Office Open XML Down

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-09-07 Print this article Print

but Not Out"> So why is having OOXML approved as an ISO standard so important to Microsoft? Revenue, said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, in San Francisco. "The Office division [at Microsoft] racked up some $15 billion in revenues last year, and anyone would want to hang on to a franchise like that as hard as they could," Zemlin said. "ODF represents the first credible threat to that franchise since it coalesced more than 15 years ago. Microsoft also clearly sees Linux on the desktop as its next big challenge. Desktop users will need compatible applications to run on those desktops, and the more successful ODF is, the more credible those Linux desktops will be."
Microsoft also seems to have misjudged the impact of the fallout from the rejection of the vote to make OOXML an ISO standard, the most significant of which is the credibility boost the vote gave ODF, which is already an ISO standard.
"That has ripple effects, such as providing greater incentives for other developers to implement it, and for customers to take ODF-compliant products more seriously," Zemlin said. "It will also have the reverse impact on Microsofts partners: How much work would you want to put into complying with OOXML right now if it might change radically tomorrow?" Even more significant is the fact that, for customers, as ODF gets some meaningful wins, the momentum behind the perception that there really is a viable alternative to Office will build—as will the realization that this alternative is cheaper, has more options and is more open, Zemlin said. The ODF Alliances Marcich agreed, saying that governments worldwide are demanding products based on open standards in their procurement, with nine national governments, four regional or state governments, and more than 50 government agencies having already adopted policies calling for the use of ODF for document exchange. What will happen during the next six months is open to debate, but to Zemlin, Microsoft officials face two choices: to make a good-faith effort to meet the objections in the middle and truly satisfy those who voted no, or see if they can bulldoze the industry a second time. "They need to decide whether they can meet in the middle, as well as how much proprietary advantage theyre willing to give up," Zemlin said. "If they take this alternative seriously, I expect that they will turn enough votes to eventually achieve approval. If they take the second, bulldozer approach, I expect that there will be an even bigger backlash, as there are many eyes watching." Marcich does not have high expectations and thinks that Microsoft will keep moving the goalposts to find the configuration of voting countries necessary to satisfy the two-thirds requirement. 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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