Open Letter to Microsoft on the broken Office OOXML

Singapore’s ITSC will vote on the OOXML on Friday, August 24th 2007 at a meeting. How it will go is not clear yet. Watch this space


Open Letter to Microsoft on the broken Office OOXML

Dear Microsoft,

You may have noticed that 25.000 people from around the world have
signed a petition against your attempts to get ISO approval for your
so-called "Office Open XML" format.  The petition has already been
translated into 26 languages. There is a global wave of protest against
your attempts to stuff the ISO committees with your friends.

On behalf of the 25.000 people world-wide who signed our petition,
we'd like to ask you a few simple questions. Feel free to ignore this,
as you have ignored every rule of decency and raped the ISO process
in order to get your crummy proprietary format declared "standard".

Here are our questions. They're quite simple. According to the OOXML
specification (ECMA 376),

   1. What day of the week corresponds to 1st January 1900?
   2. How many working days are there between Monday 4th
       June 2007 and Saturday 14th July 2007 in countries such
       as Algeria or Jordan?
   3. How many days did the Spanish War last, which started
       on 2nd May 1808 and ended on the 30th of October 1813?
   4. What is the average deviation of this dataset (5, 10)?
   5. How many days were in the month of February 1900?

Any half-decent spreadsheet should be able to calculate these.
Certainly any format that wants to be taken seriously as an
international standard should implement these calculations
properly, with proper respect for cultural differences.

Around the world you're asking hundreds of millions to use your
software, in education, in business and in government. Please prove
- it should take about five minutes - that you're not asking the world to
adopt a format that can't even do basic calculations.

Microsoft, use your own software to calculate above answers, and
tell us what score OOXML gets out of 5.



  1. Why double standards?
    I’m quite unsure about the dog-fights going on between ODF and OpenXML. With two ISO standards, does it mean that we should have two different set of traffic rules for our roads too? One for the “Fararri’s & Porsche’s” and another for the “Nissan’s and Toyota’s”?

    • Re: Why double standards?
      Not so much as double standards, as much as maintaining a vendor lock in. MS has and will continue to use influence/threat/money to buy support.
      When one wants to engage with them objectively, fairly and above board, they balk.
      There was a session that was to have been held by a Greg Thomas of MS – who apparently is an expert on interoperability (isn’t every one in MS?). The session had to do with ooxml and they planned a three hour agenda. The invitation was sent to the XML TC and the TC promptly forwarded it to all of the council.
      I expressed interest in attending, if nothing else, to understand more clearly from them.
      But, alas, I was deemed persona non grata and barred from entry – for you see, I am biased. I am biased because I said that their KPI will be affected in my Feb 5 blog post.
      Never mind. When I do see the individuals involved, I will still say hi, give them the time of the day and treat them as fair and worthy individuals. I am not sure they will of me. But that is fine.

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