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What Happens Next on the US Vote on OOXML

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the playing-with-the-guts dept.

Software 82

Andy Updegrove writes "As you may know, V1, the INCITS Technical Committee that had charge of the US vote on Microsoft's OOXML, failed to reach consensus on either approving or disapproving the specification. As expected, Microsoft has turned to the full INCITS Executive Board in an effort to salvage the situation. Between now and Labor Day, a complicated series of fall-back ballots and meetings has been scheduled to see whether the Executive Board can agree to approve or disapprove OOXML, in either case "with comments." A vote to approve would mean that addressing the comments would not be required for the US vote to stand, while a vote to disapprove would hold the possibility of US approval if the comments are satisfactorily addressed. The bottom line is that a vote to approve (either in the US or in many other nations around the world) does not appear likely, due to the sheer number of technical issues that have been raised with OOXML, and the expedited schedule upon which Microsoft has insisted throughout the process."

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A friend in need ... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957937)

is a friend indeed, as they say.

Following the report by V1 that it had failed to achieve consensus, Microsoft requested a place on the agenda at the Executive Board meeting held in California on July 18 - 20, in order to make a short presentation on the V1 events. That presentation occurred on Thursday of last week. However, after giving the brief overview, the Microsoft representative made a motion not provided for on the agenda (which was immediately seconded by the Apple representative) that the Executive Board consider a written ballot of "Approval with Comments," with the comments in question being the 96 issues that the V1 members had succeeded in agreeing upon before ending their deliberations. That would have meant that some 400 additional comments (the more difficult ones upon which consensus had not been reached) that V1 had received from various sources would not have been submitted to ISO/IEC JTC1 if the ballot passed.


Interesting, although unsurprising, to see Apple following the money here.

Re:A friend in need ... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958387)

And how many web applications are run as cron jobs? I don't know a single one...


Mod parent up, informative! Apple has as much to gain here as Microsoft does -- after all, Office runs on the Macintosh, and Apple has a vested interest in seeing it say dominate, as that it was one of the major draws of their platform.

Re:A friend in need ... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958709)

Grrr...wrong quote. Ignore the quote.

XML (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957969)

A dead concept.

US vote or ISO vote? (2, Informative)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957995)

Big difference. If it's the International Standards Organisation that's voting; it should not be subject to the machinations of the company that submits the standard under scrutiny.

According to the earlier article, V1 and INCITS were both extensions of the ISO evaluation process. Not just a US agency.

Re:US or ISO? Both. (1)

slash.duncan (1103465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966699)

From other articles I've read on this, it's both. Specifically, this is the national vote that determines how the US rep @ ISO votes. At the int'l level, each national vote has the same weight.

Obviously, the US isn't the only nation going thru this at this time. MS has been attempting to stack the deck (typically, a working group with half a dozen or a dozen voting members, suddenly has 50 MS partners pay the couple grand to join and vote in the 6 weeks before the national vote), but perhaps surprisingly, even with that sort of stacking, they've been losing votes. Often, they do get the majority, but because this is supposed to be a consensus standard, it requires a 2/3 vote. Several nations have already voted no at the national level, while I believe two had voted yes (in the story I read), and some of those "no"s aren't yet written in stone -- as in the US, MS is playing tricks with the process, adding votes not originally in the scheduled process, etc.

Still, due to the effect of MS' money and the pull they have on their partners to stack the deck, it's really surprising they're having the trouble they are. I'm sure it is to them too, or they'd not have been so insistent on the super-expedited schedule. They are used to getting their way, buying it, skirting the law if necessary, bribing it, whatever, and it's actually surprising them that the whole world isn't simply rolling over for them any more!

The thing is, however, their effort has at least two strikes against it, in addition to the raw politics. One, ODF has already been voted in as a standard, and many of the comments are to the effect that two standards on virtually the same thing will only confuse the situation. They say MS should work to improve and update the existing standard instead, if it's so bad. Two, the MS effort is simply very poor standards material, technically. Many behaviors are defined in terms of how (proprietary) product X did it with version Y (handle wrapping like Word95 did in case Z, etc.). Defining a behavior by reference to a second behavior that itself isn't defined, simply doesn't work well in terms of a standard that everyone is supposed to be able to implement and have all versions interoperable with the standard conformant files written by other implementations. What's interesting, and must be givng MS fits, is that even after they've stacked the deck like they are doing, they're still having a tough time of it, in part because once these partners actually study the thing, enough of them decide it's bad enough they can't vote to approve it as currently speced out regardless. If MS hadn't been so insistent on expediting the process, there's a fair chance enough of these things could be worked out that MS /would/ be able to pull it off, but as it is, it's looking really really tough for them, at least this round. I don't think anyone expected that, on either side.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the vote at the international level must be, only that the individual nations need a 2/3 vote, and that all nations' votes count equally at the international level.

Duncan

Is there anything we can do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957999)

Is there anything we can do to get this thrown out the window for being a horrible standard as it should have originally?

Re:Is there anything we can do... (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958479)

Is there anything we can do to get this thrown out the window for being a horrible standard as it should have originally?
It's looking more likely than ever that Microsoft isn't going to be able to win this one. Even with its attempted stacking of the deck, this unusable "standard" couldn't get quick approval.

