In what seems to be a blow to Microsoft Office dominance, the EC has sent Sun a letter that indicates that the “International Organization for Standardization” (ISO) looks like making the OpenOffice.org XML based file formats as the standard ISO file format for office documents.
The reason is pretty simple I believe, OpenOffice formats are just that, totally open. Anyone inclined to, can knock out a program that can read and write OpenOffice format files. The same can not be said for Microsoft office file formats, which have traditionally been very hard for Microsoft competitors to use, and in fact may result in patent lawsuits for people that try.
This is a huge bonus for the free open source office application suite, because if it happens, Microsoft will likely be forced to add OpenOffice file formats to their office suite to ensure compatibility. This means that one more reason to stick with expensive Microsoft software is gone. You will be able to use OpenOffice as your office suite and be sure that MS office users will be able to read your documents.
Microsoft can’t really argue too much against this as they have been under increasing scrutiny from the European Commission (EC) for anti-competitive behaviour, and objecting to a totally open, unencumbered file format will likely fall on deaf, unsympathetic ears. OpenOffice.org, and it’s big brother StarOffice are already popular in their own right. According to Sun, the two have been downloaded more then 35 million times, and that doesn’t include the fact that OpenOffice.org is packaged up and included with every major Linux distribution available. (OpenOffice.org is available for Windows, Linux, Mac and Solaris operating systems.)
You can read the full story at InternetNews.
In other news, a bunch of former Microsoft and BEA execs are starting an Open Source venture called “SourceLabs” and it won’t have anything to do with Windows. The main idea is to provide Enterprise operations with the assurances required for any software undertaking of large scale. And the sales pitch is “We promise not to lock you in, ever”. (meaning never using proprietary file formats and other tricks to force you to keep buying a companies software in order to access your data.)
Open source software like Linux is very quickly gaining serious cred in enterprise circles. Eweek has the full story on this one.