Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Fri 18th Jan, 2008

Microsoft OOXML compliance

I don't know if anyone else has asked this about Microsoft and its proposed OOXML standard, but what guarantee do we have that Microsoft's own software implements it correctly? How do you know? What test suites do they have to prove that they comply with the 'standard'? Given that what I've seen of their standard includes the ability to have arbitrary binary blobs of data which seem to allow the abilty to include proprietary formatting outside the standard, and that these and many other options (such as DoLineBreaksLineWord95 and so forth) are deliberately left unimplementable, how do we know that Microsoft's own software is using as much of the standard that can be implemented by other vendors? For all we know, they could put the critical Office 2007 formatting in binary blobs and any other vendor implementing the standard would look like they'd done it incorrectly, where it would simply be a case of not being given all the information.

Microsoft have already said that they plan to not follow the standard in the future, allegedly so that they can continue to innovate. So why would they even bother to implement the standard now? This to me is as compelling a reason for voting 'no' to OOXML as any other reason, because it doesn't matter how good that standard is, if Microsoft choose not to follow it it won't be worth the paper it's written on.

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