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ODF Threat to Microsoft in US Governments Grows

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the cropping-up-everywhere dept.

Microsoft 269

Tookis writes "Another setback for Microsoft has cropped up in the space of document formats in government organizations. The state of California has introduced a bill to make open document format (ODF) a mandatory requirement in the software used by state agencies. Similar legislation in Texas and Minnesota has added further to the pressure on Microsoft, which is pushing its own proprietary Office Open XML (OOXML) document format in the recently released Office 2007. The bill doesn't specify ODF by name, but instead requires the use of an open XML-based format."

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In Soviet Russia... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234082)

Microsoft a Threat to ODF

Re:In Soviet Russia... (4, Funny)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234526)

Not just in soviet russia...

Define Open (1, Insightful)

jfclavette (961511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234084)

If the text really reads "An Open XML-based format", then OOXML is as suitable a choice as ODF.

Re:Define Open (5, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234118)

FTFA:
"The new bill, introduced by Californian Democrat Mark Leno, does not name ODF specifically but has stipulated that by 2008 agencies must be equipped to store and exchange documents in an open, XML-based format. Although the name of Microsoft's Office Open XML suggests that it would match the requirement, it is in fact a proprietary format that would fail the open standards test."

It appears that there are more tests than the blurb indicates as to what 'standard' would be accepted. To me, it sounds like the bill is not trying to eliminate any possible software, simply to ensure that all of the apps can play nice together. That is common sense to me as far as business decisions go.

Re:Define Open (5, Interesting)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234252)

According to Andy Upgrove [consortiuminfo.org] , the Netherlands essentially were bought out by Microsoft like ANSI was. If Microsoft is successful in getting ISO approval, this California law will essentially get read in as a "Thou shalt use Microsoft Office" law.

While I hope ISO doesn't ratify OOXLM, the cynical side of me doesn't have a whole lot of hope.

Re:Define Open (5, Insightful)

FTL (112112) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234572)

"Although the name of Microsoft's Office Open XML suggests that it would match the requirement, it is in fact a proprietary format that would fail the open standards test."

Microsoft's "Office Open XML" name reminds me of a lot of country names. Whenever one hears a country called "The People's Democratic Republic of [Somewhere]", one instantly knows it is communist. Likewise, anything "open" from Microsoft is invariably closed. Microsoft does develop open formats (like RTF) but they are never advertised as such.

Re:Define Open (4, Interesting)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235068)

  • War is Peace
  • Freedom is Slavery
  • Ignorance is Strength
  • Open is Closed

Common sense... (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235314)

Yep. The important thing is to create *COMPETITION*.

"Open Source" doesn't create competition, open file formats do - by allowing companies to pick and choose which software they use to work with their documents.

The sooner people figure this out, the better.

Re:Define Open (5, Funny)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234134)

Only if you redefine the word open to mean closed, proprietary and subject to licence fees and patents, perhaps m$ just needs to buy out the Webster and Oxford English dictionary and it can redefine the language to suit it's own twisted world view.

Re:Define Open (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234342)

perhaps m$ just needs to buy out the Webster and Oxford English dictionary

Done and done. If that's all it takes for them to conquer the English language, boy, are we in trouble.

(Although, more seriously, did you know that Microsoft has its own dictionary [msn.com] ? They haven't quite figured out how to embrace, extend, and extinguish those other, legacy dictionaries, but I'm sure they're working on it.)

Re:Define Open (4, Informative)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234734)

I checked on that dictionary, http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/open.html [msn.com] .

The definition as per M$N Encarta - 4. comput publicly available computer system: a product or system whose internal features and interfaces can be used or modified by users or developers in any way they wish.

M$ obviously doesn't make use of M$N Encarta when it comes to defining there own software, perhaps the M$ marketdroids should look up words in their own dictionary before using them.

Re:Define Open (4, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234354)

In computer language terms, nobody should use the word "open" (implying unencumbered) in a product name unless it really is. Otherwise, it's called false advertising and subject to all the fines and sanctions that come with it. Microsoft calling their compendium of proprietary digital glop "open" fits that description.

Re:Define Open (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234680)

Nice try sonny, but you used a possessive apostrophe where there should not be one. Come on, you can do better than that.

Re:Define Open (2, Interesting)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234338)

An Open XML-based format

I read these stories about ODF and OOXML all the time, but I've never understood *why* these XML-based formats are so smiled upon. An open standard is great, but does XML really do the job we want here?

Documents created with office software usually need to do a number of things, things that when described in plain text and all the associated markup must result in incredibly bloated files. For example, how do you save an embedded image? An embedded audio clip? An embedded video? Base-64 encode them? Now we're talking bloat. Throw in vector and raster line art and we've defined the word "bloat". I realize the files will probably be zipped, but that won't make up for it.

I guess I just don't see why an open binary format, which can store all this information much more precisely and efficiently, wouldn't be better. XML is dandy, sure, but the specs for these formats are going to be so complicated that nobody will be able to open the file in a text editor and just read through it. The formatting instructions will be so verbose that they will completely overshadow any content. Writing a parser for these will be easily as complex as a parser designed to read a binary file representing the same document.

What's the big advantage of XML?

Re:Define Open (5, Insightful)

darnok (650458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234490)

> I read these stories about ODF and OOXML all the time, but I've never understood *why* these
> XML-based formats are so smiled upon. An open standard is great, but does XML really do the
> job we want here?

As I understand it, the big advantage of using XML in ODF (don't know about OOXML) is that you can extract the actual content of your document as XML, change it, resave it and it all renders properly (this assumes that your styles etc. are set up correctly).

For example, in theory I should be able to create an empty document that just contains all my style info, insert *all* the content with appropriate pointers to the styles I want to use, save it, and then someone else can come along, open my document and read my content in their program of choice.  If my raw content is XML (as is increasingly the case these days), I can fairly easily automate converting it to ODF format (just as I've been able to easily convert it to HTML, PDF and a bunch of other formats for a while now).  ODF then becomes a simple "container" that anyone anywhere can use without needing any proprietary tools to do so.

I can then save my content as strict XML, then render it in whatever format the user requires.  If they've got Acrobat, I'll give them a PDF file; if they've got OpenOffice or AbiWord, I'll give them an ODF doc; if they've got a Web browser, I'll give them HTML.  *This* is the big plus of open document formats in general; the actual format of the document essentially becomes unimportant, since anyone who wants to look at it can do so in their tool of choice.  If one tool is crappy, or becomes unavailable, or doesn't support e.g. Swahili, no problem - just find a different tool.

In terms of whether XML is the optimal format for this type of data in the first place, it's probably a good fit for almost all cases, as distinct from being a really great fit for only a few cases.  Depending on how you define "better", it's not hard to come up with a better format for a book than:
<title>My document</title>
<subtitle>Written by me</subtitle>
<chapter>First chapter</chapter>
<chaptertext>The quick brown fox...</chaptertext>

However, XML is here now, works well enough, is insufficiently bad to try to replace it with something else (assuming that "something else" is actually better than XML), and a lot of tools and libraries (both free and commercial) exist that make working with it pretty straightforward.

Re:Define Open (4, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234582)

For example, how do you save an embedded image? An embedded audio clip? An embedded video? Base-64 encode them? Now we're talking bloat.
Binary content like images, audio, and video, is simply included as binary files in the zipped package. In odt, for instance, images go in a subdirectory "Pictures" as whatever file type was imported. So no, it isn't bloated. It remains as tidy and compressed as one would expect. Indeed it becomes very easy to extract images, audio and video that has been embedded into a document - just unzip and grab the files you want. Contrast that with a binary format where you need a program to parse the binary file and rip out the appropriate material.

I guess I just don't see why an open binary format, which can store all this information much more precisely and efficiently, wouldn't be better. XML is dandy, sure, but the specs for these formats are going to be so complicated that nobody will be able to open the file in a text editor and just read through it.
It isn't at all clear to me that a binary format is going to store the content any more efficiently than a zipped set of XML files and associated binary files. You might get a very marginal gain, but it's hardly going to be significant. As to precision - again, I see no inherent reason why some binary format is going to be any more precise. XML is simply a way to structure a document, what the tags actually specify is open to be defined, so XML can describe things with just as much precision as a binary format. As to specs for the forma - obviously the MS format is quite complicated: 6000 pages; on the other hand the ODF format seems relatively compact (700 pages is a lot, but considering how much there is to specify it is remarkably good). And with regard to whether a person can open the content.xml file of an ODF document and read it in a text editor - perhaps you should try it. I had no real difficulties (I did use Emacs sgml-pretty-print to format it nicely, but that's just a few keystrokes away). It is well organised and easy enough to make sense of.

The formatting instructions will be so verbose that they will completely overshadow any content.
That's what xml-mode and syntax highlighting are for. Once you run it through pretty-print so that it is all nicely indented finding, reading, and interpreting the content amid the style information is trivial - it's all the material that is not tags. If it's really troubling you you can always use sgml-tags-invisible (that's bound to "C-c TAB" by default in xml-mode) to toggle tag visiblity, turn off the tags, and be staring at nothing but bare plain text content. Perhaps you just don't have a good text editor.

What's the big advantage of XML?
It's standard, well defined, and there are already a billion and one parsers built for it in every language conceivable. More importantly, it is very reasonable to expect that XML parsers are going to be around, largely unchanged, for quite some time to come, so 20 years from now parsign these documents will be just as easy. I mean really, what's the big advantage of ASCII? Why not use EBCDIC [wikipedia.org] ? XML is extremely widespread and looks to become the standard for pretty much any kind of structured document. Sticking with what's mainstream is a good choice when you are looking for longevity.

Re:Define Open (5, Informative)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234616)

the specs for these formats are going to be so complicated that nobody will be able to open the file in a text editor and just read through it.

I have untarred several documents from the ODF family and found them easy to understand. I would suggest you do the same as the software to create these files is Free [operoffice.org] . If you can't be arsed to do that, then stop writing inane commentary. :)

The specification for ODF is available online [oasis-open.org] . Since that is the case, please attempt to read it before spouting-off about it being unreadable. It is 722 pages long, I've had a brief look at it and it seems very readable (better than that: it looks implementable!)

In my opinion Microsoft's format is neither XML, or open. It's binary, patentable cruft in an XML wrapper [grokdoc.net] . So it's best not to describe it as an 'XML Format' at all. The specification for this is reportedly 6,000 pages long. This is also available online [ecma-international.org] .

The advantages of XML file formats are:

  • Increased Robustness
  • Document Archiving
  • Version Interoperability
  • Documented and Transparent File Content
  • Standards Based
  • Easy Import and Export of Other File Formats
  • Search Engines / Knowledge Management Systems

All of these were copied from the OpenOffice Web Site [openoffice.org] , explanation of the items in that list can be found there.

XML advantage (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235116)

There is one, and only one, advantage of using XML: You can reuse an existing parser, instead of writing your own. How to write a parser is probably the most well-understood problem in computer science, so this is not a big saving in time. However, there tend nonetheless to be slight differences between ad-hoc parsers independently written for the same language, so for interoperability reasons specifying XML might be a good idea.

Re:Define Open (2, Informative)

musther (961493) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234464)

This is it, people keep going on about ODF v OOXML, and although I don't care for MS and their attempts at keeping the support of governments and the like in these interesting times, OOXML "meets the European Union definitions of an Open Standard, meaning the specification is freely available and implementable." [wikipedia.org]

Later in the article it goes on to talk about criticism by the FSF, Sun and others "The essential premise behind some of this criticism, apart from several technical issues, is that Microsoft has standardised its proprietary format in order to prevent the widespread adoption of the OpenDocument format, which could threaten the dominance of Microsoft's own Office suite."
But surely if OOXML is as open as the wikipedia page (and everything I've heard) makes it sound, then it's just as open as ODF and there really is nothing to choose. Is this just the usual MS bashing, or is it really something that should concern the FOSS and open standards world?

Reading further in the article it is a little concerning that within the formats MS doesn't choose to use standards, such as avoiding SVG and MathML. It's also concerning that MS "incorrectly treats 1900 as a leap year" due to using a non-standard date system for spreadsheets.

Re:Define Open (4, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234708)

But surely if OOXML is as open as the wikipedia page (and everything I've heard) makes it sound,

Have you heard that Microsoft hired it's own wikipedia contributer to (try to) control the spin on the OOXML and ODF pages?

And I guess you haven't heard about the parts of the OOXML "spec" that say something ot the effect of: "Word95Spacing - This tag means that document spacing should conform to that produced by Word95. That's too complicated to go into here, see Word95 for details."

This is a spec? This is open?

Re:Define Open (2, Insightful)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234714)

What you're failing to take into account is that Microsoft have a paid shill [arstechnica.com] editing Wikipedia for them.

