The nature of their protest will evolve

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-04-02 Print this article Print


In regard to how to change the process now that the standard has been ratified, David Mitchell, senior vice president of IT research at analyst firm Ovum, said he believes very little will change in the short term.

"Those who were protesting and opposing the Open XML progress through the standards process will still oppose it. The nature of their protest will evolve. To begin with, there have been challenges to the process-and these will continue," Mitchell said. "Those who are supporters of Open XML will need to move into the implementation phase, because standards are simply documentation. One of the companies that many will look to take a lead with implementation is Microsoft."

The standard that Microsoft initially submitted through Ecma was revised and improved by the standards process and, as such, the software giant will need to update its existing products and planned future products to support the format that was actually ratified, Mitchell noted.

"It is likely to take some time for this to be completed, and Microsoft will also need to provide tools to convert from the existing Office 2007 formats into the new Open XML standard. Other ISV developers like Apple, IBM, Sun, et al. will also need to put their plans in place for supporting this standard-it would not be wise for the developer community to ignore it," Mitchell said.

The ratification of Microsoft's file formats also does not mean the demise of ODF (Open Document Format), which is also an ISO-ratified document standard.

"What it does mean is that developers of software that works with documents will have to support both formats, and that these developers will need to compete on the basis of the intrinsic merits of their products rather than using a standards body lockout-from either the ODF or the Open XML camp," Mitchell said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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