CeBIT 08: Red Hat says Australia missed OOXML opportunity

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CeBIT 08: Red Hat says Australia missed OOXML opportunity

Australia may have missed an opportunity to promote open technology by abstaining from the recent OOXML vote, according to Linux distribution vendor Red Hat.

Speaking at the Open CeBIT conference in Sydney today, Red Hat’s Asia Pacific Senior Product Manager Frank Feldmann said he was disappointed that OOXML has been accepted as an international standard.

The standardisation of OOXML comes after an International Standards Organisation (ISO) vote that closed on Saturday 29 March.

Australia was one of 41 countries that participated in a decision to make OOXML (Open Office XML) an international standard alongside the existing standard, OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Denmark, Germany, Japan and Singapore were among 24 countries that voted in favour of Microsoft’s format. Eight countries, including China and New Zealand disapproved, while nine countries, including Australia, chose to abstain from voting.

“I was very disappointed that Australia did not vote,” Feldmann said. “Your New Zealand cousins did, and they said no.”

“You really missed an opportunity there,” he said.

Feldmann compared the code required to format red text in ODF and OOXML, which is developed and promoted by Microsoft.

While the Open Source ODF was found to use the same code in text documents, presentations and spreadsheets, OOXML required different commands for each.

Furthermore, OOXML was originally developed for the proprietary Microsoft Office software suite, and as such, may not be implementable as easily on some platforms.

“A lot of OOXML development came not from Open Source; it came from Microsoft’s office suite,” Feldmann argued.

“To me, it’s an absolute no brainer. Should OOXML be an international standard? It should not,” he said.

The burden of blame for the OOXML decision was attributed to Standards Australia, which represented the country for the ISO process.

Feldmann encouraged conference attendees to urge policy makers to build a collaborative, open environment that enables and rewards innovation.

“Innovation should be defined by what you do, not what you own,” he said. “Keep putting pressure on your government.”
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