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Microsoft United Kingdom Technology

Microsoft Circles the Wagons To Defeat ODF In the UK 89

Andy Updegrove writes "Three weeks ago, we heard that Francis Maude, a senior UK government minister, was predicting the conversion to open source office suites by UK government agencies. Lost in the translation in many stories was the fact that this was based not on an adopted policy, but on a proposal still open for public comment — and subject to change. It should be no surprise that Microsoft is trying to get the UK to add OOXML, its own format standard, to the UK policy. Why? According to a messaging sent to its UK partners, because it believes that a failure to include OOXML 'will cause problems for citizens and businesses who use office suites which don't support ODF, including many people who do not use a recent version of Microsoft Office or, for example, Pages on iOS and even Google Docs.' Of course, that's because Microsoft pushed OOXML as an alternative to ODF a decade ago. If you don't want the same objection to be valid a decade from now, consider making your views known at the Cabinet Office Standards Hub. The deadline is February 26."
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Microsoft Circles the Wagons To Defeat ODF In the UK

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21, 2014 @03:42PM (#46305577)

    failure to include OOXML 'will cause problems for citizens and businesses who use office suites which don't support ODF, including many people who do not use a recent version of Microsoft Office'

    IIRC, OOXML isn't in any version of MS Office that doesn't have ODF support.

  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @03:45PM (#46305607) Journal

    I call bullshit. OpenOffice or LibreOffice can be configured to store files in .doc and .xls and .ppt formats - problem solved! It annoys me there are still people and govts. buying the rubbish arguments spouted by Microsoft and their ilk...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21, 2014 @04:04PM (#46305727)

    If you were to point out that this inflexibility is probably dumb

    Is it?

    You're posting on Slashdot. You are probably capable of figuring out why your Open Sores Libre Viva La Revolucione Socialiste Office is fucking up a document conversion. Your IT department would put entire cities to the sword if it meant only having to deal solely with you and people like you.

    But they can't, and they don't. No, they're awash in a sea of, "MY CUPHOLDER IS BROKEN AND WHY IS THIS FOOTPEDAL SO HARD TO CONTROL!?" types.

    Standardization exists for a reason, and the reason may indeed be dumb - the reason is dumb people. That does not make standardization dumb, however.

  • have pity on me! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21, 2014 @04:05PM (#46305733)

    Microsoft: "Have pity on me, I'm an orphan. (I killed my parents.)"

  • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @04:12PM (#46305783) Journal

    I have standardized my company on LibreOffice but its ability to read and write Microsoft Office files is imperfect at best. It's particularly bad at the more recent .docx and .xlsx files. It reads and writes them well enough to be useful most of the time but don't expect perfection.

    In my experience, MS Office frequently can be incompatible with itself. I can forgive LibreOffice for having trouble with MS formats, no matter which side is responsible (wink.)

  • by rkhalloran ( 136467 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @04:48PM (#46306113) Homepage
    A citizen wanting to interact with their government should not be compelled to purchase a particular company's product to do so. If I choose to mail in my tax forms, it should not require purchasing Official Government Printing Stock to do it. If I file electronically, it should not be locked in to, say, Turbotax. An open format (ODF, PDF) should be acceptable. This also frankly makes sense financially: if MS is the only company supporting OOXML (arguable, since at last check they don't even meet their own standard), then there's no possibility of price competition. If you're on an *open* format where many vendors can compete, the govt can go for best price and properly spend the money they screw us out of annually.
  • by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @04:56PM (#46306165)

    I'm old enough to have lived through the entire Microsoft history of dirty tricks, disingenuous press releases and out right illegal anti-trust violations. It seems that some things never do really change.

    Part of the compatibility issues are due to the time lag caused by the need to reverse engineer Microsoft's âoeStandard.â If the past is any indication of how this company works they haven't been forthcoming on providing complete documentation to their document format. There may be a bit of the âoeWindows isn't done until Lotus won't run...â attitude left in a company that has a history of wanting not just to compete but do completely crush anything that remotely smells like competition. And if that takes lies, dirty tricks or anti-trust violations requiring decades to litigate then so be it.

    For the younger folks here: Watch this company with a skeptical eye because they don't have YOUR best interest at heart and they will do practically anything to win.


  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @09:02PM (#46308155)

    The file format specialists working on the MS Office i/o filters for LibreOffice, etc. *can* say though, and they say it's not. There is software available to confirm that ODF files do in fact comply with the standard, and the various programmers who work with ODF can use them to confirm that their software is at least not obviously out of compliance. IIRC similar software was begun to be created created for OOXML as part of the i/o filter project, and found that it doesn't actually accurately describe DOCX, etc. Close, but not suitable for reasonable levels of interoperability. Google, LibreOffice, etc. have a choice - they can support OOXML, and end up garbling imported documents documents and exporting documents that can't be opened correctly by MS Office, or they can do their best to interoperate with MS Office, and thus be intentionally incompatible with OOXML, the standard that nobody has ever used.

    More accurately I suppose there are two standards named OOXML:
    OOXML-as-Described in the internationally ratified standards (and that's a story of obvious corruption of one of the preeminent standards bodies on the planet)
    and OOXML-as-Implemented by MS Office.

    OOXML-as-described technically qualifies for open standard requirements, even if it is longwinded, cryptic, poorly organized, and badly underspecified.
    OOXML-as-implemented does not
    Microsoft then plays the game of saying OOXMLaD is a recognized international open standard, and MS Office supports OOXMLaI, so Office should be allowed to participate in open-standards-only product bids, trusting that nobody in the procurement process will catch the fact that OOXMLaD != OOXMLaI, or can be bought off if they do.

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe