Why the ODF Shuttered

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-11-27 Print this article Print

its Doors"> He also pointed out that the Massachusetts market requirements will continue to pose a problem for the implementation of ODF wherever Microsoft Office workgroups dominate day-to-day business processes. But Andy Updegrove, a partner with Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove and editor of the ConsortiumInfo.org standards blog, does not agree with this assessment. "I have no reason to doubt that Gary [Edwards] passionately believes in his approach, but I also have no reason to believe that the many people and vendors that support the existing path are any less determined to make ODF a success," Updegrove said.
"I would chalk this up to a difference of opinion over approach, and certainly not to a situation where the Foundation wanted to satisfy Massachusetts and the others did not," he said.
Updegrove also believes that the Foundation was all about its Da Vinci converter and little else. "From everything I can tell, the Foundation was always primarily about a converter, perhaps even from the very beginning, rather than actually promoting ODF as such. The fact that they abandoned ODF entirely once the converter didnt work out would seem to confirm this," he told eWEEK. Read more here about why Massachusetts threw its weight behind Office Open XML and the Open Document Format. Edwards also maintains that changes to Oasis membership rules, which eliminated the 501(c)(3) category and made only employees, rather than volunteers, eligible to be sponsored, helped force the Foundation to shutter its doors. At its height of activity, the Foundation sponsored 28 active members, but in December 2006, when Edwards went to renew the Foundations Oasis registration, he found that the 501(c)(3) category had been eliminated. However, he was assured that if he registered as a corporation it would not alter or change its 501(c)(3) sponsorship of volunteers. To read about why Microsoft accused IBM of limiting choice for interoperability and standards, click here. That was important as, under IRS rules, a 501(c)(3) non profits volunteers are the equivalent of employees, and Oasis rules stated that a corporation could only sponsor employees as participants, he told eWEEK. But, in late February 2007, Oasis told the Foundation that there were complaints from other members about its "excessive" sponsorship. So, in March 2007, Edwards says he culled all the dead wood, effectively cutting the foundation membership to 15 active members. "I thought we were in compliance at that point," he said. But then, in April 2007, Oasis enforced the corporate registration rules, insisting that only Foundation employees could be sponsored as Oasis participants. "Arguments ensued. It was bitter. We lost. This reduced us overnight from 15 very active members to just two employees. There was not much we could do, so the decision was made in April to simply let the Foundation fade off into that long goodnight," he told eWEEK. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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 www.eweek.com.


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