{May 24, 2007}   The Standards Council of Canada needs some education

There’s a proposal to adopt Microsoft’s Office “Open” XML as an international standard. Yep, the big nonstandard “standard” that is full of contradictions and confusions and patent worries. the “standard” that was created as a response to the Open Document Format. We should be standardising on that instead: ODF is already an ISO standard, is truly open, unencumbered, and is already used by at *least* two Free editors that I know of, plus there’s a plugin for MS Office. There must be at least one Canadian reading this blog; let’s let our government know what this “standard” really is. they’ve provided a forum for responses; let’s hope they actually listen to them. …just remember that they’ll listen better if the posts sound like they’re coming from a calm, rational adult and not a crazy linux fanatic ;)

[for the record: in the end, canada voted no. yay!]

ANY1er says:

That introduction they have is just so hilarious. Microsoft waves the patent stick around Linux a week ago and we’re supposed to believe this stuff?

“More and more organizations around the world are interested in achieving document processing interoperability, and creating digital archives using open formats. Office Open XML provides a common open standard for word-processing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets that can be freely implemented across multiple applications and platforms. The standard enables the continued use of billions of existing documents and promotes document processing interoperability.”

And here I thought there was a little thing called ODF that actually is cross-platform, not just in some dream world…

Janza says:

I can’t see how adopting this MS file format as a ISO standard could somehow be bad for the people in general. It may be bad for the ODF camp if the MS format is truly better or has a better documentation.

That’s just competition, and I’m hoping that the best format wins in the end. I don’t just get how the OSS people seem to have almost religious stance for this issue. If the ODF is a better format than the OOXML, I’m OK with that. But the decision process should be technical based on facts, not political one.

Chani says:

Janzer: it’s bad because it gives microsoft ammunition. it gives them an official standard to wave around as they threaten any company that thinks about moving away. they already have far too much power; they can get government officials in Massachusetts fired for trying to keep future documents out of the microsoft lock-in. [edit: wait, that last statement is wrong. I think I misremembered stuff. ignore it.]
it’s also bad because it gives naive but well-meaning people far more chance to mistakenly think that this format will actually be standard and predictable. it makes it seem that unlike .doc files, these ones won’t go all weird after a few upgrades of MS Word. I can assure you that won’t be the case; if old versions of Word kept working just fine, why, people might not buy the new version!
this format is a mess. I don’t expect it to ever be implemented by anyone other than microsoft. if there’s a version of openoffice that can read it decently, I think it will only be the novell with-help-from-microsoft version, which I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. MS is making quite enough patent threats as it is.
heck, I don’t even think MS Office will conform to this “standard”. code will change, weird things will happen, and the standard as written for the ECMA will eventually become even *more* worthless.

500 years from now, what information will historians have about our time? will they be able to read our important documents? or will it be this big blank spot because they don’t have the software to read the files? we can still read thing from hundreds of years ago right now, but reading a computer document from 10 years ago can be a huge problem. it’s crazy. it needs to darn well stop already.

at least I could *afford* to buy/acquire MS Office if I really needed to… but… I don’t think this computer can run vista. I *know* several of my friends’ computers can’t run vista. and at least one of them can’t afford a new one, so what on earth are they supposed to do if they get sent a file in this abomination of a format, or are asked to hand in a resume written in this format?

Troy Unrau says:

Sent an email. I tried to play up all the various backers of ODF, such as IBM, Adobe, etc. while playing up the fact that the only real backer of the MS format is, well, MS.


Chani says:

oh, and I should add that grokdoc has a nice long list of the technical objections to OOXML.

I posted a comment on the standards council forum. it ended up a bit long. but silly me forgot to add my name; it’s comment 4.38 if anyone’s interested :)

[…] on Planet KDE has pointed out the that the Standards Council of Canada needs some education, as it is seeking to have the OpenXML spec defined as an ISO standard. So, Canadians, step up and […]

Adam says:

Firefox caught on really well, what if that same style campaign was followed by OpenOffice? It has to appeal to the masses though.

It clearly now seems the Advertising Standards Canada itself is guilty of false, misleading advertising when it promises to deal adequately, quickly with the complaints presented to them like BELL.

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