Microsoft: IBM masterminded OOXML failure

Microsoft: IBM masterminded OOXML failure

Summary: The software giant has accused IBM of leading attempts to block the ISO ratification of OOXML 'to harm Microsoft's profit stream'

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TOPICS: Apps
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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 Organization for Standardization.

After initially being rejected by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in September 2007, Microsoft has a second chance for its next-generation document format to become an international standard in February at a ballot resolution meeting in Geneva.

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

"Let's be very clear," Paoli 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."

As a member of European standards group Ecma, IBM voted against the approval of Office Open XML (OOXML) as an Ecma standard. Microsoft claims its competitor has since opted for more covert tactics to influence the ISO vote.

Nicos Tsilas, senior director of 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 OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard to the exclusion of any other format.

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

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Debate over the legitimacy of the standard has been framed by a battle over 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 away 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," Tsilas 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," Paoli said. "When it was voted as an ANSI [a standard of the American National Standards Institute] 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.

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19 comments
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  • Is OOXML actually open?

    I dont know if reading this correct, but from what i have read (Deffinately no expert, so please dont flame me to much) OOXML has certain parts of it that are hidden\ protected so that other office type applications can not read it correctly? so theirfore it is not a true open standard? Please do let me know if I am wrong or misunderstand somthing.
    Wolfie78
  • Want a little cheese with that WHINE?

    Microsoft has a standard way of "doing business". Watch what others are doing, wait to see what is interesting/useful/successful, copy that and find a way to get their foot in the door, then use their size and weight to stomp the life out of any and all other competitors until they are either out of business, or at least out of that market. This time, at least so far, the plan isn't working so they are desperately looking for someone to blame.
    j.a.watson1
  • If it was not for IBM

    How funny! Microsoft NEVER blocking anyone from doing business. Microsoft was the inventor of FUD, they have led the way to stop, and completely erase all competition to their "swiss cheese" OS. They don't want any competition , because they know they can't compete head to head. They tried to "influence" votes the first time and why would they have a change of heart on the second go? They are like a spoiled brat always trying to blame someone else for their own incompetence.
    ator1940
  • Business As Usual according to St. M$

    "If it was not for IBM, it would have been business as usual for this standard."

    What an amazing statement! Fast Track. Compromised ISO. Promises to be broken. Proprietry Content. Hidden Information. Unspecified Dependencies. Poorly Documented. Stuffed Ballots, etc., etc. Need I go on? Oh Yes. Only for MS Office 2007.

    "Business as usual" Microsoft lock-in. Past, present and future. No interest in the greater good such as an open and durable Standard that can be universely and safely adopted. And anyway M$ document format will be changed every few years.
    The Former Moley
  • you are sort of right

    i think what you are referring to is in section 1.1 of this page: http://holloway.co.nz/can-other-vendors-implement-ooxml.html

    basically, there are tags that are not fully defined (
    skunkymonkey
  • Really - what do you think of the real story and facts???

    Get the facts at:

    http://www.burtongroup.com/Guest/Ccs/WhatsUpDoc.aspx

    Neutral, objective, not paid for analyst report.

    BTW - "Fast Track" is anything that is not developed at ISO, but submitted from another recognized open standards organization; there are no IPR issues with Open XML; there are tons of independent implementations of OXMl, including from Apple, Google and 4 from IBM.

    It helps to know what you;re talking about before you post.
    slimnicky
  • A standard for every man, woman, and child

    "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."

    This attitude is ridiculous. Why would Microsoft mobilize against ODF? ODF was a genuine standard proposed to fill a genuine gap. Moreover, it was developed at OASIS, an organization Microsoft is a sponsor of. At any time, Microsoft could have contributed to the OASIS ODF committee. Instead, they sat in a corner.

    Then, ODF got ISO approval, and it became clear that there would be significant adoption long-term. Microsoft then made their own nearly single-party "standard", with proprietary dependencies, and only the weakest efforts to make it non-redundant.

    But here they tell us it's only fair. Sun and IBM got a standard, so why shouldn't Microsoft? Let's let everyone have their own standard for the same purpose, because that's clearly in the best interests of consumers.
    mattflaschen
  • Get the facts? You sound awfully like Microsoft to me :)

    That Burton Report has been fully discussed and refuted.

    See the extensive Groklaw article, including the refutations, at;

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080116214144572

    Regards.
    antiFUD-3924c
  • Microsoft WitchHunt

    This is just another way for MS to try to take away the attention of the technical flaws of the OpenXML.

