OpenDocument Foundation folds. Will Microsoft benefit?

Summary:The OpenDocument Foundation -- a group whose name and charter would lead one to believe that it was backing the OpenDocument Format (ODF), but which ended up backing a different document format instead -- has closed its doors. Some think the group's passing won't have an impact on Microsoft's campaign to standardize OOXML. I beg to differ.

The OpenDocument Foundation -- a group whose name and charter would lead one to believe that it was backing the OpenDocument Format (ODF), but which ended up backing a different document format instead -- has closed its doors.

OpenDocument Foundation folds. Will Microsoft benefit?
Sam Hiser, a systems consultant who was Vice President & Director Business Affairs at the OpenDocument Foundation, confirmed that ODF is closing its doors in a blog post on November 13. Hiser and a number of the other OpenDocument Foundation backers earlier this year decided to throw their weight behind a Worldwide Web Consortium document standard, the Compound DOcument Format (CDF), and back away from ODF.

The OpenDocument Foundation, at one point, was one of the major critics of Microsoft's attempt to get its ODF alternative, Office Open XML (OOXML), branded as an open standard. Microsoft lost its attempt earlier this year to get OOXML fast-tracked as an ISO standard. An ISO ballot-resolution meeting on OOXML is slated for February 2008.

IBM, Sun Microsystems, Google and other ODF backers are continuing in their campaign to fight OOXML. Microsoft is pushing for standards recognition for OOXML, in large part, so that Office 2007, which uses OOXML as its default file format, will qualify for lucrative government and commercial IT contracts that call for "open," "standards-based" products. The pro-ODF camp is trying to thwart OOXML in the hopes of gaining more market share for StarOffice, OpenOffice, Google Docs & Spreadsheets and other products that compete with Microsoft Office. Office still has more than 90 percent of the Windows desktop-productivity-suite market.

There are some who think the OpenDocument Foundation's passing won't matter. But I maintain the public splintering of the ODF community is definitely creating confusion from which OOXML is likely to benefit.

What do you think: Will the OpenDocument Foundation's death have any impact on OOXML's future, one way or the other?

(We are closed for business forever. Image by PetroleumJelliffe . CC 2.0)

Topics: Microsoft, Emerging Tech

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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