OOXML is not open, see the list of objections [grokdoc.net] . Also ask yourself: if Microsoft wanted to use an open file format, why didn't they use ODF? They had plenty of time to implement it within Office 2007 and were asked to be part of ODF's development. Firstly the ignored it, now that it's gaining traction they're trying to destroy it with a competing 'standard'.

Re:Define Open (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235210)

lol.. OK first off, I'm not disagreeing with you at all. Lets say you opened a door that has been bugging me for a while.

Wikipedia isn't all that it is cracked up to be. I have found articles baltently false and I have found articles designed t benifit one positionover another. Then we have this story about microsoft trying to recuite people to change wiki entries. And along these lines, we end up with a tenured professor who lives in his mom's basement or whatever. I have tried to give wikipedia the benifit of doubt but it just doesn't seem reliable for more then opening the door to other investigation. What I mean is, You use it to find out were or what to look at from other sources.

Second, You hit the nail on the head with this ooxml. MS was only presured into using an "open format" because a state was requiring it's governments to use it. This presented certain rules they couldn't get around with the traditional embrace and extend policies. So in order to keep their strangle hold on the Mass government they had to reinvent the wheel.

So yea. I'm doing a me too here except that I wanted to express some extra thought on Wikipedia. I'm not sure it can be trusted on several levels.

Re:Define Open (1)

a.d.trick (894813) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234484)

OOXML is hardly open. In fact, it's hardly XML either seeing as how it embeds so much binary data.

Hooray for... (0, Troll)

stubear (130454) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234098)

...Government mandated mediocrity.

Re:Hooray for... (3, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234170)

Yeah, darn that government for wanting to be able to read the documents 20 years down the road.

The government is not forcing this on anyone. They have zero interest in forcing you or anyone else outside the government to use any given format. This is not Big Brother, this is a great case of the market economy at work! Microsoft's largest customer is saying that they they are in the market for a system that meets specific criteria. They don't care who provides it or where it comes from, just as long as it does what they need it to do. Now, the market decides who will provide them what they want.

Re:Hooray for... (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234898)

They have zero interest in forcing you or anyone else outside the government to use any given format.

... unless you are a government contractor, buy or sell to the government, or need a service from the government, or in any other way have to exchange documents with a government entity. That probably covers most of the businesses.

Re:Hooray for... (2, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234982)

And with an open document format, all those people can use whatever programs and formats they like, and export to the mandated format as needed.

Re:Hooray for... (2, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235164)

Shocking! Do you normally dictate the delivery format to your client? If a publisher wants their images in Adobe Illustrator format, do you feel oppressed due tot he fact that they are not interested in some random format you found on the web? If a website you build is required to be compatible with IE or Firefox, do you rail at the injustice of not being able to use the latest code hack that only works in some obscure browser from 5 years ago?

The government, like any other organization, has the right to dictate the details of their work exactly as far as they can enforce them. No one is forcing anyone to work with or for the government. If using the document format of their choice is morally repugnant to you, feel free to take your services elseware.

Re:Hooray for... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235250)

Well, I mostly agree with you except with this statment.

No one is forcing anyone to work with or for the government
Some laws force interactions with the government and citizens looking for services from the government need the same access. I know you left this out but I feel I needs to be addressed. Because the Idea behind ODF is that You can grab a plugin for whatever program you have and access or interact with the new formats. It should also make accesability requirments easier because any program can interact with the data ubstead of having to puchase a format license or reverse engineer a document standard.

It isn't as much about who does business with them as it is who needs interact with them. This reason alone in my opinion outweighs any setback that someone making money from the government would have.

Re:Hooray for... Open Source and Open Specs! (0, Flamebait)

FractalZone (950570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234290)

...Government mandated mediocrity.

Better than Micro$loth's Monopoly(tm) where we pay ever increasing prices for buggy bloatware.

The way to beat the MS Monopoly(tm) is to let the people have real choices and not have MS Crap(tm) shoved down their throats from the moment they buy a new computer at a big box store (Worst Buy, Corrupt City, Office Last, etc.) or have to deal with government forms, to the point where they need to deal with computer security/privacy issues. Microsoft is amazingly lame at building safe software. But most consumers don't realize there are alternatives to the crapware M$ foists upon them.

Ideally, a consumer should buy a new computer and have several choices as to which OS(es) will run on it, many of them being non-M$ OSes (read: various flavors of Linux, even a reborn OS/2, Solaris, or perhaps a newer, even better OpenVMS). For documents, the standard should be completely non-proprietary. The specs should be simple and brief, not 6000+ pages of M$ dreck.

Re:Hooray for... Open Source and Open Specs! (1)

bheer (633842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234732)

> where we pay ever increasing prices for buggy bloatware.

Microsoft Office MSRP prices have been declining in even nominal terms (and of course in real terms) over the past 10+ years. Google News Archive search is your friend -- you can find old MSRP data quite easily with it. And re 'buggy bloatware' - while WordPerfect the word-processor is good (don't know about apps WP Office comes with), I *have* used IBM's SmartSuite, OpenOffice and Microsoft's Office, and give me MS Office anyday. And please don't tell me about LaTeX -- if I have to force naive users to generate well-structured docs, LaTeX isn't an option ... I'd rather give them something like Word 2003+ (which can enforce schemas) or come up with my own web-based word processor (I hope Google Docs adds this feature quickly).

> Ideally, a consumer should buy a new computer and have several choices as to which OS(es) will run on it

Do you think a consumer even gives a shit? Or - forget consumers. Do you think folk who purchase IBM big iron give a shit about which OS it runs (apart for needing to know what skills to check when filling HR forms for system administrators), as long as their payroll and inventory get done?

> For documents, the standard should be completely non-proprietary. The specs should be simple and brief, not 6000+ pages of M$ dreck.

The "simple and brief" attitude doesn't work so well for any sort of legacy system. There are two sorts of standards: blue-sky (TCP, IP, HTTP, etc) and those that build on what's already on the market. So unless you have any bright ideas for dealing with docs that *already* exist, be prepared to deal with messy specs (and it's not like the ODF spec is that brief ... a famous problem is the ambiguity in the formulas, which effectively makes reverse-engineering StarCalc's formula engine a must to parse ODF properly, effectively making it a hidden part of the spec.)

But hey

Re:Hooray for... Open Source and Open Specs! (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235260)

Do you think a consumer even gives a shit? Or - forget consumers. Do you think folk who purchase IBM big iron give a shit about which OS it runs (apart for needing to know what skills to check when filling HR forms for system administrators), as long as their payroll and inventory get done?

