Arnaud's Blog

Opinions on open source, standards, and other things

OOXML: And the light came on

I’ve thought about posting here several times over the last many months and I even have several drafts that never saw the light but this just keeps getting pushed down too far on my priority list to happen. However, I have to react to the buzz I’m discovering on my return from a week off.

Indeed, it is with quite a bit of astonishment that I read about Alex Brown’s frustration over Microsoft lack of interest in implementing ISO/IEC 29500 (OOXML). In the burgeoning comment sections following his post, Alex writes:

@Mr Allison

> The outcome that many had predicted, yet you
> insisted would not occur

Oh? I don’t recall making predictions about Microsoft’s behaviour? URL please!

Well, let me give you a link to a prediction I made! In my post What Microsoft’s track record tells us about OOXML’s future of March 25, 2008 I wrote:

They can, and I predict will, ignore all these additions which are optional and stick to what they have. The only reason they were added was to remove reasons for National Bodies to vote against OOXML.

So, here we are. Two years later, Microsoft has done exactly that and Alex Brown is finally seeing the light.

One can only hope that the standards community will have at least learned a lesson from this sad story: you simply cannot take control away from a vendor who has a monopoly and isn’t willing to give it up through a mere standardization process.


April 2, 2010 - Posted by | standards | ,


  1. Arnaud,

    I think Alex Brown wants to say that him insisting that MS would behave this time could not be proved by providing an URL.

    Comment by Arnd Layer | April 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Hello Arnd,
      I understand, that’s why I said: “let me give you a link to a prediction I made” but, I took his comment as a prompt for additional references to past predictions I just couldn’t pass on. 🙂
      And for what it’s worth, Tim Bray’s post referenced by Alex was published after mine. 😉

      Comment by Arnaud Le Hors | April 6, 2010 | Reply

  2. In fact Microsoft has removed a lot of transitional VML elements from their Office 2010 format. Also the format used in Microsoft Office 2010 conforms to the ISO/IEC 29500 standard.
    It may not yet be strict conforming but it shows a clear move towards the strict document conformance.
    Also Microsoft has committed to supporting the strict format in the next version of MS Office.

    That is definite progress in document standards.
    it is even faster then ODF progress where IBM is involved in what can only be called an extremely slow document standardization proces that has still failed to get the spreadsheet formula’s standardized even though the lack of formulas was already mentioned in 2004 OASIS archives.

    Could you as an IBM employee commit to full support of ODF 1.2 in the next version of Notes (noting that for instance OOo is not fully supporting all elements of ODF yet)

    Comment by Rick | April 22, 2010 | Reply

    • Rick,
      only the future will tell what they really end up doing obviously but they can claim anything they want until they deliver there is no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt. Again, experience shows that Microsoft doesn’t mind ignoring compliance requirements to the standards they claim to support, as they repeatedly demonstrated with Internet Explorer.

      As to your request the answer is: No, I can’t. I have absolutely no control over what the Lotus Notes development team does so I couldn’t possibly make such a commit. I can guarantee you that I’ll be the first to push for full compliance to the standard but that’s the extent of what I can do.

      Comment by Arnaud Le Hors | April 22, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] is what IBM’s Arnaud Le Hors wrote about Alex Brown’s [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, […]

    Pingback by OpenDocument Format (ODF) Shows That It Would Have Been Better If IBM Bought Sun | Techrights | April 22, 2010 | Reply

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