It's a minor point, sadly. There's nothing requiring Microsoft to follow any standard. They have built their software empire in part on avoiding all such things. The one thing that looks to be shaking the foundations of their dominance is the fact that most of the people I've talked to have looked at Office 2007 and do not like what they see.

Re:Is there anything we can do... (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959385)

It's only a minor point until governments and big businesses start requiring support for standard formats before they award contracts.

Re:Is there anything we can do... (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19960953)

Thus far, that has had limited success, at least in North America. Microsoft has a lot of money, and there are a lot of politicians and bureaucrats who can sadly be bought in one way or another.

didn't know what OOXML meant (3, Informative)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958031)

Thought it might be Open Office XML but found out that it means

"Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) formats"

Thought others might want to know.

Re:didn't know what OOXML meant (4, Insightful)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958325)

Don't feel bad about not knowing -- the confusion was intentional on Microsoft's part.

Re:didn't know what OOXML meant (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 7 years ago | (#19960537)

Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) formats

People should start referring to it my it's truthful name, MSOXML: Microsoft Office XML.

No OOXML; Maybe Not ODF (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958045)

I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting OOXML to go away.

I know government is dog-ass slow, so I am not terribly up in arms, but agreeing to some open standard for government documents (not controlled by MS, but not necessarily ODF) is obviously the best choice for archival storage, transparency, and maintainability.

Re:No OOXML; Maybe Not ODF (2, Informative)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958339)

Once it becomes an ECMA standard, the specification belongs to ECMA and will not be controlled by MS. MS has been saying this all along ("It's now ours anymore, it's ECMA's"). They DO want it standardized since they worked on it for years even before ODF and it's the format for their product.

Re:No OOXML; Maybe Not ODF (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958581)

Save that the specs are ridiculously huge, and full of what really amount to undocumented references. It's not a useful specification.

Re:No OOXML; Maybe Not ODF (2, Informative)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959161)

It is not useful you can't calculate dates before 1900s due to backwards compatibility with other Microsoft products. How is that useful for other office products, as a standard and for users of the format.

Re:No OOXML; Maybe Not ODF (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959897)

That's interesting. So ODF supports older dates? Is the date range unlimited?

Re:No OOXML; Maybe Not ODF (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#19961097)

That's interesting. So ODF supports older dates? Is the date range unlimited?
Yes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601 [wikipedia.org]

Re:No OOXML; Maybe Not ODF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19959565)

ECMA - the Europe's "the Swift Boat Veteran for the Truth".

Re:No OOXML; Maybe Not ODF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19960723)

The heck?? It's _already_ an Ecma standard. This is about ISO.

And no, they haven't improved any of the technical problems in the standard since it was put in for Ecma. MS will abandon this 'standard' in a few years as they always do, standard or no.

Re:No OOXML; Maybe Not ODF (2, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 6 years ago | (#19962837)

The 'standard' is incomplete and includes a bunch of land mines for people who wish to create a true open source implementation.

Microsoft is pushing the most important part of OOXML being it's ability to include old Office file data as opaque binary chunks (!). Problem is that their documentation of those binary chunks pretty much consists of 'try reverse-engineering old versions of office.' -- which is against the EULA for old versions of office.

Even if someone manages to figure out how to decode those old chunks properly, Microsoft's patent peace for them doesn't apply because they weren't explicitly described in the ECMA 'standard'. Many of these 'critical' parts of OOXML are also described in the documentation as 'optional', which means that their so-called partners (like Novel and linspire) who are creating readers can create converters that MS can trumpet as 'ecma compliant', but that don't handle the part of OOXML that they are selling to the MA (and other) government as the most usefull aspect of OOXML.

In other words, this 'standard' explicitly does not do what you see as it's most useful aspect.

You could easily end up with documents with critical parts readable only by Microsoft software .... and then find that Microsoft has stopped supporting those critical parts 'because they're optional'.

The specs dead, but is INCITS credibility? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19958065)

Well it was a messy spec, with big holes, a single backer and a vague 'IP' claim hanging over it.

The only thing they're voting on is whether they are a credible organization or not. Whatever happens with this spec, it will still be only implemented by Microsoft and use only by noobs who use Microsoft products without thinking. So it makes scat difference to the real world.

If they're smart they'll boot it out and gain a bit of cred.

Re:The specs dead, but is INCITS credibility? (1, Troll)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958389)

As opposed to ODF with a bunch of backers with potentially unknown IP claims, admittedly incomplete spec and a patent grant only valid for versions of the specifications that are blessed by Sun Microsystems... which means that Sun gets all the say they want or there will be NO ODF revisions.

Re:The specs dead, but is INCITS credibility? (2, Informative)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#19961221)

As opposed to ODF with a bunch of backers with potentially unknown IP claims, admittedly incomplete spec and a patent grant only valid for versions of the specifications that are blessed by Sun Microsystems... which means that Sun gets all the say they want or there will be NO ODF revisions.
Sun made an irrevocable IP covenant that it will not seek to enforce any of it's patents associated with ODF against any implementation of the specification. This is limited to versions of the specification in which Sun has had significant participation (read: not blessing, or even agreement, just participation). This is there so that Sun can keep new versions of the specification from including elements that infringe other Sun patents not covered by the initial covenant or to voluntarily include those additional patents in the covenant, not to keep the specification under Sun's control.