Sure they do, in both cases:

  • An OS that runs decently on a low-power device with a weeklong battery life.
  • A realtime OS for gaming or music production
  • A high-security OS for dealing with sensitive data
  • An OS with good performance tuning features, say dtrace in Solaris
  • An OS for learning about computers - that is, simple enough to understand how assembler code poking values into DAC plays music
  • Conversely, an OS for people with no computer knowledge, or desire to acquire the same.


I don't see any of those being good at any of the others' tasks.

Re:Hooray for... (3, Interesting)

Skald (140034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234352)

Tyrrany! The government of California is mandating things to... the government of California. One can only weep for those agile, efficient state agencies, hamstrung in their efforts to serve the public by the state legislature's document format demands.

Seriously, California's government is supposed to let each of its agencies choose (or not choose) its own standard for documents, so that one part of the government can't communicate with another? Talk about mediocrity.

That's backward. (2, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234448)

Hooray for Government mandated mediocrity.

The only way applications can compete on merit is if they all use published standards to exchange information. No one can compete with secret formats and no public document should ever use one. Nothing but greed and fear of competition is keeping M$ from using ODF or inventing an equally well documented standard. Well, perhaps a little incompetence keeps them second rate.

Freedom means more than quality. (4, Insightful)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234486)

It is unwise to try to reframe the debate toward what proprietors value instead of what freedoms users need.

Users freedoms are more important than lists of feature sets proprietors would have us focus on; letting some kind of popularity contest decide what format is "better" is also a bad idea because that boils down to spending more on advertising (which, of course, Microsoft would love to do because they can spend millions on ads that never discuss the shortcomings of their products). Microsoft's track record on their .doc formats (yes, plural, because there are more than one and they are not always upwardly-compatible) is bad. Many have analyzed OOXML and pointed out serious problems with it (Groklaw carries many pointers to these articles, from Linguists to more CS-oriented critique). We have a chance to liberate ourselves and preserve our documents for posterity by switching to open standards (one of which is ODF).

We can't afford to push aside the importance to citizens here: people need the freedom to print, copy, and publish documents whenever they want (even if some government or corporation deems it inappropriate) without overcoming digital restrictions. Governments shouldn't be allowed to spend taxpayer money on documents that deny users these freedoms.

Can't have one without the other. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234792)

Users freedoms are more important than lists of feature sets proprietors would have us focus on

The funny thing is that users only get the features they want if they are free to implement them. Quality software is a fortunate byproduct of free software. The same kinds of arguments were made two hundred years ago about the link between freedom and wealth and they are just as true today.

Re:Hooray for... (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234620)

Hooray for Government mandated mediocrity.

The government is mandating Microsoft Products?

That sound you hear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234100)

...is Microsoft lobbyists stampeding to California to convince them that OOXML is actually "open".

I think I speak for slashdot when I say (1)

gQuigs (913879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234148)

Yay! *Assuming Open means actually open and not just called "open". As well as assuming many other things. Furthermore this means if everyone else (Novell, WordPerfect) were to drop MS OOXML support California would have to not choose MS's OOXML. (the multiple vendor clause).

So how many States is that now? (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234150)

Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, California... anywhere else? I'm (happily) beginning to lose count!

Re:So how many States is that now? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234284)

46 to go.

More than one in five people and growing. (2, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234588)

An AC taunts:

46 to go.

OK, let's take that to Google.

  • United States of America Population: 293,027,571 (July 2004 est.)
  • California Population: 33,871,648
  • Texas Population: 20,851,820
  • Massachusetts Population: 6,349,097
  • Minnesota Population: 4,919,479

What's that 66/300, 22%? Better than 4/50 or 8% would suggest. California alone is better than 8%.

Don't worry, there will be more soon. States like NY, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, etc. usually follow the tech savvy lead of CA, TX and MA quickly. Sooner or later all of them do.

Microsoft will soon have to compete with something other than secret file formats and other dirty tricks. If Vista is the best they've got, it's over.

Re:More than one in five people and growing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234614)

An AC taunts

Wow, you took that very badly. He was just making a (good) point.

BTW, what are you trying to prove with that math exercise? What do state populations have to do with anything?

Re:More than one in five people and growing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235004)

BTW, what are you trying to prove with that math exercise? What do state populations have to do with anything?

Potential effects on market share.

Re:More than one in five people and growing. (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234942)

This crap makes me love being a Texan

Re:More than one in five people and growing. (1)

joel48 (103238) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235018)

> Don't worry, there will be more soon. States like NY, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, etc.
> usually follow the tech savvy lead of CA, TX and MA quickly. Sooner or later all of them do.

Ah, and yet when will Washington state follow... (a semi-serious question, I live here).

Re:So how many States is that now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234508)

Might want to scratch Massachusetts off that list. Supposedly they moved to open formats starting in 2007 - but just try and find any on the Massachusetts website [mass.gov] .

Or, given that navigating that site is a disaster, try this:

Search for files of type 'ods' [google.com] - 0 results
Search for files of type 'xls' [google.com] - 3,230 results

That's not to say there's nothing there:

Search for files of type 'odt' [google.com] - 27 results
Search for files of type 'doc' [google.com] - 31,400 results

Given that the state was going to completely switch by 2007, and we're now in March of 2007, it's safe to say that the move hasn't quite happened. At all.

As an example, try this page of employment stats [detma.org] presented by the Mass state government. But only if you're using Excel - it's not available in any other format.

Re:So how many States is that now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234986)

Add Belgium, Holland, and parts of Spain, oh, and Cuba and Brazil, and I think Germany is looking at it, and also Norway, France was looking at this in October/06. For sure Malaysia and Italy have already mandated it. Support for NeoOffice (For Macs) is in process, and support for Google Docs is already in. As far as adoption, I don't know if these countries are mandating anything, but their governments participated in the OASIS project (that created the ODF format): United Kingdom, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Egypt, Germany, Israel, and China. They are likely the next adoptees (if they haven't started adoption already). The National Archives of Australia has adopted it, parts of the Government of India including the High Court, Peru, and the City of Vienna, Austria. Korea is looking at it. ....is that enough?

None, actually...! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235020)

Mass. is about to be closed down by M$ packing the decision-making bodies and bribing/threatening the officials.

They got rid of the head of IT there.

What makes you think they won't do the same thing for the other states? That, after all, is their standard method of working. They are quite capable of bribing/coercing anyone in the process, including judges.

It's only geeks who look at the actual details of the standard. Microsoft can mount a legal challenge, saying 'you asked for Open XML and we gave you a product CALLED Open XML, for gods sake!'. Why or how can a state justify the cost of even a small case fought against Micro$oft?

