Another word-processor supporting Open XML

It looks like AbiWord, which is an open source word processing application is now working on Open XML support.

They finished up inline formatting about a month ago, and I’m not sure what they are currently working on.

So, now we have AbiWord; iWork; OpenOffice; MS Office; Corel; Gnumeric; iPhone; NeoOffice; Palm reader (and a whole host of other applications and tools) supporting the Open XML format. Huge momentum, and we’ve only just started.

ISO Update

The 2nd round is now complete and the votes are all cast. I haven’t seen the official numbers yet, but some of the early reports show that we already have about 74% of the voting countries in support of Open XML ISO approval. That’s actually quite a bit higher than I was expecting (I thought we’d be closer to 60% at this point). There are two criteria that you must hit for final approval (2/3 or P members approval; 3/4 of all voting members approval), and it sounds like we’ll be really close on both fronts.

This large scale support should set us up really nicely going into stage 3 of the fast track process. The Ecma TC 45 editor (with the help of TC 45) is now going to sort through all the comments coming in and work towards a more improved specification based on those comments. At that point we’ll see a number of the countries who voted “no with comments” switch their vote over to “yes” and we should see Open XML approved after the ballot resolution meeting next year.

Between now and then though there is going to be a ton of work. There will be thousands and thousands of comments to work through. I’m confident that we’ll be able to get some solid solutions in place that make it easier to sort and address the comments, but it’s going to be pretty intense. I think we have some great momentum right now though which should make it easier for everyone to work together on reaching consensus.

-Brian Quote of the Day:

Accenture Technology Consulting – Singapore

“Open XML will be a key standard to allow companies to share electonic documents. Approving this standard is key to move to true globalisation and provide services to anyone, anywhere, at any time in the world. Therefore I provide my full support and request that the standard gets approved.”

– Andrew Weekes – Senior Executive


Comments (86)

  1. n/a says:

    the numbers seems to match for me

    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 09:41 AM EDT

    I am happy for the negative results and do not want to nit-pick PJ’s commentary, but I think it is clear where the MS numbers are coming from and they seem to match the official results quoted:

       Microsoft is telling it that 74% of all qualified votes approved: "The results show that 51 ISO members, representing 74 percent of all qualified votes, stated their support for ratification of Open XML."

       That is downright silly. If that were true, it would have been approved, not disapproved. All you need for approvel is any number greater than 66.6%. They are, of course, counting P and O members in one bunch. The actual percentages go like this:

       P-Members voting: 17 in favor out of 32 = 53.12% (requirement >= 66.66%)

       Member bodies voting: 18 negative votes out of 69 = 26.08%

    MS quotes 51 in favour and 74%. The last line of the above quote from the official result says 18 negative out of 69 for member bodies voting, that leaves 69-18=51, just like the MS number, furthermore 100%-26%=74% again just as in the MS report. So they are correct, 51 or 74% was not negative, i.e. you can spin that as positive… Zs.Zs.

  2. n/a says:

    Basically, the 74% approval is bogus spin.  It was a 53% approval (ie: not approved) based on the countries that were allowed to approve the standard.  The O-members voted overwhelmingly to support it (hmmmmm), but their votes only count to veto the standard, not to approve.

    You can’t dumb down ISO numbers to a simple %.  The real numbers are more complicated.  Brian Jones should be a little more careful not to spin stuff so poorly.

    This is a more accurate set of numbers that indicates whether the vote hit one of two important markers (positive P votes > 2/3 or negative total votes > 1/4).  If you read it this way, it both failed to pass (53%<66% and it would have been vetoed anyways P&O>25%):

    P+: 53%, PO-: 26% (P+ votes = 53%, P&O- votes = 26%)

  3. says:

    Chill out guys, no need to get yourself too worked up.

    There are two things you look at:

    1. Of the overall vote count, 74% approve Open XML.

    2. Of the P-members, 53% approve Open XML.

    In both cases while we don’t quite hit the required number of votes, we already see that the majority of countries support Open XML. In addition to this, many of the P-Members who voted no have said they will change their vote to "yes" once their comments have been dealt with.


  4. n/a says:

    Considering that it failed to pass with a well-stuffed ballot, I’d say that this is pretty bad news for the standard.

    We’ll still need to figure out how many of those countries that approved did so with a flawed ballot process (yes, we still see reports of bribery, etc).  

    Note that some of the abstain votes were the result of votes that would have been "no" if it wasn’t for the tampering of Microsoft as well.

    The real numbers will certainly be lower than the current showing.

    The ideal end result would be OOXML being shredded and merged into ODF as a result of the ISO comments.  I don’t think we need two competing standards out there.

  5. RichL says:

    So basically, instead of open source developers working to implement one standard for office documents, they get to implement two currently incompatible formats (one a standard, the other a "possible" standard that will most likely be modified in the next six months).  Fun!

  6. Wu MingShi says:


    It’s not like you to buy into Microsoft’s spin by hiding the fact that OOXML failed to get approval this round especially given that a lot of energy were spent on both sides (and that includes you) to influence the event.

    While it is right that we now need to focus on the next stage, i.e., the BRM stage, to casually cast aside this big "check-point" as if it does not happen is downright not the style of the Brian Jone’s I know from this blog.

    I’m slightly disappointed in you for not reporting that. I understand how and why MS’s PR machine will choose to do that, but I did not expect this from you.

  7. says:

    Wu MingShi,

    From my perspective the key phase of this process was always going to be dealing with the incoming comments. That’s where the real technical work will be done. Reguardless of the outcome of the vote, we would have moved onto dealing with the NB’s comments; and so from my perspective not much has changed.

    I understand why this would appear to be spin, but it really isn’t. Obviously it would have been great if we already had the needed number of votes for approval, but we’re pretty close and it’s the work that happends over the next 6 months that will really have the greatest impact.


  8. Francis says:

    What great news! This seems like an ideal outcome for everybody: Microsoft and its users will get an international standard, ISO members will get a standard that integrates their comments, and the entire process will improve the standard and add to its legitimacy.

    I’m sure that higher-ups would rather not have to entertain comments–but for Brian & co., it’s a golden opportunity to tie up all the loose ends they may have wanted to earlier but could not due to time and budget constraints.

    Incidentally, I hope the issue of platform-independence/portability in file paths gets addressed in the comment review process. (E.G., in WordprocessingML files, fields only allow absolute MS-DOS paths–adding a switch for relative paths/URIs, modifying them to use relationships, or replacing affected fields with user-friendly content controls that can refer to files outside of the package.)

