Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Software IT

ODF Alliance Warns Governments About Office 2007 ODF Support 312

Posted by timothy
from the please-sub-in-the-new-bullet-points dept.
omz writes "The ODF Alliance has prepared a Fact Sheet for governments and others interested in how Microsoft's SP2 for Office 2007 handles ODF. The report revealed 'serious shortcomings that, left unaddressed, would break the open standards based interoperability that the marketplace, especially governments, is demanding.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

ODF Alliance Warns Governments About Office 2007 ODF Support

Comments Filter:
  • So, which is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @03:52PM (#28030151)

    Malice, or simple incompetence? Given Microsoft's track record, I can believe either one.

    I know there are a lot of smart people working for Microsoft. But somehow it's as if there's a reverse gestalt phenomenon going on in their company - the whole is less than the sum of the parts.

    • That the standards created for the ODF formats are no where near perfect.

      In fact, the ODF specification for spreadsheets doesn't state where formulas should go in a document. Something OpenOffice and Microsoft handle very differently. Because of these loopholes it's possible for software deveopers (Not just Microsoft) to do what they think is best instead of follow the standard.

      What the OpenOffice and Open Source communities should be doing is working to resolve these loopholes so Microsoft and other
      • by simplu (522692) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:02PM (#28030345)
        Doesn't seems strange to you that only Microsoft handle it very differently?
        • by LO0G (606364) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:10PM (#28030467)

          If you can believe Microsoft, they're not the only ones. Lots of ODF implementations have interoperability issues.

          Doug Mahugh at MSFT has been blogging about this: http://blogs.msdn.com/dmahugh/archive/2009/05/09/1-2-1.aspx [msdn.com]
          and

          http://blogs.msdn.com/dmahugh/archive/2009/05/13/tracked-changes.aspx [msdn.com]

        • No, not at all (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770)

          There's a couple reasons why they'd do it differently:

          1) The whole reason they are doing the ODF thing is pressure from the EU with regards to anti-trust. Part of that pressure is that "You have to do it according to the standard." They don't want MS to go and say "Well we implemented some of the standard, but changed it in ways we like." So MS has been sticking strictly to the standard. Not all the other implementations do. So, you get a difference in results. Now you can argue that the right way of doing

          • Re:No, not at all (Score:5, Informative)

            by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @05:34PM (#28031761)

            The whole reason they are doing the ODF thing is pressure from the EU with regards to anti-trust. Part of that pressure is that "You have to do it according to the standard."

            So you're arguing that MS's lawyers are completely incompetent and didn't know that being incompatible was a violation of antirust law and that antitrust law doesn't mention anything about standards compliance? I think that's a naive.

            All the other ODF stuff I've seen is open source. As with most open source, they borrow heavily form other open source projects. In the case of ODF, the modus operandi seems to be "Do what Open Office does." Ok that's great, but again not an option for MS. They can't take OOs code...

            They already own BSD licensed code that works on MS Office. Next argument please!

            Basically the ODF spec isn't clear and precise.

            But it's clear an precise enough that it worked for everyone else and there are multiple working open source implementations, one of which they can literally copy and paste from and which they helped fund the creation of and probably have full rights to it even if it wasn't BSD licensed. Sorry, that argument doesn't fly either.

            Then there are cases where the popular ODF implementations aren't compliant with the spec.

            Example please.

            More or less it looks like the ODF alliance needs to shut up, and write a better standard.

            They already did. MS doesn't want a standard for interoperability. They are simply looking for any way they can be compliant but still be incompatible.

            Everything has to be specified precisely.

            Not really, that's what reference implementations are for. If you have any doubt about how to handle this, see the reference implementations and do it that way.

            The only argument you made that has any legs is the first one regarding compliance with the spec, but only if you assume ignorance of the law (I assume you perhaps aren't that familiar with antitrust law). I assure you, while it may at times appear that all of MS's lawyers have never heard of antitrust law, that is not the case in reality.

            • Re:No, not at all (Score:5, Informative)

              by nxtw (866177) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @07:53PM (#28033567)

              But it's clear an precise enough that it worked for everyone else and there are multiple working open source implementations, one of which they can literally copy and paste from and which they helped fund the creation of and probably have full rights to it even if it wasn't BSD licensed. Sorry, that argument doesn't fly either.

