OOXML marks the spot, says research firm
ODF? It's for poseurs
Large organisations that are considering a move away from Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) in favour of rival standard (Open Document Format) ODF should think again, concludes a new report.
Analysts at Burton Group on Monday turned up the heat in what is an already fiery debate about which standard should be internationally adopted by saying that "ODF should be seen as more of an anti-Microsoft political statement than an objective technology selection".
They said organisations that already use Microsoft's Office should stick with OOXML file formats, which are the default standard in the 2007 version of its software.
Underpinning that argument, the report also predicted that OOXML will be widely adopted by businesses which in turn will beef up Redmond's market share and swat open source vendors to one side.
But ODF, which is the default file format of the open source OpenOffice suite, still has plenty of fans, particularly among the budget-tightening public sector.
Last week, the UK's education technology agency Becta issued a three-pronged attack on Microsoft's licensing model, rubbished the vendor's document format policy, and said schools and parents should be made fully aware of "free-to-use" products.
It said there should be "no widespread deployment of Office 2007" until schools and colleges could be sure they have mechanisms in place to deal with "interopability and potential digital divide issues".
The report's authors also argued that multinational tech firms such as Sun Microsystems and Novell are backing ODF to loosen Microsoft's grip on the XML-based documents cash cow.
Despite its strong support for Microsoft to continue to dominate the Office landscape, the Burton report warns the software giant to work closely with other vendors and customers to ensure it lives up to its commitments. It said: "If Microsoft abuses standards initiatives, the market response will be swift and severe."
But, in recent months, Microsoft has been facing growing criticism of its bid to have OOXML accepted as an international standard ahead of a crucial vote by the ISO scheduled for February.
Redmond initially promised that the ISO would have control of OOXML if and when it became a standard.
Last month's critics argued that Microsoft was backsliding on that promise via plans to retain indirect control of the standard through Ecma International, the group that originally rubber stamped OOXML. ®
So a standard may or may not be set? So what?
It really does not matter too much if a standard is set that has no proprietary support. And even if it did sometimes the fickle public may choose to ignore it by spending its hard earned income elsewhere.
On the other hand, it can be quite good use of a publicly funded budget especially if put into the (sufficently) wrong hands.
In other words: a technicality that may or may not be endorsed by the public?
> Open Office is just reverse engineered from MS Office anyway, and for that matter so is the ODF format.
Rubbish; utter rubbish.
If that was true then I could claim that Word was reverse-engineered from any number of perfectly fine word processors which preceeded it by *years*. You think Microsoft is the only company allowed to fiddle about with text on a GUI interface? Just how many ways *are* there in which an A4 sheet of text can be displayed?
And maybe you can point me to the part of the ODF spec. which says "FormatLikeWord95" and thousands of other examples of non-implementable crap Microsoft stuffed into the OOXML "specification".
@How good a format is ODF?
> The article raises an interesting point about ODF. I've read many negative statements about the Microsoft XML format for Office
At the current stage it's not really a question of "goodness", more one of "can it be implemented".
OOXML cannot currently be implemented to provide any functionality until the meaningless and/or proprietary to Microsoft garbage is either redefined so it can be implemented, or removed completely. It's supposed to define *everything* required for *anyone* to load/save files which use it and at this level, OOXML fails totally.
Microsoft refused to co-operate with the design of ODF but even now, like anyone else, it's perfectly free to add functionality - but detailed and implementable definitions will be required for this process to stand any chance of succeeding..
But it won't do any of this, of course. It's more Microsoft's style to force secretive file formats onto users for the lock-in potential and enforced application upgrades than to co-operate so that *all* users can benefit, irrespective of platform.
ODF three times more popular than OOXML
Try googling for "filetype:docx" (15,400 pages) and "filetype:odt" (45,000 pages).
Similarly "filetype:xlsx" gives 3340 pages and "filetype:ods" gives 9670 pages.
So ODF has about three times as many documents and spreadsheets as OOXML at present. Both are dwarfed by .doc (21,900,000 pages) and .xls (4,420,000 pages). As for the macro-enabled OOXML .docm and .xlsm there are less than 600 together.
Does anyone remember last week
when el reg called MS SP3 draconian as it didn't let you view your older MS office files. As far as I can make out, MS is going to roll this out with SP3 and you will really have to know what your doing to stop them shutting off access to your old docs.
They've done it before, they're doing NOW, and in a few years time, they'll do it again.
Think VERY carefully before locking yourself into any MS format