Re:The specs dead, but is INCITS credibility? (1)

a.d.trick (894813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19964655)

You need to understand that they is little more than a bunch of people whom Microsoft paid to join INCITS. So yeah, they couldn't care less.

Feds to M$ (1)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958079)

Show Me The Money!

I, for one, am for choice (1, Flamebait)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958103)

I prefer choice. Having an ODF standard should not exclude an OOXML standard. With both standards published, it is possible then for developers to include support for each. Just like good syndicated news readers have the ability to handle both ATOM and RSS x.x.

In the end, its about choice. With standared, published formats it is possible. Or, would you rather the MS Office document standard to remain closed? (Perhaps that is what those whose goal in life is to bitch endlessy about MS want?)

Re:I, for one, am for choice (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958219)

Or, would you rather the MS Office document standard to remain closed?

OOXML doesn't open it.

It just describes it, and incompletely at that.

The sole purpose of OOXML is to torpedo any real standard document format. With Microsoft's machinations in the various ISO committees, it's ridiculous to continue pretending they have any intention of allowing real interoperability.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958487)

Have you read it? It's a monster spec and the only thing that has come out of it is some inconsistencies and use of non-standard formats for things like dates. I've never heard of any claim that it's wasn't complete before.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958225)

I am against choice. I think everyone should agree with me and do as I do... and more importantly, stay out of my personal way as I'm the king of the world!

Okay, actually, keeping this particular "standard" as an option in "choice" is a potentially dangerous thing if for no other reason than the fact that Microsoft's "standards" are always moving targets. Invariably their specifications are subject to change or additional documentation. Their format is based on and/or defined by the behavior of specific other software applications or operating systems API code which is also subject to change.

To standardize on something that's not firmly documented is asking for future problems. Further, "standardizing" on something that references proprietary (not openly documented) software is just one step removed from standardizing the operating environment along with it.

And finally, to include OOXML as a required option would require all of the dependencies associated with the need to support the standard... those dependencies would be a MS Windows OS and a MS Office applications suite as I cannot imagine an effective or 100% compatible implementation by competing software when the specs are as nebulous as they are.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (4, Insightful)

kennygraham (894697) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958241)

Or, would you rather the MS Office document standard to remain closed?

OOXML is still closed. When the spec has things like "This element means to parse it like Word97 with all of Word97's obscure bugs", that's not an open standard. What we're opposed to is having garbage like that officially recognized as an open standard.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (2, Informative)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958539)

It's just formatting stuff that's actually considered deprecated and inappropriate for new documents. It's in the spec because if you come across them in converted Office documents you might want to either ignore them or tweak rendering a bit to make it at least not ugly.

If they weren't in the spec, it wouldn't be the complete OOXML spec used by by Office '07.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958719)

If they're in the document than it is either appropriate to describe their functionality, or it is necessary to provide a reference to another open document in which they are defined.

Sure, if they weren't in the spec, it wouldn't be the complete spec (Office '07 would produce non-compliant docs), but if they're in there and there is no available description of their functionality, then it still isn't the complete spec.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958751)

Since the description how Office '07 interpret those definitions aint in the specification - the specification aint a complete OOXML spec as used in Office '97.

So the specification is flawed either way.

It doesn't belong (3, Informative)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959059)

You don't put something in a specification and not define how it works. It has no place in the specification. That's the whole point.

If they weren't in the spec, it wouldn't be the complete OOXML spec used by by Office '07.

So here we have Microsoft working backwards. They take what they did and try to create a specification for it instead of creating a specification and then programming to it. Then they leave out parts of what is actually done in Office '07 so that other parties can never be compliant with the "specification". That would be akin to the TCP specification [faqs.org] saying that bit 2 in byte 14 is a flag that says the checksum should be calculated like Windows 95 does it, without specifying how that is. This is just ridiculous. Do you not understand that some documents (probably all docs imported from Word 95 which I know is in the spec, I'm not sure about Word 97) WILL use this tag, and therefore anyone trying to comply with this specification will not be able to make the documents appear as they will in Office 2007? When importing a document from Word 95 or 97, Office 2007 should convert it completely to values defined in the specification, there should be no need for these tags for "backward compatibility".

If the specification has no way to make the spacing look the same, I would say that it is an incomplete specification (although it is 700+ pages). If there are certain quirks of Word 95 and Word 97 that would make the specification hard to understand, it doesn't matter. They should be defined exactly anyway so that ANYONE implementing the specification (and only the specification) will be able to produce documents that look the same.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

alextheseal (653421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958285)

A proper standard nobody would have a problem with. This with it's patent problems, undocumented parts that need to be reverse engineered and binary blobs, it's just not a standard.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19958289)

I think a lot of people are just pissed because MS is trying to bully everyone into using their format after the fact. The fact was when government agencies decided they wanted an open format, and started looking around for it. They found one (ODF). Now MS says, "No! We want you to use our format that we're going to shove down your throats!" MS should have helped with the current format more if they wanted people to use their format. Hell, they should have just opened up the format to start with!

