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"The more you tighten your grip the more star systems will slip through your fingers"

Microsoft's hopes of controlling the open document world were nearing fruition after the International Standards Organization finally certified its OOXML standard at the start of April.  The ISO had already ratified ODF, the competitive open-source format from the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) used heavily in Linux, but Microsoft faced a lengthy struggle to try to get its own format recognized.  Without certification it would be tough to push the format as a legitimate open document option.

Microsoft had good reason to want to control the world of open documents.  As users switch platforms and software more and more, and use an increasing amount of open source solutions, the need for a non-software specific format has surfaced.  Microsoft hoped that by making its own proprietary open-file format the preferred standard it could seize control of this budding field.

However, to Microsoft's anger, the process has now been held up by complaints.  Following rumors that Microsoft pushed the vote through and used underhanded tactics to suppress dissent, Brazil, India, South Africa, and Venezuela lent such claims credence by filing complaints against the ratification.

The ratification cannot go forward until these complaints are heard, and they must be voiced before the end of June.  The final decision of how to react to them will be handed to two management committees.  India in particular was quite vocal in its opposition.  An open letter, written by a member of the technical standardization committee in India, states that Microsoft's long and ambiguous proposed specification left it unclear what was being implemented.  He says this means that Microsoft can implement the new format however it wants, ruining the whole reason for ISO -- to promote openness.

He also accuses Microsoft of running a careful concerted smear campaign that undercut the Indian concerns.  He states:

Microsoft started filing complaints to various Indian authorities in early March 2008, claiming bias on part of several members of the committee because of their presumed membership of a group called ‘ODF Alliance India’. My Institution and its representatives are part of the group which has been falsely implicated in these complaints. Worse, the complaints have painted these organizations and their representatives, including the Indian delegation which attended the BRM, as acting against the Indian National interests. This is the most derogatory accusation to any Indian, amounting, personally for me at least, to intolerable blasphemy.

In the letter he alleges that Microsoft pressured the Indian national government to change its stance, and likely did so with other national governments as well.  He states that Microsoft behaved in a way "amounting to interfering with the governance process of a sovereign country."  He concludes, "I would like to assure all colleagues and other readers that my intentions are purely to respond to the grave provocation caused by the actions of Microsoft."

Meanwhile ODF creators OASIS tried to steal a bit of the spotlight calling for an "implementation, interoperability, and conformity" technical committee to continue ODF's openness and quality.  The entity plans on trying to bring ISO or the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) into the project.  Surprisingly Microsoft has expressed interest in joining the committee, igniting many conspiracy theories on the internet.

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Most will always go with MS Office
By Aloonatic on 6/11/2008 10:37:11 AM , Rating: 2
While MS still "generously" offer to supply schools with their Office Suit they will always be the market leader.

The deal they struck here in the UK has meant that many IT qualifications are little more than an indoctrination into the world of MS Office and that's about it.

Kids are taught on MS Office and will carry on using it at home via download (and more recently a more reasonable pricing scheme) so companies will (probably) carry on using it too as, well, why retrain?

In saying all of this, MS Office is pretty good and easy to use, fairly well priced (recently) so it's not all bad news, as with most things MS do, they are normally actually pretty good, just the lack of competition can twist perceptions some times.

Here's a humorous/depressing aside and glimpse into the demise of the British educational system and nothing to do with MS...

We had a newb start in my office and they had an A-Level in Computing so I figured they would know something about hoe a computer works and is put together at the very least.

Having just bought a new load of keyboards and mice (probably to comply with some ridiculous health and safety protocol) that were USB I handed them over to her and said that the new devices were USB, so unplug the old ones and use these instead, expecting her to get on with this task pretty quickly.

Nearly an hour later she wasn't working, I ask her why and she said that she didn't know what USB meant???

RE: Most will always go with MS Office
By boogle on 6/11/2008 11:22:25 AM , Rating: 2
Nearly an hour later she wasn't working, I ask her why and she said that she didn't know what USB meant???

Tell me about it, the current quals are horrendously poor. They seem to try to cover as many 'keywords' as possible. So in web we want to hire someone who knows how to put a basic site together in code without using a WYSIWYG editor. So on the CVs you get things like 'AJAX, Javascript, HTML'.

They don't know these things of course. They basically do an assignment that involves copying + pasting some code from the net to cover the keywords and then they 'know it'.

Don't get me started on the lack of problem-solving skills...

By Master Kenobi on 6/11/2008 12:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
Lack of problem solving skills I find is the biggest detractor. Lack of knowledge of subjects can "sometimes" (Not always) be worked around in time, but if they lack the ability to probolem solve there is no way to teach it. You can either learn to problem solve early on in life and build on it later, or not at all. It's not something that can be taught in a few weeks, its an entire method of thinking and takes years to learn and master.

RE: Most will always go with MS Office
By Baov on 6/11/2008 7:04:01 PM , Rating: 2
At least they would have known how to look on wikipedia what USB is with the current keyboard before unplugging the keyboard and put in the new USB one.

RE: Most will always go with MS Office
By Reclaimer77 on 6/11/2008 3:40:51 PM , Rating: 2
Nearly an hour later she wasn't working, I ask her why and she said that she didn't know what USB meant???

Ah, a typical Mac user.

RE: Most will always go with MS Office
By Baov on 6/11/2008 6:36:58 PM , Rating: 2
If it was firewire, maybe they would have gotten it.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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