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OOXML: The losses

OOXML ISO voting
Contrary to what Miguel de Icaza believes about the ISO approval of OOXML as an office document format standard, this is nothing but a big loss for the free software and open source communities.

Yes, the whole OOXML approval process broguth Microsoft to a somewhat “open” direction. But the truth is that there’s nothing open about it. If it was, the development and changes of the new OOXML specifications should’ve been a public process. But no one really knew how the new OOXML proposal would be until its final publication.

But first of all, why do we need another office file format when ODF is already an ISO standard? If Microsoft is in fact moving to an open direction, why doesn’t it adopt ODF and contribute to it, instead of developing a rival or competing “open” standard? There’s already a lot of ODF implementations, and none OOXML implementations other than Microsoft’s own MS Office. So supporting ODF sounds to me like a be a better open direction, and no, a translator between these formats is not contributing to an open standard.

Microsoft pledged that it would modify future versions of Office to conform to the ISO standard. But what will happen with the current existing Office format? Ohh, that won’t be supported? Microsoft is well known for not keeping their promises and tweak the facts on their favor.

All I see from Miguel is a lot of praising about OOXML as a “superb” format, but I don’t see any code. Gnumeric still doesn’t have full support of OOXML. And if its so easy to read the whole 6,000 pages of the whole specification, plus the the specifications to the old binary formats to clarify the binary blob implementations and actually do the implementation code, then why is it not there already? I guess reading the 600 page specification for ODF is far more complicated.

What OOXML will bring as an ISO standard is confusion, market fragmentation and more life to the monopoly of Microsoft over corporate/office computing.

By Gabriel Saldaña

Gabriel Saldaña is a web developer, photographer and free software advocate. Connect with him on and Twitter

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