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By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-03-07 Print this article Print

Some, like the state of Massachusetts, have already decided to throw their weight behind the ODF; Massachusetts is forging ahead with its implementation, set to go into effect in January 2007. "Theres no doubt that the momentum of ODF is gaining traction worldwide as more people every day are discovering that its a better way to preserve and access documents," said Ken Wasch, the president of the Software & Information Industry Association, an alliance member.
Read more here why the ODF is gaining support.
But Microsoft maintains that its goals are not really that different. When the software maker decided to open up its Office file formats last November and submitted them to be considered for recognition as a formal standard by Ecma International, Yates told eWEEK that the companys specification had been written to satisfy a certain number of customer requirements, much as the OpenDocument group had been. "We have had a very different and much more ambitious set of requirements to meet. So we are meeting the requirements of backward compatibility with all of the billions of documents that are in previous Office versions," he said. But Suns Phipps said in December that Microsoft, by refuting OASIS and the ODF and instead choosing to get international standards body Ecma to approve its file format standard, continues to embrace a proprietary and closed approach. "By getting its specification approved by a standards body that does not allow individual members is a strategy to make sure that Microsoft continues to control that standard and thus prevent it from becoming a baseline. At the same time, Microsoft is also trying to prevent a multilateral file format from being implemented," Phipps said. But one thing Microsoft and Sun do seem to agree on is the need for the two formats to interoperate. Microsofts Yates said that, while there are multiple points differentiating Microsofts format from the OpenDocument format, "both of them are open and there will likely be a very rich ecosystem between them and providing converters between them. In the past, OpenOffice has already supported our Office formats." For his part, Phipps has said that the ODF file format is also designed to be compatible with Microsoft Office, as the technical committee working on this knows it is going to be used to import and export a lot of Microsoft Office documents. Editors Note: This story was updated to add comments from IBMs Bob Sutor. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views 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


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