EU shows size of Microsoft credibility gap

Credibility may not mean much in the proprietary universe, where money counts for everything and truth is a commodity. In the open source world, political values like credibility are real. Microsoft has only just begun to recognize this.

NoOOXML Translator, cartoon from BoycottNovell
The European Union will investigate Microsoft's support for the Open Document Format (ODF) in Office.

It wonders whether the move increases competition. (Picture from BoycottNovell.)

This comes just a day after Microsoft, with great fanfare, said it would add support for ODF, Adobe PDF and even the XML Paper Specification in an Office Service Pack due next year.

ODF support will be introduced to Office even before it has full OOXML support, writes Andy Updegrove at Slashdot. He wonders whether that format will carry a GPL-compatible promise on patents. So do I.

On the surface this is a great big deal, and seems a giveaway of market advantages Microsoft won from the ISO decision to make Office Open XML (OOXML) an international standard just a few months ago.

It's also an attempt to mollify the EU, which opened an investigation into the standards vote almost before the champagne got flat in Redmond.

The sudden moves by Redmond point out two hard facts:

  1. It's not nice to fool Mother Europe.
  2. If Microsoft says you've got five fingers on each hand, many people will insist on an independent count.

In my view the second problem is bigger than the first. Credibility may not mean much in the proprietary universe, where money counts for everything  and truth is a commodity.

In the open source world, political values like credibility are real. Microsoft has only just begun to recognize this.