              No, it just means that there are other implementations that behave similarly to OpenOffice.org.

              Demanding that Microsoft implements the ambiguous / not standard parts of OO.o's ODF in the same way that OO.o does is sort of like demanding that Mozilla implements all the ambiguous / not standard parts of MS's HTML/CSS rendering implementation. Or demanding that Apple modify OS X's kernel so it implements the same syscalls as Linux instead of implementing POSIX, because Linux is the most popular operating system used to run programs that target POSIX.

              Of course, with ODF, 1+2=1 [msdn.com]. ODF 1.1 is broken, and there is nothing that can be done to make a fully standards-compliant ODF 1.1 implementation without filling in the gaps somehow. Apparently [wikipedia.org], OO.o 1-2 uses a nonstandard forumla implementation and OO.o 3 writes to the not yet finished ODF 1.2 standard.

              • Re:No, not at all (Score:5, Informative)

                by spitzak (4019) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @09:26PM (#28034477) Homepage

                You are missing one ENORMOUS detail: the formulas ARE defined, they are defined by Open Office and every other ODF user as "do what Excel does" (to be pendantic they are "do what Excel does when set to a locale that uses commas as the decimal point").

                Microsoft is in the BEST position to do this, better than anybody else including OpenOffice! I believe they have the most accurate implementation of Excel. Or are you going to claim otherwise?

                Complicated wording and excuses from Mr Dave Mahugh just show that he is a truly sick and moralless individual. It is blatently obvious how to do the formulas. He is purposly writing stuff he knows as absolute bullshit in order to satisfy his paymasters. A bug in OpenOffice does not mean "don't write any ODF formulas" which is basically what he is claiming. WRONG.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by nxtw (866177)

                  You are missing one ENORMOUS detail: the formulas ARE defined, they are defined by Open Office and every other ODF user as "do what Excel does" (to be pendantic they are "do what Excel does when set to a locale that uses commas as the decimal point").

                  "Do what Excel does" is not the behavior specified by the latest published standard, and "do it however Open Office does it" is not the behavior specified in the published standard either.

                  People have been sacrificing standards compliance for years in order to b

          • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @05:59PM (#28032123)

            Microsoft did what they had to do to break compatibility. They must have been laughing themselves silly when they realised that other users of ODF had left the door open for them to both break compatibility AND claim compliance.

            Don't kid yourself, they may have been very happy to claim that they are compliant, but compliance was not the aim. Breaking compatibility was the primary purpose.

            • by TropicalCoder (898500) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @07:32PM (#28033333) Homepage Journal

              Microsoft did what they had to do to break compatibility. They must have been laughing themselves silly when they realised that other users of ODF had left the door open for them to both break compatibility AND claim compliance.

              Don't kid yourself, they may have been very happy to claim that they are compliant, but compliance was not the aim. Breaking compatibility was the primary purpose.

              Why was this modded Flamebait? It is actually insightful, given Microsoft's history [vanwensveen.nl]. That moderators rarely award points to ACs is somewhat understandable, but to censor an AC when it is already invisible is puzzling to me. Must have been an unintentional error is the only thing I can imagine.

          • by syousef (465911)

            Basically the ODF spec isn't clear and precise. So there are areas where you kinda have to decide how you want to do shit.

            So what you're saying is the ODF spec is a potty training manual??? That's insane!!! What 1-2 year old is going to be able to read such technical jargon?

        • by MobyDisk (75490)

          I'm confused.

          There are two implementations: OpenOffice and Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office does it differently from OpenOffice, and you conclude that "only Microsoft handles it very differently?" Or is there another reference implementation to compare to?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by alexborges (313924)

            Plenty: google doc, koffice and another MSOffice plugin.

            The lead of odf posted an interoperability table: ONLY MSOFFICE is completely incompatible to ALL of the other implementations.

          • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @05:48PM (#28031969) Homepage

            There's a lot more than 2 implementations. Besides OpenOffice and MS Office there's AbiWord, KOffice, Google Docs, WordPerfect Office X4, IBM's Lotus Symphony, the Sun ODF plug-in for MS Word and the BSD-licensed ODF plug-in for Word that Microsoft funded and hosted on SourceForge. That last is important, BTW. Not only is Office 2007's implementation of ODF incompatible with OpenOffice, it's incompatible with Microsoft's own other implementation of ODF.

            • There's a lot more than 2 implementations. Besides OpenOffice and MS Office there's AbiWord, KOffice, Google Docs, WordPerfect Office X4, IBM's Lotus Symphony, the Sun ODF plug-in for MS Word and the BSD-licensed ODF plug-in for Word that Microsoft funded and hosted on SourceForge. That last is important, BTW. Not only is Office 2007's implementation of ODF incompatible with OpenOffice, it's incompatible with Microsoft's own other implementation of ODF.

              Well duh it's incompatible with that! The plugin (Microsoft's) works well with other OpenDocument programs, so it therefore must never see the light of day (from Microsoft's point of view).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Doesn't seems strange to you that only Microsoft handle it very differently?

          It isn't just Microsoft. IBM's Lotus is also incompatible with OpenOffice [msdn.com]. That post explains in detail why MS made the choices they made.

          Also see his later post on 1+2 [msdn.com]. Office and Lotus agree it is 3, but OpenOffice thinks it is 1 in some cases.

          Here's what is really going on: for the first time, someone is actually using ODF who cares about consistency with existing documents, and making predictable behavior. Since ODF currently is ridiculously underspecified, this is revealing a lot of problems with ho

        • by westlake (615356)

          Doesn't seems strange to you that only Microsoft handle it very differently?

          How many players are there in this game?

          How many independent implementations of ODF?

          What do you mean by "very" differently?

          Any difference would seem to be a problem if the standard is as mature and complete as the geek proclaims it to be.

          Which leads directly to my next question:

          Is ODF flexible enough to allow - to encourage - the evolution of new types of documents? New ways of working with documents.

          The geek tends to perceive t

      • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:08PM (#28030445) Homepage

        Already done, spreadsheet formulas are being specifically addressed in ODF 1.2. But in 1.1 there was already a set of conventions for handling formulas, and Microsoft were the only ones out of all the ODF 1.1-using applications that couldn't follow those conventions. In fact their implementation even specifically violated one of the bits that was in the ODF 1.1 spec: the spec calls for cell names to be enclosed in square brackets, while Microsoft's implementation omits the brackets. Then you have just plain malicious stuff like actively removing formula information that's present. Even if you can't parse the formulas, XML makes it easy to preserve what was there. Every other implementation behaves that way: if they can't understand the formulas at least they leave them intact for applications that do understand them. Microsoft's is the only implementation that deliberately removes formulas from the spreadsheet.

        What annoys me most about Microsoft's pseudo-support is that it had to be deliberate. They had to actually expend additional effort to be this incompatible. If they'd simply been lazy and taken the easiest way out, they would've been far more compatible with everybody else than they ended up being.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          So, it's lazier to load up & store something you don't recognize, than to ignore it?

          Gotcha.

          • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:42PM (#28030923) Homepage

            Pretty much, yes. Bear in mind that Microsoft already has code that does handle the spreadsheet formulas correctly. The plug-in that Microsoft itself commissioned and that they own the code for not only preserves the formulas, it correctly parses and interprets them so that cells get recalculated properly as data changes and it correctly writes changed formulas back out. All Microsoft had to do was to not do all the work a second time. And even if they had re-done the work, the XML parser automatically populates the DOM with the formula strings and the internal implementation in Excel already can preserve arbitrary metadata from external formats even when it can't interpret it. All they'd've had to do is not touch things the user hadn't edited and the preservation would've happened automatically. I do this all the time when dealing with XML code, to the point where I have to make a deliberate effort not to write data-preserving code.

          • So, it's lazier to load up & store something you don't recognize, than to ignore it?

            They don't ignore it, they reference the last value then strip out the formula information from files on import.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Surrounded (1487683)
          To me, this is all whining by the anti-Microsoft folks. When Microsoft supports ODF 1.2, and if they goof up, then complain.

