APEC and OOXML - both pointless and annoying

Summary:The eyes of the world were on Australia this week as the APEC summit got underway in Sydney, and what they've seen is a city being held under virtual martial law — major roads blocked off, police cars outnumbering taxis and snipers openly hanging out on roof tops.

The eyes of the world were on Australia this week as the APEC summit got underway in Sydney, and what they've seen is a city being held under virtual martial law — major roads blocked off, police cars outnumbering taxis and snipers openly hanging out on roof tops.

Making just as many headlines as George Bush's travelling circus has been Microsoft's failed attempt to fast-track its OOXML document format to the status of an ISO standard.

Both these events have been annoying and pointless. Neither has done anything but generate a huge amount of FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt).

Microsoft has spent a large part of this year gushing about the benefits of open standards. This is a complete turnaround from the Microsoft of a few years ago, which everyone loved to hate because of the company's lack of foresight and plain dumb arrogance.

Talking of dumb arrogance, APEC's star visitor George Bush seemed unable to grasp the incredible irony that a visit from the "leader of the free world" means his hosts are treated like convicted criminals.

"I think the great freedom of the city of Sydney is going to return quite rapidly," Bush was reported to have said today. Well thanks, Mr Bush. We look forward to your departure so we can carry on with our worthless lives.

Bush's attitude reminds me a great deal of Microsoft, when it had no real competition and could do what it liked. At the time, Redmond didn't bother pursuing international standards because the market fell into line with whatever technical decision it made.

These days, governments and organisations are finally coming round to the fact that it might not be a great idea to store all their documents in a format owned by a corporation that has already been found guilty of abusing its monopolistic powers.

Of course, it would take a brave person to bet against Microsoft winning the next OOXML ISO vote, which will most likely take place early next year.

One thing I would bet on though is that Canberra would have made a far more sensible venue for the APEC summit than Sydney.

Apart from not disrupting the lives of millions, Canberra is the national capital and was designed with politicians in mind.

I'm sure Bush — along with all the other world leaders — would have had far more fun playing with the ACT's abundance of fireworks, marijuana and porn.

Unfortunately, the circus had to be in Sydney and was hosted by a PM who probably won't even survive the next vote.

Will the same fate await Microsoft OOXML in 2008?

Topics: Microsoft, Government : AU, Patents

About

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.Munir was recognised as Austr... Full Bio

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