Corel, Novell Stump for OpenDocument Format

The software makers get behind Massachusetts' push away from Microsoft Office and urge other companies to adopt the standard.

A week after stating that the OpenDocument standard requires some development in order to be used, Corel has reaffirmed its commitment to the OpenDocument Format, and called for its adoption.

In an interview published on BetaNews last week, Corel Corp.s Richard Carriere noted that Corel is a founding member of OASIS, the consortium responsible for the OpenDocument standard. But he stated that theres no adoption of the standard, and that some development needs to be done "to make it into a real product."

In an attempt to both clarify the companys position and put more emphasis on its commitment to ODF, Corels communication manager for WordPerfect said, "Corel is pleased to support the continued development and adoption of the OASIS OpenDocument Format, and Corel strongly endorses ODF, much as we strongly support the adoption of open standards industry-wide."

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about the group promoting OpenDocument.

Novell Inc. has also given more prominence to its role in the ODF movement . Although the company has been active in promoting the format in the past, this is the first day that Novell has been officially listed on the membership roster of the technical committee at OASIS.

Both Novell and Corel had representatives in the discussion of ODF adoption by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state approved a plan to transition to ODF from Microsoft Corp.s Office file formats, although there is still debate over the issue, with hearings proposed by the states senate.

Before Massachusetts issued its decision, Microsoft tried unsuccessfully to convince the state that pursuing ODF would be costly and unnecessary, given the open features of the companys current and upcoming releases.

"Weve shipped a version of Office 2003 with an open format and weve expressed more commitment to the approach in our next Office releases," said Alan Yates, Microsoft general manager. "We feel that were not being given enough of an opportunity to explain how openness is possible."

What is likely to become an issue for Microsoft is its definition of "open," said Ian Campbell, CEO and president of Nucleus Research. "Microsofts openness still has some proprietary aspects to it. Its possible that they might have to make changes to support OpenDocument, to fall in line with the rest of the industry."

Aside from whether Microsoft will actually leap onto the OpenDocument train, the emphasis on ODF by Corel and Novell bolsters Massachusetts decision, Campbell believes.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about if Microsoft is running scared of OpenDocument.

"It makes it easier for the state to justify going in that direction, and gives more weight to their argument," he said. "It may also make it easier for others to follow their lead."

The reaffirmations by Corel and Novell should also be beneficial to ODF adoption, said RedMonk analyst and co-founder Stephen OGrady.

"Corel has a strong position in vertical markets, like law firms, which makes their support of the standard important," he noted. "Novell is probably on board with this because they sell Linux desktops, and any move away from the Microsoft format is good for that effort."

As more companies catch the ODF train, it should continue to gain momentum and traction, OGrady noted.

"Each commercial entity that joins and lends their support to ODF gives it more credibility," he said.

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