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Ars Technica: IBM Calls MSOOXML Inferior

IBM is a staunch defender of open standards in IT these days, and has been one of the big supports of ODF (OpenDocument Format), the XML-based specification that should do for “office” documents what HTML has done for the web: make it totally agnostic to the software you use to create and consume data. ODF could break up another monopoly and bring a new wave of innovation to the realm of desktop and net-based computing.

Ars Technica reports on IBM’s announcement that ODF is superior to Microsoft’s MSOOXML:

“As governments around the world begin to establish IT procurement policies that favor open standards, the stakes in the document format dispute are rising. The trend towards mandatory standards adoption in government IT has led some to speculate that government agencies and companies that work closely with the public sector will begin to turn away from Microsoft’s deeply entrenched office offerings, instead adopting alternatives like IBM’s Lotus Notes, Sun’s StarOffice, or which use the OpenDocument Format (ODF). Microsoft has been seeking ISO approval for its own OOXML format in order to ensure that its software remains competitive.”

The strategic and market reasons are clear why an open standard (ODF) is better for customers than a closed standard, even one that masquerades as open (MSOOXML). But the issue is greater than that. The open standard, in this case, is also the technologically more advanced of the two.

“Citing technical and intellectual property issues, a growing number of critics believe that Microsoft’s standards are flawed, restrictive, not adequately aligned with existing standards, or not conducive to broad third-party support. They argue that Microsoft should adopt ODF rather than fragmenting the office document space with its own alternative.”

After years of dragging their heels, Microsoft has slowly moved toward supporting standard HTML, so we should demand the same with ODF. It’s best for customers, and any business that wants to thrive should do right by its customers.

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