  9. Brian,

    I’m afraid I have to agree with Wu MingShi on this.  I really would expect better of you.  In particular, it is the worst sort of spin to say "In addition to this, many of the P-Members who voted no have said they will change their vote to "yes" once their comments have been dealt with."  As you know full well, there were only three ways to vote in this phase, and the "No with comments" vote ALWAYS means that you will change your vote to "Yes" if the comments are dealt with.  That does not imply a greater acceptance of the standard, and it is quite insulting to try that spin here.  You audience here seems split between those who favor Open XML and those who do not, and none need a whitewash of what the results to date are.

    That said, I am glad to see the focus will go into improving the standard now.  I hope the comments resolution phase is a productive one, and that substantial improvements can turn this into a standard everybody could support (except maybe that penguin person yesterday).

    – Ben Langhinrichs

  10. Miguel de Icaza says:

    I for one applaud Brian’s commitment to go over the issues, prioritize them and fix the issues that have been pointed out.   The end result should be fantastic.

    There is no perfect spec and there is no perfect program, they all have bugs.   The extra QA will ironically make OOXML a more complete and rounded up specification than ODF is.


  11. Luke says:

    Hi Brian,

    France & New Zealand, if I recall correctly have suggested on their ballots that OOXML and ODF get merged into one format, with the best of each being made into one single standard.

    I believe this would be the best solution for end-users around the world. Is there any chance of this happening?


  12. Robert Lilly says:

    Microsoft has woke up to a new world! Maybe you should stop trying to stuff a defect standard down our throats and start working with the larger community to establish a SINGLE VIABLE OFFICE FORMAT which satisfies everyone. Now that makes sense does it not MS. Wisdom is not on your site here, if you keep pushing this monopolistic format, resentment will only get stronger towards MS especialy as more news about irregularities comes out. Where there is smoke there is fire, Sweden is not the only case of corruption.

    The balance of power has already shifted dramatically. The powers that be, the G8 was the most telling sign. 5 votes NO, 2 votes YES (both very suspect especially Germany) and 1 abstaining.

  13. Chris says:

    I’m not sure why everyone is so hung up on having one single standard. People seem to forget that choice is what drives innovation. Sure one standard to worry about would be nice, if that standard was perfect, but we all know that’s impossible. Regardless whether you are in the ODF camp or not, you have to agree that having OOXML as a challenger will force ODF to push forward to compete, or be left in the dust. ODF is not the end all be all of document formats and has a number of its own flaws.

    I also question those who say that even once OOXML becomes an ISO standard that it won’t be truly open since MS has the major software package that supports it and therefore can control if what it produces complies or not, therefore controlling the market. Talk about conspiracy theory. Anyone heard of PDF? What’s the difference between Adobe creating that format and pushing it to ISO and MS in this situation?

    What is better? Having millions of people using a format that is controlled by a private corporation or millions of people using a format that is controlled by a standards body? I’ll take the latter. Whether that format is OOXML, PDF, ODF or something else is a choice that you can make. If you don’t want to support OOXML in your software, then don’t. It a choice.

    To me, the naysayers that post comments here seem to be an angry, paranoid bunch, and it is rare that there is actually a negative constructive comment. Most of it just sounds like anti-MS rhetoric rather than educated conversation.

  14. Robert Lilly says:

    Chris, PDF is easy to implement and has been in 100s of apps, OOXML is impossible unless you are a giant multinational corporation, there are 10000 pages to the format.

    And as for all the ODF to ooxml convertors and visa versa, they all bad and will always be a problem, especially when dealing with documents with tables, graphics and frames inserted in them.

    In this case there is no choice which will help innovation. They cannot even get ooxml right on a Mac!! It simply is a con job by MS, using deceptive terms like "Open" to get a bogus format approved as a ISO.

  15. Bruce says:

    Chris: "I’m not sure why everyone is so hung up on having one single standard. People seem to forget that choice is what drives innovation."

    Ask yourself this: how do consumers benefit from having two incompatible high-definition video disk formats? Compare that against the innovation and market growth that happened around DVD.

    I’m on the ODF TC, and so hardly disinterested. But I’m not beholden to any corporate interests (either MS or its competitors), and I’d genuinely like to see some real effort at collaboration between the two TCs. I’d like to see this because I believe it hurts consumers and market innovation to have two completely different standards for the same thing. There’s no technical reason why it must be so.

  16. Considering that OOXML documents 3-4 products (depending on how you count) it comes down to 1,500 pages per product roughly.

    As a specification, that is not too bad.   And some folks have mentioned that it can be shrunk down significantly by removing fluff and using a smaller font (like the ODF spec does) bringing it down to a very manageable space.

    As Brian has pointed out, there are various efforts to implement support for OOXML.   And none of the implementers seem to be having show-stoppers at this point.   The cries are mostly coming from people that are not implementing the standard.   A high tech version of "Will someone think of the children?"


  17. Now that M$ has to deal with the BRM and actually try and fix the broken standard, are they going to honour the reputed claims that they told members who vote "yes with comments" that they will be taken into account during the review and modification phase?

    As far as I can tell from the rules, there is no documented requirement for this to happen.


  18. Luke says:

    Having two standards that overlap is not beneficial to anybody in this scenario.

    I’m on my hands and knees, I beg both the ODF camp and Microsoft to shut up with your bickering and to collaborate on one standard for all documents.

    Not only will it be good for the computing world as a whole, it will help Microsoft gain the international respect it so clearly wants.

  19. hAl says:

    It looks like it is all about the P-members.

    17 out of 32 is low.

    they will need 22 out of 33 so there is a lot of work to convince ate least 6 P-members to change their vote

  20. Neil says:

    I notice that the AbiWord support is _input_only_. This is scarcely "support" for MSOOXML;  it’s the sort of thing one would do for a legacy document format.

    I generally read "support" of a file format to mean the ability to read _and_ write, not just import.  

  21. says:


    There are already a ton of formats out there, with ODF and Open XML being the two most recent. We’re also seeing that both formats have a growing level adoption in the community. Trying to merge the two formats would just mean we are adding a third format to the whole mess though.

    Let’s have both formats out there, and see which ones get picked up. If everyone starts using ODF, then Microsoft is obviously going to have to focus on improving it’s support for ODF. If everyone is using Open XML, then it’ll be a good thing that it’s owned by the standards community and not a single company.



    I don’t think it should be too difficult. There are a few countries I’m aware of that have some things they’d like to see addressed that should not prove too problematic. In the coming months we’ll have a better view of how close the various countries are on their position, and what they key concerns are.



    If that’s the case, then you should probably ask the ODF groups to knock off a bunch of the applications that they claim have ODF support.


  22. Luc Bollen says:

    Brian, "This large scale support should set us up really nicely going into stage 3 of the fast track process. The Ecma TC 45 editor (with the help of TC 45) is now going to sort through all the comments coming in and work towards a more improved specification based on those comments."