          ODF 1.1 was to vague and to somehow blame Microsoft because they followed a poorly written spec and had to make judgement calls to fill in the blanks just seems sad.

          The blame still rests on the ODF standards. If people want to have interopability between applications then set strict standards otherwise this will continue happen.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            To me, this is all whining by the anti-Microsoft folks. When Microsoft supports ODF 1.2, and if they goof up, then complain.

            At which point you'll still be apologizing for them and say we should wait till 1.3 to complain?

            ODF 1.1 was to[sic] vague and to somehow blame Microsoft because they followed a poorly written spec...

            Yeah it was so vague every other company managed to implement it just fine, including Microsoft in the plug-in they hired someone to write and whose code is BSD licensed so they could have just copied and pasted, since it was already working with MSOffice as a plug in. I have this bridge you might be interested in Brooklyn.

            The blame still rests on the ODF standards.

            Bullshit! There are multiple reference implementations and free code available and even sma

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That the standards created for the ODF formats are no where near perfect.

        This is indeed the case with the spreadsheet formulas. However, there's more. From TFA:

        Microsoft Office 2007 does not support encryption (password-protection) in ODF files.

        [...]

        Encryption and password protection are fully specified in ODF 1.0/1.1 (item 17.3 of the
        specification), so the failure to define this feature in ODF cannot be cited as a plausible
        explanation.

        Also,

        Microsoft Office 2007 does not support tracked changes in ODF.

        [...]

        Tracked changes are specified in ODF 1.0/1.1 so the failure to define this feature in ODF cannot
        be cited as a plausible explanation.

        Furthermore, one could note that

        Commitment to Support Future Versions of ODF

        Microsoft has dragged its feet for over 3 years (ODF 1.0 was approved as an OASIS standard in
        May 2005 and as an ISO standard in May 2006; ODF 1.1 by OASIS in Feb. 2007), despite
        repeated calls by governments throughout Europe and elsewhere to implement support for ODF.

        Implementing incompatible, down-level versions of open standards will break interoperability
        on the desktop, especially considering Microsoft's potentially large ODF installed user base.

        Microsoft has a rich history of implementing down-level versions of open standards;
        e.g., Java in Internet Explorer, where Microsoft pre-installed an incompatible version
        with proprietary extensions and then to let it languish, failing to update it as the Java technology evolved.

        In other words, it's business as usual.

        -AC

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        The ODF specifications are being improved in exactly the way you describe, version 1.2 is currently being worked on and it addresses the spreadsheet formula issues.

        Now while it's true that the ODF spec lacks information on exactly how to store spreadsheet formulas, it does use almost the same syntax as excel... And it's also true that all the other ODF implementations, including the plugin microsoft created a couple of years back, handle formulas in the same way as openoffice.

        The ODF spec was perhaps a bit

    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @03:57PM (#28030255) Journal

      Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Malice, or simple incompetence?

      Why take one when you can have both? It was intended to be broken by method X, but the programming teams didn't talk to each other well enough, so it was broken by method Y, and the testing showed it matched the intended result by 80%, so it was shippable.

    • Both: malicious incompetence.
      However, it is unlikely to be incompetent malice, since Microsoft has repeatedly demonstrated competence in that field.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by alexborges (313924)

      There is a lengthy discussion about the microsoft appointed staf to ODF. They even requested current lead of ODF to stand down cause hes "biased".

      And well... having non-biased-against-microsoft people in a non profit organization, id say, would be contrary to their keeping their good money.

      Only people in their wallet could ever support their petty arguments. They say "we comply!", but make no effort to actually be interoperable with ANY other ODF supporting suite (google, koffice and some office plugins).

  • Just wondering, is Microsoft warning governments about OpenOffice's .DOC support?

    • Probably already part of the FUD machine.

    • by Chabo (880571)

      "They're breaking our standard, but we won't tell you how; that's a secret."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ruin20 (1242396)

        kinda like "They're violating our patents but we won't tell you which ones" right?

    • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @05:09PM (#28031417)
      They don't warn people about it, but they do consider anyone running or develping for openoffice eligible to be sued. Here's a news article from 2004 [crmbuyer.com] about the settlement between Sun and MS over staroffice that states:

      In the document, it is stated that Microsoft agrees not to sue Sun for commercial distribution of StarOffice, which is based on OpenOffice.org, but that Microsoft can still seek damages from OpenOffice users or distributors for any copy installed after April 1, 2004.

      Watch what happens if openoffice makes any kind of real dent in office's market share. It'll be just like the RIAA going after downloaders...

  • by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @03:57PM (#28030257)
    I know Microsoft is being its usual self, but perhaps the ODF alliance should promoting a certification program and a compliance logo to raise the quality of interoperability of ALL ODF based applications.
    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:06PM (#28030413) Journal
      And more than just a logo. We need the equivalent of acid test. Round trip testing. Great opp for non programmers who have been enjoying Open Source software for so long. Test the ODF export/import in MSWord and submit bugs.

      If you have been saying, "I support Open Source, but since I am not a coder, I cant do much", this is your chance to contribute positively and advance the cause for open standards.

      • Mod parent up (Score:5, Interesting)

        by KlaymenDK (713149) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:35PM (#28030797) Journal

        That's a very insightful, proactive suggestion. Why bitch about the usual MS attitudes if you can provide a constructive path ahead, right?

        Actually, it shouldn't be all that hard (but, it may well be tedious work) to put together a document that includes samples of *all* features of the spreadsheet / text editor / drawing / presentation document.

        Providing verification is probably a bigger challenge. I wonder if it could be done as macros in any of the ODF-supporting suites, or if that's akin to an SOD violation?

      • +1 to this. The Office Acid Test. It doesn't exist yet. People are already used to the idea of it in the browser space and may hev already heard of it from their nerdy friends telling them why Internet Explorer sucks so much. Its a simple way to enforce and be transparent about compatibility. Nobody should be able to "work around" the standard. It would be a HUGE plus if there was a way for the ACID test to also check for "embrace and extends"
    • perhaps the ODF alliance should promoting a certification program

      If the certification program will certify conformance to the standard, then Microsoft implementation will get the certification (since it does conform to it).

      If it will certify something else, then what will it be? Correct interop with OO.org? But isn't that preferential treatment of one particular implementation (in effect making it a reference implementation for the standard)? And what about cases where OO.org itself does not conform to the spec?

  • by Jabrwock (985861) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @03:58PM (#28030265) Homepage
    I don't get the section on Office 2003. Their gripe is that it doesn't support ODF. Well if MS doesn't release a service pack, why complain that 2003 doesn't support ODF when 2007 doesn't either (without SP2)? Focus on their current (insufficient) efforts to update software, not on software they haven't yet decided to update. There's no threat to ODF interop in 2003 if it can't read them at all...
  • No sympathy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wampus (1932) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:00PM (#28030291)

    If you write a standard and clamor to get it adopted by law, don't leave Redmond-sized holes in it. Someone might just try to drive a Microsoft through it.

    • by owlstead (636356)

      Meh, there's no standard that you cannot drive a Microsoft through. It's not like it is a provable mathematical theorem or such. Basically if you sift through any standard and find loopholes. You need testing to get things going right.

    • Re:No sympathy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by spitzak (4019) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @09:54PM (#28034771) Homepage

      Standards are normally written with the assumption that people interpreting them have a desire to interoperate. This was of course a mistake when you have a hostile party like Microsoft.

      It is trivial to comply to the letter with lots of standards yet make an implementation that does not interoperate at all. Maybe this should be some new variation on the obfuscated-C style contests. Pick some computer standard and write some software that does not work with it yet technically obeys every part of the standard. More modern ones that are designed for expansion such as ODF make this pretty easy, older communication standards would be more fun I think.

  • by Useful Wheat (1488675) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:03PM (#28030357)

    Although nobody is really surprised that Microsoft has made their software comply with the letter of the law and not the spirit, is this really a big issue? If, as the summary says, the marketplace is demanding a grand interoperability between software products, then we might see the rapid uptake of OOO in the near future. Failing that, if nobody switches, then the market has spoken loud and clear, Nobody cares.

