The war of OpenDoc Format (ODF) vs. Office Open XML (OOXML) has reached the Indian shores. India on Thursday gave Microsoft a thumbs-down in the war of standards for office documents. In a tense meeting at Delhi’s Manak Bhawan, the 21-member technical committee decided that India will vote a ‘no’ against Microsoft’s Open Office Extensible Mark Up Language (OOXML) standard at the International Standards Organisation (ISO) in Geneva on September 2.
A global alliance of Sun-IBM, Oracle, Google, Red Hat have ganged up against Microsoft which is being supported by Apple, Quark, Accenture and Novell. On Indian soil, Infosys, HCL, Skelta, Sonata Software and Sify have come out in support of Microsoft.
September 2 is the last date for voting and the results are going to be close. About 123 counties are participating in the vote. Votes from most are still to come. Canada, Czech Republic, Iran, Japan, Libya, Cuba, New Zealand, UK are likely to back the IBM-Sun’s ODF Alliance. On the other hand, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Singapore, Korea, France and Australia are likely to abstain from voting.
The Microsoft backed and created format i believed to be inferior and technically lacking as compared to the Open Source ODF format. OOXML is incomplete (does not provide mappings with legacy standards, since compatibility is OOXML goal), too long (6000+ pages), fully tied to a single product, uses deprecated substandards, promotes bad practices (embedded binary objects), has clear proprietary hooks (like “formatAsWord95? XML tags, no surprises here), reinvents the wheel all around (date and color formats etc), and most of all does not have a standards-grade look and feel required for a universal and (virtually) eternal document format (doesn’t have to be perfect, but can’t be that imperfect). Countries that will absent their vote probably had a tough time in the decision process with a lot of conflicts between political ramblings and technical facts. This was almost the case for India and our government, but we got the courage to do the right thing.
Microsoft legal advisor has said, India might change its decision if MS corrects its 600 technical problems with OOXML The technical problems are not really technical, they are management decisions to make sure MS monopoly stays.. After all Office is the 2nd largest cash bank for microsoft after windows. While Linux has been standing up against Windows, Open Office has been fighting against MS Office. I will recommend all readers to try out Open Office (windows version is available). I am really proud India took this decision. I hope India does not change its mind, due to a certain someone (cough..MS) sending in a few projects to India or some cash flows in.