Contradictions in Microsoft's OOXML openness

by Nicholas Petreley

There is a fascinating article on Groklaw called Searching for Openness in Microsoft's OOXML and Finding Contradictions. One of the most relevant comments in the article is "So, they plan to be the only one in the Linux world that can actually interoperate with Microsoft. How do you think they will achieve that? By sharing? On the contrary, they already market themselves as uniquely interoperable, which means they get to interoperate and you don't, unless you are their paying customer." There is also the Novell comment, "Only Novell has Microsoft’s endorsement as its partner to drive Linux-Windows interoperability."

The article aptly mentions that Microsoft is still in court over the allegation that it is deliberately withholding API information from competitors in defiance of the 2002 judgment. The point here is that Microsoft cannot be trusted as a partner or competitor. This adds fuel to the controversy over whether or not the Microsoft-Novell deal is a good thing for anyone but Microsoft.

Having said that, the more important reading material is the article, The Contradictory Nature of OOXML. It explores the holes, the vendor-dependencies, and other contradictions in the "openness" of OOXML.

While I think the Groklaw article is worth reading, I believe the exclusivity Novell has in this deal is a red herring. It's bad, but it's not the real problem. Bob Sutor put his finger on the real problem in this article where he appropriately suggests that Microsoft isn't interested in interoperability, but is interested in intraoperability, which is quite different.

Bob says, "when the software provider comes out and says “we just created a consortium to provide interoperability with our products,