[Linux-aus] OOXML support (was: If you could ask Microsoft a question...)

Jeff Waugh jdub at perkypants.org
Mon Jan 14 12:21:40 UTC 2008

<quote who="Karl Goetz">

> > Yeah, I can totally see the market strength of ODF-supporting office
> > suites "retarding" the adoption of the Office 2007 file formats [1],
> > [1] Doesn't mean the same thing as OOXML.
> no it doesnt, but that doesnt make it 'less bad'. if anything it makes it
> more of a problem for Free software.

It's going to be OOXML (published specification, ISO standard or not) plus a
whole bunch of MS proprietary crap that is (rightly or wrongly, but mostly
rightly) not part of the specification.

No big deal, and not a surprise.

It's not like we've painstakingly avoided implementing proprietary protocols
and formats -- documented or not, or with the real risk of legal relatiation
or not -- in the FLOSS world for all this time. :-)

But of course, because Microsoft is involved, there's a certain audience of
people who will go absolutely off their tree in a mind-blowingly irrational
rage about the whole issue.

They're welcome to their strongly held opinions... but ultimately Software
Freedom is best served by creating awesome Free Software that solves real
problems for real users.

It turns out, strangely enough, that not providing a compatibility bridge
for proprietary formats and protocols in the FLOSS world means that the 97%
of people *not* experiencing Software Freedom in their day to day computing
life (read: desktop) won't be able to join the fun.

Why has OpenOffice.org succeeded to the degree it has thus far? Well, it's
not software quality, innovation or user delight. :-) It's *compatible* and
cheap and therefore viable to play with and then ultimately continue using.

The concept that "boycotting OOXML implementation" will have any positive
impact on Software Freedom is bogus and misguided. We have to fight like
hell to be relevant and attract users, so why hand Microsoft an easy win by
not competing with them for their own users?

Good golly.

- Jeff

linux.conf.au 2008: Melbourne, Australia        http://lca2008.linux.org.au/
       "Wake up and smell the coffin." - Frank Costello, The Departed

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