Indian Denial To OOXML Continues

So India says no to OOXML, and as a software professional and I will say that I am happy. India has denied OOXML the nod earlier citing its technical incompetence.

This time, interestingly, the three big software companies – TCS, Wipro and Infosys all supported OOXML. Even NASSCOM, which represents the IT industry was in favor of OOXML. The ones who opposed were the the likes of Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, IBM and more importantly the academia including IITs, IIMs and IISC.

Unfortunately not much about the debate is made public. The opposition is not something new, most of the world agrees that OOXML has problems at multiple levels (pdf), right from the technical specifications to the patents. It will be really valuable to find out why NASSCOM along with TCS, Wipro and Infosys wanted OOXML to be a standard. Unless they are non-technical reasons. I hope that at some point of time the details are made available, at least to software professionals.

It is important to make these debates as transparent as possible. A lot of yess and nos might not be based on technical merit as OOXML might affect a lot of businesses in positive and negative ways. However, whether it should be a standard or not should be based on whether it is good or bad for the users, not businesses. That is the reason I think it is significant that the academia has voted against OOXML.

I have said this earlier, and I hope that at some point of time the reasons behind the votes will be divulged.

While we are on the topic of OOXML, Microsoft is opening up the SDK. Opening up the SDK is good, and Microsoft will attract a lot of developers since a lot of businesses operate in that world. It will be good, but again for only those who are trapped in that world.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Robert Domitz said:

    It is important to remember, for good or ill, that businesses ARE users. A perfect standard will not be adopted by business users if either the initial cost to implement or the usage costs are too high. It is not just the user at the keyboard, but the effect on computerized processes, that is the high and often hidden cost. As a business programmer, I find that the organization I work for is bound to Microsoft Office 2000 because of custom programs which only work with those versions of Excel and Word at the COM level. Migrating to later version of Office has been considered several times, but funds for the associated cost or upgrading has never survived the budgeting process. For business users wedded to Microsoft products, they will cheerfully give Microsoft whatever Microsoft wants because of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD factor) over the costs of change.
    (Of course, other businesses stand to make money from the proposed standard, but others have vetted this thought almost to exhaustion!)

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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