Microsoft accuses IBM of OOXML smear campaign

Microsoft accuses IBM of OOXML smear campaign

Summary: Microsoft executives have accused IBM of single-handedly leading an effort to block the software giant from having its Office Open XML standard approved by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

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TOPICS: IBM, Open Source, Patents
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Microsoft executives have accused IBM of single-handedly leading an effort to block the software giant from having its Office Open XML standard approved by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

After initially being rejected in September 2007, Microsoft has a second chance to have its next generation document format become an international standard in February at a Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva.

While criticism of Microsoft's efforts to promote the standard have come from a variety of quarters, Microsoft senior director of XML technology, Jean Paoli, accused IBM of masterminding the attack.

"Let's be very clear," he said. "It has been fostered by a single company -- IBM. If it was not for IBM it would have been business as usual for this standard."

IBM was the member of European standards group ECMA (out of over 21) to vote against the approval of Open XML as an ECMA standard. Microsoft claims its competitor has since opted for more covert tactics to influence the ISO vote.

Nicos Tsilas, senior director interoperability and IP policy at Microsoft, said that IBM and the likes of the Free Software Foundation have been lobbying governments to mandate the rival ODF (Open Document Format) standard to the exclusion of any other format.

"They have made this a religious and highly political debate," he said. "They are doing this because it is advancing their business model. Over 50 percent of IBM's revenues come from consulting services."

A growing proportion of those revenues are being derived from the support of open source software, he said.

Debate over the legitimacy of the standard has been framed within a battle for two opposing philosophies on how IT goods and services are best provided to users.

On the one side is the proprietary software model championed by Microsoft, in which the customer buys a licence in the hope that they won't require services to implement the solution. The other, the open source software model, sees software developers give their intellectual property for free and aim to profit instead from consulting services.

"IBM have asked governments to have an open source exclusive purchasing policy," Tsilas said. "Our competitors have targeted this one product -- mandating one document format over others to harm Microsoft's profit stream."

"It's a new way to compete," he said. "They are using government intervention as a way to compete. It's competing through regulation, because you couldn't compete technically."

Paoli said that Microsoft has never been an aggressor in the standards world and did not mobilise against Sun and IBM when they proposed ODF.

"We did not go and block it," he said. "When it was voted as an ANSI (American national standard) in the US, we voted yes. There is absolutely no parallel between what Microsoft did in the standardisation process for ODF and what IBM is doing now," he said.

Brett Winterford travelled to Redmond as a guest of Microsoft.

Topics: IBM, Open Source, Patents

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36 comments
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  • Feel so sorry for microsoft

    "They have made this a religious and highly political debate," said microsoft.

    Sounds like IBM has learned a thing or two from microsoft's war against linux!
    anonymous
  • OOXML standards

    Like most things that microsoft make for example Microsoft front page for Editing HTML the program sprawls all the code all over the place causing a mess. This is intentionally done so no other programs can be used to edit the code. Microsoft the " control freaks" as they are releasing a new standard to be approved will this just be another fine example of sloppy workmanship?
    anonymous
  • Good thing!

    "Let's be very clear," he said. "It has been fostered by a single company -- IBM. If it was not for IBM it would have been business as usual for this standard."

    Good on IBM. We all know what "business as usual" is for MS and it would be wrong not to stop it :).
    anonymous
  • Ironic thing

    The EU looks at fines against MSoft on the grounds that its office products store documents in a proprietary format, but then so does IBM’s lotus applications and pretty much all other vendors. (Waiting for the day the EU mentions that .exe files are anti-competitive in their proprietary format – lets move back to batch files chaps).
    Slightly iron that MSoft try to release a standard to an independent body and they get torn apart, would not be the first ‘standard’ which had two supporting formats.
    anonymous
  • Not Smearing When True

    It is not a smear campain when the facts are true.

    Microsft have realsed a crap standard that should not be accepted just like VISTA!

