Page 2

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-12-08 Print this article Print

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 platform—whether 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.
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.
"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.

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