First Report from Armonk ODF Meeting The ODF Train is Leaving the Station

This will be the first of several reports on the results of the historic IBM/Sun sponsored ODF meeting held in Armonk today. Look for lots more to come in the week ahead.

Something of a historic meeting was held at the IBM Learning Center in Armonk today (preceded by a dinner the night before). I’ll give more details over the next several days, and you should keep an eye out for press releases next week. But in the time allowed before my puddle jumper takes off from Westchester, here are some of the high points.


The meeting was historic in a number of ways: first, Sun and IBM have rarely shared a marquee in the past, and yet both have committed to ODF, not only publicly, but shoulder to shoulder at thise meeting as full partners in the endeavour. And they had lots of company today, including Adobe, Corel, Computer Associates, Force 6 3, Google, Nokia, Novell, and RedHat, not to mention Peter Quinn, Massachusetts CIO, Patrick Gannon of OASIS, and folks from OSI, RedMonk, and yours truly (among others). I’ll receive a full attendance list later today, but picked these up during the quick introductions at the beginning of the meeting. In all, about 40 people were in attendance, including those from standards, technical, marketing, disability support and other disciplines.


The meeting was historic also in the remarkable degree of unanimity of purpose displayed. I sat through about four hours of plenary meetings, and three hours of the Business Strategy breakout group (the other two groups were Technical and Policy), and I can’t recall a single disagreement of note during the entire day.


And finally, historic in that this was a time when you sensed that you could actually feel the world shift a bit from the old to the new, and that in the future, some things that seemed obvious in the paradigm you’ve lived your life in up to that point in time will never seem as obvious again.


There were a number of notable decisions, some of which I’ll touch on briefly now, and some of which I’ll return to next week as events planned today are put into play. Here is the quick list of those that I can talk about now:


1. Addressing the accessibility issue will be a major focus of events that will be announced shortly. There has been a commitment made to not only close the gap between Microsoft Office and ODF by the Commonwealth’s deadline of January 1, 2007, but also to make ODF a superior alternative to Office for those with disabilities by that date, if not before. Look for concrete details in press releases to follow.


2. Peter Quinn gave us a detailed briefing of the situation in Massachusetts. He remains dedicated and determined to stay the course. By day’s end, he had received the full and active support from all those in attendance to give him what he needs to respond convincingly to any and all critics.


3. Look for a joint press release from all of the major attendees early next week, with other announcements to follow.


Unfortunately, that’s all I have time for now; the plane is leaving the station.


And so is ODF.


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