    Honestly, the single most productive thing you could do to ensure the rapid uptake of open standards would be to make openoffice.org an amazing product. Put all of your time and effort into making it clearly superior, and at that point everyone will use an ODF by default.

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:33PM (#28030763)

      Although nobody is really surprised that Microsoft has made their software comply with the letter of the law and not the spirit, is this really a big issue?

      First, they didn't comply with the letter of the law. This is clearly a violation of antitrust law. Second, they didn't comply with the letter of the spec, both failing to implement it properly and going out of their way to not implement features they already had working code for and ignoring both reference implementations.

      If, as the summary says, the marketplace is demanding a grand interoperability between software products, then we might see the rapid uptake of OOO in the near future.

      We might or we might not because monopoly influence on several markets allows Microsoft to undermine and break the normal operation of the free market system by violating antitrust law. In doing so they hurt competitors, consumers, and slow innovation.

      Failing that, if nobody switches, then the market has spoken loud and clear, Nobody cares.

      Yeah and the market spoke and nobody wanted answering machines, speed dial, or to own instead of rent a telephone while AT&T had a monopoly on phone service. The free market cannot operate and determine the best products at the best price when undermined by abuse. That's why it is illegal.

      Honestly, the single most productive thing you could do to ensure the rapid uptake of open standards would be to make openoffice.org an amazing product. Put all of your time and effort into making it clearly superior, and at that point everyone will use an ODF by default.

      When faced with a monopoly, having the better product does not mean you win in the market. Clearly superior products can and do lose because of artificial problems introduced to them; artificial problems like being unable to open most ODF files which were made intentionally incompatible by a company with monopoly influence on the market.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Second, they didn't comply with the letter of the spec, both failing to implement it properly and going out of their way to not implement features they already had working code for and ignoring both reference implementations.

        That's the problem - the spec is too vague to be implemented properly. Because the spec doesn't spell things out in a specific way, it's impossible to implement in a consistent way - it's open to interpretation. The problem isn't Microsoft, the problem is the spec. ODF 1.2 should f

        • > That's the problem - the spec is too vague to be implemented properly.

          The hell it is! There are reference implementations. There's BSD code they could copy-paste. The oft-referenced "problems" have already been dealt with by many other comments. If you're going to complain about ODF 1.2 documents in ODF 1.1 programs, I'm going to have to complain about Word 2003 documents that don't work right in Word 95, even if you use save as to save it to the old version.

          And then I'll quote one of your own comm [slashdot.org]

          • OpenOffice is NOT a reference implementation of ODF 1.1. OpenOffice implements features that are not even specified in ODF 1.1 (for example: formulas). It cannot be a reference implementation of something that simply does not exist. ODF 1.2 should hopefully address this, but they will need to improve the language in the spec to make it less vague. Specifications are supposed to be specific (funny that).

            • OpenOffice is NOT a reference implementation of ODF 1.1.

              IBMs presentation online says it is.

              1. OpenOffice implements features that are not even specified in ODF 1.1 (for example: formulas).

              And there goes your credibility. ODF 1.1 does specify formulas and how they should be formatted, but is vague on the details. But no one else had any problems implementing them, including MS's commissioned plug-in.

              It cannot be a reference implementation of something that simply does not exist.

              Which of course you were completely wrong about. In any case, reference implementations are for filling in areas where the spec is vague so people know how to implement it for compatibility.

              ODF 1.2 should hopefully address this...

              ODF 1.2 did clarify things so it will be harder for MS to break compatib

      • by horatio (127595)

        When faced with a monopoly, having the better product does not mean you win in the market. Clearly superior products can and do lose because of artificial problems introduced to them

        You make a good point. I would take your argument a bit further and contend that one major artificial problem is government-sponsored monopoly through the broken patent system, and instruments like the DMCA which are both used not to give the inventor a chance to profit from his work, but to bludgeon anyone or anything who might represent a threat to the bottom line.

