Microsoft standardizes Office formats – Jean Paoli interview

I just interviewed Jean Paoli, co-inventor of XML (he usually works a few doors down from my office in building 18, so we talk often). He has been bragging to me for days now about what we just announced 22 minutes ago (that Microsoft is going to standardize its Office document formats up).

Here’s Brian Jones’ blog entry on the announcement (he works on the Office team on file formats).

Here’s the announcement covered by ZDNet/CNET’s News.com.

Here’s the interview, which I did over email this morning (he’s in France working with the team there on this announcement):
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Q: Just what did we announce today?

Jean Paoli: Today is an incredible day that I have been waiting for over many years: we are offering the Office XML file format technology behind billions of documents to customers and the industry as an international standard. Together with Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel, NextPage, StatOil and Toshiba, we are co-sponsoring the submission to Ecma, the international standards body, of the Microsoft Office Open XML document formats. We will work together to standardize the formats for approval as an Ecma standard. Our intention is also to submit the result of the Ecma work to ISO for approval as an international standard. This is our press release and a few other documents we published on the subject (The official press release is here.)

Q: Are these formats really open?

Jean Paoli: Yes, and the Standardization process will make this even more clear as we work with the committee members. Ecma International is a very respected organization and is extremely serious about openness in the standards they create and support. The technical committee that will oversee it under Ecma International is open to anyone who is an Ecma member. By working with participating companies like Apple , Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel, NextPage, StatOil and Toshiba and other Ecma members who would want to participate, we hope to create an open standard that will enable customers, technology providers and developers around the globe to work with the Office Open XML formats without barriers, with or without Microsoft products.

Q: Do I need to sign, or agree to, any licensing agreements to use the formats?

Jean Paoli: No, for the specifications and in our work with Ecma International, we are offering a broad “covenant not to sue” to anyone who uses our formats. This is a new approach that continues our open and royalty-free approach. We think it will be broadly appealing to developers, including most open source developers. (by the way you did not have to sign anything even before this announcement.)

Q: How do I know that there isn’t some sort of hidden Microsoft agenda?

Jean Paoli: The only agenda is widespread support for the Office Open XML formats. It takes more than Microsoft to really win the trust of millions of customers for a standard technology.

You know I have always believed in the power of open formats and was really frustrated from the discussion that went on the Internet around our formats for the last 2 months. The data is always the property of the customer. It was our intent since the very beginning of our XML vision to have the maximum number of people to use XML in Office because the range of applications is so wide and universal. Documents could be integrated in so many processes, across platforms. But we wanted customers to be able to take advantage of the XML schemas they had already been developing and using, rather than pushing a new schema on them. That’s why we thought our support for custom defined schema was so critical – and now by submitting the new Office Open XML formats to Ecma International for standardization, we are providing a way for others to be able to take advantage of our support for custom defined schemas as well.

The only agenda we have is providing Office customers with the reassurance that they will be able to access their documents for generations to come. Microsoft Office will do well by expanding the use of Office in new ways. Customers and others in the industry will also benefit.

Working with Ecma to standardize the Office Open XML file formats means that the new international standard will be documented in great detail, making it an extremely stable file format. This stability delivers two main advantages: first, it enables the ability to archive billions of documents for millions of public and private-sector customers worldwide, and second, it enables partners to develop a wide set of tools and platforms, further fostering interoperability across office productivity applications and with line-of-business systems.

Q: Why is Microsoft doing this?

Jean Paoli: It is good for customers, good for the industry, and good for Microsoft. –and the formats are now mature enough to be able to do it via XML technology, without creating support problems, etc. Two years ago this month, we announced the creation of the Office 2003 Reference Schema program, where we provided documentation along with an open and royalty free license to enable companies throughout the industry to work with custom-defined schema our XML-based schemas for their own solutions. While the feedback we have been receiving on the Reference Schema program is rewardingly positive, some of our customers suggested that it might also be useful to submit the formats to a standards body, and we began to seriously think about this as we started working on Office “12,” and approach Ecma International about it this spring. By working with Ecma International as well as our fellow committee members, we hope to enable customers, technology providers, and developers around the globe to work with the formats without barriers, creating a broad ecosystem of products, applications and services that can work with the formats, whether they use Microsoft Office software or not.

Q: You must be happy today Jean?

Jean Paoli: I am extremely happy today. You know, for more than 20 years, I always believed that documents should be expressed in an open format so the data and content can be reused by anyone and any software, cross platform. Previously, the technology was not up to this challenge. Our Office XML format in 2003 was a great step, but this will be seen as a nice milestone, when the industry really received a big signal that our work was truly open for everyone to use. Today, is a great day for this vision . -Jean

Comments

  1. Brian Jones is dead.

    But anyway… “covenant not to sue”?! What kind of joke is that? As far as I know that doesn’t mitigate any of the concerns of the OS community. Yes, we have patents. Yes, if you wanted to legally use this code according to the GPL, you would be violating your own license, but we won’t sue you so you shouldn’t have a problem?! Come on.

  2. Brian Jones is dead.

    But anyway… “covenant not to sue”?! What kind of joke is that? As far as I know that doesn’t mitigate any of the concerns of the OS community. Yes, we have patents. Yes, if you wanted to legally use this code according to the GPL, you would be violating your own license, but we won’t sue you so you shouldn’t have a problem?! Come on.

  3. Let’s further break it down:

    “This is a new approach that continues our open and royalty-free approach.”

    Why do you insist on making people laugh? Anyone who understands how you license technology know that it has NEVER been OPEN.

    “We think it will be broadly appealing to developers, including most open source developers. (by the way you did not have to sign anything even before this announcement.)”

    Does that mean it’s the same situation that was UNACCEPTABLE. It’s not about paying or signing anything. It’s about patents which cannot interact with OS licenses.

    “The only agenda we have is providing Office customers with the reassurance that they will be able to access their documents for generations to come.”

    Come on! You just said: “The only agenda is widespread support for the Office Open XML formats.” Is the agenda this (widespread use) or that (eternal access)?

    Can’t you be honest: you were afraid ODF would become a significant movement. Prior to, during, and after the Mass. debates, you have claimed that the format already meets these agendas.

  4. Let’s further break it down:

    “This is a new approach that continues our open and royalty-free approach.”

    Why do you insist on making people laugh? Anyone who understands how you license technology know that it has NEVER been OPEN.

    “We think it will be broadly appealing to developers, including most open source developers. (by the way you did not have to sign anything even before this announcement.)”

    Does that mean it’s the same situation that was UNACCEPTABLE. It’s not about paying or signing anything. It’s about patents which cannot interact with OS licenses.

    “The only agenda we have is providing Office customers with the reassurance that they will be able to access their documents for generations to come.”

    Come on! You just said: “The only agenda is widespread support for the Office Open XML formats.” Is the agenda this (widespread use) or that (eternal access)?

    Can’t you be honest: you were afraid ODF would become a significant movement. Prior to, during, and after the Mass. debates, you have claimed that the format already meets these agendas.

  5. “Anyone who understands how you license technology know that it has NEVER been OPEN.”
    Please don’t redefine what an “open” standard is. If/When ECMA certifies it as standard, it’ll be “open” as per the requirements of ECMA.

    “It’s not about paying or signing anything. It’s about patents which cannot interact with OS licenses.”
    I assume you meant OSS, but this statement is wrong anyways. Unless the overly restrictive GPL is the only OSS license out there.

  6. “Anyone who understands how you license technology know that it has NEVER been OPEN.”
    Please don’t redefine what an “open” standard is. If/When ECMA certifies it as standard, it’ll be “open” as per the requirements of ECMA.

    “It’s not about paying or signing anything. It’s about patents which cannot interact with OS licenses.”
    I assume you meant OSS, but this statement is wrong anyways. Unless the overly restrictive GPL is the only OSS license out there.

  7. Hey, glad to see you back Goebbels, I got more of the weirdo Scoble groupies (quite literally) stalking me. :) Amazing to behold. So into their fantasy world, some sort of divine mission to right the supposed wrongs against their “god”. I need some of your magic ‘shut-up’ dust. ;)

  8. Hey, glad to see you back Goebbels, I got more of the weirdo Scoble groupies (quite literally) stalking me. :) Amazing to behold. So into their fantasy world, some sort of divine mission to right the supposed wrongs against their “god”. I need some of your magic ‘shut-up’ dust. ;)

  9. FWIW, (and assuming there are no hidden ‘gotchas’) I applaud this move. MS wants to compete on features and ease-of-use, not on lock-in. This could be a win-win for everyone.