    As very well said by Rob Weir ( : "The work should have been done back in Ecma, before submission to ISO. Fast Track is not a standards development process. It is intended for standards that are already completed and for which there is already industry consensus, to quickly transpose them into International Standards. Fast Track starts at the last stage, the Approval stage, of ISO’s 5 steps. By this point it is assumed that the text is complete, accurate, and has already been thoroughly reviewed. Since JTC1 NB’s have registered hundreds of technical flaws in OOXML, it is clear now that it never should have been put on Fast Track in the first place. The types of errors that are being reported now should have been found and fixed back at the committee draft stage or earlier, in Ecma. This defeat is an indictment of Ecma’s shoddy review. It is an abuse of ISO process for Microsoft to try to ram it through Fast Track in this state. They deserve the slap in the face they have been given for this poor judgment."

  23. Andrew Sayers says:


    I’m really glad to hear you say you’re interested in co-operation.  The top item on my document format wishlist is a list of features the ODF TC would like to take from the Office Open XML spec for use in future revisions – what do you think the chances are of that happening, and where would I go to find it?

    – Andrew

  24. says:


    Rob is just beating his drum as usual. ODF had huge gaping holes that they are still addressing today over a year after it’s ISO adoption. Open XML just happened to get a super critical review so the type of errata that would normally have been addressed in V 1.1 by Ecma are being called out instead by the national bodies.

    Ask any national body participant how closely they looked at ODF when it came through and you’ll find the response fairly suprising.

    There are also some interesting design decisions that TC45 made where a number of the national bodies disagree. That has nothing to do with the quality of the spec though, they are merely disagreements on the design. Since this is a consensus process we’ll need to find the design that works best given everyone’s feedback.

    – Brian

  25. Stephen says:

    hAL several NSBs specifically called out the conditional approval nature of their votes. It would be a mistake to assume that all of the disapprove votes are votes for rejection.

    IBM and buddies lobbied hard for all technical comments to be submitted with disapprove votes.

    I don’t think 5 approve votes from the disapprove and abstentions is going to be too contentious – there’s a huge amount of duplication in the comments I’ve seen, with dates and vml being the two most common issues.

  26. W^L+ says:

    Wu MingShi:

    Regardless of what Mr. Jones may personally believe, his job is to promote the party line on Office Not-so-open XML.  Cut him some slack.

    Personally, I’d like to see MSFT and OASIS sit down with China and come up with a single, extensible, "IP"-safe XML-based set of file formats that reuse existing standards and are adequately specified (but no more) for all office suite makers to implement and build upon.

    I would like to see the saber-rattling stop and peaceful discussions begin.

  27. Luke says:

    Thank you, Brian for your response. I guess I was naive to expect large corporations to stop being so nearsighted.

    I guess we are stuck with another HDDVD-vs-Bluray type debacle in our future, where everybody loses in the long run.

    I know that deep inside you agree that co-operating with ODF to create one standard is the right choice, but as usual the higher-ups have their own agenda.

  28. Bruno says:

    I find it amusing that the anti-OOXML posters here are the angrier segment of the posters.  You guys seem to be upset that Brian and his team aren’t down-in-the-dumps, depressed, on the virge of giving up, and committing suicide. lol

    You guys "won" this round, but are scared to death that it might be a phyricc victory, and that Brian and his team are still confident and still going forward only heightens those fears.  You guys are the most angry "winners" I’ve seen in a long time. 🙂

  29. n/a says:

    I guess we’ll see how well Microsoft’s standard goes over when people know to expect all the bribery, cheating and various other shenanigans that Microsoft pulled out to get their standard passed.  

    Does Brian Jones know the people doing this, control them or is he blissfully unaware of what they are doing?

  30. -Scot says:

    Is there a list of applications that are certified to write OOXML with full fidelity ?  

    Most of the applications you mentioned are read only OOXML / import one way, but I am unaware of any major applications that can write OOXML.

  31. Rich says:

    "Between now and then though there is going to be a ton of work. There will be thousands and thousands of comments to work through…"

    Pity MS is going to spend some of their own money to finish baking their own spec. Oh well, it was worth a shot to just throw ‘er out there. A couple more attempts and you guys will have a nice standard!


  32. MiliTux says:


    > I find it amusing that the anti-OOXML posters here

    >are the angrier segment of the posters.


    >You guys "won" this round, but are scared to death that

    >it might be a phyricc victory, and that Brian and his

    >team are still confident and still going forward only

    >heightens those fears.  You guys are the most angry

    >"winners" I’ve seen in a long time. 🙂

    Perhaps we’re "angry" because we see how Microsoft has tried it’s usual bullying tactics to get this format pushed through.  Perhaps we’re angry because of the high number of brand new P-members who just *happen* to vote "Yes".  I wasn’t aware Kazakhstan was such a technological centre?

    Oh, and FYI, it’s not a Pyrrhic victory, that doesn’t apply here.  Read up on what Pyrrhic victory actually means.

  33. nim-nim says:


    > Rob is just beating

    > his drum as usual.

    > ODF had huge gaping

    > holes that they are

    > still addressing

    > today over a year

    > after it’s ISO

    > adoption.

    So ODF has problems. Big news. No human creation is ever perfect. OASIS is addressing them as fast as they are pointed out (without needing public pressure if I may point out since they already passed ISO)

    OTOH despite months of public outcry and well publicised problems in OOXML we’ve yet to see any significant change in the format. We do see a huge expenditure of energy and dirty tactics to avoid acknowledging there is anything to fix.

    As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing more to add. OOXML started from a much weaker and technically flawed point than ODF, and has not been moving in the right direction since. The only question as an IT customer is if ISO will manage to force MS/ECMA to salvage a semi-sane subset out of the 6000 pages of OOXML draft or if we’ll have to keep blacklisting any form of MS Office format from our backend systems.

  34. David Farning says:

    >Another word-processor supporting Open XML

    To say Abiword supports OOXML is a bit of a stretch.

    You must have more confidence in the open source development model then I do.  One Google summer of code intern working for a couple of months can implement a full fledged document standard;)

  35. Alan Bell says:

    I can get the Microsoft figures to add up if I count 69 total O and P members and then count all the approvals, approvals with comments AND ABSTAINS as votes in support. 51/69 is 74%.

    Don’t you think it a little unfair to count countries who abstained due to corrupted votes as supporting voices? Isn’t that adding insult to injury?

  36. Emmanuel Seyman says:

    > Don’t you think it a little unfair to count countries who abstained due to corrupted votes as supporting voices? Isn’t that adding insult to injury?

    I’m a little ticked off about this as well. Hopefully, these countries will be able to give their opinion at the  BRM.

  37. hAl says:


    Alan, there were actually 51 approval votes and 18 dispproval votes in the total vote.

    So your suggestion that they counted the abstain votes to get to that number of 51 is incorrect !!!

  38. Yawar Amin says:

    Brian, I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now, and have enjoyed your posts talking about the details of the OOXML formats. Upto this point I was unsure if I should `pick a side’ in this format war, but now I have to say I agree with Chris [Tuesday, September 04, 2007 4:15 PM]. There’s no reason to get worked up over this whole thing. Microsoft is simply responding to market demand for a modern, XML-based file format <i>which works well with Microsoft Office,</i> and it is doing so in a competitive way.

    Whoever wants to implement ODF, let them do it. And whoever wants to go for OOXML, let them do that. Having incompatible standards in the foreseeable future won’t kill us — we’ve been living with incompatible standards since the dawn of computing. Ultimately those organisations which need compatibility will always decide on which way to go. After all, governments already mandate different currencies, accounting standards, tax codes, laws etc. If China uses OOXML and India uses ODF, I’m sure they will find some way to communicate with each other.

    Someone compared the file format war to the HD-DVD/Blu-ray struggle. That’s a good comparison but think about this: would you see such high quality media as these without the intense competition going on between Sony and everyone else? That’s not how the world works. Have some faith in the free market model over centrally planned systems!

    For those accusing Microsoft of using their entrenched monopoly position to force OOXML on the world, think about this: are they going to leave out support for their own standard in MS Office? And which is a higher priority for them, their own standard or ODF? Obviously you’re not going to see ODF support in Office from day 1. I’m guessing it will happen eventually, somehow or the other.

    In the meanwhile, if someone has a serious beef about this monopoly thing, let them take Microsoft to court on it under current antitrust laws or something. It may be a slow process and even accomplish nothing, but it’s better than this shameful bickering.

  39. Emmanuel Seyman says:

    > would you see such high quality media as these without the intense competition going on between Sony and everyone else?

    Oh yes, definitely (never under-estimate Hollywood’s ability to sell you the same film on a different media as many times as possible).

    > Have some faith in the free market model over centrally planned systems!

    A number of people see ECMA’s attempt to pass a second file standard for office apps and Microsoft’s calls to standardize as many formats as possible as a barrier to market entry. Standards are supposed to lower these, not raise them.

  40. John says:


     I know I keep asking this, but I don’t think you’ve replied (sorry if I did miss a reply).

     If you do indeed like the idea of two standards and let people decide between them, does that mean that MS Office will support ODF?

     Also a while ago you said that the binary format specifications are free to get.  I’ve gone through the process and now at the point where I have to mail the forms off.  Do you know if it’s possible to get the formats online instead?  Also if I have read the terms and conditions correctly, I think I’m allowed to put the specifications online.  Can I confirm that I’m allowed to put them online once I have them?


  41. Craig Matthews says:


    "OTOH despite months of public outcry and well publicised problems in OOXML we’ve yet to see any significant change in the format. We do see a huge expenditure of energy and dirty tactics to avoid acknowledging there is anything to fix."

    Do you mean the public outcry of so-called "file format experts" who complain that they can’t willy-nilly change XML data without paying attention to the schema or spec?

  42. Emmanuel Seyman says:

    > Do you mean the public outcry of so-called "file format experts" who complain that they can’t willy-nilly change XML data without paying attention to the schema or spec?

    I believe he means the public outcry of people who would prefer that OOXML reuse ISO and W3C standards so that they don’t have to re-invent the wheel all over again.

  43. nim-nim says:

    @Craig Matthews

    Just because an absurdity is described in a schema does not make it less absurd. Anyone who did SOA knows it.


    WS-X "standards", brought to you by the evil IBM. Oh, wait, they did it with the nice Microsoft. Does that make WS-X evil or nice I wonder?


  44. Bruno says:

    MiliTux, it’s "pyrrhic", for the reason Miguel stated.  The extra QA will make OOXML 1.0 a better quality spec than ODF.  You’ve bought yourself 6 more months to try to convince as many governments as you can that they should all move to ODF because it carries the ISO stamp of approval.  But after that, if OOXML is approved, it’ll be a much better spec than ODF 1.0 (which is a pretty bad spec to begin with), and governments will likely use it instead based on the extra QA time that you’ve given it.

    This process is essentially demanding that ECMA deliver a 1.1 quality spec as the first spec.  ODF 1.0 is filled with holes that 1.1 is trying to patch.  Even that doesn’t have decent spreadsheet formula support, that’ll only happen with 1.2.

    OOXML, on the other hand will be a 1.1 quality spec, with no need to rush out another version to patch the problems of the first one.  Because that paching is going to take place NOW.

    You guys shot your foot off and don’t even know it.

  45. n/a says:

    And why doesn’t Microsoft help improve ODF instead of doubling the effort required for anyone that wants to support document formats?

  46. Alan Bell says:

    OK, I think I see how the 74% came up now, looks like I missread the data in the early list, there were more O countries than I had counted and a very similar number of abstentions and dissapprovals. Mea Culpa on that.

    What happens to the comments from the countries that abstained? The rules seem to suggest that they can turn up to the BRM, but they have to leave their comments behind.

    How about the ones who voted "approve with comments"

    will their comments be addressed in any way?

    My guess is that MS will pick and choose the minimum number of the easiest "disapprove" countries to flip and look at their comments. The countries who made more challenging comments like France who want OOXML and ODF to merge, will be ignored, as will everything from the Approve with comments crowd.

  47. n/a says:


    You are correct.  Microsoft has no interest in putting out a good spec.  They want to do exactly the minimum amount of work to make it an ISO standard so that governments and others won’t choose ODF.  

    Once we hit that point, the spec will rot and Office will  implement just enough of an incompatible version of the spec that it won’t matter.

  48. Dave S. says:


    So – let’s see how this would be Pyrrhic. Perhaps the ODF camp stopped MSO-XML, but also lost their own ISO approval. No, that’s not it. Maybe ODF supporters are defecting or quitting in large numbers because MSO-XML is better. Not that either.

    From Wikipwedia (check your own sources as you care to) "In both of Pyrrhus’s victories, the Romans lost more men than Pyrrhus did. However, the Romans had a much larger supply of men from which to draw soldiers, so their losses did less damage to their war effort than Pyrrhus’s losses did to his."

    Doesn’t sound like ODF has suffered any such loss. Even if ODF is completely displaced, without the ODF effort MSO-XML would be the only choice. It would not be an ISO or even ECMA standard. You would likely have to sign the same agreement to get whatever type of documentation you are supposed to get for the binary formats now.

    Instead the ODF effort has exposed a weakness of dreadnaught mentality in the age of Internet-nimble.