Re:I, for one, am for choice (5, Interesting)

Ai Olor-Wile (997427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958299)

Maybe you should read about the actual OOXML specification before saying that kinda thing.

http://www.robweir.com/blog/2007/07/formula-for-fa ilure.html [robweir.com]
http://www.openmalaysiablog.com/2007/07/mathematic ally-.html [openmalaysiablog.com]
http://www.noooxml.org/ [noooxml.org]
http://ooxmlhoaxes.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
http://blog.janik.cz/archives/2007/07/18/T18_02_54 / [janik.cz]

Read these. Then decide if you really, really believe that making this specification a standard will do anything good for the environment. The spec is simply too big and poorly-defined for anyone else to come close to implementing. If it was worth the paper it was printed on (and if you see the last link, that can be quite a lot) Microsoft wouldn't be trying to fast-track it--specifications should speak for themselves in terms of quality. Anything reasonable would have no trouble getting written into an ISO-accepted standard, no matter what company it came from.

Pop quiz: Why the hell is fast tracking with this kind of system possible? Emergency economic situations?

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958459)

Well thanks for the links, and already having seen them, except for one, I really must compliment you on providing a well rounded set of links that present both sides of the argument. Why, all of those are surprisingly non-slanted. Dammit, why doesn't HTML have a <Sarcasm> tag?

Really, thats alot like saying, "Here, read all about the Mormons at http://www.whymormonismisevil.com/ [whymormonismisevil.com] ".

So, you want to find out about Jews? Try reading "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion".

I understand the argument, people are afraid that if the OOXML standard is accepted, even with ODF, that the popularity of the MS Office products will eventually drown out ODF. In an open market of ideas, that's how it works. But, if you mean "Freedom" as in RMS version of Freedom where the choice is made for you so you are Free From Making the Choice.

I like the "Mile of Cars", there are good cars and bad cars. Hummers, Volkswagons, used Yugos and Chevettes. I get to choose and in the MoC, I have thousands of them.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (3, Interesting)

Ai Olor-Wile (997427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958913)

Well, no, I would say that's a simplification. OOXML is an attempt at vendor lock-in, whilst appearing to be friendly. Seriously, the point of a standard is to make it easy to implement and to make sure everyone follows it. But no one can implement all six thousand "AramaiacSmallCapsLikeWord6.2ForTheMacWhenRunningU nderSystem7.2.5" features, so only Microsoft gets to claim complete compatibility. Realistically, like PL/I was in the sixties, no one will implement it. However, it'll still be a "standard," and Microsoft will use that to force things down people's throats.

Also, if you are under the impression that this is equatable to some sort of religious or vi-vs-emacs holy war, you're quite mistaken. Look into these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_documents [wikipedia.org]

See, Billy G. and Stevie B. really, genuinely are corrupt, horrible monopolist pigs who eat babies. Why do you think that antitrust suit exists?

Re:I, for one, am for choice (2, Insightful)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959641)

See, Billy G. and Stevie B. really, genuinely are corrupt, horrible monopolist pigs who eat babies. Why do you think that antitrust suit exists?

Well, not exactly. Actually, Billy G. and Stevie B. simply have such a low opinion of their own ability to compete on a level playing field that they are desperate to find some way to game the system. And it's clear their problem is endemic-- a fundamental part of the way they've been operating the business for decades.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (3, Informative)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959057)

In an open market of ideas, that's how it works.
Precondition: Open market.

Reality: MS has been found guilty of antitrust violations and leveraging its OS monopoly to support and gain market its shares in other markets.

Check: The only software capable of even competing with the market leader product is being given away for free.

Conclusion: The "desktop computer office suite" market is not an open market.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (2, Informative)

Ornedan (1093745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959485)

This is about whether or not to approve a standard. The people who do not want the standard approved have pointed out technical issues with it, severe enough that they should be fixed before the standard should even be considered for approval. But you get to ignore all those problems, because obviously anything any of the opponents say can never be based on facts. The whole bloody point of a standard is to make choice be among competing, but compatible vendors instead of among incompatible vendors. The problem, then, with OOXML is that it stacks the deck against anyone other than MS attempting to implement it, being essentially just an XMLised dump of MS Office's binary format with all the legacy cruft included. In fact, due to the legacy cruft, no-one besides MS can ever be fully compatible with the standard. All anyone else can do is claim compatibility with most of the standard, minus certain optional bits. And those optional bits will be rather crucial, since they lock up any documents converted from legacy formats to OOXML from being correctly interpreted by anyone other than MS. Contrast this with ODF, where any vendor has available to them the information they need to implement the entire standard and the legacy documents will be converted to generic ODF markup that can be correctly interpreted by any vendor that does implement the entire standard. And as for why I fear OOXML becoming an ISO standard is that it will then automatically become the dominant standard due to MS Office being the dominant product at the moment. No need for that pesky competition based on it's actual merits vs. ODF's merits.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

Ornedan (1093745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959523)

Sorry about the solid block o' text. It was supposed to be paragraphed, but a freak accident with comment mode selection ate those :P

Re:I, for one, am for choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19959773)

Go look up the terms "standard" and "specification". And then read back your post and see how little sense you're making.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 6 years ago | (#19961931)

Why, all of those are surprisingly non-slanted.
Yeah, I hear you man! They need to stay neutral -- deciding A is right and B is wrong is not acceptable. Only Sith deal in absolutes!