    MS will try to find any excuse to make OpenXML approved as soon as possible.

    ECMAs fast track is criminal for this kind of standard. They gave 5 months to review a 6000 pages document. Them they gave 4 weeks to analyze their 2K corrections....

    Now with all the changes that ECMA is suggestion, not a single application support OpenXML.
    evilmind
  • Actually its an IBM Witch Hunt and you should get your facts right!

    IBM has been sabotaging and blocking this standard from day 1. Why? Why do they not want you to have a choice standards? Why do they want to force an inferior standard down your throat? Why do they think they are best situated to know what is best for your shop?

    BTW:

    1. At ISO "Fast Track" is the name used to indicate a standard was not home grown, not developed in ISO. Because standards developed in other organizations can also "grow up" and become ISO standards there is a process that enables this - the Fast Track process. ISO does not require that all standards be developed from scratch at ISO, and in fact many are not. OXML as you know was developed at Ecma and therefore would come into ISO under the Fast Track process. Your implication that Ecma and\or MS are trying to rush this through is just plain wrong. OXML is in the ISO Fast Track because it was not developed at ISO, but rather at Ecma.

    2. Thousands of pages beceause it is a better, richer standard that enables many features that ODF does not (backward compatibility with billions of existing docs, accessibility, macros, etc). Also thousands of pages because IBM has tried to sabotage and has bombarded the spec with suggestions for "improvements." To their credit Ecma, and its other members like MS have listened and addressed issues, and improved spec., hence the additional pages.

    ODF is better.... NOT. But don't take my word for it. Ask IBM (which now implements OXML in 4 of its products), Apple, Google, Novell, and the many OXML implementers. Also check out: http://www.burtongroup.com/Guest/Ccs/WhatsUpDoc.aspx
    slimnicky
  • Groklaw, refuted Burton....

    And you sound like IBM or FSF :-)

    I just don't like being told by others what to do or what is good for me.....whether it be my government, my boss, my wife, IBM or MS. I don't like it when companies try to lock me into their products or their standards. I want them to compete for and ern my business, and I want to have choice. Having IBM, Sun, FSF, and ODF Alliance ram their standard down my throuat and around the world is offensive. We are smarter than that. At the end of the day we all win when we have choice and when these companies are competing and innovating for our business. Having just one standard, no matter which one is bad for end-users, business and local economies.
    slimnicky
  • That Burton Group report

    We covered the Burton report here: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,39292197,00.htm

    Have to say, it did contain all the classic elements of FUD. BG may be "independent", but they have a remarkable habit of siding with MS (see their report on Google Apps last year)...
    David Meyer
  • Here is Google's REAL view, straight from the horse's mouth!

    In the words of Jeremy Allison, speaking for his employer:

    http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-3513-0.html?
    forumID=1&threadID=43687&messageID=809118&start=0

    For you to claim that Google's limited implementation of OOXML means that it believes it to be superior to ODF is "misleading" at best!

    In the hope that this link might end up "clickable" when published:
    (http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-3513-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=43687&messageID=809118&start=0)
    Zogg
  • Speaking of witch hunts...

    >> Thousands of pages beceause it is a better, richer standard
    >> that enables many features that ODF does not (backward
    >>compatibility with billions of existing docs, accessibility,
    >>macros, etc). Also thousands of pages because IBM has
    >>tried to sabotage and has bombarded the spec with
    >>suggestions for "improvements." To their credit Ecma, and
    >>its other members like MS have listened and addressed
    >>issues, and improved spec., hence the additional pages.

    I gotta admit, this bullet point made me laugh out loud. When it comes to standards, simplicity and clarity are good things. HTML is simple, it's done well. I don't think IBM is really to blame for Microsoft's 6000 page specification. I read elsewhere that the recent errata for MS-OOXML is almost six times the size of the full ODF documentation!

    Another favorite talking point of the Microsoft pundits seems to be that MS-OOXML is somehow backward compatible with Microsoft doc files. This is actually nonsensical. Both ODF and MS-OOXML are formats, not applications. The only application which can faithfully and fully interpret Microsoft's proprietary binary doc files is guess what? Microsoft Office.