    Add to that the rapid dissemination of information concerning corruption and it looks like MS was hoist by their own petard. After you are done with Pyrrhic, you might look up petard. It’s under "P."

  49. Andrew Sayers says:

    Yawar Amin,

    You may be right in your conclusions, but your reasoning is a little skewed in places.  You might be interested in reading Jason Matusow’s blog, as he talks more than Brian does about the issues you seem to be interested in.

    You make an excellent argument for why Microsoft should be allowed to have their own file format, but their right to have a format doesn’t imply that it’s in the ISO’s interest to certify it as a standard.  If Microsoft fails to get Office Open XML certified, they’ll still have a modern, XML-based file format which works well with Microsoft Office, it’s just that those few people whose needs are stringent enough to require ISO approval will know that it’s not the format for them.

    The HD-DVD/Blu-ray argument is apt in some ways, but not others – for example, the problem with a single document format isn’t that it would restrict competition, it’s that it would restrict innovation.  Innovations on a standard can only occur within the areas where the standard permits, for the sake of interoperability.

    There’s always a trade-off between innovation and interoperability, and I think there’s plenty of room for people to disagree about the optimal balance.  I’m not going disagree if you believe Microsoft’s got the balance right, but I do believe that many of the people that think Office Open XML shouldn’t be a standard have a different opinion about the optimal balance.  I have a growing respect for the market, but I think that opposing Office Open XML’s standardisation is the appropriate course of action if you believe that gaining a little more interoperability is worth sacrificing a little more innovation.

    – Andrew

  50. Yawar Amin says:

    Andrew Sayers,

    Thanks for your reasoned response! It was actually a pleasure to read compared to most of the comments here. As you’ve guessed, I do believe we can afford to sacrifice some interoperability now to reap benefits from future innovations. Look at the phenomenal coverage both formats are getting — ODF v OOXML must be one of the most talked-about issues on the internet. This HAS to be a good thing — more bugs are ironed out, more people are getting into the discussion and there’s generally a lot more awareness.

    And we’re already seeing that innovation which comes from competition. Microsoft is strategically positioning custom XML schemas mixed in with its documents as a competitive advantage of OOXML — something they, strictly speaking, didn’t have to do but did anyway because they saw an opportunity. You have to applaud that. ODF’s response, at least to me, has been vaguely unsatisfying. What competitive advantage does ODF have? Better design, more industry backing? Whatever it is, I’m sure the public scrutiny of both formats is forcing the ODF people to work harder to improve their offering. And there’s nothing wrong with that. A rising tide raises all boats.

    As for whether it’s right or wrong to make OOXML an ISO standard, I say if anybody can afford to make their offering a standard, go for it. May the best standard win.

  51. Dave S. says:

    Yawar Amin,,

    The utility of embedding custom XML schemas is no more than interchange standards always have – it’s limited to the sender and receiver agreeing before hand as to what the custom part means. The minor advantage in using XML is XML parsers.

    Interchange of custom information can already be done.

    A ccol way to do this is to use .zip format to attach interchange information to a document, or group of related documents by simply adding it to the .zip archive. Since both ODF and MSO-XML both use .zip methods, there can be no such objection to using .zip. Since this method does not rely on the format of the document(s), it’s a way to empower users who don’t want to convert existing documents or for documents that have no XML representation.

    In this way rich content can be packaged super easy with minimal tools and no conversion problems.

    Instead of opening up an exciting world of possibility, embedding custom XML schemas directly into MSO-XML format documents can limit choice to MS applications alone, while leaving the existing hurdle of agreeing on an interchange format for the custom data.

    I’ll leave you to ponder the relative public scrutiny that a document 6000 pages long gets relative to a document which numbers in the hundreds pages.

    Finally – Look at

    "Standardization of equipment is vitally important …"

  52. JasonG says:

    I’m rather disappointed to see such an article on codeproject, but it’s worth a read:

    Can you comment Brian?

  53. hAl says:


    That article is about MS Office implementation of OOXML (which is by noo means a perfect implementation) more than OOXML itself.

  54. JasonG,

    Stephane’s articles have the credibility of an editorial on a Rupert Murdoch property.   They are far from scholarly works, they are usually sloppy arguments and usually goes for volume instead of accuracy.

    I replied to Stephane’s claims here:

    Furthermore someone in Slashdot actually explained why the floating point issue that Stephane brought up is actually correct.


  55. Andrew Sayers says:

    Yawar Amin,

    It’s always good to know there are other people out there whose opinions adapt to new information :).  Personally, I still don’t have enough information to form an opinion, so I can only really explain my indecision.

    One question that’s weighed on me lately is "what is a document format, anyway?".  Until recently, I thought that the concept of a document format was pretty well defined by the early 90’s – it’s about decorations on text, cells in a spreadsheet and so on.  But office automation changes that, because people are starting to use documents in weird new ways that we don’t understand yet, generating Word documents automatically and mining spreadsheets for information.  I’d say that now was the perfect time to unite around a single standard if all we were talking about was how to specify bold text or how to address cell E20, but I’m not so sure about forcing a solution on a brave new world just because it was the right solution for the old world.

    I agree that competition is an excellent way of spurring innovation, although that means that I take very seriously the allegations that Office Open XML has anti-competitive effects.  While these allegations are often backed up with nothing more than hot air, sometimes they’re well reasoned and thoughtful, and I’m far from convinced that there’s nothing to worry about.

    Another point about competition is that the innovation spurred by duplicate standards is sometimes about working around the problems that duplication creates.  For example, smart guys out there are finding innovative ways of getting HD-DVD and Blu-ray players into a single box, which is great for them, but they could be using their genius for something else if there were only one standard.

    Finally, I can’t agree with you about standardising everything and letting the market sort it out.  I’ve come to realise that certification from different standards bodies means qualitatively different things, and giving out ISO certificates to all comers would dilute the meaning of a certification.  The ex-chief of ECMA recently described ECMA’s standardisation philosophy as "write down all of the technical details of the darn thing and then give it to ISO" (full article at;708462325;fp;;fpid;;pf;1).  ECMA standardisation should therefore mean that a standard is fully documented – a useful thing to know if you’re worried about long-term archivability of documents, for example.  On the other hand, ISO standardisation means that all the world’s interested parties have had a chance to "speak now or forever hold your peace", which is a monstrously high standard that should only be met if standardisation is in everybody’s best interests.

    – Andrew

  56. nim-nim says:


    What you fail to understand is that with the possible exception of competing vendors no one would mind an ISO-approved OOXML. Because a good (clear and complete) spec would be easy to implement by everyone (competing Office suites, backend systems, etc)

    Current OOXML is not this. It includes caricatural stuff like "tag legacy elements so they’re passed for interpretation to fossilized bits of old Office releases only Microsoft has access to", and many other fundamental problems.