  10. FWIW, (and assuming there are no hidden ‘gotchas’) I applaud this move. MS wants to compete on features and ease-of-use, not on lock-in. This could be a win-win for everyone.

  11. So instead of collaborating with the community we see Microsoft releasing two standards that they have developed and labelling them as open, which might be true in the technical sense but certainly doesn’t meet the spirit of being open.

    Why no mention of OpenDocument? Instead of embracing an already defined and open standard Microsoft just have to go and create their own, does that sound like Microsoft have really changed?

    Plus what about XDI? Isn’t that pretty much the same thing as SSE? Again Microsoft feel the need to veer away from an existing standard (although XDI is still in development) and try to force their own standards down everyone else’s throats.

    Is it good that Microsoft is making their standards more open? For sure and I am loving seeing it but they still don’t get “it”, they want the world to play by their rules and continue to refuse to truly embrace open standards and participate in any kind of commuunity corroboration.

    That of course is there right as a company but I wish they wouldn’t make these vain attempts and pretend they have come full circle, when really all they are doing is a token effort and marketing the heck out of it.

  12. So instead of collaborating with the community we see Microsoft releasing two standards that they have developed and labelling them as open, which might be true in the technical sense but certainly doesn’t meet the spirit of being open.

    Why no mention of OpenDocument? Instead of embracing an already defined and open standard Microsoft just have to go and create their own, does that sound like Microsoft have really changed?

    Plus what about XDI? Isn’t that pretty much the same thing as SSE? Again Microsoft feel the need to veer away from an existing standard (although XDI is still in development) and try to force their own standards down everyone else’s throats.

    Is it good that Microsoft is making their standards more open? For sure and I am loving seeing it but they still don’t get “it”, they want the world to play by their rules and continue to refuse to truly embrace open standards and participate in any kind of commuunity corroboration.

    That of course is there right as a company but I wish they wouldn’t make these vain attempts and pretend they have come full circle, when really all they are doing is a token effort and marketing the heck out of it.

  13. This could be a turning point for Microsoft. I’ll withhold judgement until I hear what GNU, Groklaw and EFF have to say about the license but it sounds good from what is posted here.

    So Scoble, is RMS going to approve of this or is there some hidden agenda? Is it truly going to open so that a GPL project like Open Office can use it? I remain skeptical but hopeful.

  14. This could be a turning point for Microsoft. I’ll withhold judgement until I hear what GNU, Groklaw and EFF have to say about the license but it sounds good from what is posted here.

    So Scoble, is RMS going to approve of this or is there some hidden agenda? Is it truly going to open so that a GPL project like Open Office can use it? I remain skeptical but hopeful.

  15. Well, you must understand my skepticism since Microsoft claimed during the Massachusetts Open Document hearings that they were open and standard too. That was clearly not the case by any objective standard.

    As a Massachusetts taxpayer and voter I need more than reassurances by a Microsoft director that you guys have changed your ways.

    If you are compatible with the GPL, then you are truly open. I don’t expect commercial companies to write software and make the code GPL but if you are going to claim openness for a document standard then GPL compatibility is the requirement.

    Hoping for the best.

  16. Well, you must understand my skepticism since Microsoft claimed during the Massachusetts Open Document hearings that they were open and standard too. That was clearly not the case by any objective standard.

    As a Massachusetts taxpayer and voter I need more than reassurances by a Microsoft director that you guys have changed your ways.

    If you are compatible with the GPL, then you are truly open. I don’t expect commercial companies to write software and make the code GPL but if you are going to claim openness for a document standard then GPL compatibility is the requirement.

    Hoping for the best.

  17. Well, a convenant not to sue is what Sun provided for OpenDocument. These two specification efforts are pretty much converging at the same level of open-ness. (I assure you, Oo.o was the basis for OpenDocument just as Office “12″ Open XML formats will be the offered basis that ECMA starts with. This is not much different than all of the XML specifications — SOAP, WS-whatnot, etc. – that have been offered as initial specifications and implementations as contributions from your favorite vendors, even jointly by some.

    I’m thrilled to see this and now I’m going to read the press release.

