Feeds

Microsoft ignites idea of independent versions of Office

Rivals flame Redmond

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Just when you thought it wasn't possible to create any more versions of Microsoft Office, Redmond has raised the prospect of more of even more flavors. Only not from Microsoft.

Microsoft has said it expects its use of XML to describe Office file formats, namely the Office XML File Format, will lead others to build implementations of the suite. (And we thought Standard, Professional, Home and Student and Professional Plus were plenty.)

Microsoft is pushing for the ratification of the Office XML File Format through the European Computer Manufacturers' Association (ECMA), with support from the likes of Apple Computer, the British Library, Intel and Toshiba.

Microsoft has championed the Office XML File Format in opposition to OpenDocument Format (ODF), which has the backing of Adobe Systems, Apple (again), IBM, Nokia, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and Red Hat, and which has been ratified by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

Members of a panel discussing the difference between open standards and open source software here at this week's Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) expressed strong doubt about whether ratification of Office XML File Format as a standard would challenge Microsoft's market dominance.

Panel member Stephen Walli, an ex-Microsoft business development manager turned vice president of open source development strategy for consultant and systems integrator Optaros, challenged the real value of Office XML File Format.

Walli said it was unlikely the standards would produce independent alternatives to Microsoft. "A measure of how successful a standard becomes is how many implementations there are... a standard of one is problematic," Walli said.

Precedent is certainly on Walli's side. ECMA ratified Microsoft's Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) and C# programming language several years ago, but since then just one implementation - the open source Project Mono - has emerged.

Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of standards and open source, contrasted this with the fact that "a couple of commercial implementations" already exist that use ODF. ODF is employed in OpenOffice and Sun's StarOffice, while IBM has plans to use ODF in its Workplace Managed Client 2.6 thin client productivity bundle.

However, Jason Matusow, Microsoft's director of corporate standards, shot back calling it "presumptive" to conclude Office XML File Format's wouldn't lead to independent implementations. "There will be competing implementations," he said, adding the pace of development would exceed expectations.

Matusow said the ECMA standards process is designed to promote growth in competition. "This is not a Microsoft dominated piece [of standards work]. Can multiple implementations come from it? The answer is 'yes'."

According to Matusow, IBM's massive Global Services business has been talking to Microsoft about how it can build a services business around Office XML File Format.®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.