Do they really think, we are THAT stupid?
Ok, well. If they want to, I am not stopping them. But what really got to me was this enourmous, outragous, unbelivable pile of shit, otherwise known as pressrelease, they sent out.
I mean, read this:
The company proposes to work with other industry leaders on an Ecma International open technical committee to create an open foundation for innovation with documents by standardizing Office Open XML, the file-format technology behind billions of Microsoft Office documents.
Millions of people around the world have created billions of business productivity documents using Microsoft Office over the years many of which are in the process of being archived and converted to more open, accessible and manageable digital content using XML technology.
XML is the file-format technology behind billions of office documents? Did I miss somethin in the last 20 years? AFAIK most of the MS Office Documents are still in their proprietary binary format and NOT XML.
Also, they are NOT publishing the Office 2003 format, but the upcomming Office 12 format, which brings us .dox und .xlx instead of .doc and .xls. BTW – could somebody tell Bill, Ray and Jim hat we now have the 21st century and that we do not have to limit file-extensions to three caracters?
So, if this technology is behind „billions of documents”, Microsofts onw search-engine should find them? Right? Well, if you actually search for
.dox, the answer ist not 42 but „We couldn’t find any results containing filetype:dox.”. Neat, eh? Searching for .doc reveals 9.105.834 results, by the way.
At least they got the problem right:
This vision was developed in response to the fact that companies are often forced to adopt inefficient and duplicative business processes because business-critical information frequently ends up locked inside data storage systems, such as a database that employees dont know how to access, or business-productivity documents, such as a long-forgotten spreadsheet stored on an employees PC.
Now, the problem is, that information is stored in documents, that can’t easly be accessed. I can almost hear Bill say: „Thrust us. We got you into this mess, we will also get you out of it”. Yeah, right.
In the press-statement, Jean Paoli, Senior Director, XML Architecture, Microsoft is quoted: „In another major milestone last June, Microsoft announced it is adopting XML as the default file format for the next major version of Office, codenamed Office 12.”. Whereas Senior Vice President Steven Sinofsky said on June, 1st: „When „Office 12” is installed, the default file formats can be set to whichever format a person chooses, which is particularly helpful in a managed desktop environment.” So, what will it be? ;)
Apple, BP, Essilor, Intel, NextPage, StatOil and Toshiba ar listed as co-submiters. Where are Sun, Adobe, SAP, IBM, Novell, etc.? IMHO there are some key players missing.
IMHO, the move to an XML-based format is more than due. I expected it when they announced Office XP. At least now, they seem to „get it”. for example: they say, that Microosft will provide bulk-converters for office-doucments, so that you can convert all files on your server to XML in one sweep (although, I would recommend a GOOD backup first). For someone who witnessed the utter chaos, when Office 97 documents could not be read by lower versions, the announcment of filters for Office 2000, XP and 2003 sounds really good.
I really „admire” Microsoft for it’s play with numbers:
With thousands of documents created every minute in an Office format, Microsofts Office formats are used in dramatic numbers. More than 300,000 developers have utilized the XML file formats in Office 2003 editions alone.
Do you see how they make the connection between the proprietary files and XML? And those 300.000 developers – I assume, those are the downloads of the specification. But over what time period?
Microsoft will publish the new Office Open XML Format specifications with the Open and Royalty-free license that we first made available for the Office 2003 XML file formats.
A license, where Microsoft says „Microsoft may have patents and/or patent applications that are necessary for you to license in order to make, sell, or distribute software programs that read or write files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas.”? Do you really trust something like that? I mean, they should KNOW, if they have patents or not.
Paoli is quoted: „Another reason Office Open XML is an open format is because XML itself is an inherently interoperable text-based standard that has been defined by the W3C.”. Yeah. XML may be free, but not your XML-based file-formats – you just said I need a license for them. It’s the same game they played with .NET. They standardised some components of it, but the real beef, the specifications, frameworks and libraries are still owned and controlled by Microsoft.
I agree with FSF’s pro bono counsel Eben Moglen who said: „This is not a license that I would like to accept; Microsoft is saying we might have some patents. But it’s not a problem if Microsoft is making it available to everyone to make use and sell.”.
Now, what I don’t understand is this stuff in the license about reading and writing files. If I interpret this correctly, I am not allowed to modify an MS Office XML file? Hello Microsoft?! Do you know, what the „X” ind XML stands for? Right, eXtensable!
So let’s see, how Microsoft is pushing this through ECMA. They will get their „standard”. But will there be industry-support for it, if you can’t even use XLST to tranform eg. a WordprocessingML into SpreadsheetML or an OpenOffice XML document?
Cliff Schmidt offers a very nice overview of the why, what, where, who, when, and how of standards, if you are interested.