EC Distrust Microsoft's Open Standards Announcement

Loraine Lawson

No sooner did Microsoft announce plans to support the Open Document Format, viewed as the chief competing standard for Microsoft's own Office Open XML, than the European Commission announced it will investigate whether Microsoft is making sincere efforts to support ODF.


It's not the first, second or even the third time. Most recently, the EC expressed concern about Microsoft's promise to open up more APIs. In fact, Microsoft's lawyers will need to add this to the pile of issues between the company and the EC, including fighting the EC's most recent $1.35 billion fine.


Apparently, somebody has T-R-U-S-T issues.


The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency apparently also suspects Microsoft isn't acting above board with open standards. It's offered to help with the investigation. Earlier this month, the British agency declared Microsoft's "interoperability practices harmed consumers and schools," according to the CIO Today article.


Microsoft at first refused to support ODF, but conceded after intense industry pressure and a few choice fines from the EC, Network World reports.


You might wondered why the Europeans are so upset if they're finally getting their way. It's because Microsoft doesn't plan to support Open Document Format until 2009 in an effort to give its own OOXML standard a foot up in Europe.


OOXML received international standards approval from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission in April. But the vote was not without controversy and 10 nations - Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Iran, New Zealand, South Africa and Venezuela -- voted against it.


Microsoft also plans to add support for PDF, for which I am personally thankful. But to be fair, it's not Microsoft's fault that it hasn't supported PDF to date. Network World reports Microsoft pulled native support for PDF from Office 2007 in June 2006, after Adobe protested. Adobe has since submitted PDF as an open standard to the ISO.


Stay tuned...

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