Microsoft’s decision to submit its new Office Open XML document format for Office 12 to become an open standard is anything but an attempt at openness. In fact, it’s a very clever way to try and fight off a true standard — the OpenDocument Format (ODF).
ODF is already a widely accepted standard. So why isn’t Microsoft using that, rather than trying to get a new format accepted? Because ODF is supported by the Open Source OpenOffice.org suite, which competes with Office. Microsoft worries that if it makes ODF an accepted format, rather than the new Open XML, companies may switch to OpenOffice.org.
It’s time that Microsoft accepted that Office is going to have competition again, after many years of being a monopoly. I expect Google to release an Office suite one day, most likely Web-based using AJAX. To fight that one off, Microsoft is going to have to do more than just try to fend off the ODF format. So it might as well get started now, and work on improving Office, not trying to inhibit open standards.
What do you think about Open XML?