I don’t believe there’s been enough discussion of the weaknesses gradually being uncovered in Microsoft’s 6,000-page dump of Office behavior, which they are trying to call a standard. Andrew Updegrove’s summary has gotten some circulation on the Internet:
and now Groklaw is organizing opposition to the ECMA standardization process, which is being fast-tracked (a better term would be railroaded):
To help Office to become a standard, one adaptation governments could make would be to retroactively declare 1900 a leap year. This would require updates to history books and other documents (for instance, V-E day would change to May 7, and the World Trade Center attacks would have taken place on September 10) but I’d like to see a cost comparison with the alternative that businesses dread: migrating to open document formats.
When the Y2K panic hit, some analysts calculated that the costs of upgrading the world’s software was less than the storage cost (probably including interest) of using four digits for dates when applications were designed in the 1950s. In other words, Y2K was worth the cost of change. However, few non-programmers had to change their behavior to fix Y2K. Migrating to free desktop software would affect almost everybody.
On the other hand, David Pogue’s recent review of Microsoft Office 2007 says that users will have to learn a very different interface and habits. So perhaps this is the moment companies should seize on to move their staff to free desktop software, and not be trapped by history.
Update, 21 January 2007: The EU security forum CyTRAP has just released two very critical articles on the ODF/OOXML issue: Their distrust of Microsoft is obvious, and their European stationing makes it easier to show it, but they bring with them long experience in promoting robust systems.
Their distrust of Microsoft is obvious, and their European stationing makes it easier to show it, but they bring with them long experience in promoting robust systems.