Re:I, for one, am for choice (4, Informative)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958311)

Wouldn't that be nice?

Unfortunately, the current OOXML (The Microsoft format) is so messy it's unmaintainable and unimplementable. Major holes, parts with undocumented binary data, etc. It's all a last-ditch attempt for Microsoft to continue it's office monopoly.

They are being way sneaky with the naming too. Note that the Open Office.org is called ODF (Open Document Format), while Microsoft sneakily called theirs OOXML (Office Open XML) - which confuses everyone, as many people think that OOXML is the "good" format, since they reasonably assume that OOXML means "Open Office XML". But it's not.

Our best attack right now is to make as many people as we can knowledgable of this name game.

ODF: Good and Open
OOXML: Bad and Closed by Microsoft. (It's not truly open when it comes to the details of the format)

Re:I, for one, am for choice (2, Interesting)

Rudisaurus (675580) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959259)

Another suggestion (not mine; I've seen this elsewhere -- e.g. on Groklaw [slashdot.org] ): MS-XML instead of OOXML. I believe in calling a spade a spade, and that's what OOXML is: Microsoft's own internal (proprietary) format, not an open standard.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959295)

Good idea, but that still leads people to believe there are two things - MS-XML and OOXML, which then plays right into Microsoft's hands, people thinking that OOXML is for OpenOffice.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (2, Interesting)

CowboyCapo (1127223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19960547)

Here's a possibility, one that might do the trick for the format name in question...

MS'OO'XML

Sure, it's a little longer, but it says who, in truth, the format belongs to, and the quotes around OO would indicate some falsity to the naming of the format, much in the same way that the CIA should have their middle initial surrounded by quotes as the sarcastic little bit of bullcrap that it is.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044281)

There ya go! MS-OOXML. I like it! :)

Re:I, for one, am for choice (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958369)

Having an ODF standard should not exclude an OOXML standard.


There are two arguments here:
The first is that, independently of the existence of any other standards covering the same subject matter, OOXML is a poorly described, non-implementable, and otherwise bad proposed standard, and should be rejected.
The second is that that the existence of one standard covering a topic makes additional standards covering the topic less valuable, potentially redundant, and in some cases contradictory to the purpose of standardization, particularly when adopted by the same standards body.

Debate over the second seems to only make sense in a context where it is assumed or concluded that OOXML would be a desirable standard on its own in the first place.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959377)

A standard should be A STANDARD. Whats the point of many standards?

Then you're back at square one with everyone using a different standard.

Hell lets go further and just let Microsoft put any propitiatory crap that will only work with their programs and call that a standard. Oh look now we're back again with everyone using different standards but this time they're closed source so only Microsoft can use them and around, and around, and around we go.

One file format to rule them all and in the XML spec bind them!

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19960009)

Hmm. Perhaps they can title OOXML the "standard for interchange with microsoft programs" and then call ODF the "standard for interchange between non-microsoft programs" as a way of finessing it.

Then the states and countries could say that microsoft had to be compatible with the general standard in addition to their internal standard.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958375)

With both standards published, it is possible then for developers to include support for each.
That only works for complete standards, which would rule out OOXML. It has tags such as "do the spacing like Word 95". How, exactly, is a developer outside of Microsoft going to support that? And how is it "open" when you reference closed binary-only software in your spec? The OOXML people could fix this, but up to now they have resisted cleaning up their spec in any major way, and continue to push it even though it has major flaws.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (3, Insightful)

uglydog (944971) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958423)

In the end, its about choice. With standared, published formats it is possible. Or, would you rather the MS Office document standard to remain closed? (Perhaps that is what those whose goal in life is to bitch endlessy about MS want?)

There is nothing preventing MS from publishing their format. That is very different from being ratified as an ISO standard. I could publish my very own file format. But if I have shoddy documentation for the file format, it is useless. No one, besides myself, could effectively use the format.
Ratification is when a group (of people, states, etc) approve of something (a constitution, a file format). In the case of my file format, they wouldn't ratify my format because it is useless to them.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958507)

Having an ODF standard should not exclude an OOXML standard

But having OOXML might near exclude ODF


it is possible then for developers to include support for each

Yes, but what MS says in the computer world is Law


or, would you rather the MS Office document standard to remain closed?

From what I read, it isn't opening very much, or at least enough to consider it "open"


Perhaps that is what those whose goal in life is to bitch endlessy about MS want?

Do you really find that makes sense

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958781)

Perhaps that is what those whose goal in life is to bitch endlessy about MS want?
Do you really find that makes sense

Oh, please, you know that you mention MS in an article on /. that there are tons of calls to bone doctors because knees jerk so hard they jam them under desks. Some of these people should read /. standing up because it would entertain others with their funny walks.

