ODF with no excuse
Reports start to appear in the press about the ODF support quality enabled by the Service Pack 2 inside Microsoft Office 2007. I could say that I’m not surprised,
but I somewhat had also expected the contrary. Unfortunately it seems we have here a poor implementation of ODF. If further reports confirm it (and I have no serious doubt they will),
we will have the case of a monopolistic vendor messing up its own implementation of an open standard and have no viable excuse for doing so.
If we are to believe several reports who all link to Rob Weir’s own thorough review ,
Microsoft has not only done a poor job implementing ODF, it has also ended up into a quite unique endless loop phenomenon . What this basically means is that in some instances
ODF documents created by Microsoft Office will only be readable and editable in… Microsoft Office. How was this possible? Apparently when you want to mess up something, you always find ways to do so.
It would be very tempting to assume that if such a loop, as I call it, was possible, then the real technical flaw has been lying inside the standard’s specification for quite some time. And you know what?
This is obviously the case… otherwise it would not have been possible, or else, MS does not produce conforming ODF documents. But the worst part may not even be there.
What we should perhaps realize today, is that one company charged of monopolistic abuse, after having imposed its own office document standard at the ISO (this one being itself under investigation),
is now trying to break the existing interoperability with the ODF standard. It would not be the first time Microsoft would have had this strategy. But it just reveals how little has changed inside this company.
The intended effect, or should I say the risk, is that given a market share gained and maintained mostly by monopolistic practices and network effects, Microsoft Officer will lock its users in its very own,
incompatible and uninteroperable version of ODF. This is called format filibustering and it is an art Redmond has mastered over the years. I do urge Microsoft to reconsider these biased and unproductive practices.
They will only end up harming its customers. As for ODF, things are going to become very interesting, I think. This time, there is a real chance the market will not let Microsoft fool it again.
And what the market will ask for will be pure, unbiased ODF that can interact with various ODF-capable systems. This time, there will be no excuse.
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