Microsoft Accuses IBM of Limiting Choice for Interop, Standards

Microsoft has released an open letter accusing IBM of driving the effort to force the OpenDocument Format on users, thereby restricting choice and limiting adoption of its Office Open XML format.

Microsoft has released an open letter that accuses IBM of driving the effort to force the OpenDocument Format on users through public procurement mandates, which the Redmond, Wash., software maker views as an attempt to restrict choice and limit adoption of its Office Open XML format.

Microsoft is also speaking out against what it sees as Big Blues coordinated and resource-intensive campaign to limit choice in the marketplace for interoperability and standards, regardless of the impact of those moves on customers and the broader ecosystem.

The full text of the four-page open letter issued Feb. 14 can be viewed here.

The open letter, signed by Tom Robertson, Microsofts general manager of interoperability and standards, and Jean Paoli, its general manager of interoperability and XML architecture, addresses what Microsoft refers to as all the hype—and smoke and mirrors obfuscation—that it believes surrounds interoperability.

/zimages/6/28571.gifThe use of ODF has been a controversial subject in Massachusetts. Click here to read more.

"In XML-based file formats, which can easily interoperate through translators and be implemented side by side in productivity software, this exclusivity makes no sense—except to those who lack confidence in their ability to compete in the marketplace on the technical merits of their alternative standard. This campaign to limit choice and force their single standard on consumers should be resisted," they say in the letter.

While Microsoft realizes that it needs to do a better job of explaining its interoperability vision, and has started doing so, it also believes it has a duty to highlight what IBM is doing and how that has a fundamentally negative implication for customers and the industry as a whole, Robertson told eWEEK in an interview.

"The open letter is the first step in our decision to shine a bright light on IBM, which is taking concrete steps against choice in the marketplace. It was the only company in Ecma to try and stop the standardization of Open XML and to try and stop Ecma from forwarding the standard onto ISO, the International Standards Organization, for ratification," he said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifMicrosofts Open XML format recently hit roadblocks in the United States and abroad. Click here to read more.

IBM is also driving a well-coordinated and resource-intensive effort around the world to stop the consideration of Open XML in ISO.

"We also see IBM trying to promote government procurement mandates that would eliminate competition against ODF in the government procurement markets around the world," he said.

Next Page: Choice.