Following Suns Lead
?"> Microsoft had also looked at Suns recent approach with the ODF (OpenDocument Format), an XML-based OASIS international office document standard used to store data from desktop applications, such as word processing, presentation and spreadsheet software. It is meant to enable the free exchange of data between OpenDocument-compliant software packages.Read more here about Microsofts introduction of new Open XML formats in Office 12. Interestingly, Microsoft invites greater scrutiny, saying that "we hope that this approach will continue to get close scrutiny and will gain positive long-term confidence across the industry as a way to insure that document formats are usable by all types of developers with different intellectual property licensing philosophies." With regard to Microsofts CNS approach, the Q&A document said there is now no longer a license that people need to sign up for and nothing needs to be referenced. "Anyone is free to use the formats as they wish and do not need to make any mention or reference to Microsoft. Anyone can use or implement these formats to both read and write the formats with their technology, code, solution," the Q&A said. With regard to the transferability of solutions and compatibility with the GNU GPL (general public License), Microsoft stressed that anyone was now free to build a solution that worked with its formats. Microsoft first released its Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas in late 2003. Then, in June this year, officials said they planned to make the new XML file formats the default in Office 12, due next year, available to anyone under a royalty-free license. In an exclusive story, Ziff Davis Internet News then reported that that royalty-free license was incompatible with the GNU GPL and would thus prevent many free and open-source software projects from using the formats. Click here for more on what Richard Stallman, the president of the Free Software Foundation and the author of the GNU GPL, said about Microsofts royalty-free license. But Microsoft used the updated Q&A to explain that "the concerns raised with our previous license about attribution and sub-licensing are now eliminated. Because the GPL is not universally interpreted the same way by everyone, we cant give anyone a legal opinion about how our language relates to the GPL or other open-source software licenses. "But we believe we have removed the principal objections that people found with our prior license in a very simple and clear way," the document said. While anyone was also free to work with a subset of the specifications and to create extensions to the specifications, there is a codicil. "Subsets and supersets may create incompatibilities with other uses of the specifications and we want to provide some guidance on this topic in the future, but this will be guidance and not a mandate. "The key is that this is an assurance that no one will be sued for using intellectual property in the specifications as they are written," the document said. While the CNS currently applies to just the Office 2003 specifications "because they are the only ones currently available that are complete," as the up-to-date specifications are released to Ecma, they will be posted on the same Web site and Microsoft will apply the CNS to them, the Q&A said. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
"With minor changes to this for clarification, we felt that it was a simple, clear approach that would reassure customers, governments and developers that there would never be a barrier to working with the formats," the updated Q&A said.