Stephen O’Grady of Redmonk provides some in-depth analysis on the news than Microsoft will sponsor an open source project to build tools that enable the conversion between its Open XML formats in Office 2007 and OpenDocument (ODF). Official press release here and Office PM Brian Jones’ post is here.
Back to Stephen’s Q & A format post:
Q: So the question, then, is this: will Microsoft’s current technical approach meet the needs of governments and public sector clients abroad? Or will they focus on its shortcomings? Or, more cynically, do you think that the decisions to embrace ODF were strictly anti-Microsoft and this news, therefore, will be irrelevant?
A: Let’s take that last bit first. I do not believe that interest in ODF is strictly, or even predominantly, anti-Microsoft. Do Microsoft’s competitors have a vested interest in the format as a lever for loosening Microsoft’s grip on customers? Certainly. But I’ve maintained all along that it’s in customer’s best interests that Microsoft compete on the basis of its implementation rather than ownership of the format. Moreover, I think that a Microsoft Office package that supports ODF would be widely adopted, and have had customers confirm that for me.
Talking of competitors, I found the reaction by the IBM VP of Standards and Open Source, Bob Sutor to be an interesting one – a mix of praise and shouts of ‘more to do’.
Stephen is updating his post with links to more reactions to this news.
“It’s going to be made available under the BSD license, and anyone can provide feedback, submit bugs, and of course directly contribute to the project.”
Update: Joe Wilcox of Microsoft Monitor (Jupiter Research) has a message for Microsoft:
“For Microsoft: I would encourage the company to closely watch this project, which could be incubation for others. A number of other commercial vendors use open-source software or community involvement to improve products. Microsoft has previously made overtures to the open-source community, but this project goes further in many respects.”