    I have been a loyal MS guy since win 95 but whats that i hear, Its Steve with a bright shiny new Mac for me:D
    anonymous
  • It's not about Standards

    If any of you think this ongoing battle for document format supremecy is about standards then think again. Both companies strategies are about trying to destabilise the others business. IBM dont want OpenXML to become a standard as it would lead to growing revenue for MS and a decline in revenues for IBM. IBM are looking to get ODF adopted as the only format standard so they can stick it to MS. Ask the next IBM consultant you meet about Project Liberate" and you will start to get the picture of what this is all about.
    anonymous
  • Yeah it is.

    If MS-OOXML was a standard that could actually be used by IBM, then it would be to their advantage to support it, as it would give IBM access to Office file formats. As it stands, though, this 'standard' cannot be implemented. Only MS CAN implement it.
    As for 'sticking it' to MS, there's no reason MS can't support ODF. The only reason that a new standard format - and I mean the ONLY reason - might be considered to be 'sticking it to' MS is that MS only competes via lock-in, not via quality.
    anonymous
  • Journalism?

    Just wondering, isn't it standard journalistic practice to at least attempt to get a response from the other party? All I see here are quotes from MS executives. Did you even ask to talk to anyone at IBM? But then again, I guess IBM didn't offer you a trip to Armonk.
    anonymous
  • Mixing the facts

    Seems people continue to mix terms, facts, etc. IBM doesn't own ODF. ODF is a specification for documents format, not the same with, say, Sun's StartOffice or IBM's Symphony that are applications that handle the format. ODF belongs to OASIS, an independent standard organization with 600+ members and later approved by the ISO. Whatever organization, enterprise, etc that want to lobby in favor of ODF can do that because is an international standard, free of charge, patents or royalties. OK, Microsoft voted yes with the ANSI vote, but it doesn't participate in the OASIS's ODF standarization process. And for backward compatibility, tell Microsoft that publish, free of charge or patent licenses, its binary format specifications so whatever application can open legacy documents. Sorry for my English
    anonymous
  • OOXML

    my objection has nothing to do with IBM. they never discussed it with me. we have a standard. follow it. extend it.

    The pot calling the kettle a pot! IBM did a Microsoft on them? really? its just business!
    anonymous
  • If you honestly feel ...

    If you honestly feel that you couldn't implement the proposed standard on a Sony Playstation; an Apple Mac; a One-Laptop-Per-Child; a cellphone; a mainframe; then you should say so.

    I don't think anyone is saying that OOXML doesn't work. They're saying that it is a single-vendor standard. But it is only implementable by Microsoft, and only for Windows platforms; and only for traditional Personal Computers.

    No-one's stopping you from adding value on top of OpenOffice.org , 'KOffice', or Lotus Symphony, and attempting to charge whatever price you like to. Sun StarOffice and IBM Lotus Notes do exactly that. StarOffice and Lotus Notes aren' t open-source.
    anonymous
  • Technical correctness

    ODF was done in open. Everyone was invited to take part in the work of OASIS and comment the standard proposal *before* it was voted upon.

    "We did not go and block it," at the time - yes, they simply ignored ODF. And now they are surprised that the world governments are ignoring them.

    IIF the OOXML proposal was technically correct a lot less parties would be against it. I for one, am personally infuriated at the OOXML documents that ignore the well-established XML rules for storing dates - and instead use their own invented format compatible with (surprise) MS Windows. And easily removable document password "protection", still using OLE streams while *saving* some files in *new* format... Legacy compatibility, yeah, right.

    See http://ooxmlisdefectivebydesign.blogspot.com/ to know what I mean.
    anonymous
  • Many implementers for OXML

    Actually there are tons of current implememters of OXML, including Apple, Google and IBM (4 implementations in 4 different products)! So it is truly open!
    anonymous
  • Really!!??? Respectfully Disagree!