  18. Well, a convenant not to sue is what Sun provided for OpenDocument. These two specification efforts are pretty much converging at the same level of open-ness. (I assure you, Oo.o was the basis for OpenDocument just as Office “12″ Open XML formats will be the offered basis that ECMA starts with. This is not much different than all of the XML specifications — SOAP, WS-whatnot, etc. – that have been offered as initial specifications and implementations as contributions from your favorite vendors, even jointly by some.

    I’m thrilled to see this and now I’m going to read the press release.

  19. Why did Microsoft do this? I think it is pretty clear that the Massachusetts decision forced them. Massachusetts opted for PDF and OpenDoc, and locked Microsoft XML out because it was too closed.

    A few weeks later Microsoft announced it is adding PDF to Word, and how it is going to submit its XML to a standards body. In both cases it said it was due to customers’ demand, and said nothing about Massachusetts, but can anyone in the world believe that claim?

    What do you think, Robert? Was Massachusetts at least part of the motive?

    As for what this really means, I second James Bailey that we need to wait for what Groklaw, EFF and GNU have to say once they have analyzed the license.

  20. Why did Microsoft do this? I think it is pretty clear that the Massachusetts decision forced them. Massachusetts opted for PDF and OpenDoc, and locked Microsoft XML out because it was too closed.

    A few weeks later Microsoft announced it is adding PDF to Word, and how it is going to submit its XML to a standards body. In both cases it said it was due to customers’ demand, and said nothing about Massachusetts, but can anyone in the world believe that claim?

    What do you think, Robert? Was Massachusetts at least part of the motive?

    As for what this really means, I second James Bailey that we need to wait for what Groklaw, EFF and GNU have to say once they have analyzed the license.

  21. Jean Paoli makes it sound like Microsoft’s intention from the time it started working on XML was to submit it to a standards body. Funny it never mentioned that before, and always defended it as being as open as anyone could ever reasonably want.

    The fact that Paoli is being so disingenuous makes me think that this is still some sort of a trick.

  22. Jean Paoli makes it sound like Microsoft’s intention from the time it started working on XML was to submit it to a standards body. Funny it never mentioned that before, and always defended it as being as open as anyone could ever reasonably want.

    The fact that Paoli is being so disingenuous makes me think that this is still some sort of a trick.

  23. I am a bit surprised to find no pointer to the covenant not to sue in any of the announcement materials. Its wording will be crucial to rebuilding badly shattered trust. The covenant’s conspicuous absence raises suspicions that the promise of openness is akin to vaporware. Absent the specific language, there is only a Microsoft promise. Speaking frankly, such promises are not highly regarded in many quarters, particularly among the competitors Microsoft would attract to Office Open XML.

    Should those developers be drawing conclusions from the fact the covenant’s language is not available for inspection? Microsoft is in effect asking everyone to abandon all the work that has been done on and with the OpenDocument XML standard and wait for Office Open XML. That would be a far more credible request if the covenant not to sue were published immediately.

  24. I am a bit surprised to find no pointer to the covenant not to sue in any of the announcement materials. Its wording will be crucial to rebuilding badly shattered trust. The covenant’s conspicuous absence raises suspicions that the promise of openness is akin to vaporware. Absent the specific language, there is only a Microsoft promise. Speaking frankly, such promises are not highly regarded in many quarters, particularly among the competitors Microsoft would attract to Office Open XML.

    Should those developers be drawing conclusions from the fact the covenant’s language is not available for inspection? Microsoft is in effect asking everyone to abandon all the work that has been done on and with the OpenDocument XML standard and wait for Office Open XML. That would be a far more credible request if the covenant not to sue were published immediately.

  25. “Microsoft is in effect asking everyone to abandon all the work that has been done on and with the OpenDocument XML standard and wait for Office Open XML.”

    That has been a standard Microsoft tactic for decades. Someone comes out with something attractive, and Microsoft freezes the market by announcing, “Next year are going to come out with the same thing but twice as good.” Sometimes it delivers, and sometimes it doesn’t but it usually destroys the market for the original producer.

  26. “Microsoft is in effect asking everyone to abandon all the work that has been done on and with the OpenDocument XML standard and wait for Office Open XML.”

    That has been a standard Microsoft tactic for decades. Someone comes out with something attractive, and Microsoft freezes the market by announcing, “Next year are going to come out with the same thing but twice as good.” Sometimes it delivers, and sometimes it doesn’t but it usually destroys the market for the original producer.

