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IBM bristles at Microsoft's whinge about OOXML

Technical inferiority complex
Tue Feb 05 2008, 09:36

NOT A WEEK has passed since Microsoft complained that the failure of its Office Open XML (OOXML) document formats proposal to meet with fast track approval as an ISO standard should be laid at the feet of IBM alone. Now IBM has replied to Microsoft's whinge, bristling urbanely at the Vole's accusations.

Jean Paoli, Microsoft's senior director of XML technology, had told ZDNet, "Let's be very clear. It has been fostered by a single company -- IBM. If it was not for IBM, it would have been business as usual for this standard."

Nico Tsilas, the Microsoft's senior director of interoperability and IP policy, was even more accusatory towards IBM. "They have made this a religious and highly political debate," he reportedly said. "IBM have [sic] asked governments to have an open-source, exclusive purchasing policy. Our competitors have targeted this one product -- mandating one document format over others to harm Microsoft's profit stream."

As Ars Technica notes, Tsilas' charges were dubious and didn't reflect reality. There was zero evidence that IBM argued on emotionally charged religious or political grounds, or that it ever lobbied governments to adopt exclusively open source software policies. Also, while OpenDocument Format (ODF) is an open standard, that doesn't imply that it mandates the use of open source software.

ODF can be implemented with either proprietary or open source software and it can be implemented by anyone, including Microsoft. Governmental adoption of the open ODF standard can only harm Microsoft's profits if Microsoft refuses to implement the standard. "IBM shouldn't be blamed for Microsoft's reluctance to adopt existing standards," Ars Technica wrote, and it's right.

Ars Technica contacted Bob Sutor, IBM vice president of standards and open source. He responded to Microsoft's charges regarding IBM's involvement in Microsoft's OOXML document formats ISO approval process.

"IBM believes that there is a revolution occurring in the IT industry, and that smart people around the world are demanding truly open standards developed in a collaborative, democratic way for the betterment of all," Sutor said.

He reportedly continued, "If 'business as usual' means trying to foist a rushed, technically inferior and product-specific piece of work like OOXML on the IT industry, we're proud to stand with the tens of countries and thousands of individuals who are willing to fight against such bad behavior.

"In particular, we congratulate those countries who have already voted against OOXML in the JTC1 ballot, and the many more who we believe are now considering doing the same."

This is just another case of Microsoft behaving badly, and getting caught at it. µ

Ars Technica

See Also
IBM killed Open XML


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