As promised, Microsoft have released documentation on their old binary formats by February 15. I haven’t taken a look yet, but the comments on the article don’t look too encouraging: some people contend that elements are missing and incomplete. It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft respond to this feedback. Hopefully the kinks will be smoothed out with little fuss. As far as I am concerned, a complete spec needs to cover full formatting, embedding, scripts, macros, formulae, schemas, images, binary blobs, password protection and DRM (and I’m sure I’ve missed some other important stuff too). It should also list exactly which patents are covered, in a manner similar to the Samba/PFIF deal.
Additionally, Microsoft have announced a binary-to-OOXML translator project. How well this will pan out is anyone’s guess. They say that the “project is developed and released under a very liberal BSD-like license (sic)”. IANAL — is this licence GPL-compatible? Could it be used to create a GPL binary-to-ODF converter (using OOXML as an intermediary), that we can embed into applications like OpenOffice.org or Xena?
Obviously these moves are focused on getting OOXML approved by ISO, but I’m also hopeful (though not optimistic) that it is a sign that Microsoft are willing to play more fair with the public and industry. We need to take advantage of this predicament they’ve put themselves in, and pressure them into opening their formats as much as possible. If OOXML is ever going to be approved, it should be so open that it’s no longer an issue. I don’t seriously expect this to happen, so I still hope it fails 😉 .
But standard or not, we’re still going to have to deal with it. Office 2007 has its own variant, lovingly dubbed MS-OOXML by some. The more they open up the format, the more independent and complete implementations there will be, hence there will be more inertia for MS to go with the flow and not deviate any further. Then at least it’ll be a de facto open standard. Maybe I’m dreaming, but it’s at least an interesting theory 🙂
“The Linux community has matured from my university days. … It seems like the linux community has a much more sensible, pragmatic approach now”
“Geeks are geeks, no matter what OS they use. I think this often gets lost in the religious divides and flamewars. All that geek-anger would be much more useful targeting lawyers and investment bankers.”
“The crowd was pretty friendly and they took us out to a Chinese restaurant afterwards. In an interesting act of irony, the FLOSS community paid for our dinner.”
For those wondering about the video, we just have to wait on a few things before we can release it. I’m sure we’ll get this sorted soon, so no conspiracy theories please 🙂 .