  27. Maybe today’s two announcements are just parlor tricks, but they do show one thing: Microsoft seems to want to open up more on some things.

  28. Maybe today’s two announcements are just parlor tricks, but they do show one thing: Microsoft seems to want to open up more on some things.

  29. FUD again.

    Microsoft is recognizing that advancing to new incompatible file formats is going to cause $$great harm$$ to the corporate world.

    Microsoft also recognizes the OpenOffice.org is poised to become the default in the Office world, being a good enough file format with a good enough Office suite, and obviously Microsoft wants to undo that.

    Their original pseudo open move was lame to say the least. They caused stir but never acknowledged it. In fact, what they should do now is find a new name for the file format because “Microsoft Open Office Xml” just does not cut it…especially when it’s a zip file (made of a bunch parts, some of which include yet-to-be documented Xml markup).

  30. FUD again.

    Microsoft is recognizing that advancing to new incompatible file formats is going to cause $$great harm$$ to the corporate world.

    Microsoft also recognizes the OpenOffice.org is poised to become the default in the Office world, being a good enough file format with a good enough Office suite, and obviously Microsoft wants to undo that.

    Their original pseudo open move was lame to say the least. They caused stir but never acknowledged it. In fact, what they should do now is find a new name for the file format because “Microsoft Open Office Xml” just does not cut it…especially when it’s a zip file (made of a bunch parts, some of which include yet-to-be documented Xml markup).

  31. ““Microsoft is in effect asking everyone to abandon all the work that has been done on and with the OpenDocument XML standard and wait for Office Open XML.””

    When the hell did OpenDoc is a “standard”? Just because of a bunch of non-Microsoft folks/companies come up with a document format doesn’t make it a standard. Calling OpenDoc a standard is pure bullshit. Microsoft .doc format is the facto standard for document right now; just like PDF, just by the merit of their popular usage.

  32. ““Microsoft is in effect asking everyone to abandon all the work that has been done on and with the OpenDocument XML standard and wait for Office Open XML.””

    When the hell did OpenDoc is a “standard”? Just because of a bunch of non-Microsoft folks/companies come up with a document format doesn’t make it a standard. Calling OpenDoc a standard is pure bullshit. Microsoft .doc format is the facto standard for document right now; just like PDF, just by the merit of their popular usage.

  33. Microsoft apre i formati XML di Office

    Ora è ufficiale, Microsoft ha inviato Microsoft Office Open XML File Formats alla ECMA, organismo che si occupa di standardizzazione della informazione e dei sistemi di comunicazione.
    Il formato in questione è utilizzato nella nuova versione di Micr…

  34. If the format is truly opened up, then this move has to be welcomed. But there are hints of smoke and mirrors: “Office XML file format technology behind billions of documents” – are there *really* billions of these? It’s also notable that all this comes after the OpenDoc work and Massachusetts. Microsoft’s open credentials would be more convincing if they lead this way, rather than being pushed by events.

    On Dody’s point – OpenDoc *is* currently a standard document format, it’s got an open specification and is used by OpenOffice and several other tools. It’s obviously not in as widespread use as Word’s current closed format, but it’s more of a standard simply because more than one company’s tools use it.

  35. If the format is truly opened up, then this move has to be welcomed. But there are hints of smoke and mirrors: “Office XML file format technology behind billions of documents” – are there *really* billions of these? It’s also notable that all this comes after the OpenDoc work and Massachusetts. Microsoft’s open credentials would be more convincing if they lead this way, rather than being pushed by events.

    On Dody’s point – OpenDoc *is* currently a standard document format, it’s got an open specification and is used by OpenOffice and several other tools. It’s obviously not in as widespread use as Word’s current closed format, but it’s more of a standard simply because more than one company’s tools use it.

  36. Danny: >are there *really* billions of these

    Yes, actually, there are. Have you missed how much market share Office has around the world? The Starbucks guy alone I was sitting next to had hundreds of Office files.

  37. Danny: >are there *really* billions of these

    Yes, actually, there are. Have you missed how much market share Office has around the world? The Starbucks guy alone I was sitting next to had hundreds of Office files.

  38. Will I be able to open this file in Linux? In MacOS? In a non-Office program in Windows? Will these documents be portable across platforms, without a degradation in quality or interoperability? Or, is this just a trojan horse to ensure that my shop upgrades to Office 12, whether we like it or not?

