Office Open XML Down
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.""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 buildas 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.
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.