Arnaud’s Open blog

Opinions on open source and standards

Let’s make a mess and then try to fix it – No, thanks.

I’ve become aware of various efforts focusing on addressing the difficulties users are going to have dealing with two formats: ODF and OOXML. One such effort even aims at creating a standard way of converting documents from one format to the other so that it could be done consistently.

All this might seem commendable at first sight but I have to ask: WHY???

Why are people doing this to themselves? Why are governments doing this to their citizens? Why are companies doing this to their customers? This is: Why creating these difficulties in the first place?

In essence the story goes like this: 1) we have one standard format for everybody to use, 2) instead of helping out make this format successful for the benefit of all, Microsoft creates its own competing format for its own and sole benefit, 3) this creates a mess, which the world has to figure out how to deal with. Thank you, Microsoft.

I already explained that if Microsoft really cared about legacy documents they would have opened up their binary format. They could also join the ODF TC and submit a proposal on how to extend ODF to support documents in their legacy binary format. Something they could have already done using ODF’s extension mechanism by the way. Now, that would really be helpful. And there would be no mess to deal with.

We can simply avoid all this by rejecting OOXML and forcing Microsoft to adopt and support ODF. No, it’s not impossible. Microsoft is merely counting on the fact that customers will let them get away with their misbehavior (once again). But if customers massively demanded ODF support and held off buying any new license until this happens, Microsoft would have no choice but to comply. Customers decide in the end, with their money. And governments, especially, play a crucial role in this regard.

Microsoft is making a mess which will only benefit them and their partners at your expense. Don’t let them.

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January 17, 2008 - Posted by | standards | , ,

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