If MS were to fold up and get sucked into the near-by "Mel's Hole", 10% of /. readers would go insane because they had nothing more to bitch about, another 10% would have to enter monastaries, Buddhist or otherwise, because that's what they promised (g)God(s) they would do, and 20% would start looking around for a good lawyer to see if a pact signed with the Evil One (aka RMS) signed in blood was binding.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958841)

Choice in products, not in standards. You want GE and Sylvania and all other light bulb vendors fighting to sell you a light bulb which will fit the fixture you have in your house. GE should not be promoting its own "snap in" bulbs and Sylvania pushing its "screw in" standard and Phillips proposing a spring loaded catch standard. Just yesterday I discovered that the table lamp I bought from IKEA uses a bulb R17, and even IKEA does not carry replacement bulbs. I get R12 and R26 but not R17. Three "standard" bulb types and they manage to screw me. That lamp is junk now. That is what happens when you have multiple standards.

Do you really want both Betamax and VHS? Do you really want both DVD and Laserdisk? Come on. Demand real open standards. It is not about free software. It is not about open software. It is not about non-commercial software. It is perfectly OK to have two or three proprietary closed software supporting ODF and one or two Open Source but not-free software and a couple of Open Source and free software all supporting one document standard with perfect portability across them.

Only when users demand the ability to switch from one software to another without any loss of functionality they will have the power in negotiation. In the present situation, they have to buy whatever MSFT charges. Did you really think people will be forking over 150$ for a spreadsheet and word processor 10 years ago? The whole MS Office was selling for 50$. Now it is supposed to be 500$. Dont you see where the customers lost the ability to negotiate better prices because of vendor lock in?

Re:I, for one, am for choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19964199)

Did you really think people will be forking over 150$ for a spreadsheet and word processor 10 years ago?

And why limit this matter to word processors and spread sheets? It would be real handy to use these document formats with reporting tools, statistics software, email, computer-generated correspondence for clients, tools optimized for writing legal documents, research papers (grammar checker lets you know your source isn't cited to APA standards), and so on.

Or imagine these documents being integrated into other tools. Teachers could have tools optimized to help them generate test questions and they could save the test in ODF. Business analysts could have tools integrate the object dictionary into a larger document and output the object dictionary in ODF.

Re:I, for one, am for choice (1)

Karellen (104380) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959765)

You're mostly right.

With well documented published formats, interoperability is increased.

However, that does not mean that OOXML needs to become an international *standard*.

If OOXML wasn't so crap, rushed or poor-quality, it might eventually make a decent standard. But it is crap. It is rushed. It is of piss-poor quality. It has obviously never been given a detailed review by anyone. No-one has ever built a product from the spec. (MS didn't write Office 2007's support from the spec, they wrote the spec from Office 2007's format). As it stands, it is not technically adequate to be a recommended standard.

No, I don't want it to be closed. I do want it to be open so that people can /try/ to write interoperable implementations, despite the many warts it has. I also want MS to open the old .doc formats more, and publish documentation for the most up-to-date versions of those formats, and allow them to be used by people writing software that competes with MS Office (which you are not allowed to do) so that other people can write interoperable implementations for other office suites. But that does not mean I want the .doc format to become an international standard.

I also want published, open, complete documentation for old Wordperfect formats, Ami Pro formats, 1-2-3 formats, etc., etc., etc., but I do not want any of *these* to become international standards either.

However, even if MS did take the 2-3 years that might be required for them to put OOXML into a good enough shape for it to be considered a standard, I'd probably *still* prefer it not to be. Having multiple standards for the same thing does not offer *useful* choice.

I don't particularly care about choice in word-processing file formats, but I *do* care about choice in word-processing *applications*. If I receive a word-processing file from someone, I want to be able to view/edit it on a device of my choice, with an application of my choice. Having multiple file formats makes this *harder* for application writers, as time spent getting the basics of 2 file formats implemented takes time away from perfecting support for 1 of them.

Do you like it when you go to another country and the plug sockets are different? Or the TV signals? How would having a choice of standard electrical connector help you at home? Or a choice of TV signal? NO! A single standard encourages multiple implementations.

If you're still unsure, give me one example of people who benefitted from having ASCII and EBCDIC as multiple standard ways of encoding plain text. Or one example of people who benefitted from VHS and Betamax. Or one example of a group of people who will benefit from having HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Aside from the people who are trying to lock you in to their standard, and who are happy to sell you "solutions" to work around the problems that the existence of multiple standards creates, you will find no-one. No *user* of electrical appliances, of heterogenous ASCII/EBCDIC systems, of Betamax VCRs has ever benefitted from the existence of overlapping standards.

I seek clarification (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958149)

Is it possible to implement with relative ease into ODF, all the features that Microsoft sees lacking in ODF? If possible, Microsoft should help in this effort and then standardize on ODF or tell us the disadvantages of using ODF together with all features that Microsoft wants.