    OpenDoc: Wide-open format, not entangled by patent issues, not strapped to any one software suite, created and used by a group of companies with proven open software support.

    OpenXML: Open (with a few catches), entangled with various patent issues that will likely stymie interoperability, born from a dominating software suite, created and used by a company that would like nothing more than to wipe open software off the face of the planet.

    Office Team, you’ve got some serious questions that need to be answered. I don’t want to request government documents in 2012 only to be told that I must be running Windows Vista SP3, Office 13 and Internet Explorer 8 to view them. So, until you prove otherwise, OpenDoc is the future in my eyes.

  39. Will I be able to open this file in Linux? In MacOS? In a non-Office program in Windows? Will these documents be portable across platforms, without a degradation in quality or interoperability? Or, is this just a trojan horse to ensure that my shop upgrades to Office 12, whether we like it or not?

    OpenDoc: Wide-open format, not entangled by patent issues, not strapped to any one software suite, created and used by a group of companies with proven open software support.

    OpenXML: Open (with a few catches), entangled with various patent issues that will likely stymie interoperability, born from a dominating software suite, created and used by a company that would like nothing more than to wipe open software off the face of the planet.

    Office Team, you’ve got some serious questions that need to be answered. I don’t want to request government documents in 2012 only to be told that I must be running Windows Vista SP3, Office 13 and Internet Explorer 8 to view them. So, until you prove otherwise, OpenDoc is the future in my eyes.

  40. Then again, this is the same company that can’t even make their web content and video format work correctly outside of their playground, so I’m not going to wait up for an answer.

    You know, Microsoft, you’re a frustrating beast. So much good always fucked up by so much nonsense.

  41. Then again, this is the same company that can’t even make their web content and video format work correctly outside of their playground, so I’m not going to wait up for an answer.

    You know, Microsoft, you’re a frustrating beast. So much good always fucked up by so much nonsense.

  42. 5:45: >Will I be able to open this file in Linux? In MacOS? In a non-Office program in Windows?

    Yes. It’s a text file inside a ZIP file. Yes. Yes.

    >Will these documents be portable across platforms, without a degradation in quality or interoperability?

    Yes. Watch the video. It explains all.

  43. 5:45: >Will I be able to open this file in Linux? In MacOS? In a non-Office program in Windows?

    Yes. It’s a text file inside a ZIP file. Yes. Yes.

    >Will these documents be portable across platforms, without a degradation in quality or interoperability?

    Yes. Watch the video. It explains all.

  44. I understand the format completely, and I also understand the patent issues around it: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20040126-3336.html (Ars Technica). Speaking of Ars, there coverage of this news is superb and honest: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20051122-5608.html

    I’d love to watch the video, but I can’t. Most WMV files don’t work correctly on my Mac. Hmmm. Funny how that is. Well, at least the site its hosted on renders, what with me not using IE6. Oh, wait, IE6 isn’t even offered on this platform. Well, I guess that just puts me in the ghetto. Hopefully, I’ll be able to type up my complaints in Word 12 for the world to see.

  45. I understand the format completely, and I also understand the patent issues around it: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20040126-3336.html (Ars Technica). Speaking of Ars, there coverage of this news is superb and honest: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20051122-5608.html

    I’d love to watch the video, but I can’t. Most WMV files don’t work correctly on my Mac. Hmmm. Funny how that is. Well, at least the site its hosted on renders, what with me not using IE6. Oh, wait, IE6 isn’t even offered on this platform. Well, I guess that just puts me in the ghetto. Hopefully, I’ll be able to type up my complaints in Word 12 for the world to see.

  46. >I’d love to watch the video, but I can’t. Most WMV files don’t work correctly on my Mac.

    Funny how they work on the Mac sitting here. You just need to use the download file and the latest Microsoft Media Player.

  47. >I’d love to watch the video, but I can’t. Most WMV files don’t work correctly on my Mac.

    Funny how they work on the Mac sitting here. You just need to use the download file and the latest Microsoft Media Player.

  48. 1) What is open?

    2) What is open enough?

    3) What is good enough to be called a ‘standard’?

    4) What is good enough to be developed as a specification?

    5) In a world of just-in-time delivery of bundled functionality for a specific task (think mashup), is reduced complexity per namespaced application better than tightly bundled functionality (web application vs desktop)?

    Using ECMA is an old dodge and ISO was so thorougly butchered in the opening days of web 1.0, it takes some chutzpah to go that route in standardization, but that is a separate issue. It does have an effect on item a. below but we don’t know if that is positive or negative. There is a bit of ‘as the twig is bent, so grows the tree’ karma here.

    On the other hand, some believe this is about OpenDoc vs OpenOffice. This is about:

    a. Procurement policies that can create a tipping point.

    b. The fact that PDF was considered ‘open enough’ and therefore, Adobe is the ultimate winner of this current tempest in a teapot.

    The entertainment value here is profound.

  49. 1) What is open?

    2) What is open enough?

    3) What is good enough to be called a ‘standard’?

    4) What is good enough to be developed as a specification?

    5) In a world of just-in-time delivery of bundled functionality for a specific task (think mashup), is reduced complexity per namespaced application better than tightly bundled functionality (web application vs desktop)?

    Using ECMA is an old dodge and ISO was so thorougly butchered in the opening days of web 1.0, it takes some chutzpah to go that route in standardization, but that is a separate issue. It does have an effect on item a. below but we don’t know if that is positive or negative. There is a bit of ‘as the twig is bent, so grows the tree’ karma here.

    On the other hand, some believe this is about OpenDoc vs OpenOffice. This is about:

    a. Procurement policies that can create a tipping point.

    b. The fact that PDF was considered ‘open enough’ and therefore, Adobe is the ultimate winner of this current tempest in a teapot.

    The entertainment value here is profound.

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  51. [...] Just what did Microsoft announce yesterday? According to Robert Scoble’s interview with Jean Paoli, Microsoft will be… … offering the Office XML file format technology behind billions of documents to customers and the industry as an international standard. Together with Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel, NextPage, StatOil and Toshiba, we are co-sponsoring the submission to Ecma, the international standards body, of the Microsoft Office Open XML document formats. [...]

  52. Paoli: we are offering the Office XML file format technology behind billions of documents

    Danny: are there *really* billions of these

    Scoble: Yes, actually, there are. Have you missed how much market share Office has around the world? The Starbucks guy alone I was sitting next to had hundreds of Office files.

    The way the original answer was worded sugested that billions of documents were already written in Office 12, when they obviously aren’t. Sorry for being harsh, but it’s not Danny’s fault if he couldn’t parse the weaselspeak.

  53. Paoli: we are offering the Office XML file format technology behind billions of documents

    Danny: are there *really* billions of these

    Scoble: Yes, actually, there are. Have you missed how much market share Office has around the world? The Starbucks guy alone I was sitting next to had hundreds of Office files.

    The way the original answer was worded sugested that billions of documents were already written in Office 12, when they obviously aren’t. Sorry for being harsh, but it’s not Danny’s fault if he couldn’t parse the weaselspeak.

  54. [...] As with all things Redmondy though, the questions come thick and furious. When Talleyrand died, Napoleon was heard to remark, “What did he mean by that?” And so it is now. Are these formats really open? How do I know that there isn’t some sort of hidden Microsoft agenda? Why is Microsoft doing this? And those were questions from Microsoft’s own blogging evangelist, Robert Scoble. [...]

  55. Beautiful. This should also mean that any competitor, open source and/or commercial, will be able to provide 100% compatibility with Microsoft formats without having to reverse engineer anything. . . IF the licence truly is an open standard. Theoretically that opens up the market for competition, which in the end gives the consumer more choice and pushes all software providers, Microsoft included, towards higher quality products.

  56. Beautiful. This should also mean that any competitor, open source and/or commercial, will be able to provide 100% compatibility with Microsoft formats without having to reverse engineer anything. . . IF the licence truly is an open standard. Theoretically that opens up the market for competition, which in the end gives the consumer more choice and pushes all software providers, Microsoft included, towards higher quality products.

  57. Matusow’s post answers nothing:

    “The obvious first take on this submission will be all about Massachussets and whether or not we were “made” to do this by them. The real story is no we were not. The concerns raised in MA are important as is our relationship with them, but it is important to remember that 2 years ago this month we made the Office 2003 XML Reference Schema available under extremely favorable terms for implementers. The discussions around the State of MA unquetionably put a fine point on the discussions about the future of how document formats were handled, but they were not the direct catalyst of this action on our part. ”

    Yeah. Got that. That’s a time line. It presents no argument or logic. In 2003, the XML Schema was made available. So what? The schema does not mean that any application on any platform can read and create Office compatible documents without a license or use of your patents.

