The OpenXML / ODF Debate Flywheel – Just use WikiLeaks
November 26, 2008
It seems like the rancour around the Open XML / ODF soap opera still simmers away.
Even though the volcano has erupted and the ash has cooled, it won’t be forgotten.
For those who don’t know the tale and want a recap:
Sun buy the commercial product StarOffice, then give it away for free. When that still doesn’t arouse too much interest, they decide to open source it instead in a move to reduce MSOffice dominance. It is called OpenOffice.org, or OpenOffice ->
IBM and Sun dream up strategy of beating MS Office with government mandate stick via standardisation route. Open Source folk find it an intoxicating bandwagon too->
OpenOffice file format is morphed into a standard and hurried through standardisation->
IBM put coin and feet on the street into strategy and start to make progress with some government bodies. An IBM services bonanza beckons. Sun wonders (as usual) how are THEY going to make money->
Microsoft, either reacting to this strategy, or in parallel, being forced by European Union, also morph their Office suite into a standard and hurry it through standardisation->
(note – slightly more fuss/interest around this than the ODF process)
IBM/Sun/Open Source folks call foul and IBM throws its toys out of the pram regarding ISO’s value.
During this debate, there are numerous mentions of corruption. Some of it is well documented and looks like the usual lobbying that one might expect. IBM + friends went at it hammer and tongs, so did Microsoft.
However, these nebulous claims still remain. I am reminded of Tim Bray every day I look out of my window, since the UK office of OpenText is visible from my home, a company which Tim co-founded.
One would have thought even a plain speaker like Tim would be able to voice his concerns, which should naturally have been weighed up in the context of the ‘theatre’ (in the war sense, and others) and must therefore be so heinous that he fears legal action (from Microsoft, one assumes) and has decided that discretion is the better part of valour.
I have an idea. Anyone with any of these obviously very juicy stories can put them up on WikiLeaks. I suppose you could always use Groklaw, but I can’t figure out if it’s one of those ‘ironic’ parody-style sites or not. It smacks of those religious site parodies, which are pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing.
I took a quick look on WikiLeaks and the only things I could find were all from Stefan Krempl, just links to published articles on heise.de. Not very juicy.
So if anyone has any top notch dirt, I encourage them to use WikiLeaks. I would welcome some new material to read, as the flywheel still seems to keep spinning on the same old energy. Maybe we’ve found the perpetual motion machine.
Come on people, it’s catharsis time. You’ll feel better.
In a more positive vein, it looks like everyone is going to play nicely in the new ISO maintenance structures. I only said it looks like.
In the spirit of full disclosure, the company I work for are Microsoft partners (as we are IBM partners) and have implemented Open XML spreadsheet reading and writing in our products. We are Excel-centric, so most of our customers have never heard of ODF. Still, maybe once they get hold of Office 2007 SP2 and the ODF support, they’ll start clamouring for it.