Copyright © 2007 by Kordite
"Another key factor is the fact that people recognize the broad use of Open XML in the market as seen by the hundreds of independent implementations of Ecma 376." [Jason Matusow, Microsoft Director of Standards]
Think of the confusion if we only partially implemented the HTML standard. Okay — bad example. What if we only partially implemented a railroad standard? The track gauge would be correct, but the rail width was incorrect, or there was only one rail? Or maybe the track stopped before reaching its destination. Microsoft continues to maintain the Rovian perspective that a standard with "support" (their language is improving to "implementations") rather than complete conformance is good news for the industry. In this particular case it even ignores the very conformance statement in their own standard. It's only good news for Microsoft. It means lots of people are encouraged to do partial things around documents produced by Microsoft Office 2008. The economics is in the vendor's favour, not the consumer's. It defeats the actual purpose of de jure standardization. [In the industry, we call it a vendor specification regardless of standards body imprimatur.]
We now enter the next phase of the dance. Customers will discover they don't get the benefits that they thought they bought. A customer of note [likely government] or a consortia will put together a conformance certification program around the standards in the space. Brands and certifications will be the rule of the day. Microsoft will discover it needs to actually ensure their own products adhere [formally] to the standards they produced. The Microsoft Office team will discover conformance testing to a specification is (i.) hard work, (ii.) different than normal product testing, and (iii) that their product is drifting off the very standard they launched. (The .NET runtime team learned this a few years ago and I'm betting there are still conformance bugs logged against the product as "won't fix".) Implementation conformance will become important.
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." — Inigo Montoya, in the Princess Bride
Other writing I've done in this space: