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Dust Swirls Over Office Open XML Complaints

Mom, they're arguing again.

Who? Microsoft and IBM, of course.

The latest dust up swirls around a Microsoft four-page open letter published on the Web on Valentine's Day that accuses IBM of trying to block users' choice when it comes to document formats.

Indeed, Microsoft lashed out in response to IBM's efforts to scuttle progress of its Office Open XML (OOXML) formats in a key European standards body.

"A lot of hype -- and smoke and mirrors obfuscation -- surrounds interoperability these days," Microsoft's letter begins.

The spat is just the latest development in a continuing fracas between Microsoft and its rivals over formats for office applications. IBM, as well as Sun Microsystems, have argued that the proprietary nature of Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) long term threatens users' access to their own documents and that constitutes a threat to open access.

Microsoft has, in fact, been working towards greater interoperability between its OOXML formats and OpenDocument Format (ODF) that IBM and other leading Redmond competitors have been sponsoring. Just last week, it announced availability of an open source ODF translator add-in for Word 2007 that it sponsored through SourceForge, with plans to implement Excel and PowerPoint add-ins by the end of November.

Sun took the wraps off its own ODF to Word translator last week.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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