Thirty years old and still no Tom-Tom…

HADOPI - Le Net en France : black-out

Today I am thirty. And today, I have decided I would post a blog that would not be different from the my other posts. How’s that for genuine originality? So today’s topic will be a round-up of news on OpenDocument Format (ODF). It has been a long time I haven’t updated this area.


  • ODF 1.2 is well underway. The arrival of a flurry of new members inside the ODF Technical Committee who have illustrated themselves as proponents of OOXML is a bit fun to watch I must say. But I have to command the general serenity of the Committee and its chairs, Rob Weir and Michael Brauer for their quiet and effective management of the proceedings. I think the only thing that is to be hoped for is that we can finish the completion of this ODF sub-version. Also, and of some interest, I can only recommend the reading of the archives of the Committee’s discussions online where interesting concepts on extensions and conformance are being discussed.

  • Some « lighter » news but as serious: the future of ODF does not just depend on the OASIS ODF Technical Committee. It depends on you. You are encouraged to provide ideas for the future versions of ODF « ODF-Next » . The Committee has wanted this to be inclusive of everyone’s participation as explained here.

  • We did know that at some point in time, Microsoft Office would support ODF. It seems the wait is almost over these days. You will recall I was originally very supportive of the idea of Microsoft Office natively supporting ODF; then, I took some time reading the fine print and I grew a bit wary of what the Microsoft engineers were saying about the limits their implementation of ODF would be constrained to. At this point in time we do not have the Service Pack 2 of Microsoft Office 2007. What we do know however, is a couple of things that got me thinking: ODF support will only be available in the latest, patched version of Microsoft Office 2007. It will have some limitations and the feature will not be put prominently in the hands of the users, so to speak. I wonder why ODF shouldn’t be Microsoft Office’s default format or if the default configuration would be more effective with an icon on the user interface. After all, ODF is an ISO standard and people, governments, businesses demand it (at this stage it’s not even clear if OOXML was even requested by anyone who was not already part of Ecma and had vested interests in siding on with Microsoft…), so why not make that jump?

  • This also got me thinking: ODF support in MS Office is a good idea. Don’t get me wrong on this. I wish however were extended to other products of the Microsoft stack, such as Sharepoint, Microsoft Dynamics and even Microsoft Internet Explorer. Why? I do not advocate this strategic move with ulterior motives of having Microsoft fail. Precisely not: The only way for Microsoft to survive is to embrace Open Standards, transparency and perhaps Open Source in some way. So let Microsoft do it the whole way. If the market demands ODF, let it have it and let it have a real choice, where Microsoft would actually be a compelling one for good. I am confident Microsoft folks are having some discussion on this internally. But there is at the very least two sides inside the company, and any attempt to play well with the Open Source Community (for the sake of not playing fair with the Free Software part of the community) is unfortunately matched by opposite and hostile moves.

  • Which brings me to the Microsoft vs. Tom-Tom case. This is one more story where software patents hamper innovation. Add to this the general timing of the case: Tom-Tom is an European company operating in the automotive industry. You can understand now why the European Union has to stand firmly by its automotive sector…

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