Is Microsoft's ODF vote supposed to make amends for its patent attack?

Summary:Microsoft issued a press release on May 18 trumpeting its vote "to support the addition of OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.0 to the nonexclusive American National Standards list.

Microsoft issued a press release on May 18 trumpeting its vote "to support the addition of OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.0 to the nonexclusive American National Standards list."

Further down in the press release, Microsoft casually mentions that Open XML also is on the list to get the standards nod from the American National Standards Institute and that it anticipates approval, no problem.

To date, Microsoft has been doing everything in its power to counter the chances of the Open Document Format (ODF) becoming an accepted alternative to its Open XML document-format standard. Microsoft is primarily worried about governments requiring "open" document standards in their purchasing contracts.

From the release: “We have listened to our customers, and they have told us they want choice, they want interoperability, they want innovation,” said Tom Robertson, general manager for Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft.

If Microsoft really were all about championing choice and interoperability on behalf of its customers, would it have gone public with the number of patents it claims that open-source software infringes -- without providing any specifics or details? Wasn't that move meant to deter customers from choice by raising the possibility that they might be sued unless they are using Microsoft-approved SuSE Linux?

Ironically, Microsoft's latest move in its Open XML-ODF chess game comes the same week that Microsoft admitted that it is delaying the delivery of converters needed by existing Mac Office users to read Microsoft's Open XML formats that are baked into Office 2007.

Topics: Security, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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