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Return to original subject: The Nuclear Option
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 28 2007 @ 05:36 AM CDT
I am an open source supporter. This issue is no different to the SAMBA case, recently resolved favourably, where for years the open source people have been pushing to get MS to disclose all about SMB: quality documentation, with an intertia that prevents MS from arbitrarily changing important parts, with clear free licensing, *helps* open source developers. 

Why is it in the interests of Open Source for MS to be forced to disclose their file protocols, but not equally in the same interest for them to be forced to disclose their file format?   The head of SAMBA development (not Andrew, the other one) gave an interview after the recent case, mentioning how it would have been great if MS has standardized their format. I agree with that: in fact, I think *all* technologies related to super-profit industries should be forced to be standardized and RF.

The argument seems to be that if it is a standard, people will be forced to use it. But as ISO emphasized last month, this is a decision for users (governments, etc) not ISO; there is simply no scope in the ISO procedure for blocking OOXML if it goes through the right processes (almost a year of review, a multinational ballot resolution process, etc.)  I have repeatedly said that ODF was a better format for public websites, with HTML and PDF being preferable for read-only documents.

This may be a too sophisticated view for a black-and-whiter, but it useless trying to put a square peg in a round hole: because I know a little about the ISO process, and because impartiality needs to be the hallmark of ISO for many reasons (including legal), I have never thought that OOXML wouldn't get to a BRM and get standardized. All this emotion against it is fighting the wrong battle: what needs to happen is that legislators need to be lobbied to put hard cash into open source (GPL!) implementations of open standards (in particular ODF) so that they have a hope of winning any procurement rounds on quality and features. And then governments need to be lobbied to adopt this free software. You say you are for  open source, but if you don't have some program in mind like this, then you are just a dreamer: get practical! 

(As for Wikipedia, all my comments went through the discussion pages; they were almost all accepted by independent editors, who made the changes. This is certainly by the book, and I had enormous support from Wikipedia editors who really impressed me. )

Thanks for your support
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