    A quality OOXML would have passed 32 to 0 like ODF.

  57. Dave S. says:

    "Approving this standard is key to move to true globalisation …"

    – Andrew Weekes – Senior Executive

    The ISO standard shipping container is key to globalization. (He’s likely of Brit origin, so I’ll give him the ‘s’ and keep the ‘z’ for me.) That and GPS and GSM. This way goods can be packed, kept secure, moved accurately, identified, located at the destination, and using standard handling equipment, be attached with standard attachments to vehicles for transport to where the ship can’t go.

    Check what happens when a new, streamlined approach is taken over trying to fit all the old stuff into a new form:

    Funny thing – the proliferation of container standards was seen as a bad thing, hence the ISO standard. The shipping industry has been  a steady haul to cut the number of sizes, probably to one.

    As to the services Andrew would like to see for anyone at any time in any place in the world, I’d first like winning lottery numbers for the next couple of multimillion dollar lotteries. OK. Scratch any time.

    Let’s go to the Sahara. Will MSO-XML help more than a satellite phone?

    Scratch any place.

    Last chance. MSO-XML ratification will certainly help the Kurds or the Sudanese. No?

    Scratch anyone.

    This leaves the entire quote as trite hyperbole, not a reasoned statement of support.

    By the by. It is "electronic" not "electonic." No spell checkers on the MSO-XML side?

  58. Andrew Sayers says:

    Dave S.,

    Good example.  And for an example of what happens when the world fails to unite around a single standard, see

    However, these are both examples where the benefits of further innovation outside the scope allowed by the standard would be very low.

    To take one of the big differences between ODF and Office Open XML, do you have any evidence about whether run-based XML is objectively better or worse than hierarchical XML for office automation?

    – Andrew

  59. Dave S. says:


    I can’t say much about run-based XML. I haven’t heard that description before and neither has Google, apparently.

    If you mean hierarchical vs stream(ing) based, one where structure is imposed on the document and the other where the structure is inferred by reading the document, the hierarchical model is inherently better for office automation.

    Assuming similar care is put into the format and the applications that use them…

    In a hierarchical system the document components are identified so any structural characteristic one is looking for can be found in a relatively simple search.

    In a stream format one has to read the entire document to guarantee that one knows how it begins – check an MS word binary file editted with Fast Saves in action to see what happens in streams.

    Past that, like all discussions about automation, it always depends on what’s considered better and under what circumstances.

    I mentioned somewhere that just zipping the existing documents with the automation data would be a big benefit by itself. There would be no need to convert the binary files, one could cluster multiple related files, (ever get a pig of a document – 150 pages of hi-res bitmaps – uuggh – just split it into bite-size chunks), it would preserve the file meta-data modification history without changing the file(s) (checksums anyone?), it could allow multiple versions of the same file to be collected, it would preserve relative directory placment for the files, and it could be done now.

    But – look, this obvious idea is included as part of MS Open Packaging Convention, so even Microsoft likes it.

    You are right about further innovation in the cargo container and consumer electrical plug areas – but they stimulated huge innovation outside their scope. What they share is that they are quite simple – so simple a child could get it. In document formats ODF occupies that position.

    MSO-XML occupies the position, plug-wise speaking, of almost defining every plug ever made and saying that socket makers just have to cope.

    The ODF is like having a single new plug and a single socket and says – cut off the old plug (if necessary) and put this on and put a new socket in the wall.

    It’s not just an analogy – the ODF example is exactly what happens to many US home sockets at time of home sale to bring the electrical system up to code – new sockets. It also happened to most every appliance maker – they were required to use the new plug design.

    At it’s most basic, a standard is intended to  stop innovation of the standardized item. That way other things that depend on the standardized item can be made with some  confidence the effort will not be upset for a long time.

    The containers are an interesting example. Because the containers touch and are latched at only predefined points – what one does within that volume is completely up for grabs. It can be a container, or an office, or a computer center, or hold a liquids tank.

    It’s the stagnation of the interface that makes the interface quite valuable. And the simpler, the better.

  60. Andrew Sayers says:

    Dave S.,

    First, yes I meant "streaming".  I’d seen the term "run-based" on the BSI wiki and assumed it was a standard term – sorry.

    I’m not sure I fully agree with (or, frankly, have a strong enough technical grounding to follow) your argument your argument about the benefits of hierarchy vs. streaming.  However, the bits I do agree with lead me to the following theory:

    Stream-based design encourages formats where, in order for a program to manipulate one part of the document, it has to parse (and the programmer has to understand) a significant fraction of the entire document.  Although this can be beneficial for programs that need to parse the entire document anyway (and programmers that need a deep understanding of the format), it’s a significant barrier for single-purpose scripts (and programmers that want to hack them together in a hurry).

    That wouldn’t bode well for stream-based formats, as I’d expect a significant fraction of the people that would want to write document-editing software to have a shallow understanding of the format.  A word of caution though: belief is not proof, and we don’t have any actual proof of how things will work out in the real world – maybe somebody will come out with an amazing library that makes parsing Office Open XML a breeze, maybe office automation will become the domain of the experts that learn Office Open XML the same way they learnt all the other buzzwords they needed to learn in order to get customers, or maybe the world will adapt in some other way that nobody sees coming.

    Moving on to the issue of "ODF as new standard for plugs", I don’t think we know yet how much of a leap it will be to switch to ODF, but I wouldn’t say that it’s as severe as cutting off all the old plugs and starting again.  I agree that a major difference between ODF and Office Open XML is that ODF is intended as a new dawn in file formats, whereas Office Open XML is just an incremental upgrade.  Like with hierarchies vs. streams though, we’ve yet to really gather enough evidence to see which approach is the real world likes best.

    – Andrew

  61. says:

    You guys have to be kidding about ODF. A dawn of new formats? Give me a break.

    They just tried to get an XML format for representing the traditional office document and didn’t really even fully succeed at that. There is no thought for how to truly deal with external data. They took a last minute stab at it by tacking on XForms, but that’s pretty weak. Compare that to the rich support of content controls and custom defined schema in Open XML.

    ODF uses the basic model for documents that is similar to HTML and DocBook. That’s not a step toward the future, it’s just a different approach. Open XML’s model is pretty damned simple. It only gets complicated if you care to deal with the more complicated pieces of formatting etc. The same is true for ODF, it just so happens that so much of it is unspecified that it’s not clear right away how difficult true interoperability is.

    ODF has some nice points, but to say it’s some giant leap forward is rediculous. Talk to the folks who actually work on the OpenOffice product about it and they’ll tell you how the format is clearly not all roses.

