[OpenDoc Announce] Various important ODF news items

Mailing list for announcements for all OpenDoc Society members members.announce at lists.opendocsociety.org
Fri May 23 13:22:21 CEST 2008

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Dear OpenDoc Society members,

the last few weeks have seen a lot of notable events of interest to you.
Rather than wait for the next news letter, in this message from the
board we would like to notify you of a couple of things. Most of you
will know of the work item that was proposed within ISO last month  [1]
to work on translation between ODF and the proposed OOXML format within
ISO. Of course a standardised translation from any format to any format
is a good thing, especially when the market is under such pressure as in
this area. Until now, the OOXML development was an isolated and
independent activity. With OOXML still unpublished even in a draft
version - several months behind the schedule ISO dictates - and already
condemned to a thorough revision when it does come out, it is however
unclear what this means for those among you that are working on this
within or outside of ISO.

The work proposal still needs to be accepted, and meanwhile there are
some developments which may prevent it from being necessary at all. The
South-African standards body SABS has filed a formal appeal yesterday
against JTC 1 regarding procedures followed during the fast track
processing and subsequent BRM for DIS 29500 OOXML. For the rationale
behind it, please find copies of the letters signed by the SABS CEO, Mr
Martin Kuscus, which were sent to ISO and the IEC. If OOXML is never
published as a ISO standard, the activities around translation as well
as the two ad hoc WG that were formed within ISO to maintain and repair
OOXML may need to be halted. As soon as there are new developments, we
will keep you posted.

Secondly, of course, the important announcement of Microsoft that they
will be supporting ODF 1.0 and 1.1 after the next service pack of Office
2007 [2]. In contrast, there will be no support for its own OOXML format
until a next full version of Office. That means that ODF virtually
blankets the entire document market, and that anyone can profit from
ODF. Clearly, this is a decisive moment that mirrors the BlueRay vs. HD
DVD debate of some months.

Also, Microsoft will finally get involved with the technical development
of ODF, so hopefully they will be able to support ODF 1.2 as well -
which is important for spreadsheet users. We welcome Microsoft's entry
into the ODF arena and look forward to positive collaboration with them
in line with the proposals OpenDoc Society made to them earlier this
year. A comfortable assurance was given by the European Commission when
Microsoft's statement was followed by an official message [3] from the
European Commission that they will be actively watching Microsoft in
this respect in their current antitrust investigation.

Thirdly, a new and exciting initiative will try to create a number of
conformance testing materials for ODF. The activity is led by Rob Weir.
This will take the shape of a new TC within OASIS. Expect more news
soon, and we hope many of you will contribute to this effort which will
help to raise the quality level of ODF support significantly.

Kind regards,
Michiel Leenaars
Secretary of the board


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