Standards battles tend to be all about politics and politicking, as the increasingly heated Open Document Format (ODF) vs. Office Open XML (OOXL) file-format contest proves.
Blogs (and lawsuits) have become the new battleground. In this corner, we have Bob Sutor, Vice President of Standards and Open Source for IBM. He's joined by Massachusetts attorney Andy Updegrove, who is with technology law firm Gesmer Updegrove LLP. And in this corner, we've got Jason Matusow, Microsoft's director of corporate standards strategy. And his assistant, Doug Mahugh, Microsoft Open XML Tech Evangelist.
For those who'd rather not wade through Microsoft's 6,000-page spec or a Wikipedia synopsis which may or may not be accurate, here's an admittedly oversimplified (but hopefully digestible) summary:
Microsoft, with its more than 90 percent desktop-office-suite market share, is trying to push a new, unwanted "standard" on customers, the OOXML critics say. Making matters more egregious, Microsoft won't insure that OOXML and ODF are interoperable. (The OOXML-ODF translator Microsoft rolled out last week only provides a partial solution: It allows Microsoft Office users to open and work on documents created in ODF format and to save those documents in ODF format, but not vice versa.) Microsoft says IBM and other open-source allies are behind any pushback OOXML encounters at the standardization level.