History? (4, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234160)

I think that history will point to the Massachusetts move to require an open format as the watershed moment, where Microsoft's stranglehold on the industry began to falter. Because that poor IT director who lost his job in the noise and tumult pointed out to the world that the Emporor, indeed, was not wearing any clothes. Generations from now, ODF will most likely be the standard for public document archives, and the culture and technicalities of documents drawn from our generation will still be available, thanks to the guts and drive of a single man who (ironically) lost his job for accurately identifying one of the most significant problems of the decade.

Yay for ODF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234232)

Yay for ODF :)

Profit? (1)

SoapDish (971052) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234272)

1. Make laws that require use of ODF in government.
2. Charge extra for ODF format in MS Office.
3. Users too stubborn to use anything but Office.

Things don't really look too bad for MS.

X(HT)ML+CSS? (4, Insightful)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234316)

I had been thinking that ODF was "obviously" a good thing until I read the rant by Opera's CTO [com.com] about how shit both standards are (a memory dump between angle brackets), and how the correct way would be to go for XHTML with CSS formatting.

Like, seriously, why not? Have we not been here before, going "so we need to separate content from display" and was not the eventual solution actually rather good. It took ten years or so to get adopted, but nobody is denying that css has made the web a less obnoxious place. There are no technical reasons why it can't be extended to all aspects of "office" publishing/collaboration, and indeed a book has been published using XML+CSS [princexml.com] .

I know that ODF is "here now", and it must be an improvement over Office's internal format ... but I'm concerned that standardising on ODF will come to bite us, the IT industry, in our collective butts sooner rather than later. We need something clear. Obvious. Simple. And from this some genuine innovation will come - remember that?

Dave

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (5, Insightful)

gradedcheese (173758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234410)

It's not too surprising that the CTO of a web browser company wants us to use XHTML and CSS for this, but that doesn't make it a good idea.

XHTML and CSS are mainly for representing information in a web browser, they are great for that. Word processing is in many ways a whole different world and it makes sense to have a different format there (though one also defined by XML like XHTML is). Namely, CSS lacks a lot of the physical positioning stuff that a word processor needs, concepts such as page breaks, and so on (some things it does have, but they are generally never implemented and probably aren't enough anyhow).

XHTML is also meant for people to hand-write, it's a simple markup representing simple text. Word processing is never marked up by hand, the documents can be very complex, and anyone not looking at the source programatically will indeed think that it's a memory dump between angle brackets. That doesn't mean that it's a bad format, it's just not meant to be read that way.

Really, I don't think XHTML is the solution everywhere and pretty much any format is fine in word processing land as long as its truly open (not in the MS sense) and text-based.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (1)

zsau (266209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234674)

Word processing is never marked up by hand,

Only by definition. People using HTML or LaTeX are essentially "word processing by hand", particuly so if the intended destination is print, as it usually is with LaTeX and occasionally is for HTML (between the time I switched to Linux and learnt about LaTeX, HTML was basically my only option for doing school assignments; OpenOffice didn't exist yet).

And even "by definition" basically ignores Word Perfect's "show codes" feature. I doubt anyone uses it anymore, but the fact that it existed implies a use...

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (1)

bodesign (1071094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235086)

LaTeX Rocks! I just finished moving a bunch of letters and legal documents to it so that they can be auto-generated based on templated input. I wrote it all by hand with some peeks at what OpenOffice LaTeX export did for the documents.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234900)

Actually if you look at Css 2 and 3 you can see that if correctly implemented it would be enough to have a very good word processing storage format, and a compact one even. You got font sizes you got binary embedding you got meta infos for barrier free content you got positional functions which rival those in dtp programs etc... the main problem is, that Css2 is buggily implemented and from Css3 we only see a shadow in the browsers, and most browsers even choke on Css1.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (4, Interesting)

nick.ian.k (987094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234426)

Lie only ranted about the ridiculousness of going to the trouble to craft new standards, and then suggested that we instead repurpose a set of standards for web documents so that they work for exchanging documents intended for print. As somebody aware of what hell it's been dealing with web standards, your concern should be focusing not just how long it took for XHTML and CSS standards to be sort-of accepted, but how stupid it would be to go and extend something that people have been working hard to simplify.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234546)

I'm concerned that standardising on ODF will come to bite us

Since ODF is an open and free standard, converters can be written between ODF and XHTML+CSS. So we won't get bitten in the bad sense of being stuck, like .DOC and possibly OOXML (with its MS-only undefined sections). If XHTML+CSS turns out to be so much better in a few years, we will be able to convert our documents to it. Yes, this might not be perfect, but then neither is XHTML+CSS right now.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (1)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234728)

Since ODF is an open and free standard, converters can be written between ODF and XHTML+CSS

This may be true, but I suspect it's not. The combination of XHTML and CSS are very much about putting the information in once place, along with information about what the information *is*, and a description of how to display it somewhere else. It's going to take a big leap for a manufacturer of word processors to separate "this word is italicised" from "this word is italicised because that's how it displays on this one medium". I know styles, and even rudimentary style inheritence have been a part of word processors for a long time, but taking it seriously and providing a GUI that makes it intuitive for Rhonda in HR to understand what she's doing is a non-trivial pastime.

The thing that bothers me is not the software, but rather what we're doing with the results of people's labour ... mankind's f'kin intellectual property. I hate that it's currently tied into giving Microsoft a couple of billion dollars every month, and I hate that when historians come to find out what happened they're going to find a big black hole in our knowledge base. But if we are to replace this clearly shitty state of affairs I'd rather it were with something appreciably better rather than merely different.

Dave

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234804)

I had been thinking that ODF was "obviously" a good thing until I read the rant by Opera's CTO about how shit both standards are (a memory dump between angle brackets), and how the correct way would be to go for XHTML with CSS formatting.

So how do I do a spreadsheet in XHTML with CSS formatting? And I mean a serious computational spreadsheet, perhaps with some charts thrown in, not just some data layed out in a table.

ODF is not just for pretty text documents, its for the product of all kinds of office apps, including spreadsheets and presentations.

As for "memory dump between angle brackets" -- yeah, that's a pretty fair description of OOXML, but doesn't really explain the dozen or more different apps out there that use ODF. Is he trying to tell us that KWord, AbiWord, OOWriter and Google Docs (to name a few that use ODF) all use the same memory layout?

Opera's CTO isn't worthy of his title, if that's the kind of crap he spews.

