The overall focus of the conference is intellectual property rights (the IPRs in the conference title), a topic of more than usually current interest, given that the US brought a formal complaint against China before the World Trade Organization (the WTO in the conference title) last week, charging China with inadequate efforts to police infringement of IPR. Only a few days thereafter, China enacted laws that would decrease by half the number of copies of pirated content that would constitute "serious" (from 1,000 down to 500), and from "very serious" (from 5,000 to 2,500), and more significantly, dramatically increase the penalties for doing so. Presumably each side was aware of the other's intended actions, so the new Chinese legislation is likely intended more as a public refutation of US charges rather than a concession likely to take the complaint off the WTO's table.
But the conference is also timely in that McNealy took a meaningful amount of time during his presentation to note that there are (in his words) three main document formats in existence today: Microsoft Office, Open Document Format (ODF) and China's Uniform Office Format (UOF). And he also called for the last two to be merged.
I, for one, will be waiting with great interest to see whether McNealy’s invitation is accepted, and if so, through which of the two technical approaches available.
For further blog entries on ODF and OOXML, click here