Thursday, May 29, 2008

Microsoft gives finally in

I have ranted previously about the evil of Microsoft Word. One of the issues is the use of proprietary file formats that keep changing, both to force Word users to buy upgrades to be compatible and to prevent other word porcessors to manage to read or save into the Word format. It turns out at least this aspect of Word is coming to an end.

According to The Motley Fool, Microsoft has now agreed to adhere to the open-source ODF format. This will make Microsoft Office format compatible and easy to interpret. Microsoft is seeing now the consequences of its strategy, which drove ore and more institutions away from MS Office. So it seems markets can force monopolies to behave.

1 comment:

Graeme said...

I think you are being optimistic.

MS appears to have done this because South Africa has appealed against the ISO's approval of MS's own OOXML format. This means they have to have ODF to sell to certain governments.

They will keep on trying to get OOXML approved, and if it is, they will drop ODF. It is also remains to be seen whether they will support ODF but default or if it will be a plug-in, and whether it will support all the functionality of a subset.

You might argue that OOXML will be an acceptable substitute if it is an ISO standard. It appears that it will be very difficcult for anyone other than MS to implement it without reverse engineering MS's software, because the specification contains things on the lines of "format this the same way as Word 2000 did".

There is good coverage of the shenanigans around OOXML's ISO approval on Groklaw.