I'm concerned that standardising on ODF will come to bite us,

Just because it's an ISO standard doesn't mean it's immutable. Standards can be changed, and frequently are to keep up with technology improvements. Also, the language in the California legislation doesn't specify ODF (or it's ISO number) per se, just requires that whatever document spec is used meets the requirements of being open, freely implementable, fully specified, multi-vendor etc that only ODF meets at the moment (and OOXML doesn't). If some new Whizbang Document Format (WDF) is invented and it meets those qualifications, the IT world is free to move to it.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234860)

So how do I do a spreadsheet in XHTML with CSS formatting? And I mean a serious computational spreadsheet, perhaps with some charts thrown in, not just some data layed out in a table.
You make a table with XHTML. You style it using CSS. Computations are done with Javascript. Charts are done with the CANVAS tag, which would be XHTML generated by Javascript and styled by your CSS.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234926)

So basically you're saying I'd have to write my own spreadsheet program in Javascript.

For some reason the words "fucking insane" come to mind.

K.I.S.S. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234824)

I'm definitely with you, philosophically at least, about the need for greater simplicity.

I don't know whether XML+CSS is it, because I'm honestly not that familiar with CSS and XML (when I stopped paying attention to web stuff, HTML was a fairly simple text-markup language), but it seems like there ought to be some middle ground between plain ASCII text and the massive complexity of the competing XML office-document formats.

While certainly ODF is a step in the right direction away from proprietary binary blobs, I'm made slightly nervous about enshrining a requirement to use it into law, because it might well be that, absent the spectre of Microsoft's formats making positively anything else look like a great idea by comparison, ODF might not be the "best way" to solve the problem.

It might, in fact, be that there are simpler formats that would suit most people's needs, particularly looking forward into a future where online and on-screen publication of data across various devices and platforms is more important than printed layouts. (You see this happening already: if you format your resume to look brilliant on the printed page, but don't give a thought to how it's going to look when someone does a Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V to it, and dumps the text into a web form, you're a fool, because that's how most HR people at large organizations are going to read it.)

I've recently become quite taken with the idea of lightweight markup languages ('languages' is a bit of a stretch; 'conventions' might be a better term) like MarkDown and MultiMarkDown. Both of them provide ways of taking a document containing only ASCII or Unicode text with standard "plaintext markup" (you know, things like *this* or _this_ for emphasis), and transforming it into well-formatted XHTML, which can then in turn be converted to other formats (LaTeX, PDF, RTF, MS Word, etc.). It's really pretty slick. But the interesting point is that it derives its power and flexibility not by the format itself, but by the fact that the format is relatively lightweight, and is parsed into a well-understood intermediate format: XHTML.

If mandating ODF is the only way we can possibly break free of Microsoft's proprietary binary formats, then so be it: mandate away. The current situation is untenable, and might in the long run be disastrous, if a single company can essentially charge everyone in the country a 'head tax,' in order to read documents produced by their government, which they can only ignore at their own peril (or at least, competitive disadvantage; c.f. the case of government contracts being given out only to those who could go to an IE-only site and read DOC documents). I'd rather that the government just mandate JPEG scans of paper documents, or nothing but 7-bit ASCII, or hell, stone tablets with Egyptian hieroglyphs, than effectively hand control of such a large part of our society's creative output to one company.

A 600-page open format is better than what we've got, but I still think that it may be 599 pages too long for some uses.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234844)

nobody is denying that css has made the web a less obnoxious place

A triple negative is not the least unpopular of sentence structures.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (5, Informative)

nitsuj (966) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235112)

Read:
http://old.opendocumentfellowship.org/Articles/Int roductionToTheFormatInternals [opendocume...owship.org]
http://old.opendocumentfellowship.org/Articles/For matODFVsMSXML [opendocume...owship.org]

And let me know if you still think the ODF is merely a 'memory dump in angle brackets'. Maybe they could have reused a good chunk of CSS, but that would also require another type of basic parser in implementations. I imagine you've heard of expat, but can you name a standard CSS parser library? I can't, and once upon a time, I had CVS checkin privs on mozilla. Looks simple enough, but ask a web developer if they've ever heard of any major browser having CSS parser bugs.

And it looks like ODF's style definitions could maybe be generously described as CSS in XML, too. Regardless, I think you could make a pretty compelling argument that the layout needs that have historically driven CSS are a little different than a word processor's needs.

Back when I worked on Abiword, the native format was very similar to XHTML/CSS. Some arbitrary element renamings -- I believe our equivalent to the span tag was a single letter. The XML->XHTML conversion could probably have been handled by a simple sed script.

For styling, we reused as much CSS as possible. I learned about a lot of nifty stuff in CSS3 back then. I hope I get to use some of that stuff in browsers some day. But we were well on our way to the first draft of a hypothetical CSS3 Wordprocessor Module, too.

The OOXML format does strike me as a brain dead C struct to XML encoder, however. And I know the doc format pretty well, having written some non-trivial bits of wvware and the Abiword importer based on it. We actually once got a post on the mailing list from someone looking for technical details on the doc format, and they had been forwarded to us by someone on the Word team at Microsoft. They had their time-tested, battle-worn libraries, but we apparently understood the actual bytes better than anyone still in Redmond willing to help a customer.

But we all knew that the eventual Microsoft XML format was going to be silly. Actually, it's better than I expected. I had considered the occasional base64 encoded binary data structure wrapped in data tag to be a very real possibility.

In my mind, the most astonishing thing is that they just arbitrarily reimplemented -- and generally very badly -- dozens of standards, including many ISO ones. I believe they have several novel timestamp definitions, in addition to ISO's.

I'm pretty shocked anyone is even pretending OOXML is being seriously considered as a standard. I think some people in Redmond had an April Fools' joke get out of hand. If this gets standardized, I expect the next anti-trust case is going to reveal internal Microsoft emails with text such as "holy shit, ISO just accepted our format!"

PS: I don't even read slashdot that often anymore, and I very rarely post. The few times I do, I generally don't even bother to login. But it would seem that several years of random hobbyist open-source contributions have made me quite likely one of the top few dozen or so domain experts on the planet regarding your specific post. I thought that was kind of amusing myself. I don't know if anyone actually cares, but my name is Justin Bradford, and I imagine google retains sufficient evidence of what I claim.

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (1)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235262)

Well thank Christ for that, I appear to have dragged someone who knows what they're talking about out of retirement. No "PM" system on Slashdot, obviously.

Right. I have some reading to do. Nice post, thanks.

