Google Returns Microsoft's Serve in FUD Volley

What's that they say about how to serve revenge?

Days after Microsoft shredded Google Apps in a top 10 FUD list, Google dug another hole for the grave that will likely be reserved for the Microsoft's Open Office XML (OOXML) specification.

Zaheda Bhorat, a member of the search vendor's open source team, wrote Sept. 14 in a blog post that Google agreed with the International Standards Organization's (ISO) Sept. 4 decision not to fast track OOXML.

Bhorat (stop smirking, there is an "h" in this name) wrote that Google engineers conducted their own analysis of the OOXML specification and found several areas of concern. For example, Bhorat cited "dependencies on other Microsoft proprietary formats and their technical defects makes it difficult to fully implement."

Ouch! Did Google just overtly bash Microsoft's code? Wow.

Other issues Google has with the OOXML spec include the overall cost for vendors of implementing multiple standards and the fact that it isn't compatible with the Open Document Format (ODF), which passed muster with ISO in May 2006.

That last reason is the key, because ODF is pretty much the de facto standard that Google, IBM, Sun Microsystems and scores of other major high-tech vendors are backing. Google, a fervent supporter of open source software, has already integrated ODF into Google Docs and Spreadsheets.

What's amusing about this blog post to me is that Google didn't need to publish it. We already knew Google was behind ODF. Chances are good that if you're on board with ODF, you despise OOXML, or at the least, dismiss it out of hand as a bid for Microsoft to do its own thing.

After ISO announced its decision not to fast track OOXML Sept. 4, ODF supporters around the world issued statements proclaiming the death of the spec, however exaggerated that may or may not be.

Yet Google was silent. That is, until Microsoft last week questioned the viability of Google Apps in a FUD blast aimed at the Google-Capgemini partnership.

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. But by detailing all the weak links Google perceives in OOXML, Bhorat's post was a return shot across Microsoft's bow. Nothing like payback to keep those competitive fires burning.

But OOXML isn't dead... yet. ISO is reviewing technical assessments and will resolve the situation at a Ballot Resolution Meeting (oooh, can I come?!) Feb. 25-29, 2008.

But as some folks note, Microsoft still owns the productivity market, and unless ODF can iron out the kinks, it may not matter if OOXML passes muster.

Anyway, it's Microsoft's turn in its FUD tennis match with Google.