Microsoft’s Jean Paoli on Office Open XML

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.

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2 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Jean Paoli on Office Open XML”

  1. A Very interesting read, thanks Tim. It will be just as interesting to see how this format battle plays out in the longer term.

  2. I must confess to a certain amusement (or bemusement) at Microsoft’s fixation on IBM as the One Big One, the Big Bad Wolf.

    IBM’s only one of a number of entities involved in pushing ODF as the solution – I personally don’t think it would be nearly as visible if Microsoft didn’t beat the IBM drum every time. I think most of us wouldn’t understand just how desperate Microsoft is, if they weren’t so fixated on IBM.

    I mean, the only ODF office productivity/automation tool/s I’ve regularly read about in the IT press, is And Sun owns the commercial fork of that. Hardly anybody knows about IBM’s own ODF offering, WASCE, or for that matter, care about it.

    I wonder what it would take – as a non-IBMer – to get Microsoft to actually start talking about WASCE? as the application, gets the venom, but IBM as a company and competitor gets it anyway.

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