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Format harmonization getting government help?Jay Lyman, February 8, 2008 @ 3:16 pm ET
Those familiar with the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the ongoing grappling with Microsoft’s OOXML and interoperability might think this blog is about how governments around the world are among those embracing ODF. This embrace, by organizations that typically have existing and legacy formats beholden to Microsoft, is happening, but this post is more about what a couple of recent government antitrust announcements (the EU looking into Microsoft’s OOXML lobbying efforts with ISO and the U.S. extension of MS antitrust oversight) could mean for the format future.
Despite mine and others’ calls for continuation of the open format’s interoperability advantage through technical support for Microsoft’s formats, there has been continued resistence to working toward that goal. Nevertheless, there was also recent word of some hope for format harmonization, despite the difficulties.
I don’t doubt the challenges of working with Microsoft, and also conversely of working with open source software developers, open standards supporters and yes, other vendors, who may not want to deal with the software giant. However, the stakes are too high to simply shut the door on interoperability, particularly when it represents, ironically, a future with a working alternative to Microsoft’s own formats.
The incentive for Microsoft to fully cooperate and fully interoperate should be greater given global antitrust pressures. ODF developers and supporters should take the opportunity to do likewise, thus improving format flexibility and choice.
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