Architects on OOXML

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Desktop Architects Speak Out on OOXML


Dan Kegel - WINE architect

One of my concerns is that Microsoft reserves the right to sue you if you implement all of OOXML. The Microsoft "Open Specification Promise" and the earlier "Covenant Not To Sue" only cover the *required* portions of the standard, not the optional sections, e.g. the ones that handle backwards compatibility. Thus Microsoft seems to be saying that any OOXML file that was produced by loading a Word 2003 file and saving it as OOXML (and that's going to be the most common case for some time) cannot be legally read by a competing implementation without licensing Microsoft's patents.

Klaus Knopper - creator of Knoppix and Gnoppix

  • The proposed standard must be implementable by everyone. Insufficient or vendor-specific documentation cannot be implemented by anyone in full.
  • The proposed standard must be architecture- and operating-system independent.
  • The proposed standard must not be obfuscated.
  • All components and interfaces must be openly disclosed and documented in full, and not given as a "container" for proprietary content.
  • The proposed standard must not contain patented/proprietary components.
  • Implementing the standard must be royalty-free.

Scott Preece - Desktop Architect

I understand that the proposed standard is really a surrogate for Microsoft's claim to legitimacy in markets where support for open standards and interoperability are critical.

However, it's also true that (a) in many problem spaces there are multiple standards and (b) the normal role of the standards process is to formalize existing practice rather than to make policy or invent "better" practices. I once chaired a POSIX working group that was trying to forge a single standard to unify practice where there were two existing practices; ultimately the effort failed and the two practices were individually standardized. And the world didn't end.

David "Lefty" Schlesinger - Chair, Linux Foundation Mobile Working Group

There are serious issues with OOXML being adopted as a standard, as the references show.

  • Interoperability is, in fact, pretty limited
  • The legal status of future versions is murky
  • The proposed standard is ginormous (that's an official word now, according to Merriam-Webster), and hasn't had a reasonable review period (and might, at over 6,000 pages, be too large to reasonably review, especially since it's pretty much duplicative of ODF)

The GrokLaw article references Google's statement on OOXML, which I endorse. If there are aspects of ODF which Microsoft would like to see improved, then let's work together to improve ODF. This new proposed standard seems unnecessary and burdensome.