        Maybe I'm completely wrong, but it seems like the patent system has given us many of these monopolies because inventors and innovators are

    • by Haeleth (414428) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @05:27PM (#28031675) Journal

      Honestly, the single most productive thing you could do to ensure the rapid uptake of open standards would be to make openoffice.org an amazing product. Put all of your time and effort into making it clearly superior, and at that point everyone will use an ODF by default.

      (a) You're making the common mistake of conflating ODF with OOo. The two are completely separate entities. People who advocate the use of ODF are not necessarily OOo fans; they may prefer Abiword, KOffice, or even Microsoft Office. The whole point of open standards is that it shouldn't matter what software you use.

      (b) Even if you take your goal to be the promotion of OOo (a particular software product) rather than ODF (a document standard), then it's naive to think that all you have to do is make a product that's better than MS Office. The sad truth is that no matter how good your product is, most people will be reluctant to switch to it. People hate change. The product would need not only to be better, but to be about 10 times better. And then you would need to communicate that fact, in the face of the best marketing that one of the world's richest companies can buy. Not an easy task.

      But if you can get open standards adopted, then there's no longer any reason to care about increasing OOo market share, because it won't matter what software people use: you'll still be able to read their documents and they'll still be able to read yours.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @05:05PM (#28031331) Homepage
    Unfortunately, so it will be ignored.

    What do I mean ? It starts by assuming that you know what ODF is, giving it a name ''the OpenDocument Format'' doesn't really help -- the average Member of Parliament/Senate/Dictatorship/... will not have a clue what you are talking about. All sorts of other buzz words abound, there are names of unknown things like KSpread and Symphony -- who has heard of them ?

    I am sympathetic to what they are doing - it is a great idea, unfortunately it won't get much legislator/bureaucrat/... eyeball time because it doesn't explain what it is all about. It needs to be prefixed by a page that explains it all in nice, friendly words that everyone can understand and say that the technical details are on the next pages -- which starts with page 1 of what they have produced.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    People are seriously arguing that Microsoft should munge the standard to go along with the most common implementation? Welcome to the web, circa 1996. That's exactly how web standards got to be the mess they are. Browser manufacturers wrote browsers to be compatible with each other and to support new features, instead of following the standards. And thus the standard fell behind and became increasingly useless.

    Microsoft is writing an ODF document, *not* an OpenOffice document. And, long-term, that's ex

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @08:31PM (#28033953) Journal

    Before you judge on this issue, it helps to read comments by various involved parts - those raising the issue to attention, MS people who have implemented ODF, and informed commenters outside this dispute. So, here's a bunch of links to start with.

    First of all, a series of blog post by OASIS' Rob Weir (who's criticizing MSOffice) and Microsoft's Doug Mahugh (who's defending it) that evolved into a kind of a public discussion on the issue. Here they are in chronological / meaningful reading order:

    http://www.robweir.com/blog/2009/05/update-on-odf-spreadsheet.html [robweir.com]
    http://blogs.msdn.com/dmahugh/archive/2009/05/05/odf-spreadsheet-interoperability.aspx [msdn.com]
    http://www.robweir.com/blog/2009/05/follow-up-on-excel-2007-sp2s-odf.html [robweir.com]
    http://blogs.msdn.com/dmahugh/archive/2009/05/09/1-2-1.aspx [msdn.com]
    http://www.robweir.com/blog/2009/05/battle-for-odf-interoperability.html [robweir.com]

    Then there's some outside commentary. I've taken the following links from comments in Doug's blog posts, and they tend to either be neutral or side with MS on this, so it may not be a representative sample. If you have any representing informed argument for the other side (e.g. by members of ODF committee, or ODF implementers - in general, people who know the ins and outs of the spec, and can accurately judge on its wording and intent - not random blogosphere FUD from either side), please mention them in replies.

    http://ajg.math.concordia.ab.ca/?p=4 [concordia.ab.ca]
    http://adjb.net/post/Notes-on-Document-Conformance-and-Portability-4.aspx [adjb.net]
    http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2009/05/odf-11-formula-support-in-office-sp2.html [oreilly.com]

  • They did it again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Godji (957148) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:27PM (#28035017) Homepage
    Microsoft did it: they managed to make ODF scary - it may or may not work. It was a brilliant FUD move.

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.

Working...