OOXML vs ODF: “Just Business”?

A week ago, I posted a comment to someone’s blog concerning OOXML vs ODF. A couple of things in the response really struck me, and it’s taken me a while to gather my thoughts. I’ve now gathered them up and found out what bothered me so much — it’s “Microsoft Think.” (See the Halloween Documents for more on that.)

  • The ODF supporters have played the system just as hard as Microsoft. Really? Then why hasn’t anyone, especially Microsoft, pointed this out? Microsoft would be the first to say so. And truth is, no one wants it that way. Not OASIS. Not F/OSS. The fact is that nothing out of the ordinary happened under the process to accept ODF as an ISO standard. Yes, ODF supporters came in, but they didn’t lie, they answered questions, and nobody got shut out. Now that Microsoft wants a format ISO-approved, we have countries lining up that rarely or have never voted before in ISO, meetings being snow-balled (attendance more than doubled) by Microsoft supporters, attendees are being lied to, etc. etc.
  • This is business not a public service — everyone has a vested interest in the format they support. This is a half-truth. No business is going to support something out of the goodness of their heart. And once they make a decision to use something, they’re going to invest in it. But whereas ODF started as an altruistic standard that companies thought made good business sense, OOXML started as a self-serving “standard” that’s only useful to Microsoft. None of the companies involved in ODF control it, except through suggestions to OASIS, whose job it is to make sure ODF remains open and adaptive to the market. Microsoft controls OOXML and will do with it as they please with it, whether it serves anybody or not.

Please, please do research. If you think this just a mere battle between software companies over document standards, think again. This is Microsoft trying to subvert something that has been created for the public good for the sake of continuing their established monopoly on document formats. They couldn’t just come out and say, “We think ours is better than yours,” and let the market decide like F/OSS does. Why? Because Microsoft realizes it’s better than what they have. In typical Microsoft Think, it is a competitor and must be extinguished.