Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 3rd May 2006 15:56 UTC, submitted by Andy Updegrove
Features, Office The six month voting window for ISO/IEC adoption of the OASIS OpenDocument Format standard closed on May 1, and at midnight (Geneva time [CET]) last night it was announced internally that ODF had been approved by the ISO members eligible and interested in casting a vote. And on a related note, an article on smart formatting for better compatibility between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office.
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Good for everyone
by KenJackson on Wed 3rd May 2006 17:17 UTC
KenJackson
Member since:
2005-07-18

Given the ongoing unhappiness in Europe with Microsoft over what the EU regards as unacceptable bundling and other practices, this may be particularly significant, especially when taken with the desire of many European and other purchasers to use open source products whenever possible.

Hey, don't forget the ongoing unhappiness in USA and other places too!

This is good news for everyone. Just image if Microsoft were to step up and fully support it to the point of allowing Word users to make perfectly compatible documents that could alternately be edited in Word and OSS products. It would actually make Word more acceptable to a lot of people.

But regardless of what MS does, it makes good sense for governements everywhere to insist that official documents be created in a standard format.

Reply Score: 4

Compatibility
by Hands on Wed 3rd May 2006 17:19 UTC
Hands
Member since:
2005-06-30

Too many people who use word processors treat them as though they were glorified typewriters. The points made in the article about compatibility between office suites are very good ones, but it requires people to rethink what they are doing and actually try to take advantage of program features.

I've heard a lot of people bemoan the fact that Excel is used in ways for which it was never designed (even though it works for some pretty odd purposes), and people often fail to really take advantage of the power that Excel offers because they don't understand it. People do the same thing with word processors, but it isn't usually as obvious until someone tries to share documents.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Compatibility
by KenJackson on Wed 3rd May 2006 17:29 UTC in reply to "Compatibility"
KenJackson Member since:
2005-07-18

...but it isn't usually as obvious until someone tries to share documents.

Yes and sadly when they share with someone using an OSS product and the document is found to be incompatible, they blame the non-Microsoft product for being nonstandard.

It will be a BIG plus for us now to be able to ask if the MS document meets the real standard.

Reply Score: 4

v RE[2]: Compatibility
by cwdrake on Wed 3rd May 2006 18:48 UTC in reply to "RE: Compatibility"
RE[3]: Compatibility
by el3ktro on Wed 3rd May 2006 19:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Compatibility"
el3ktro Member since:
2006-01-10

You confuse "standard" with "monopoly".

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Compatibility
by Angel--Fr@gzill@ on Thu 4th May 2006 09:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Compatibility"
Angel--Fr@gzill@ Member since:
2005-12-23

!!!

"Microsoft Word IS the standard."

----

Yes, You are right. Microsoft Word IS the standard. But not for so long... the day when Ms will include the open formats in their office suites is not so far away.

Ultimately they will have to include ODF, and other formats (ogg, theora...) in their programs and accept that the people and the economy need "open formats".

The era of "My-monopolistic-own-format-that-you-have-to-swallow" is comming to an end...

!!!

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Compatibility
by kaiwai on Thu 4th May 2006 10:38 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Compatibility"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

I wish that were the case; it is the old story of the best way isn't aways the one that gets chosen.

Government, being the largest single contributor to the economy, and the largest entity that all businesses will eventually interact with, is in a position where they can start demanding that Microsoft either adopt ODF as THE default format - not secondary, or possibly through 'save as function, no, THE default format so that when you press 'save' odf is the format which it uses.

Governments need to put their foot down and say, "either meet these requirements or lose the contract', and they well and truely know, if they lose central government, then businesses who interact will have to move their systems over, and those companies which interact with those companies will have to move over - its a domino effect.

Microsoft need to wake up; if they want to maintain their markshare, do it the good old fashion way; provide a good quality product and the lowest possible price, and market it like there is no tomorrow; thats how everyone else does it! Thats how the UNIX eco-system operates; write your application to atleast UNIX 2003 compliance, and you'll hit almost every UNIX out there; aim it for BSD 4.3 compliance, same result, you'll hit every UNIX out there.

There are no excuses for not adopting open standards except for some ingrained NIH syndrom, which Microsoft is renowned for.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Compatibility
by elsewhere on Thu 4th May 2006 02:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Compatibility"
elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

Yes and sadly when they share with someone using an OSS product and the document is found to be incompatible, they blame the non-Microsoft product for being nonstandard.

It will be a BIG plus for us now to be able to ask if the MS document meets the real standard.


The problem is that ODF is not *the* standard, it is *a* standard.

It may now be an officially recognized standard, but that doesn't change the fact that Office, for better or worse, is the de facto standard.

And like most standards, ODF will only be as effective as the number of people supporting it.

All other things being equal, Microsoft won't change, there's simply no gain for them and it only exposes them to competitive risk. The core of their userbase simply will not care, as you pointed out they will blame others for not using MS "standard" applications. And frankly, if you're using a non-Microsoft product to work with a Microsoft-standard document, then really it is the fault of the application, but it is also the fault of the document creator for not using an accessible standard if that is their intent.

I agree it is incumbent upon public institutions like the government to make the effort to embrace and enforce the standard regardless of any short-term inconvenience or hardship if it's going to have any serious impact, because it will ultimately force people to use applications compatible with that standard. I'm not an FSF anarchist and tend to prefer letting the free market settle things for itself, but I do believe the governments have a responsibility to exert their influence in certain situations to prevent monopolization to the deteriment of the public.

Without that or some other similar external influence, market inertia alone will likely allow Office to remain the unofficial standard simply by reason of its install base. The long term advantages of ODF probably weigh far less to the majority of users than the inconvenience and hassle of having to switch document platforms, so regardless of the perceived gains an open document format provides, they will not easily outweigh the perceived "hassle" of switching.

Heck, look how long IE was criticized for not being truly HTML-compliant. People didn't care, because IE worked for all the websites they visited. It took gaping security holes to convince Joe Average to consider the inconvenience of switching to alternatives, and even that amounted to little more than a 10% share shift.

So I'm afraid it will go with ODF.

Sad but true.

Still, don't get me wrong, I'm hopeful that ODF will have an impact. I'm just a cynical optimist.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Compatibility
by Marcellus on Thu 4th May 2006 06:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Compatibility"
Marcellus Member since:
2005-08-26

Heck, look how long IE was criticized for not being truly HTML-compliant. People didn't care, because IE worked for all the websites they visited.

Part of the reason for this is that MS implemented some support while the specification was still in draft, and then got changed for the final version of the specification.

Reply Score: 1

Not just another hassle
by KenJackson on Thu 4th May 2006 13:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Compatibility"
KenJackson Member since:
2005-07-18

The long term advantages of ODF probably weigh far less to the majority of users than the inconvenience and hassle of having to switch document platforms, so regardless of the perceived gains an open document format provides, they will not easily outweigh the perceived "hassle" of switching.

You made some good points and stated some truth, but I don't believe people will view the switch to ODF as just another hassle. I think most people expect standards that are controlled by standards bodies to be much less prone to changes to support the latest gimmick than are standards controlled by one company trying to generate upgrade sales.

I remember well the frustration when Office2000 came out. I was still using Office98 and people were emailing me documents generated with the new version that looked like binary gibberish to me. Even when they used "Save as" to save it in '98 format, it still didn't work. If Word had been supporting any standard, even a defacto standard, that wouldn't have been a problem.

Reply Score: 2

ISO Standard
by Hands on Wed 3rd May 2006 17:31 UTC
Hands
Member since:
2005-06-30

I was actually having a conversation with my wife about digital archiving this morning. She mentioned that she had recently read an article that strongly suggested keeping paper copies of valuable documents and information. I explained that there are very good reasons to follow that advice when using undocumented digital formats. I also explained that there are still apprehensions by many people used to more traditional archival methods because the hardware from even just ten years ago wasn't designed for long term compatibility with emerging hardware specifications.

I feel like we are just getting to where there are enough documented formats and forward-looking (and backward compatible) hardware specifications to allow a high degree of confidence in the viability of long-term digital archival. I used to feel like I had to install two or three different office suites to be able to open files that had been created just a year or two before. I'm very glad that ODF has been approved as an ISO standard so that I can have confidence in being able to open ODF files years from now with just one program.

Reply Score: 5

RE: ISO Standard
by twenex on Wed 3rd May 2006 18:42 UTC in reply to "ISO Standard"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

I just hope this particular standard doesn't go the way of the ISO OSI networking protocols.

Reply Score: 2

Confusion
by el3ktro on Wed 3rd May 2006 19:24 UTC
el3ktro
Member since:
2006-01-10

You confuse "standard" with "monopoly".

Reply Score: 1