Re:I seek clarification (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958261)

I doubt it:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ooxml#Criticism [wikipedia.org] (2nd last bullet):
Legacy document rendering compatibility is identified using (deprecated) tags. For example, book 4 section 2.15.3.6, "autoSpaceLikeWord95", "useWord97LineBreakRules", "useWord2002TableStyleRules", and book 4 section 2.15.3.31, "lineWrapLikeWord6", and "suppressTopSpacingWP" for a 16-year-old version of WordPerfect.[44]. These items should only occur in OOXML documents that were converted from predecessor Microsoft Office documents.

How do you "autoSpaceLikeWord95"? only MS does.

Re:I seek clarification (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958947)

These items should only occur in OOXML documents that were converted from predecessor Microsoft Office documents.

Which, for those who haven't extrapolated it yet, means "About 90% of them in any organisation which has decided to use OOXML as their standard file format".

5 years down the line and other suites are coming out with the "Supports OOXML" box ticked, but further investigation reveals that the organisation still has a huge number of files which haven't had much attention paid to them since the conversion process, are still relevant and don't open properly in anything other than MS Office, regardless of whether or not the product they're testing claims to support OOXML.

Not possible for ODF to have the feature MS wants (2, Insightful)

OmniGeek (72743) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958435)

The impossibility here is not that ODF is incapable of rendering MS Office content properly; if MS wanted that to happen, it WOULD. (MS, after all, is in the best position of anyone to map their proprietary stuff to ODF and vice versa).

No, the problem here is NOT technical, it's ideological. The feature that Microsoft wants is user lock-in. The essential feature for MS is that THEY control the standard document format, and exclude all others from adequately rendering that format, keeping essentially all users as a captive market. This is more than adequately demonstrated by an objective examination of MS' public comments, their corporate conduct during this debate, and their private intentions as evidenced by the Halloween memos. For that matter, simply look at their corporate conduct over their whole history, and ask if it's ever changed for the better.

Re:I seek clarification (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19959265)

tell us the disadvantages of using ODF together with all features that Microsoft wants.
Microsoft's is a zero-sum world-view. Not for nothing, but ODF lacks the wallet rapist feature. Sure, if they supported ODF, you could still choose to give Microsoft money on merit. However, that just doesn't get them off - you have to be coerced or they feel raped.

Don't accuse me of sexualizing this. As their CEO demonstrates, it IMPOSSIBLE to discuss Microsoft without referring to semen, fellatio, rape and repeated rape and also mouth rape and ejaculation into pieholes via mouth rape and jamcrackers spread with the blood of nubile virgins being raped by Steve Ballmer as he keeps coming and coming and coming with a boner in his mouth. [youtube.com]

Res ipsa loquitur.

Re:I seek clarification (2, Informative)

amber_of_luxor (770360) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959789)

Is it possible to implement with relative ease into ODF, all the features that Microsoft sees lacking in ODF?

With the behaviour and errors that Microsot insists on including, no. It is possible to convert such gems as 1900 is a leap year in an application that reads/writes MSO file formats. To make that behaviour mandatory is absurd.

Most of the other complaints that Microsoft has are trivial/non-existent.

Furthermore, OOXML can not correctly render most of the world's writing systems, or languages.

Amber

Re:I seek clarification (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19961017)

A ISO standard is a standard to interchange data between different applications from different vendors. A standard has to be usable for everyone. For instance.. a feature implemented in OpenOffice that will not work in MS-Office (and vice-versa) will not be considered a part of the standard. Especially when some things cannot be included because of the closed en hidden character of the implementation you cannot use it as a standard, because it is not interchangeable!

So - to demand a ISO standard has to include vendor specific closed non-interchangeable parts is idiotic. A standard is a standard. And a standard has to be open, understandable and usable for every vendor, company or person without any problem. Demanding Microsoft-only closed -non-usable for other vendors- parts in a ISO standard is completely insane..

For instance - the metric screw thread for screws and bolts is normalized and standardized an can be used by any factory, person or otherwise. If however a factory uses a special screw tread of their own an patented it so nobody can use it, it is not a standard and cannot be used as such. If that factory tries to make a international standard out of it - they would be laughed at and the proposal would be rejected. And exactly this last thing is what Microsoft tries to do!

Shit!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19958371)

sure that I've Come on baby...and

This is so petty I can't believe it. (2, Insightful)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958691)

We have two open standards. The Microsoft (a big company) open standard is setup to be backwards compatible with all the weird crap imposed by their prior formats (which makes sense, since documents tend to be stored in these formats), whereas as ODF is completely new format pushed by another massive software company... Sun (and sometimes IBM, another friendly open source lollipop factory).

What does this have to do with anything? Last I checked, OpenOffice can save in xml and Microsoft Word can save in ODF (with a plugin). This is like a cock-flexing match between the FSF and Microsoft and it's basically irrelevant to 99.99% of users and government employees.

If ODF, as it stands, were released by Microsoft and called Microsoft ODF, we'd have the same level of FSF, GNU, etc pushback.

Isn't mainstream software development about adaptation and matching and supporting standards- not massive legal battles for complete control?

Re:This is so petty I can't believe it. (2, Informative)

mingot (665080) | more than 7 years ago | (#19959289)

If ODF, as it stands, were released by Microsoft and called Microsoft ODF, we'd have the same level of FSF, GNU, etc pushback

Oh there would be MUCH much more.