    Have a nice weekend everyone. 🙂


  62. n/a says:

    Looks like Brian is finally showing his stress and disappointment!

    It’s not too late to switch sides, Brian.

  63. Andrew Sayers says:


    The most astute thing I’ve ever heard Stehpane Rodriguez say is that Office Open XML is Brian’s baby.  Brian’s naturally protective of his baby, so it’s understandable that he gets upset when people walk into his blog and start accusing him of having an ugly baby – which I think I just did.


    Using the term "new dawn" like that was sloppy of me and I apologise if I caused offence.

    The point I was trying to make is that (sensible) proponents of ODF seem to think in terms of starting from scratch, with no duty to support features that they dislike in older formats – figuratively speaking, like the start of a new day.  This is very different to Microsoft’s approach, making incremental changes that minimise the risk of problems while upgrading.

    I respect both approaches technologically, and I’m not trying to insinuate that one is better than the other, but it’s an important difference and I thought that "new dawn" was a nice way of summing up the mindset of the ODF camp.

    As to my personal opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of different formats – I’m just now getting to the point where I can form an opinion that I can express in words.  My opinion changes most days, but I’ve never been in any danger of declaring ODF to be a giant leap forward compared to Office Open XML.

    – Andrew

  64. Dave S. says:


    Technically MSO-XML is also cutting off the old plugs as well and putting new ones on, it just continues to have to support all of them.

    An observation to be made is this. The more complicated solution is often chosen over the less complicated one because the people doing the chosing are also the ones who benefit from the larger budget to deal with the more complicated solution.

    In the case of software, who makes the recommendation? The IS director/CIO. How is the IS director judged? Among other things, the size of his department. If things are simple he won’t be able to have a large department.

    The company president is usually forced to depend on the director/CIO and doesn’t usually know enough to question. The director/CIO was hired because he was trusted, and if he’s not trusted they get rid of him.

    Also, MS carries both carrots and sticks. Maybe they give a discount, or maybe the paperwork is delayed. Just maybe they offer to take your company off-line to see just what software you have licenses for.

    These factors also make the format decision – not just which is better.

  65. Dave S. says:


    From re content controls.

    "This new functionality increases the speed with which a template designer creates documents. Not only that, but the templates are more user-friendly and robust. You can load content controls with a wealth of information by mapping to custom XML data.

    Content controls are predefined pieces of content. There are several types of content controls, including text blocks, drop-down menus, combo boxes, calendar controls, and pictures."

    I’m glad I looked. I thought content controls controlled content, as in document process/security/privacy.

    I’m disappointed.

    Now I see that content controls are a way for a lot of people to create whatever schemas (seems like the right term) they want in whatever fashion they want. Just what the world needs, more tools for the half-baked to get their hands on.

  66. Gerd from Germany says:

    "AbiWord; iWork; OpenOffice; MS Office; Corel; Gnumeric; iPhone; NeoOffice; Palm reader"

    Aye. Abiword, the flagship of enterprise wordprocessing software solutions also supports your broken "standard", just a little bit.

    Why don’t get real and support ISO 26300? Nobody believes your "double standards" and "user needs" lies. It stinks.

    — Gerd

  67. n/a says:


    It’s also a shame that Microsoft had to drag the ISO name through the mud to push their standard.  I hope Brian is happy with his accomplishments!

  68. What really counts is that OOXML is open – maybe not in the way the standard was created, but in the sense that it is based on XML, openly documents, an this allows 3rd party tools to work with the data in uprecedented ways!

    While the ISO process may take a while to complete, what will undoubtedly happen is that OOXML becomes a de-facto standard as enterprises world-wide upgrade to Office 2007…

    For more details, see my XML Aficionado blog entry:

  69. Anonymous Coward says:

    Just a related note, anybody thinking that only few Linux zealots are making a big noise about OOXML by complaining few editorial omissions in the "superb" OOXML specs I suggest people to take a look at one example of comments about the spec:

    In the zip file you’ll find tens of Word (!) documents that contain an incredible long list of comments. They undeniably underline the fact that the spec was never properly reviewed, more likely it was constructed in a hurry and knowingly omitted some key definitions. If you don’t agree, just please read the docs again, the amount of comments is just breathtaking!

  70. Anonymous Coward says:

    In Sweden, according to news reports, the number of voting members of SIS grew from 9 to 34. Of the 23 new companies that joined, all are Microsoft certified partners voted in favour of OOXML.

  71. David Farning says:

    After reading the comments to the OOXML standard, it appears that many of the NBs are expressing concern that the OOXML can only be implemented on a Microsoft Product.

    Why don’t you dedicate a few programmers to implementing ODF on Open Office?  A fully conforming implementation of OOXML on a non-MS based product would go along way towards swaying OOXML’s detractors.

    Once it has been proven that OOXML can be fully implemented, all or most of the no votes will become yes votes.

  72. n/a says:

    Anonymous coward: that ZIP file is chock full of good comments on OOXML.  Most of them are dealing with OOXML’s Windows+Office-specific baggage that shouldn’t be in a proper spec.

    Good find!

    Some nuggets from the first file:

    "This element defines values for use on Windows and Macintosh platforms,  but not for any other operating systems.  "

    "The usage of null-terminated C- style strings is avoiding XML and  will cause the markup to interoperate poorly with XML-based tools."

    "The allowed values of this enumeration, EMF, WMF, etc., are Windows specific formats. No allowance seems to have been made for use by other operating systems."

    "This describes an "ink" element which stores "ink annotations in an application-defined format." This is apparently intended to store annotations, used with tablet input devices to add hand-written annotations to documents. These annotations are often a vital part of documents and their specification is undefined in OOXML. We are opposed to standardizing placeholder elements for entirely application- dependent proprietary formats without also specifying an interoperable format for those who with to create interoperable formats."

    "The formatting system described here is not comprehensive, lacking, for  example, support for Armenian, Tamil, Greek alphabetic, Ethiopic and  Khmer numerations, all in use today, as well as the various historical  systems still used by scholars."

    "Length is said to be “exactly 3 characters”. This is inconsistent with the example given which has a length of 6 characters."

  73. John Brak says:

    Any chance I could ask you a question?  For the life of me I cannot get documents to display in Print View even if I use :

    <w:view w:val="print"/>

    Using 2003, and I’ve resorted to messing with the document properties of the Word Document object that is generating these, but still not working.  Can you help?  Thanks.

