ODF vs OOXML: A plague on both your houses

I’ve been writing a piece on Linux/Windows interoperability, and broached the tricky matter of file formats.

It struck me forcibly how much the situation has changed for the worse, for the average user who could not care one jot about XML or ISO for that matter.

Prior to Office 2007, at least a Microsoft Office user could email documents to a Linux Open Office user and they would most likely open OK. Now that’s no longer the case.

I guess Open Office users have always had to make allowance for Microsoft users by doing Save As or setting their defaults to compatible formats, when emailing documents the other way or sharing them on a network. That’s no better today. Open Office defaults to ODF which a default install of Microsoft Office will not open.

Both sides would probably say that this is the problem they are trying to solve. Nevertheless, from the user’s perspective we have gone backwards.

What a shame that Microsoft, IBM, Sun and so on were not willing to engage with each other to adopt a common standard acceptable to all parties, instead of treating document formats as a competitive weapon, never mind how much users suffer.

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Related posts:

  1. More OOXML than ODF on the Internet, according to Google
  2. OOXML vs ODF: where next for interoperability?
  3. Microsoft: OOXML has won approval as an ISO/IEC standard
  4. Miguel de Icaza on ODF vs OOXML
  5. WordPerfect X4: not good at PDF, OOXML, ODF import

8 comments to ODF vs OOXML: A plague on both your houses

  • Clyde Davies

    Seems like there’s a market for a really good set of conversion addins…

  • Kyle A. Miller

    There are a number of ODF add-ins for Word, Sun’s being one of them. Haven’t tried any of them, but the price is right, free.
    http://www.sun.com/software/star/odf_plugin/

  • Tim

    Sure, but defaults are all-important. The simple step of going off and downloading a plug-in is a huge obstacle to many users, who may have locked-down desktops or just be nervous of installing anything. I come across this frequently.

    Tim

  • mind

    > What a shame that Microsoft, IBM, Sun and so on were not willing to engage with each other to adopt a common standard acceptable to all parties

    any standard would have never been acceptable to microsoft. they wish to prolong their stranglehold on the office market (through non-interoperable file formats) as long as possible. OOXML is nowhere near a standard, it’s a horribly incomplete specification trying to masquerade as a standard in order to meet the requirements (in name only) of the push for actual open standards.

    it occurs to me that the new proper action for openoffice users is to just send ODF files, and tell the people using microsoft office to go install the plugin.

  • Malcontent

    “What a shame that Microsoft, IBM, Sun and so on were not willing to engage with each other to adopt a common standard acceptable to all parties, instead of treating document formats as a competitive weapon, never mind how much users suffer.”

    What planet do you live on? Only MS didn’t want to play nice. Everybody else on your list has already adopted ODF and has been begging MS to make office read and write ODF files.

    Seriously, are you on drugs or something?

  • Tim

    > What planet do you live on?

    A planet where Microsoft Office is the de facto standard. Introducing a new standard without Microsoft’s cooperation is unpleasant for the user.

    Tim

  • Tim

    > OOXML is nowhere near a standard, it’s a
    > horribly incomplete specification trying to
    > masquerade as a standard in order to meet
    > the requirements

    I’ve read a lot of the OOXML spec and I don’t believe this characterization is justified. For sure there are flaws, but it is not bad.

    Tim

  • Clyde Davies

    What planet do you live on? Only MS didn’t want to play nice.

    So Sun and IBM’s ploy with ODF wasn’t primarily an attempt to undermine Microsoft’s dominant position in the office tools market?

    Wake up, for God’s sake. You must be very naïve.