Check the "Criticism" section of the ODF wikipedia article for a good starting point.

Re:This is so petty I can't believe it. (1)

a.d.trick (894813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19964773)

I just did. All the issues seem relatively small (or at least, not fundamental problems) and about half have fixes in progress.

Just take a look yourself:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument#Criticis m [wikipedia.org]
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OOXML#Criticism [wikipedia.org]

The second one looks like it could have come from alt.sysadmin.recovery [wikipedia.org] .

Re:This is so petty I can't believe it. (1)

mingot (665080) | more than 7 years ago | (#19968835)

Sure, that's true, never said otherwise. But imagine if MS had released ODF and there were no excel formula definitions. Say what you will about word, but Excel is the crown jewel of office and if the format did not define something as fundemental as the the forumals and I tried to come back with "it's in progress" I'd get laughed off the stage.

And of course I can use the same cop out for criticism to OOXML. There are fixes in progress (and yes, there are. MS knows there will be "with comments" votes and that for ratification many of the mentioned flaws will have to be addressed.

Re:This is so petty I can't believe it. (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#19961099)

The Microsoft (a big company) open standard is setup to be backwards compatible with all the weird crap imposed by their prior formats (which makes sense, since documents tend to be stored in these formats)

But their so-called standard really isn't a standard. Within the definition of OOXML are statements that are basically "implement this like Office 95 did", without any additional detail. The only company in the world that can implement these sorts of things is Microsoft themselves since Office 95 isn't open source. The only companies they're likely to share this information with, if any, are partners who sign NDA's with them, which means anything that has the possibility of ever implementing this is likely to be available for Windows only. That certainly does NOT qualify as an "open standard". To be an open standard it needs to be defined in such a manner that the standard can be implemented on any existing platform without any dependencies on Windows or Microsoft.

Re:This is so petty I can't believe it. (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 6 years ago | (#19963087)

We have two open standards.

No.

I am a programmer. I have looked at enough of Microsoft's proposed specification to competently comment on it. The proposal Microsoft has put forward is incomplete and unimplementable by anyone other than Microsoft themselves. One can argue whether that is deliberate or merely an honest failure by Microsoft's specification team, but that point is immaterial. Either way the simple fact is that it is unusable.

Publishing a document that effectively says "Use formats that Microsoft products use" without actually providing a *specification* for those formats is not open, is not a standard, is not a specification. Typing the word "specification" on the cover page of a document does not mean it actually *is* a specification.

Microsoft obviously can and does *use* closed, nonstandard, undocumented formats. However is laughable for Microsoft to take a closed nonstandard nonspecification and attempt to relabel as an "open standard specification". Moreover it is outrageous to attempt to pass a closed nonstandard nonspecification as a government established open standard specification.

-

You really don't understand do you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19963351)

Wrapping "Weird crap" up in tags does not make it implementable by anyone and therefore cannot be called a standard.

explain the difference if you can!

Microsoft Word 95 - This is weird crap
&*56&*(65876&%^%$£^%*)623870^"378^"655365236752326 7823890231521654325378643

Microsoft Office Open XML - Proprietary tags they call a an open standard

&*56&*(65876&%^%$£^%*)623870^"378^"655365236752326 7823890231521654325378643

Open Document Format

Stand up anyone who doesn't understand this!

The lines above are using my proprietary encryption/format to state the text in the last example.

Now your task is to write "The fat brown cat sat on the mat!" in the formats from above.

rgds

In a nutshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19959225)

From TFA:

This issue may best be illustrated by the fact that most of the c. 17,000 already adopted ISO standards are only 25 - 40 pages long, and a standard normally takes three to four years to move through the five stages of a full ISO adoption cycle. In contrast, OOXML is over 6,000 pages long, and Microsoft is attempting to move it through both Ecma and ISO/IEC JTC1 in less than two years. Given the number of dependencies on other Microsoft technology, lack of detail describing some required elements, and other technical issues that have been identified, those charged with evaluating and voting on OOXML are having difficulty voting to approve, regardless of their opinion on whether there should or should not be two format standards.
Wow.

I got your document format... RTF (1)

ArcadeX (866171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19960157)

I've used M$ word, and corel, star office, and OO pretty extensively, even taught courses in M$ Office certification, and other that just making documents an eyesore, I still see a reason we can't just use RTF... Course me sending in resumes in RTF might also explain why I can't get a decent job...

Standard Defined (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#19961079)

A "standard" means one, not several -- especially when they don't interoperate with each other.

Don't bet that OOXML is dead, just yet. (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 6 years ago | (#19962885)

Microsoft had to do some heavy hacking (and stacking of the standards organizations), just to get OOXML this far. Don't presume that they're not continuing their legal footwork behind the scenes to make sure that the people who need to vote for OOXML don't just give up and vote 'yes' to get Microsoft off of their back (or get MS money in their pocket, or whatever it is that MS pushes as a reason to vote for OOXML).

Watch this situation closely, and if you can put your hand into the process to make sure that it flows properly, I'd suggest that you consider doing just that.

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