A reader sent me a link to Ephraim Schwartz's blog entry about ODF vs. OpenXML.  The author sets out to provide an explanation of what the big deal is in this space.  The first few paragraphs tell the clash-of-the-titans story fairly accurately.  But when the quotes start, then it gets kind of funny.

IBM's Bob Sutor is quoted or paraphrased in the article a few times.  What's odd about that is that Bob's cited statements are only ones about OpenXML.  Sutor isn't quoted once about the benefits of the ISO-approved ODF standard, the companies and governments worldwide that have signed on to the ODF alliance, the progress being made on ODF implementations or the next version.  He's just razzed for saying "OOXML" (which, after all, is what MS refers to it as -- Office Open XML).  

Then there's the quotes from the Microsoft side.  MS manages to spin the reporter into thinking that OpenXML is somehow a magic box that is backwards-compatible with Excel.  Funny, my version of Excel can't open XLSX files.  And OpenXML can only represent older Office file formats because the "standard" requires implementers to do funny things like "autoSpaceLikeWord95".  That doesn't sound particularly open to me.

The MS side says no worries, OpenXML really can be implemented by others, and hold out Dataviz as an example.  I went to their site and read up on what they support -- today, they only support viewing of Office 2007 documents.  That doesn't sound like they've implemented all 6000 pages of OpenXML to me.  Viewers are a long way from full document creation, editing, and round-tripping.

I'm just a sales guy, and I'm not involved in the standards discussions from IBM's perspective at all.  From where I sit, I don't disagree with Ephraim that IBM has a vested business interest in ODF -- we've put support for this international standard in Notes 8 because we believe openness and flexibility will provide value to customers who adopt Notes 8.  We've put support for the Office 97/2000/XP file formats in Notes 8, too, because we know that today, proprietary, single-vendor format documents rule.

The comments on Schwartz's blog entry seem to be doing a good job of balancing out the story.  I hope that they'll be examined for a worthwhile follow-up.

Link: InfoWorld Reality Check: ODF vs. OpenXML > (Thanks, Steve)

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