Level set and reentry to the blogosphere

For the past four weeks I have been attending to my work helping Microsoft rethink its approach to software standards. A great deal of that work involves addressing internal issues as to how we think about interoperability and the role that standards plays in the many ways you can achieve that goal. In other words - I haven't been blogging. I seem to have left all of the colorful rhetoric to a few folks. 

Before I launch into Open XML and ODF, it is worth noting that the file format discussion is simply one of a myriad of standards that we deal with on a daily basis. Microsoft has more than 400 standards engagements a year and supports thousands of standards in its products. Our customers care more about data integration, cross-platform systems management, application integration, mobility, identify management, network connectivity, and a wide range of other things. The discussion of any one standard as a proxy for all standards work would be to succumb to myopia of the worst order. In fact, there is something incredibly ironic in the vitriolic postings on doc format standards when you think about the close work that the companies that employ my critics do with Microsoft on other standards. 

I wonder if it is the nature of human discourse to automatically degenerate into pejorative terminology when one disagrees with someone else's perspective. I think that is lame - so to that end, I will keep my comments on Open XML and ODF focused on facts and interpretations rather than being personal in nature. I will be posting a series of blog entries this week on interop, standards, and formats. I'll also take issue with a number of other bloggers points. It's going to be an interesting week to be sure.

Comments (4)
  1. Mike says:

    "I wonder if it is the nature of human discourse to automatically degenerate into pejorative terminology when one disagrees with someone else’s perspective."

    I think it’s not, but for a number of reasons I think engaging in ODF discussions could bring thw worst of many worlds, viewpoints and insights together.

    Microsoft has, among other things, a history of not documenting de facto standards they create, deviate from documented standards enough to have software not even able to correctly cooperate with software adhering to such standards. This ranges from low-level protocols and behaviour to even higher-level ISO standards.

    I believe this has created many frustrated users, not to mention developers, that now with ODF found a standard MS simply can’t afford to support (and neither extend nor destroy) gives them a forum to spew gall for all the years of abuse from MS – be that imaginary or not.

    It also has the issue that Microsoft hasn’t until now really had to go head-to-head with the real zealots (think Amiga-style, and I think you know what I mean 🙂 ). Their fanaticm (sp?) can be intimidating to experience, as it’s at least on par with what MS employees think of "their" company. As fanatics simply won’t back down, it’s up to MS to try to shed oil on the waves.

    I remember your earlier blog entries, and my initial reaction was "This is one branwashed dude, and how he can ever serve as a mediator between Microsoft and FOSS proponents is beyond my imagination". However, with recent posting it seems to me you have started to become, even if just a little, more humble. Accepting that Microsft is indeed not only infallable, but even have behaved in the past in such a way to actually deserve quite a bit of criticism.

    This display from you that you might now have started to become a bit more humble, perhaps even understanding, of other (than MS’s) viewpoints, might be exactly what’s needed. Someone to stand with a straight face and admint "Microsoft has screwed up – repeatedly". Such an admission could perhaps remove enough of the stamp of "arrogant and totalitarian" that MS has in quite a few areas, and (even if yet not likely, at least I now see a small hope) a possibility to open communication.

    I don’t know, perhaps I’m just overly forgiving, or oversimplifying this (simplifying I surely am), but I still read your later entries as you (and perhaps even MS) is starting to "soften" a bit in the cooperation (in the standards-) area.

    Then again, this might just be a PR gimmick to screw the ODF initiatives over. 😉 (j/k)

  2. Wesley Parish says:

    "Before I launch into Open XML and ODF, it is worth noting that the file format discussion is simply one of a myriad of standards that we deal with on a daily basis."

    I think the whole focus on the file format issue is that it is crucial for much of the computer industry to have a file format now that interoperability has become such an issue.  (It wasn’t in the past when sneakernet ruled. 😉

    Another point of focus where Microsoft gets a lot of stick is networking – again, it is crucial now that we have a World Wide Web and a wrold-wide Internet.

    Stupid tricks like the one Microsoft pulled off with the Kerberos authentification for Active directory, don’t win Microsoft many friends, and not unnaturally, people _do_ remember.

  3. jasonmatusow says:

    Wesley I completely understand why the format issue is important; I just want to keep things in perspective that the Open XML/ODF disucssion is not an automatic proxy for the thousands of other standards efforts under way across the various standards orgs. There are existing format standards (RTF, HTML, Text…), the change to XML and the natural progress of products makes the new format discussion important.


  4. Jason Matusow, Microsoft’s Shared Source honcho, is starting a series on interoperability, here and here, for starters. The enterprise bids fair to be "a frank exchange of views," as the diplomats say. See the comment on Jason’s first post,

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