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Open XML vs. ODF -- Again

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Many readers will remember the Microsoft Open XML flap in Massachusetts, where then-CIO Peter Quinn proposed moving the state to mandatory use of Open Document Format (ODF), the format that is loved by IBM and the open source community, among others.

 

Massachusetts ultimately flipped, embraced Microsoft's Open XML, and launched an investigation into Quinn's travel expenses. But the battle isn't over.

 

Microsoft is now taking a lot of heat for its attempt to get Open XML approved as an ISO standard. Open XML is, obviously, highly controversial, and, by the way, 6,000 pages long. Microsoft has chosen to apply via the fast track process, which is specifically designed for non-controversial specs that can be quickly vetted.

 

The plan isn't going smoothly. According to one blogger who, right or wrong, has studied the situation in great detail, there have been an "unprecedented number" of comments from the 30-member board. (Each member represents a country.) Meanwhile, the self-described "standards geeks" are having a good laugh as Microsoft and IBM publicly battle, each claiming they have the public's interest at heart.

 

For many, however, this is no laughing matter. A bill mandating ODF has been introduced in the California State Legislature. If passed, it could potentially impact millions, if not billions, of dollars in IT contracts.

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