Microsoft Accuses IBM of Limiting Choice for Interop, Standards

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-02-14 Print this article Print

Microsoft has released an open letter accusing IBM of driving the effort to force the OpenDocument Format on users, thereby restricting choice and limiting adoption of its Office Open XML format.

Microsoft has released an open letter that accuses IBM of driving the effort to force the OpenDocument Format on users through public procurement mandates, which the Redmond, Wash., software maker views as an attempt to restrict choice and limit adoption of its Office Open XML format. Microsoft is also speaking out against what it sees as Big Blues coordinated and resource-intensive campaign to limit choice in the marketplace for interoperability and standards, regardless of the impact of those moves on customers and the broader ecosystem.
The full text of the four-page open letter issued Feb. 14 can be viewed here.
The open letter, signed by Tom Robertson, Microsofts general manager of interoperability and standards, and Jean Paoli, its general manager of interoperability and XML architecture, addresses what Microsoft refers to as all the hype—and smoke and mirrors obfuscation—that it believes surrounds interoperability. The use of ODF has been a controversial subject in Massachusetts. Click here to read more. "In XML-based file formats, which can easily interoperate through translators and be implemented side by side in productivity software, this exclusivity makes no sense—except to those who lack confidence in their ability to compete in the marketplace on the technical merits of their alternative standard. This campaign to limit choice and force their single standard on consumers should be resisted," they say in the letter. While Microsoft realizes that it needs to do a better job of explaining its interoperability vision, and has started doing so, it also believes it has a duty to highlight what IBM is doing and how that has a fundamentally negative implication for customers and the industry as a whole, Robertson told eWEEK in an interview. "The open letter is the first step in our decision to shine a bright light on IBM, which is taking concrete steps against choice in the marketplace. It was the only company in Ecma to try and stop the standardization of Open XML and to try and stop Ecma from forwarding the standard onto ISO, the International Standards Organization, for ratification," he said. Microsofts Open XML format recently hit roadblocks in the United States and abroad. Click here to read more. IBM is also driving a well-coordinated and resource-intensive effort around the world to stop the consideration of Open XML in ISO. "We also see IBM trying to promote government procurement mandates that would eliminate competition against ODF in the government procurement markets around the world," he said. Next Page: Choice.

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


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