Re: OOXML [was Re: GNOME Foundation Board Meeting Minutes :: 7/6/07]

On Wed, Oct 31, 2007 at 07:58:22PM -0400, Richard Stallman wrote:
> Microsoft's goal is, by one means or another, to defeat free software
> which it now considers a serious threat.  Whatever they do, it will not
> be a sincere standardization effort that offers no obstacle to free
> software implementions.

Yes and no.
_one_ of microsoft's goals is to default free softwre.  However,
they are also a business, and are influenced by the requirements of
their customers and partners.  People that have long wanted access
to their data.  The other members of the ECMA committee wanted a
strong spec for their own use, and worked hard to extract it from

While it's certainly possible, even likely that MS has some
confunding magic buried in the spec it's also very difficult for
them, to act suprised that gnumeric, or abiword implemented the
spec, after their employees publicly acknowledge our work.
> It is useful for free programs to implement OOXML to the extent that
> it is feasible, but we should do this without aiding Microsoft to gain
> official approval for a 6000-page incomplete specification of a
> patented format.

The spec is certainly large, and there are areas that need more
documentation.  However, exactly the same holds true for ODF.   The
real differentiator is OO.o.  The ODF spec has gaping holes that can
only be plugged by reading OO.o code.  That is an endorsement of
free software, not ODF.

> To the extent that we succeed in resisting Microsoft's current method
> of attack, it will naturally try another.  It makes no sense to
> encourage them to stick with their current method by letting them
> defeat us with it.

That depends on how you view OOX.  Having an official standard for
OOX (the current ECMA or a potential ISO) hoists MS by it's own
petard.  They now need to conform to that spec, and to implement it
well.  Witness the recent humour when their 'calcChain'
implementation had very public issues.  The playing field is
suddenly alot more equal, and we can rescue the data out of their
files without having to guess the format.

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