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16 February 2006


Gavin Clarke

I can’t help but think Jason was speaking with a mix of Redmond ideology and defensiveness having been caught out on the subject of Office XML File Formats, when he said Office XML File Formats could lead to multiple implementations of Office.

Yes, Microsoft is pushing Office XML File Formats through ECMA for standards ratification. Thing is, the last time Microsoft “used” ECMA to develop a standard just one independent implementation emerged.

The standard was for C# and the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI). The only independent implementation was the late and incomplete Project Mono.

Don’t expect multiple implementations of Office using the Office XML File Formats. In fact, don’t expect much to change at all in the Office franchise. The sad fact is, Microsoft has the Office market sewn up in so many markets and it’s going to get a whole lot tighter, as Microsoft deepens integration between the Office productivity and server products, like SQL Server.

What you can expect, though, is an ecosystem of ISVs and service providers to emerge using Office XML File Formats to deliver new applications capable of tapping data that is held in Office. This ecosystem will help to further enrich the Office feature set and consolidate the suite’s hold at home and in businesses.

That Microsoft faces a mountain of problems persuading users to upgrade from ancient copies of Office, esp Office 97, to the latest edition, Office 2007, is not in question. But independent implementations? That takes more than open standards. That requires open code. And that ain’t happening. Not yet, at least.


Nice article, and your articulation of the incumbent's problem and his over-delivery and under-absorption by users (demand side) is a concept definitely worth pondering you have mentioned, this is just exactly what Microsoft is trying to do as an incumbent, as well as what we poor sods are doing as the end-users

Ec @

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