Chatting to local Microsofties over the past few days, a big thing that is happening in New Zealand right now is a meeting with Standards New Zealand about the Open XML data format.
I’ve spoken about this earlier … Open XML
My understanding of the issue is that there is already an Open Document Format standard, supporters of that format are resisting the Microsoft office format as an international standard. We’ll that is natural, but is that good?
Each country gets to vote on whether the Open XML format should be an International Standard.
I got Microsoft to send me their reasoning why the ratification of OpenXML is a good thing.
Framing the discussion in terms of the role of Standards New Zealand.
The Standards Councilâ€™s primary functions are to develop standards, and to promote, encourage and facilitate the use of standards, which benefit all New Zealanders by improving safety, quality, prosperity and convenience.
- Convenience: People use Office today because it is the most convenient product to meet their needs â€“ it is the de facto standard for document creation and exchange today. A significant volume of documents have been created by thousands of products utilising the current binary formats of Microsoft Office. Open XML is good for everybody, because it takes a specification compatible with our current documents and moves it into the public domain.
- Prosperity: Not standardising Open XML means over time all orgainsations with legacy Office documents will need to migrate them to a new format that was not designed to maintain compatibility with what has already been created. This will have a cost impact and productivity impact for all organisations because it forces you, a software user, to choose between openness and compatibility for your documents.
My feeling is that Microsoft have often been criticised for not having open formats for interoperability, here is a great example of them doing the right thing by opening up the document format and passing control it to a standards body. (Which they have done - Open XML is already an ECMA Standard.)
I believe this is great news for organisations like us who partner with Microsoft and have built upon Microsoft document formats. Office is a standard by default.
No vendor is impartial in this debate. Forrester cover that off here. So this is a tech/political debate (looking forward to your comments) and on Thursday/Friday the front-line of that debate is here in New Zealand.
I think Standards New Zealand should endorse the standard. New Zealand has had huge adoption of Microsoft technologies and we have a long history of developing local technology companies in partnership with Microsoft. Of all the multi-nationals Microsoft have stood out as embracing the local community and developing in country expertise. In practice and especially in New Zealand, Microsoft data formats are already a standard.
I don’t think we have anything to gain by rejecting this.