Dave

Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (1)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235374)

Read:
http://old.opendocumentfellowship.org/Articles/Int [opendocume...owship.org] roductionToTheFormatInternals
http://old.opendocumentfellowship.org/Articles/For [opendocume...owship.org] matODFVsMSXML

And let me know if you still think the ODF is merely a 'memory dump in angle brackets'.

I have read and understood. I repent. It basically is XML with styling and if it's here already we're not going to get any better. Embedding ODF readers in browsers would be quicker and cleaner than further extending CSS all the way out to spreadsheets and what have you. Well ... here's hoping.

Dave

I hope they know better than to use MSFT's entry. (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234332)

I'm afraid that if Microsoft has it's way open documents will go the way of web standards, with the code being open but the implementation being so confused and confusing that to view documents "the way they are meant to be" you will need to buy Microsoft products.
I hope that the ODF takes hold, I already use it for all my own documents.

Incorrect Name (2, Informative)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234372)

While ODF has been recognized as a global standard and been given an ISO stamp by the International Standards Organization, ...
That is the International Organization for Standardization [wikipedia.org]

Re:Incorrect Name (1)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235156)

It's ironic that an article on a standards group can't seem to decide whether it's "organisation" or "organization".

It's a Long Way to Tipperary (4, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234496)

It's a very long way from introducing a bill to seeing it out of committee, surviving kill-based amendments, brought to the floor for a vote, passed, passed again in the other chamber, signed into law, and actually implemented. There is nothing at all here to get excited about yet, if ever.

People get the monopolies they deserve (2, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235190)

There is nothing at all here to get excited about yet, if ever.

On the one hand we have a company which names it's format as "Office Open XML" but documents the specification in over 6000 pages, using words like Windows 95 compatibility etc. in that spec... and yet has the guts to call it Open.

And on the other, we have a bunch of companies who have realised it's no use talking to the 800lb gorilla.. and basically decided to implement a workable, truly open, truly interoperable format... that may or may not be superior to the MS OOXML.

Now, Opera's CTO might think (and I largely agree with him) that BOTH specs are way off the mark, while simple HTML + CSS can do the trick....

But I find it truly amazing that for more than 10 years, people in the US have been shelling out billions of dollars buying crippleware.... money that is now used to enslave them to sub-standard, bug-ridden, inefficient, unreliable software and formats...

And yet, a comment on Slashdot that says nothing might happen yet for Microsoft or the marketplace gets modded +5 Insightful!

Looks like Lincoln was wrong... in America, you can apparently fool all the people all the time.

FUD (0)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234504)

That's all this is: FUD. If OOXML becomes a standard which will happen in time with the fast track process (coincidence? most likely not) then it fits the bill - literally.

Re:FUD (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234686)

Actually you have a hard time reading don't you?

Although the name of Microsoft's Office Open XML suggests that it would match the requirement, it is in fact a proprietary format that would fail the open standards test.

All of these bills I have seen introduced have a "implemented by multiple vendor" clauses in them
which kind of kicks word and ooxml to the curb now doesn't it.

Re:FUD (1)

oggiejnr (999258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235058)

All of these bills I have seen introduced have a "implemented by multiple vendor" clauses in them which kind of kicks word and ooxml to the curb now doesn't it.

Not really. Doc files have been implemented by OO.o and several others (maybe not fully complient with the 'spec' but near enough to count and I can't see OOXML being any different. The popularity of the Microsoft formats will increase by shear inertia and cause other programs to implement it, even if just by putting the OOXML->ODF converter on the front.

Not necessarily a "threat" at all (2, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234534)

The Linux/OSS zealots aren't getting it... MS won't care if everybody uses the ODF standard, because at the end of the day, just like with Windows, people will continue buying their software in large numbers because it simply works better than the OSS/Free alternatives out there. People have been saying the same thing about Linux for more than a decade, and Linux hasn't taken more than a negligible chunk of the small to medium server from MS (most was cannibalized from other *nix variants), and virtually none of the desktop market. A free screwdriver is useless if you need a hammer to do the job.

People *may*, if this thing actually has any legs to it, end up continuing to use Office and saving docs as "ODF", which won't impact MS if the OSS/Free office alternatives remain distant runners-up in terms of quality, performance, and bells-and-whistles.

Re:Not necessarily a "threat" at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234636)

Yea, open source will get no where...

1. You probably used google today...10,000+ linux boxes answering your command.
2. Being a MS sort of guy you probably visited their site today..again linux caching servers sending you their web site.
3. Probably flipped through your tivo for something to watch tonight..linux and oss again
4. Probably posted this ignorant rant using your linux powered router.
5. Your mail probably went through some linux boxes and postfix to reach you today.
6. Browse any php based sites lately?
7. Post on slashdot? Yep again perl, mysql and linux helping you post this ignorant rant.
8. Hell, most of your dns requests are probably being handled by it also.

OSS and Linux touch your life every single day, you are just too blind to notice it.

Re:Not necessarily a "threat" at all (3, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234670)

As a linux user that sounds fine to me. I actually think MSOffice is a well-made suite, for what it is (I'm also a LaTeX person,) but if my professors and peers send me a .odp instead of a .ppt to work on, it makes my life that much easier. Preparing final presentations for classes, I've had to spend a lot of time on Windows so that I'd be able to collaborate on Powerpoint Presentations. The import features on OO.o work fine for a final product (except some minor things with equations and font sizes being off), but are unusable for trading documents back and forth modifying them each time.

The idea of open standards is compatibility and being able to make choices, not market-share and trying to force your software ideology on someone else, unless of course you're trying to hold on to a monopoly sustained by a closed standard.

Re:Not necessarily a "threat" at all (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234698)

I agree.

The biggest threat to microsoft is their ability (and increasing willingness) to force everyone to pay for microsoft products.

Microsoft benefited enormously from the network effect of having a large number of it's users who couldn't buy the product anyway using it.

Now that everyone has to use it and pay for it, folks are a lot more interested in alternatives.

Re:Not necessarily a "threat" at all (1)

ruben.gutierrez (913239) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234782)

California has a pretty massive economy. So, you take the entire state and mandate ODF. Then, any company or country wishing to exchange information or do business with California, may end up following suit, just to keep things pretty. Even if ancillary entities didn't all move to ODF (which of course they won't), a substantial amount will. That doesn't mean they'll abandon MS, but it does mean a huge increase in use of ODF (which is already internationally recognized). So, it may have more impact than you expect.