    Other companies needing to support MS-OOXML in their applications are left without the ability to provide
    Goldie_Simmons
  • Microsoft's OXML policy positions

    Hi - I'm the Microsoft employee quoted in this ZDNet article. If you want to find out more about Microsoft's OXML policy positions please go to http://www.microsoft.com/office/openxmlpolicy or http://www.openxmlcommunity.org/

    Regards,


    Nicos Tsilas
    Nicos Tsilas
  • Conflict of interest?

    Microsoft hasn
    harpless
  • all you need to read on OOXML

    learn the truth about the OOXML:
    <a href="http://www.grokdoc.net/index.php/EOOXML_objections#The_Gregorian_Calendar">EOOXML_objections</a>

    if you thought Microsoft was right in that people need a choice of standards,
    see what hundreds of people of Canada had to say about OOXML adoption to the country's Standards Council:
    <a href="https://forums.scc.ca/forums/scc/dispatch.cgi/public/docProfile/100009/4498941">People's responce to SCC</a>

    The Burton's Group report has been debunked here:
    <a href="http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080114-analyst-group-slams-odf-downplays-microsoft-iso-abuses.html">Analyst group slams ODF, downplays Microsoft ISO abuses</a>
    RayRoko
  • There are more issues than just freedom of choice.

    """"And you sound like IBM or FSF :-)""""

    Touche ;) I don't work for either of those entities, I'm self employed. However, I do in fact have a leaning towards Free and Open Source Software, and open standards, and I openly (pun intended) admit this.

    """"I just don't like being told by others what to do or what is good for .....whether i t be my government, my boss, my wife, IBM or MS. I don't like it when companies try to lock me into their products or their standards. I want them to compete for and ern my business, and I want to have choice. Having IBM, Sun, FSF, and ODF Alliance ram their standard down my throuat and around the world is offensive. We are smarter than that. At the end of the day we all win when we have choice and when these companies are competing and innovating for our business. Having just one standard, no matter which one is bad for end-users, business and local economies.""""

    Similarly, I dislike being told what to do - human nature I suppose. When you say you don't like it when companies try to lock you into their products/standards, then you must really revile Microsoft in that case, after all, their particular modus operandi is all about locking YOU into THEIR stack of products.

    I'm puzzled by what you are saying about "having IBM, Sun, FSF, and ODF Alliance ram their standard down" your throat, as all they're doing is promoting the Open Document Format, which as you know is an actual, ratified, official world standard.

    What /has/ been happening, however, is that Microsoft - desperate to keep their ability to lock consumers into their stack - have been trying to rail road their MOOXML into being /another/ ISO standard alongside ODF.

    Why do I say rail road? Look at all the new countries who joined the ISO shortly before there was a vote for MOOXML. They weren't there before. And this is now causing the ISO a lot of harm, because it's finding itself unable to conduct its normal business because most of those new participants are not following their member obligations by voting on other issues and new standards within the ISO. Effectively, the ISO's normal activities have been severely hampered by this.

    Additionally, the 6000-page document submitted to the ISO for approval details a standard document format (MSOOXML) which even Microsoft's OWN products don't generate! Microsoft Word doesn't save in the format detailed in that document. Excel doesn't save in a format detailed in that document, for example.

    So, I say to you, be careful when you form an opinion on this. I'm all with you for choice, but at the same time, this issue has a lot more issues than merely choosing a format.

    As to your final point about only having one standard, in my opinion, that is nonsense - for the reasons I outlined above. Microsoft want its MOOXML format as an ISO standard, but that particular format isn't even one which its own products use. Oh and add to that the fact that MOOXML will be maintained within ECMA - maintained meaning altered/added to - so you'll be back to the same old situation where products - open or proprietary - which compete for attention with Microsoft's products - will always be playing "catchup" with Microsoft, because Microsoft will change their products format internally, then pretend to translate that change into the ISO standard they've - er - worked so hard - to attain.

    At the same time, ODF - which WILL ALSO be evolved, added to, and improved - will be FULLY published and documented - and anyone writing software to read and write in the Open Document Format, will be able to fully implement the format.

    Personally, I know which format I prefer, and it's not MSOOXML.

    Regards.
    antiFUD-3924c
  • So you&#039;re all angry and miffed

    Because an awful lot of people from every direction are pillorying OOXML and its deficiencies, and its agenda.

    Can you please explain in non-marketing terms why OOXML is a good thing considering its current state? Oh, and while you're at it you could also try explaining why Microsoft's own current "implementation" of it is veering at high speed away from what they have submitted as a "standard."
    ego.sum.stig