    You know there has been so much coverage and oversaturation of ODF IBM, FSF, Sun, the ODF Alliance and this religious battle, that' its actually refreshing to get the other side of the story. Kudos to the reporters, ZDNet and the Microsoft execs or presenting the other side. At the end of the day this is a good old fashion commerical battle that has become political and has one side (IBM et al) trying to involve governments. We should all ask ourselves why in a world of multiple standards and increasing choice does one vendor want to force one standard (ODF) down our throat? I am not a big fan of Microsoft, but the IBM/Sun standards is inferior an just means more vendor lock-in and crappier software. Just gve me choice - ODF and OXML, and HTML, and RTF, and PDF, etc.
    anonymous
  • Religious = Stallman ad FSF

    M$ is a corporation, focused on generating cash for its shareholders by meeting customer needs.

    The Free Software Foundation, Stallman, Moglen, Updegrove that is true religion, bigotry, and fanaticism (have you seen some of these anti-oxml sites?)

    IBM and Sun - corporate interests taking advantage of the above s/w jihadists. Paying and buying off some (like Updegrove), creating others (liek Groklaw and ODF Alliance), and taking advantage fo the zealots like FSF.

    IBM has been around forever. They've written the book on all of this. Interesting side note" they invented FUD (look up FUF in wikipeda).
    anonymous
  • Clearly committed to quality

    The irony in this process is that IBM, the FSF, Sun, ODF Alliance, tried to sabotage the standard by putting it under unprecedented scrutiny and submitting a crazy amount of technical issues (over 3000), but because Ecma, and the other standards developers have listened, they actually helped make the spec better!! There is no question about it - because of them, ISO OXML will be a much better standard! BTW, have you seen the Burton Group Study entitled "What's Up Doc, ODF, OXML?" It's an objective, not paid by an party study. OXML wins hands down.
    anonymous
  • Really - do you trust IBM???

    So you prefer to be locked into one inferior standard (that has no backward compatibility, does not support any modern features like accessibility) and you prefer to rely on IBM which locks in data and customers with their main frame business (that part of IBM wouldn't know an open standard if it farted in their face) and which is the epitomy of the ultimate monopolist (remember their past). M$ is no angel, but the best way to keep these goliaths in check is to ask for choice. I want multiple standards that serve my different needs (we already have this is in the file format space; mobility space; etc); and I want these vendors competing for my business. Interesting that IBM is trying to get governments to exclusively mandate ODF; and that M$ did not block ODF. In terms of transparency and openness and consumer benefits: M$ 1 - IBM 0
    anonymous
  • The CRAP is ODF!!

    You should do an objective comparison in terms of functionality, features, reliability, backward compatibility, etc. No doubt about it ODF=CRAP. OXML = pretty good.

    But don't take my word for it. see http://www.burtongroup.com/Guest/Ccs/WhatsUpDoc.aspx
    anonymous
  • Get your facts rights! There are many implementations of OXML including by IBM

    IBM currently implements OXML in 4 of their products: ) IBM is now supporting OXML in at least four of its products – Lotus Quickr, Websphere Portal, DB2 Content Manager v8.4, and DB2 9 pureXML. Other implementations include Google (search/preview), Apple (Mac OSX Leopard, iWork, iPhone), Adobe (InDesign), Novell (Suse Open Office), Mindjet, QuikOffice, etc,

    And guess what. MSoft is implementing ODF. At the end we win! We are not locked into any one of them and we have choice. Good stuff.

    I am perplexed though at how heated this debate is and why the battle lines have been drawn between these commercial giants (and some religious zealots as well (like FSF)). Seems to me key objective is to unseat the leader (MSoft) and try to catch up. Whe else would IBM, FSF and crew advocate for one standard at the exclusion of others. They don't do this in any other part of their business..... Can you say inability to compete because they have an inferior standard?

    I don't like being told what to do. Whether it's my boss, my wife, IBM or the FSF. As far as I'm concerned the more standards the better. The choice empowers me (the end-user).
    anonymous
  • ODF = IBM +SUN

    Anyone can createa TC (working group) in OASIS and standardize anything. That's what these companies did. Just because OASIS is a open standards org it doesn't mean ODF is legitimate or any good. In fact it is neither.
    anonymous