Prophetic (2, Insightful)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234540)

I just want to say to the /. community that before you all start raving about the downfall of M$ with this think about all the other industries out there. A few state government industries aren't even a drop in the bucket for the number of licenses M$ has out there. Now all the Fortune 500 companies going to "open" standards would be a watershed prophetic moment, this is pissing in a volcano. Remember in order for there to be developers someone somewhere has to make money selling software.

Re:Prophetic (1)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234788)

That isn't the point of this. The point is that state governments are beginning to adopt completely open formats. OOXML is not a completely open format, and so that leaves it out of the running. I don't know about you, but I want my government as transparent as possible. This helps with that, albeit in a small way. It really doesn't matter if it's ODF, or if some other format is chosen in the end, just so long as it is totally transparent. This isn't the type of thing that is really "Microsoft Bashfest" material.

Misguided (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234872)

Remember in order for there to be developers someone somewhere has to make money selling software.

Nope. In fact most developers work for companies that do not make money selling software. Now, aside from those few that are losing money selling software (grin), I mean those companies (and other organizations - governments, universities, etc) whose primary product(s) is/are something other than software. (Take your Fortune 500 -- how many of them make most (or any) of their money selling software? How many employ developers?)

Besides which, that's totally irrelevant to open document formats -- just because the document format is open doesn't mean the application software has to be either open or free, any more than standardizing on a character code of ASCII or Unicode does. (EBCDIC, you're on your own.)

Re:Prophetic (1)

drago177 (150148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235026)

I got my company to buy 20 or so licenses of StarOffice. Is Sun profiting from that?

Re:Prophetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235042)

No. For there to be developers out there someone needs to be using a computer. Sales of software are not required. 99.999999% of all developers don't work for microsoft or any other software company. They work for other companies (car companies, aircraft companies, finance companies, etc). Microsoft could disappear tomorrow, and the developers of the world would all say 'their products were crap anyway, smell ya later, and don't let the door smack you in the butt on the way out'.

violetperplex@yahoo.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234632)

violetperplex@yahoo.com

I wonder why they chose that name (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234678)

"Office Open XML (OOXML)" .. they might as well have called it "Open Office XML".
I wonder whether the intended the confusion.

Re:I wonder why they chose that name (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234894)

I wonder whether the intended the confusion.

This is Microsoft we're talking about. What do you think? They don't do anything without considering the strategic marketing impact. (Well, okay, there was Bob...)

Re:I wonder why they chose that name (1)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235142)

I wonder whether the intended the confusion.

Well, OOPONIES was taken by Slashdot, so they were left with two choices: OOXML and OOSPAGHETTIOS. OOXML won, but only because it was easier to spell before the first cup o coffee in the morning.

In the year 2120 (2, Funny)

planckscale (579258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234766)

I am a geezer IT guy working for the State. My boss comes up to me and says, "Junior", after you change your Depends, I need you to convert these files into something we can read. "Hmm," I say "these files were made with MS Word 12. The current version of Word is 21." "Just do it old man!" Okay, so bust out my trusty nix box, start vi and start wading through the mounds of crap, and come back to my boss. "Well, what did you find?" He asks.

"Nothing." I say, "...except for a string of text...'Girly men'."

"Girly men?" He says.

"Yes," I repeat, "Girly men!".

"Well damn it!" he says, "In what context??"

No threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234774)

The bill doesn't specify ODF by name, but instead requires the use of an open XML-based format.
Then there is no "threat to Microsoft". OOXML is an XML-based format and is currently undergoing standardization by ISO.

Why is ODF a threat to Microsoft? (2, Interesting)

Alphager (957739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234848)

Stop painting ODF as the big threat to Microsoft: No-one in the administrations who demand ODF want to stop using MS Office. Microsoft has an import/export-plugin for Office2007, and that's the end of it.

Steve Ballmer's a Fat Bald Cunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234862)

To be sung in the style of MC Pitman:

Why don't you 'Get the Facts' Steve,
You need to make us all suffer.
Is it 'cos your company's shit?
And your life's in the gutter?

I've used some crap software before,
But none as bad as Vista,
Ballmer said: 'Give it a try!'
'Fuck off! I'd rather shag Bills sister.'

[Chorus]
Steve Ballmer's a fat, bald cunt,
And don't we all know it,
Vista is a piece of shit,
Microsoft's trying not to show it.
[/Chorus]

Developers, developers, developers,
Can kiss Steves sweaty arse,
Six thousand pages he'll write for you,
For proprietary crap no-one can parse.

Steve's got vendor lock-in,
But his software's shit,
Look at that flabby, bald head,
It looks like a giant tit!

[Chorus]

Steve Ballmer's a sweaty ape,
Stallman's a bit of a cunt,
At least Stallman does some good,
It's Ballmers ego we need to stunt.

So fuck you Steve,
And your software too,
Am off to take a shit,
And I'm due for a brew.
(someone put the kettle on...)

threat? (4, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234892)

The term "threat" suggests that something Microsoft legitimately owns or does is at risk. But this is no "threat", it's merely fair competition and should have happened a decade ago.

Microsoft can easily implement ODF. Microsoft will probably lose some marketshare, but they will do that anyway, and Office will probably still remain the dominant office suite either way.

So, let's go easy on language like "threat".

Advantage for Microsoft? (2, Insightful)

rhade (709207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18234902)

Apart from being able to put their name to the product is there any advantage for Microsoft in having their open format as the format? By definition as an open document format, there cant be any lockin to Microsoft, why are they so heavily pushing their own format (better or worse)?

Over-restrictive (1, Insightful)

bodesign (1071094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235038)

Why must it be an Open XML format? It seems to me that the spirit of the bill(s) is to have something that is open, portable and understood - not to specify a particular technology. Particular implementation decisions should not be made by those that aren't well involved and understanding of the particular trade-offs.

Enlighten us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235118)

What are the trade-offs (and since they are TRADE-offs what are we gaining)?

XML has the MAJOR advantage that, if structured correctly, you can ignore tags you don't know how to render (or can't) and you still get the document.

wg0at (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235048)

Yo3ur own Beer [goat.cx]

Mandating what? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235062)

I have a problem with government mandating technology even if they are vauge. The govermnet is typically backwards when compared to real organizations that need to exist on their own merits.

The real problem is they keep so much of their data in word documents and excel spreadsheets. We should not be voting for or supporting fools that seek to continue this trend.

If you want to be disruptive and make everyone switch from word and excel (which everyone has converters for nowadays) then lets make government get real and use technology rather than mearly storing paper on disk drives.
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