If This was Tomorrow Yesterday Someone’s Position Must Have Changed By Now (or did it?)

Yesterday, Microsoft made the following statement: "We have no plans to directly support the OpenDocument format at this time." Is that really news, or do we just want it to be?

Yesterday, Microsoft made the following statement: “We have no plans to directly support the OpenDocument format at this time.” Is that really news, or do we just want it to be? On Tuesday I posted an entry noting how Microsoft and Corel continue to shuck and jive in their positions on OpenDocument support, and how all the attention their statements are getting in the press and the Blogosphere may be trying to make too much news out of too little information — in fact, the movements (such as they are) are so insignificant that they are really intended to create deniability for the company rather than to offer real information to the marketplace.


Well, today is another day, so there had to be another tidbit for us all to chew over, and here it is: yesterday, Microsoft gave a statement to TGDaily.com saying that it had no plans to support OpenDocument. TGDaily.com’s Scott M. Fulton, III posted a story on that statement late last night, which begins as follows:

Redmond (Washington) – In a statement to TG Daily, a Microsoft spokesperson has officially denied that the company is making plans to support OpenDocument Format (ODF), the XML-based file structure developed for Microsoft Office’s open-source competitor, OpenOffice.org.


“We have no plans to directly support the OpenDocument format at this time,” reads the statement, e-mailed to us this afternoon. “Our standards-based formats for Office 2003, as well as our announcement that XML will be the default file format in Office ’12,’ have been extremely well received by customers and partners, including over 330,000 developers who are leveraging Office’s XML support already. We fully expect partners, independent companies, and competitors to provide converters between our Open XML formats and the OpenDocument formats, and are aware of a few projects along these lines already.”

 The story later observes that “The story leading up to Microsoft’s denial today has more twists and changes of possession than a pro hockey game” and goes on to review recent statements from Corel and Microsoft, blog posts (including one of mine) and speculates about what’s really going on.



All of this reminds me of Kremlinologists in the State Department back in the 60’s trying to figure out whose star was rising and whose was falling by looking at how far, and to which side, of the Fearless Leader they were standing, or perhaps Wall Street trying to unencrypt the latest gnomic statement by Alan Greenspan.




Of course, this latest statement by Microsoft doesn’t really say anything new or different, when compared with any of the previous statements that it’s made, going right back to what may be considered the original statement from Senior Attorney Nick Tsilas that I reported on October 10, which was as follows:




I think what we have said is that features are dictated by customer demand and, until the Massachusetts-related activity occurred, Open Document was not even on our radar screens….For us this has been, and will continue to be a matter of evaluating the flow of customer requirements, and this is a new issue. For example, while the timing may be suspect to some, our pdf development was the result of evaluating customer requirements.

Which, really, is no different than what another Microsoft spokesperson was saying back in June:





Pryke-Smith said Microsoft would not be adopting OpenDocument, citing backwards compatibility concerns, but did say the company will watch to see how adoption of the standard develops. “We’ll respond to customer demand on that,” he said. “Our main focus is serving our existing customer base.”

If there is a crumb of news here, it would be that Microsoft may have decided that third-party converters will solve it’s problem, at least for now. Or, of course, that may not be what they’re really thinking at all.





So what we do know (and really all that we know) is the following:




1. Microsoft hasn’t said that they will never support OpenDocument.




2. Microsoft has said that they have no (public) plans to support OpenDocument right now.




With this statement, I suspect that this is where things will lie until something actually happens in the marketplace to warrant a change of position (like another significant government adoption of OpenDocument).




Now I wonder what Corel will [not] say today?




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