  74. John Brak (again) says:

    Forgot to tell you if you have time to answer my question about print view in xslt that the document is being displayed in a browser and that my e-mail if you care to write is zebedatious at

  75. Mike Brown says:

    The British Standards Institute put all their OOXML findings on an open (for reading) Wiki:

    No need to go digging through any zip files to find out what *they* think of it all:

    "While a certain number of errors is understandable in any large specification, the sheer volume of errors indicates that the specification has not been through a rigorous technical review before becoming an Ecma standard, and therefore may not be suitable for the [ISO] fast-track process."

    I doubt that MS will be wasting too much time in trying to change the BSI’s vote.  No way that the institute’s voluminous list of concerns will be fixed by February.  I wouldn’t advise trying to buy them off either.  


    – Mike

  76. marc says:

    "I doubt that MS will be wasting too much time in trying to change the BSI’s vote. "

    yes… but they have the "positive" ISO P-members newcomers to balance things!:

    Côte-d’Ivoire: inconditional APPROVAL

    Cyprus: inconditional APPROVAL

    Jamaica ( i love reggae 🙂 : inconditional APPROVAL

    Lebanon: inconditional APPROVAL

    Pakistan: inconditional APPROVAL

    Malta ( beautiful island ): APPROVAL with comments ( lightly comments indeed )

    Turkey: approbal with COMMENTS

    Uruguay: APPROVAL with comments

    Venezuela: APPROVAL with comments

    Trinidad Tobago: Abstention ( for now 😉

    ECUADOR: DISSAPROVAL with comments (UPS… what happened ? not enough gold members there? )

    ( source: )

  77. hAl says:

    I think that voluminous list of the BSI is contains tons of similar findings. Solving only one issue could cause a lot of listed comments to be fixed.

    For instance the Ecma comments contain 1 edit suggestion for a consistant hex digit/octets and dropping hex value. That edit suggestion would fix mayby up to fifty or even a hundred comments in the other recieved comments because many of those contains more than a single comments for that issue.

    So there are about 4000 comments as I look at it. However just solving the about 100 comments submitted by Ecma themselves might lead to a drop in total comments of about 1000 or even more. It seems for instance the easy to fix 6-8 comments by Rob Weir about the spreadsheets formula’s repeated a few dozen times in the national bodies comments.

    I think it won’t be hard for Ecma to to resolve more than halve the suggested comments with a decent effort. However at a certain point comments start to vary in solution. Some comments want legacy item rem0ved and otherswant them explained further. You can’t do both so in the ballot resolution the national bodies should unite on a solotion for such issues where they submit different solutions.  

    Also I think the BSI comments have tons of very practical suggestions on improving so they could well form a good basis for making edits and I have a lot of confidenc that their editorial edits will also porve to be very good as they tend to review the English written text better than most.

  78. Mike Brown says:

    4000 comments?  Is that all?  A lot of fuss about nothing then, isn’t it?

    I wonder how many other specs on fast track generated so many comments.  In fact, I wonder how many specs on the *normal* track did.  Bit of a shame that Ecma’s "decent effort" didn’t come *before* fast track (like it was supposed to) and not during it.

    And one wonders what Ecma proposes to do about the absolute howlers, like the inability of SpreadsheetML to handle dates before 1900.  Do you think that you’ll be able to haggle your way in February, like it’s a Turkish baazar?  "But we fixed 200 of these little errors that you raised; you should let us get away with these half dozen stinkers!"

    On the year 1900 issue, Ecma’s response to the BSI doesn’t inspire much confidence, does it?  (My annotations in square brackets):

    "The specification is both forward looking [yeah, for somebody] while also taking on as a goal compatibility with legacy documents [now we’re getting to it].  The date system proposed in section has been in use for over 20 years, and there have been no significant complaints from customers. [We’re Microsoft and we’ve gotten away with this crap for 20 years, and by God we’ll get away with it for another 20, just you watch!].  The ecma TC did not feel it was necessary to change from this approach, as it would be outside of the scope of the goals for version 1.0 of the spec.  [Too frakking right, we didn’t.  We know which side our standard’s buttered]"

    If Microsoft gets its way with OOXML, one can only guess what people will think in the next century.  "Wow", they’ll say, "what an exciting year 1900 must have been: according to my Excel 2103 (formerly known as Excel 2102 whilst in beta) spreadsheet, Columbus arrived in America, Moses parted the Red Sea, and dinosaurs walked the Earth!  All in the same year!"

    I exaggerate, of course.  What those people *will* say, however, is "jeez, couldn’t anybody have come up with a better date handling spec than *this* piece of shit?"


    – Mike

  79. John says:

    For backwards compatibility, could the spec be made flexible enough so that special tags aren’t needed?

    For example, instead of saying do a table like word95, could it not make the table format flexible enough to support a style that is similar to the way word 95 did it?  Then "like word95" would simply become a style.

  80. hAl says:

    <blockquote>For backwards compatibility, could the spec be made flexible enough so that special tags aren’t needed</blockquote>

    Yes you can.

    If would be easy to add a tag like:

    <compatibility_mode name="autospaceslikeword95 implementation="Micrsoft comptibility pack v1.23">


    However making the compatibility flexible as for instance ODf has done with it’s office settings can mean that the compatibility information is removed from the spec altogether and there is litte need to adress the specification anymore so it would just become propriety settings for others to ingnore.

    For example I will give you the OpenOffice documentation on one of their legacy compatibility settings:

    "boolean UseFormerLineSpacing

    Usage Restrictions: optional


    specifies if the former (till 1.1) or the new line spacing formatting is applied"

    This is from the main ODF implementation. As Office settings can bedefined by any application there is no way to keep track and implemnt these meaning that hiding legacy settings in such a way just means that noone will implement them except the original implementation or in effect the vendor lock-in on legacy documents. By defining all availalbe legacy settings in the standard they are no longer for Micrsoft usage only (allthough they are the implementer most likeley to implement all of them for their customers)

  81. John says:


     No not like that.

     I mean, for example, instead of saying that Table like Word95, you instead set the table with a certain border, etc.  So you style it to look like a word95 table.


  82. hAl says:

    John, that would still require the specs of such a style to be published in the format specification or to leave such styles implementation defined and therefore not interoperable at all

  83. John says:

    It seems that ISO has now rejected the fast track process for OOXML.  Google has published an official thank you to the ISO for this.

  84. n/a says:

    This is why we can’t believe Brian when he says that Microsoft respects standards:

    Any Microsoft-controlled standard will be subject to the shipping code of Office (bugs and all).  So, Brian, where’s the use in the standard if you won’t respect it?

  85. says:

    Hey folks, sorry I’ve been offline of late.

    Rather than try to reply to all the comments I’ll pull together a new post.

    I’m also working on the FAQ idea Andrew had suggested several weeks ago. Hopefully I can get that going too.

    It’s also a very busy week, and our puppy is sick today so I may spend most of my day at the vet unfortunately. Sorry again for not being more active lately…