Microsoft criticized for Open XML petition

An online petition posted by Microsoft to fast-track the standardization of its Office Open XML document format masks the company's concern over the procedure, according to a leading open-source advocate. The petition is an attempt to make it appear that Open XML has "pseudo-grassroots" support, argues Mark Taylor, the founder of the Open Source Consortium. "In the open-source world, there's clearly a massive grassroots thing," Taylor told ZDNet UK on Thursday. "One of the lessons Microsoft has been trying to learn from open source is that--but they have to fake it. If there was any grassroots support behind it, the time to have done (the petition) would have been ages ago."

The petition, which was uploaded to Microsoft's U.K. site on March 29, asks businesses to show their support for the Open XML format being fast-tracked through the standardization process at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The format is integral to Office 2007, but Microsoft is pushing it as an international open standard for documents, spreadsheets and presentations. "We already have an international standard, the OpenDocument format, and governments are increasingly adopting it," said Taylor on Thursday. "Having a second standard is utterly unnecessary."

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The term "open" as it seems to be becoming part of the computing vocabulary would also tend to lead towards the thinking that more than one organisation has some input into the specification. I think "open" and "transparent" need better definition in this issue. From my limited knowledge of it, the MS standard is "transparent" but not "open" in that it doesn't really have anyone else to add input into it.

Please feel free to correct me on that, I only keep a vague eye on it.

Maybe im wrong, but ive heard that the Ms Open Xml format relies on some patented technologies. If thats true, then i dont think this format's gonna be an int. open standard.
Maybe someone could enlight me on this.

your wrong. Docx/xslx/whatever are all compleatly open XML standards that microsoft is pushing.Has to be open to be taken by standard because a bunch of city/state government offices are starting to require open and doucmented formats for all government work... so it isn't just microsoft being good guys...

P1R4T3 said,
Maybe im wrong, but ive heard that the Ms Open Xml format relies on some patented technologies. If thats true, then i dont think this format's gonna be an int. open standard.
Maybe someone could enlight me on this.

I read (I haven't read the huge spec myself) in an article not to long ago that the OpenXML spec also contains some parts: "Implement this like .doc did."
That might also be a problem for a 'open' standard ;-)

P1R4T3 said,
Maybe im wrong, but ive heard that the Ms Open Xml format relies on some patented technologies. If thats true, then i dont think this format's gonna be an int. open standard.
Maybe someone could enlight me on this.

You're right, sorta. It's not so much that things are patented (they are, but that's not so much the point in this instance), but that they're proprietary, meaning they cannot possibly be reimplemented, never mind legally.

The spec for OOXML (all 6,000 pages of it) includes features that rely upon Windows components and/or other Microsoft formats (e.g. the older Office formats, as mentioned above). Therefore, while one could reimplement most of the spec faithfully (given a lot of reading-time), one couldn't reimplement these parts at all. If a third party cannot fully use *any* possible instance of the format [any .docx, etc.] without buying something from Microsoft, it is *not* an open format.

So when Linux users hijack the dell feature request site it's "vindication."...but When Microsoft sets up a way for people to throw their hat in and support the first properly formated file type from them in 2 decades... it's a miscarriage of justice...lovely

I guess Mark Taylor is really concerned at who posted an online petition. I don't think it matters who posted the petition, it would still have to be "signed" by all the normal different people/organizations.

Plus, online petitions don't carry much weight at all - too easy to fake.