Oooh…an XML fight!
04-Apr-2008The world does seem to love an XML fight.
Yesterday Microsoft scored a goal by getting their OOXML standard ratified as an international standard through ISO (International Organization for Standards) — a definite point score, since there were many other parties fighting tooth and nail to prevent this happening. OOXML is an important standard, with critical implications for the industry as a whole, and therefore represents a standard that we need to look at dispassionately to assess its true value and potential impact.
Passion is not lacking in this fight. I really don’t think there is any company that can rally the opposing troops like Microsoft, a company that lurks across the IT industry and business world, seemingly playing the part of the arch evil robber baron in a 1920’s silent thriller. Always ready to stab the hero in the back, always read to smile and make up — then trip up their opponents. It’s a reputation that has been well earned on occasion — but this sort of good vs. evil drama really brings no value to any of us — particularly when it comes to ratifying or rejecting standards. That said, this particular spat has been entertaining to say the least, if not comical at times.
To summarize the current situation, Microsoft proposed an open standard format for office documents (word processing, spreadsheets, et. al.) that would allow for interoperability between office application systems, a standard called OOXML (Office Open XML). Problem is there already is an open standard format for office documents called ODF (Open Document Format) that has long been around, and had already achieved ISO recognition.