Voice of the People

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-01-16 Print this article Print

"We believe this document addresses the comments of those national bodies, and hope that even more national bodies will vote in favor of the improved format later this quarter as a lot of good improvements to the format have taken place as a result of this hard work," Robertson said.

But he stressed that Microsoft believes the vote is of interest to many countries and people across the world, and that they should absolutely have a voice in that process, which needs to not be limited to Open XML proponents, but also include ODF supporters.

"The table should be big enough and inclusive of all. We are happy to see the process is more inclusive than it has been in the past," Robertson said. 

Asked by eWEEK what the impact would be on adoption if Open XML is not ratified by ISO/IEC, Robertson said it is already an open Ecma standard, is already available to the community and is already being rapidly adopted.

"We would expect that to continue. The question is whether the global community wants to have a voice in its evolution, and that is what the ISO/IEC ratification process will do," he said.

With regard to whether it is possible to create a perfect translator between different formats, Robertson said there is no such thing. The community needs to be involved in the process and translation could be optimized and continually improved, but the fact remains that the two formats are different, he said.

Turning to the issue of interoperability, Robertson said it is as important to customers as security and reliability. As such, Microsoft is working with others, including competitors, to achieve this.

For Microsoft, interoperability means connecting people, data and diverse systems, addressing real customer concerns and enabling innovation, he said.

But Robertson did acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to be done on the interoperability front. "Is it a perfect world? No. Are we going to resolve all these issues by next week? No. But the work here is ongoing," he said.

With regard to antitrust actions in the European Union, Robertson said the Court of First Instance decision in September was in large part about interoperability and the sharing of protocols, which the commission felt needed to be open and shared and Microsoft was working to make sure it complied with this.

The Commission's opening of two new investigations on Jan. 14 also have some element of interoperability and "we are working with them to ensure that we comply with all the rules and laws around the world," Robertson 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 www.eweek.com.


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