Asked about the claim that Open XML is not universally interoperable as it has ties to Windows, which prevents full interoperability with other platforms, Yates said Open XML has no ties to Windows. "This is a bogus argument. What Open XML does is enable embedding code from any platformwhether that is Java code from Linux or ActiveX code from Windows. Applications are allowed to do this as they have done this in the past. A lot of the committees work was on ensuring it was cross-platform friendly," he said."That claim is particularly odd when the ODF format does not include anything for formulas in spreadsheets and is being revised in separate OASIS committees to address the gaps it has with the Open XML format, including accessibility, support for the integration of external XML data and the lack of formulas," he said. For its part, Microsoft is investing in the coexistence of the two specifications, including the plug-ins for them, and has created an open-source project around this so that everyone will have access to the code and be able to see the decisions that are being made. Read more here about how some have deemed Microsofts open-source translator project a short-term fix. "We are bending over backward at this point to reassure customers that we really are in favor of coexistence and choice," Yates said. "They can choose ODF or Open XML, and whatever choice they make is right for them and we will work hard to make it work." Some, like Melanie Wyne, executive director of the Initiative for Software Choice, in Washington, agree. "Though Office Open XMLs detractors decry competition as confusing to consumers, the consensus Ecma vote belies their argument," Wyne said. "Having more to choose from, governments and consumers will be better off, period. This means that consumers will have more choice in the marketplace. An essential outcome of the Ecma process is the creation and acceptance of another competitive document standard." Ecma has a special relationship with the ISO, which allows it to prepare the standard for ISO consideration. "As a result of that, the ISO has agreed to free up the process under which that standard is considered," Yates said. While there is no set timeframe for this, it would probably take about 12 months, as there is an early process that looks at the actual work, followed by a five-month process where it is considered and evaluated by the standard organizations in each country, followed by a period of final publication, he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
There is also no truth to claims that the Open XML specification does not define macros or embedded scripts, Yates said, noting that the specification has been there for many months now and the final specification is there for all to see.