    Which is why Mass. rejected the formats.

    NOW, and ONLY NOW, do you take this step.

    So can you please explain how that post explains ANYTHING?

  58. Matusow’s post answers nothing:

    “The obvious first take on this submission will be all about Massachussets and whether or not we were “made” to do this by them. The real story is no we were not. The concerns raised in MA are important as is our relationship with them, but it is important to remember that 2 years ago this month we made the Office 2003 XML Reference Schema available under extremely favorable terms for implementers. The discussions around the State of MA unquetionably put a fine point on the discussions about the future of how document formats were handled, but they were not the direct catalyst of this action on our part. ”

    Yeah. Got that. That’s a time line. It presents no argument or logic. In 2003, the XML Schema was made available. So what? The schema does not mean that any application on any platform can read and create Office compatible documents without a license or use of your patents.

    Which is why Mass. rejected the formats.

    NOW, and ONLY NOW, do you take this step.

    So can you please explain how that post explains ANYTHING?

  59. “You just need to use the download file and the latest Microsoft Media Player. ”

    You mean the one from 2 years ago? (I know there have been bug fixes, but really… ) “latest” is quite superfluous in that statement.

  60. “You just need to use the download file and the latest Microsoft Media Player. ”

    You mean the one from 2 years ago? (I know there have been bug fixes, but really… ) “latest” is quite superfluous in that statement.

  61. Roger, it’ll be about the same thing as WMV (I mean VC-1) which reveals that 95% of the technology in VC-1 is in fact in mpeg-4 and owned by companies other than Microsoft.

  62. Roger, it’ll be about the same thing as WMV (I mean VC-1) which reveals that 95% of the technology in VC-1 is in fact in mpeg-4 and owned by companies other than Microsoft.

  63. 5:45: Will I be able to open this file in Linux? In MacOS? In a non-Office program in Windows?

    Yes. It’s a text file inside a ZIP file. Yes. Yes.

    Will these documents be portable across platforms, without a degradation in quality or interoperability?

    Yes. Watch the video. It explains all.

    Robert…what happens when someone in Office 12 on Windows uses IRM to set a document as view only for a week, with no print or modification rights, and sends that to someone running Linux or *BSD, or Solaris?

    Will they be able to use that document in the way the IRM rights allow, or will they be told to view the document on an “approved” platform in an “approved application”?

    See, even if you set rights on a PDF file, as long as I can view it, I can read it in Acrobat Reader, Preview (on mac os x), in a browser with the PDF plugin from Schubert|IT, or with many, many other applications that aren’t provided by Adobe.

    Based on past IRM history, if you apply IRM, that document becomes, in a *best case* scenario, usable ONLY within Office on Mac OS X/Windows, or IE on Windows.

    IRM issues are ALSO a part of this, and MS has no credibility here.

  64. 5:45: Will I be able to open this file in Linux? In MacOS? In a non-Office program in Windows?

    Yes. It’s a text file inside a ZIP file. Yes. Yes.

    Will these documents be portable across platforms, without a degradation in quality or interoperability?

    Yes. Watch the video. It explains all.

    Robert…what happens when someone in Office 12 on Windows uses IRM to set a document as view only for a week, with no print or modification rights, and sends that to someone running Linux or *BSD, or Solaris?

    Will they be able to use that document in the way the IRM rights allow, or will they be told to view the document on an “approved” platform in an “approved application”?

    See, even if you set rights on a PDF file, as long as I can view it, I can read it in Acrobat Reader, Preview (on mac os x), in a browser with the PDF plugin from Schubert|IT, or with many, many other applications that aren’t provided by Adobe.

    Based on past IRM history, if you apply IRM, that document becomes, in a *best case* scenario, usable ONLY within Office on Mac OS X/Windows, or IE on Windows.

    IRM issues are ALSO a part of this, and MS has no credibility here.

  65. The Padilla Gambit; Microsoft Claims it Wants an Open Format

    I’ve been neglecting my blog for the last few days because of the hectic pace of my lifestyle this week, but there are a couple of things that I want to comment on.Jose PadillaAs you have probable heard by now, the federal government has finally dec…