Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The World gets it, when will the US?

Heise On-line reports that the German Foreign Office hosted a conference for international users of the OpenDocument Format (ODF), to which they "invited about 150 users and political observers".

While one would expect a conference on ODF to be pro-ODF, which this conference certainly sounds to have been, it also showed that the international community, the world, gets what ODF has to offer that Microsoft - in both its Doc and its OOXML formats - cannot: standardization, compatibility, freedom to choose the software of their choice while having compatibility.

A few good quotes:
Mr. Yadava declared ODF to be a way out of the current file format chaos that went hand-in-hand with a high risk of data loss.

"We no longer accept Word documents," Yatindra Singh, a judge at the High Court in Allahabad, declared. These were not easy to convert into ODF-compatible files, he stated.

Office Open XML (OOXML), Microsoft's thwarted candidate for a second open ISO document standard would, in the opinion of Mr. Schie├čl, not be suitable for comparable tasks because of its complexity.

What was called for was competition between implementations of ODF, not competition between file formats, he stated. Everything else would only make future migrations more difficult.

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called ODF "a completely open and ISO-standardized format." It was thus an "excellent basis" for "a free exchange of knowledge and information in a time of globalization," he declared. This in turn was a necessary ingredient of the knowledge society, he averred.

So, when will the U.S. finally learn and get with it? From the sounds of it, the U.S. will isolate itself if it stays Microsoft's path. Certainly not the first time that has happened, but it would be a devastating blow to the U.S. economically if it does. The U.S. , economically, is largely dependent on the global markets, which are going in support of ODF and ISO standardization. Unless the U.S. follows suit, it will be in a difficult position to compete - or for that matter, to even play the game.