I spoke to Jean Paoli about Office Open XML and its standardisation. I respect Paoli, one of the originators of the XML specification. His major point, apart from complaining about what he calls IBM’s orchestrated campaign against the ISO standardisation of OOXML, is that only Microsoft’s XML format can maintain fidelity with legacy Office documents. Unfortunately the example he gives – borders around a table – is not often a critical feature; but in general I take the point. He seemed not to understand my question about whether there will be a non-MS Office reference implementation.
Leaving aside OOXML vs ODF for a moment, Paoli observes that “The responsibility of migrating 450 million users is huge.” He is talking about the decision to make XML the default format in Office 2007. Undoubtedly a brave move, and painful for users in some cases, but for developers the ability to work with XML (whether it is OOXML or ODF) is a joy compared to the old binary formats, or Word’s Rich Text Format.