OpenDocument Foundation folds. Will Microsoft benefit?

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


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Only freedom is the real loser

    While corporations whose goals are to
    exploit the public (using well-placed
    lobbying and bribes) will be winners.

    The rich get richer, and the poor get

    C'est La Vie
    Ole Man
    • you are too right (nt)

    • Hmmm, FREEDOM to make a CHOICE is bad?

      Lets see, if there is one standard that is the only choice, if there are multiple standards users are FREE to make a CHOICE from those available.

      Uh, and this is a loss how?
      • You've got to remember...

        ...too much choice is actually bad for people. By only having a single choice, people don't get confused. None of that pesky research is required to decide on what product to buy or use. It's easy - just take what you're given and be happy with it. Other people know better than you anyway, right?

        It's a matter of using the same term for different things - you're talking about freedom to do something and they are talking about freedom from something. You want to be free to choose a document format and they want to be free from Microsoft's influence. It's just like the issue of "free" software - some people think that if software is free they should be able to do whatever they want with it, but others think of that freedom in terms of the software itself being free from misuse by those other people. In other words, is it your freedom or the software's freedom?

        Y'all aren't even on the same page. :)

        Carl Rapson
        • One HUGE problem with your argument.

          "and they want to be free from Microsoft's influence...."

          And no one is preventing them from being big boys and making another CHOICE.

          Gee, isn't that amazing, both sides can have what they want.
          • And, no one can prevent them from needing to communicate with partners,

            customers, and suppliers. So, we can really not be free from Microsoft's influence, unless we do NOT want to communicate with a lot of people.

            So, the multiple document standards really is limiting choices and causing headaches.
          • I can't wait for the next general election ...

            because I live in a "democracy" which means I'm free and I have the freedom to go to some place and choose my favourite colour.

            "Light greed"
            "Medium greed"

            Of course "None of the above" counts as a spoilt vote. And there's even talk in the face of voter apathy to "force" people to go and vote.

            Go on, try and force me :P
          • Soon, NoAxe, you're going to be paying more...

            ... for the sleeping pills you need to get through the night than you're making from these ridiculous hobb-nailed-boot reactions you keep spewing.

            Bon Nuit! M$$ewer.
      • because with proprietary standard its not a choice

        its a imposition but since you cannot see the difference between impose freedom and true freedom ill try to make you understand but i know it will be hard.

        With the standard impose by MS you can choose to use it or not . but since the impose standard neither de-facto or a real standard is impose on you. You are still bound to obey there impose rule if tomorrow MS bankrupt or choose to stop to support .doc your done you must follow you master and upgrade or change .....

        with a FREE standard no string attach you are for EVER Allow to use it keep archive ( goverment or other ) a FREE standard can be use on ALL platform name it you have it as long as they provide the appz EX: open office ..Perfect or not its still available too all no matter what. without imposition by its maker or the such

        Also a other idea on impose freedom and true freedom
        Democracy as in usa or canada or there so called democracy

        you have the right to vote to choose a candidate but that candidate need money to run for office so he as people that give him money that not democracy it political investment .....

        but then again explaining something to you is a waste of time.
        But some time ....... its always a ways to prove how people can or cannot understand the most basic thing in life
        • Argument overbroad

          You wrote:
          "You are still bound to obey there impose rule if tomorrow MS bankrupt or choose to stop to support .doc your done you must follow you master and upgrade or change ....."

          An argument based on Microsoft going bankrupt is not very compelling.

          In addition, a large number of non-Microsoft applications are able to read the formats. People and otrganizations make money by selling these applications. If older versions of Office disappeared, the number of ways to read the formats remaining would still be substantial.

          Microsoft formats are far more likely to be readable in the future than those dedicated to Office suites with low sales and frequent changes of ownership and which attract little third-party software.

          A better argument would be for the most inclusive possible format, one which will do anything Microsoft requires, as well as meeting the needs of all competitors.

          But that sort of truly neutral format is unlikely ever to be developed and approved. Nobody can make money from manipulating it.
          Anton Philidor
          • And if new softqware had to be written...

            ... to read an old format, would the necessary information be more likely to be found for Microsoft products or for obscure formats with a brief period in use?
            Anton Philidor
          • What does all the conflabulation about an old format

            Have to do with a standard, anyway?

            Shouldn't any format, be it old or new,
            Microsoft's or otherwise, conform to a
            certain standard (that is OPEN to everyone,
            including Microsoft) in order to be used and
            understood by anyone/everyone?

            Isn't that what "open standard" means? If
            so, why does Microsoft (and you and
            No_Facts) want a closed standard that can
            only be used by those who pay homage to

            You want a choice? Use the open standard and
            use anything you want. Ooooor.... use the
            Microsoft standard and limit yourself to
            whatever Microsoft dictates.
            Ole Man
          • Make the assumption...

            ... Microsoft complies with the rules and is not politically prevented from receiving recogniztion from this organization as a standard.

            Then Microsoft's format is declared "open".

            But can a standard used by one company actually meet the requirements for a standard, including being permanently readable?

            The topic here, as I saw it, was whether an objective, non-ideological, non-political, non-commercial standards process should accept a format developed by one company rather than a consortium. I believe it should.

            What is and what should be are two separate issues. This is a should-be thread.
            Anton Philidor
          • Who made this "a should-be thread"?

            Other than yourself, that is?

            Your questions are moot (and designed to
            stir up more confusion, as usual), as
            Microsoft is already free to use the "open
            standard" (just like anybody else does)
            without having anything "declared open".
            Ole Man
          • Yes, Microsoft could change Office to ODF...

            ... but even a should-be thread has some standards for realistic possibilities.
            Anton Philidor
          • When everyone disagrees

            There is no standard.

            Looks like everyone here disagrees (cept
            maybe you and No_Facts) so this thread has
            no standards.
            Ole Man
          • Or.......

            use ODF or OOXML. Your choice. What is wrong with that? We should use the standard that SUN and IBM dictated long ago? Oh, didn't you hear, it wasn't a new format, it was taken directly from an existing format which competed directly with Microsoft. <br> Funny how those things work like that. And instead of these corporations saying, ok, if Microsoft can get OOXML to a true standard, we'll be ok with it. Nope, not a chance, not even willing to see what they come back with, just pour money into campaigning, lobbying and publically attempting to destroy it. There were meetings to discuss the forming of the group that Microsoft was not even invited to, and included several members from SUN and IBM. Hmmmmm. pretty soon everything will be dictated by IBM? Is that what you're hoping for?
          • well xunilz here a other solution

            In the eventuality that IBM become the next monster will just have to destroy it like all the other before ......

            There is one thing never become a monster or all there other will come for you and be trough with you in a very bad and painful way
          • In other words, Quebec-French, it's good

            to have a monster to create the drive and innovation needed to compete with it. <br>
            Think if Open Source takes over the market and everything is shared and standardized. All of computing will become a least common denominator type of mediocre code. <br>
            So thankfully for the monsters not allowing that complacency to happen. Parity breeds mediocrity, which is what open source would create.
          • Xunil_Z its all on wich side you site

            For you the mediocracy come from open source on my side abuse come from proprietary side .....Will see on the long run who will be standing at the end

            There a few thing mankind should have remember in history ... all over history Monster have always meet sudden, painful,and most of the time bloody end ....

            French aristocarty , the British in your revolution war , and the list goes for ever.

            Since In the 20th century we got ride of most monster. Corporation and money manipulative institution have become the new king and baron soon they will meet the same bloody faith. human mind don't evolve its Stutter so its bound to make the same mistake .