Now you see me-now you don’t…

Happy New Year to all of you! How did New Year’s eve go? I hope you’re all fine, well rested and done with that hangover of yesterday… As for me it wasn’t the case and it comes as a surprize: I went to bed at four in the morning, partied nicely but only drank a pint of beer and a shot of vodka.

Our friends at Redmond, WA, however, didn’t sleep much. In  fact I’m wondering if they ever celebrated the new year at all. At first they coined the subtle notion of conditional removal of deprecated parts inside OOXML. Look here: “The intent is to enable the future DIS 29500 maintenance group to choose, at a later date, to remove this set of features from a revised version of DIS 29500.”

That one appeared just before Christmas so you might have thought they had only forgotten about Christmas shopping and devised a cunning plan to confuse people. After all, there are only a few choices possible. Either the Ecma does what they announced in their press release, or it does not and propose something else that is not public for the moment. In fact, I don’t see the Ecma not complying with what they publicly announced (they are supposed to be professional and business-minded) and so the there can only be two possible options left: The Ecma is doing this in order to provision a joint process with the OASIS, if they actually intend to make the Convergence proposal happen. Yet this is too far-fetched and a bit illogical, as no move in that sense has been done yet to my knowledge. The other more likely option is that it’s a lapsus by one well-informed MS engineer who inadvertently shed light on how much Microsoft is controlling OOXML in spite of an alleged public, transparent and participatory process. That detail will be something of importance to keep in mind for the future.

Being slashdotted is the truly postmodernist and perhaps the geekiest way to get one’s own Warolian quarter of fame. And that’s just what happened to Microsoft somewhen between the first and the second of January. One can only guess how they managed to come to that decision. Rob Weir, yes, my colleague at  the HCCOTAMAEAC (High Command Center Of The Anti-Microsoft And Everything American Conspiracy) has a very good analysis on this.

More troubling than all this, though, is perhaps the trend of the Ecma answers to truly address the hard points and shortcomings of OOXML.  For the moment,most of the answers bring cosmetic changes and can portray the Ecma as addressing a non-negligeable amount of issues. And while the Ecma releases its sets of answersto each national committees (the Afnor got its very own one that I’m reading) , Microsoft has not brought any garantee on its actual use and support of the standardization candidate in its products.

Indeed, what Microsoft is actually using is at best OOXML in its first version and at worst something else, just like what Russell described.

That is something that we should not forget: OOXML is, despite what some claim, is not being implemented in Microsoft Office 2007 and there is no assurance that it will ever be implemented anywhere by Microsoft. To be fair, the only ones really implementing OOXML have turned to be… Novell. Some thought food to start 2008.

Happy New Year!

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