New standard gets mixed reception

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-04-01 Print this article Print


The format's approval is also likely to have little true impact on the future success of products that are compliant with the competing ODF (Open Document Format), said Andy Updegrove, a partner with Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove and editor of the ConsortiumInfo standards blog.

There are many reasons for this, Updegrove said, including the fact that the quality of Office Open XML is not what it should be yet, that there will be no compliant products for some time, that the billions of documents that already exist were not created in this format and that many governments do not want to support a monopoly.

Some of the members of the technical committee who supported the adoption of Office Open XML as an international standard welcomed the news.

Adam Farquhar, head of Digital Library Technology at the British Library and vice chair of Ecma TC45, said the move was "an important step forward for digital preservation and will help us fulfill the British Library's core responsibility of making our digital collections accessible for generations to come."

Martha Anderson, director of Program Management for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, agreed.

"The U.S. Library of Congress believes that the preservation of digital content for future generations will be much easier if widely used software applications use formats with full public specifications that will be maintained by the global community going forward. The approval of Office Open XML as an international standard has important benefits for libraries and other archival institutions for generations to come," Anderson said.

For Tom Ngo, chief technology officer of ISV NextPage and a member of Ecma TC45, the ISO/IEC approval puts control of Open XML "in the hands of the international community."

Officials at IBM, which has been the most vocal critic of the whole process, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel