Microsoft opens up Office binary file formats

Microsoft has released the Microsoft Office binary file formats (doc, xls, ppt) under Microsoft Open Specification Promise, which effectively says: “We will never assert our patent claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing implementations of the covered specifications.”

Indeed, these file formats are pretty complicated (it takes more than 200 pages to spec the Word .doc file format; Joel Spolsky explains why). But releasing them into the open means that the makers of OpenOffice and other alternatives will have a legal way of properly supporting these formats — and that they will probably get a lot of user pressure to implement this support.

This move also seems to support a statement I’ve made some time ago: that opening up is the only way for Microsoft to retain their market dominance in the long term.

Having the binary document formats “locked up” by Microsoft gave OpenOffice.org an easy way to tell their users: “Do not save your files as .doc, .xls, and .ppt, but go with the standards-based open file formats instead.” Well, by opening up the formats the Borg has taken this excuse — and one very strong argument in favour of supporting the OpenDocument standards — away from its competitors.

2 Responses to “Microsoft opens up Office binary file formats”


  • See on täielik bullshit ja Microsofti järjekordne pettus, muud midagi.
    Veidi põhjalikumat analüüsi, kui minu eespool väljakäidu leiab näiteks
    siit: http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20080221092839846

    siit: http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-42339/binary-format-review

    ja siit: http://standardsandfreedom.net/index.php/2008/02/22/rumours-of-microsoft-opening-up-greatly-exaggerated/

    Microsoft lihtsalt üritan hääli püüda OOXML standardiks tunnistamiseks: “this is just Microsoft trying to catch a few votes in the BRM meeting in Geneva next week. Many of the outstanding objections to ISO approval of OOXML is about referencing binary and proprietary file formats. Some participants might change their vote to a yes if Microsoft can convince them, that these file formats are open in some way.”

    EU komisjoni seisukoht Microosofti “õnnesõnumi” peale on aga järgmine:

    If Microsoft’s hope was to head off an upgrade by the European Commission of it’s current investigations to a formal complaint, that hope did not bear fruit. Microsoft acknowledged during its press conference that it had given the European Commission an advance “heads up” of what it would say, which enabled the EC to issue a stiff press release of its own just after the Microsoft announcement. That press release began as follows (the full text appears at the end of this blog entry):
    The European Commission takes note of today’s announcement by Microsoft of its intention to commit to a number of principles in order to promote interoperability with some of its high market share software products. This announcement does not relate to the question of whether or not Microsoft has been complying with EU antitrust rules in this area in the past. The Commission would welcome any move towards genuine interoperability. Nonetheless, the Commission notes that today’s announcement follows at least four similar statements by Microsoft in the past on the importance of interoperability. In January 2008, the Commission initiated two formal antitrust investigations against Microsoft – one relating to interoperability, one relating to tying of separate software products (see MEMO/08/19). In the course of its ongoing interoperability investigation, the Commission will therefore verify whether Microsoft is complying with EU antitrust rules, whether the principles announced today would end any infringement were they implemented in practice, and whether or not the principles announced today are in fact implemented in practice. Today’s announcement by Microsoft does not address the tying allegations.

  • Tasuks üldse vaadata asju laiemas kontekstis. Microsoft on oma käitumiselt sisuliselt maffialaadne kuritegelik firma. Eriti hästi tuleb see välja praegu Genfis toimuval ISO istungil, kus arutatakse MS OOXML dokumendivormingu standardimise küsimust.
    Teema kohta vt linke jm http://www.artsturm.ee/odf/

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