Novell: No end to OOXML disputes

Microsoft's unlikely bedfellow has predicted that the feud between supporters of ODF and OOXML will continue for the foreseeable future
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor on

Novell has said there is no end in sight to the continuing feud between supporters of OpenDocument Format and Microsoft's Office Open XML.

Microsoft has created its own proprietary document format, Office Open XML (OOXML), as a rival to the community-developed OpenDocument Format (ODF). OOXML is used in Microsoft's latest applications suite, Office 2007.

Despite some efforts by the two camps, ODF and OOXML are, for the most part, not interoperable, meaning documents that are created in one format cannot be successfully read by applications based on the other format.

According to Novell's vice president of developer platforms, Miguel de Icaza, the situation won't change in the foreseeable future.

"There's no end in sight to the ongoing disputes between the two camps," said de Icaza, speaking at XML 2007, a Microsoft-sponsored event, on Tuesday. "In 2006, there was lots of FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] about the problems behind OOXML and it went downhill from there," Icaza said.

"Neither group is willing to make the big changes required for real compatibility," de Icaza added.

Novell supports both ODF and OOXML in its adaptation of OpenOffice, the open-source applications suite.

The company has been working closely with Microsoft since they signed a Linux pact to harmonise their products in November 2006.

In September this year, the two companies opened a joint development lab in the US to focus on Windows/Linux server interoperability.

OOXML has been the subject of much controversy. Microsoft has been trying to fast track the specification through the certification process of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), but it failed in its first attempt in September.

The ISO's decision followed hot on the heels of accusations by the Free Software Foundation Europe that Microsoft had rigged earlier voting.

The British Standards Institution took a vote on whether it would accept OOXML days before the ISO's decision, but it refused to say whether it voted for or against the specification.

Microsoft is making some efforts towards interoperability. The company said on Tuesday that it will roll out three translators during December that should help customers seeking interoperability between ODF and OOXML. There is one translator each for word documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

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