppose to British style, where a lot of details are ‘Gentleman Agreement’
On the surface, the work to make OOXML workable in OpenOffice.org looks shambolic. It looks like we won’t have complete interoperability as the players’ claim. We see that Novell is required to advocate OOXML and participate in Standard work of OOXML. In other words, they are paid to advocate OOXML.
Digging deeper, I find that I have a better opinion of the agreement o make OOXML interoperability with OpenOffice.org, but a dimmer view of advocate of OOXML.
First, the work Novell must undertake to make OOXML interoperable with OpenOffice.org. Using my experience as a software developer, and looking at both the time line and the time frame, the prescribed goals is perhaps the best one can achieve realistically. It is still, however, a shock to the system to have the goals spell out in black and white.
One thing that is clear: Even Microsoft does not think that full compatibility is possible. To me, it makes a bit of a mockery of the ISO working group setup to ‘harmonize OpenXML and ODF’.
Now, the dim view of OpenXML. Novell is paid to sit on OpenXML standard committees. This we know. The question now is how many more companies are paid to sit on those committees? Moreover, did the British Library, Apple and other companies that were on the original ECMA committee that created OOXML? Now, stuffing the committee, however much you (and I) don’t like it, is fair game when it comes to business, we just have to accept it, voice our displeasure, but will have to move on from that. However, if you stuff a committee, no one, including our critics, can blame us for doubting whether is there really support for the standard the committee advocate. I think this is what people call ‘astroturf‘. With OOXML, there are ample evidence that a lot of original member are not really interested in the continuing evolution of the standard.