Microsoft OOXML SDK renews standards debate

Are adherents on both sides making the wrong arguments?

In addition, supporters of ODF say the OOXML spec is large and unwieldy and that there is no need for that level of complexity.

But supporters of ODF can only make that claim because ODF solves a different problem. It has no interest in supporting legacy Microsoft applications and typically supports less rich office productivity suites like Star Office from Sun and Open Office, the Oasis specification.

"You get into these debates based on fundamental beliefs and assumptions that are often times not brought up. It is argued from point of view that people don't really see," said Creese.

Yes, one might say OOXML is a new Microsoft file format while ODF wants to become a universal file format, adds Eunice.

Bob Sutor, IBM vice president of Open Source and Standards at IBM says OOXML is so huge that in order to implement it, a company would be locked into that format.

Jean Paoli, general manager for Interoperability and XML Architecture at Microsoft says ODF reflects what OpenOffice can do. OpenXML reflects the capabilities that Microsoft Office has.

While the scales may tip in favor of ODF as a simpler and more open specification than OOXML, both Creese and Eunice say the fact that both are XML formats is good because users want better access to all kinds of content, and it's easier to do that from within an XML format rather than from a binary system.

However reluctant either analyst is to take sides, Creese adds this advice: "We believe that Microsoft owns 90 percent of the Office environment and [that] it is better to use the standard that is friendly with the huge installed base."

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