A REALLY BIG day for OOXML [Updated (or is it deprecated?)]

Today the 14th January 2008 is actually quite a BIG day. Two things have happened that are not directly related but may well, ultimately, have a very positive cumulative effect for us all.

The first thing is ECMA must present, to the voting bodies (NBs) of ISO that will decide the fate of DIS29500, their deliberations and suggested alterations on the 3522 comments which were given during the fast track review period last year.

Update: It has come to my attention that ECMA has issued the dispositions for all 3522 comments. As they are password protected and not for public consumption I couldn’t possibly have seen them but from what I can gather, large parts of the OOXML specification have been moved into a deprecated annex. How long before Office 2007 supports what is effectively a new DIS29500 remains to be seen. If of course, Microshaft decide to bother that is.

That the proposed specification should never have been fast-tracked (it was not ready, full of errors and inconsistencies and worse), or that Microsoft tried to bribe and corrupt their way through the ISO processes to ensure that it passed (and it still failed because it was so bad), is now neither here nor there.

There is to be a meeting in Geneva next month called a BRM (Ballot Resolution Meeting) where members will participate in the review of ECMA’s suggestions for amendments and changes to DIS29500. After the meeting (which only lasts 5 days) the members will have 30 days to decide if they should change their September vote.

One can only begin to imagine what will be going on in the countries that have been Microsoft’s puppet before and those which have so far resisted the borg’s influence. There are already stories of high skulduggery appearing.

The blogosphere is already starting to hot up again for this topic. Here’s a few good links to get you in the mood for what is to come.

Rob Weir (An Antic Disposition),
No OOXML
Groklaw
Open Forum Europe

The second event to have occurred today which may well have a bearing is the EU’s decision to start two more investigations into Microsoft’s anti-competitive practises and more specifically:

The European Commission has decided to initiate two formal antitrust investigations against Microsoft Corp concerning two separate categories of alleged infringements of EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant market position (Article 82). The first case where proceedings have been opened is in the field of interoperability in relation to a complaint by the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS). The second area where proceedings have been opened is in the field of tying of separate software products following inter alia a complaint by Opera.

The Interoperability investigation is explained thus:

In the complaint by ECIS, Microsoft is alleged to have illegally refused to disclose interoperability information across a broad range of products, including information related to its Office suite, a number of its server products, and also in relation to the so called .NET Framework. The Commission’s examination will therefore focus on all these areas, including the question whether Microsoft’s new file format Office Open XML, as implemented in Office, is sufficiently interoperable with competitors’ products.

So they want to find out if their new file format (OOXML) is actually implementable by anyone else or is just a smokescreen to make them appear to be playing ball. As usual Groklaw does some in-depth analysis of these issues (where you will always get a good read).

Oh Goody. This will keep us all busy for a while…

And who knows, the EU and the ISO might just both get it right :-)

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