Earlier this week, Microsoft Office standards chief Jim Thatcher quietly announced that Microsoft would add ”two additional formats for use: Strict Open XML and Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2. … [and] support for opening PDF documents so they can be edited within Word and saved to any supported format.” It took Microsoft long enough.
As Andrew ‘Andy’ Updegrove, a founding partner of Gesmer Updegrove, a top technology law firm and standards expert points out, this “brings a degree of closure to a seven year long epic battle between some of the largest technology companies in the world. The same saga pitted open source advocates against proprietary vendors, and for the first time brought the importance of technical standards to the attention of millions of people around the world, and at the center of the action were Microsoft and IBM, the latter supported by Google and Oracle, among other allies.”
Updegrove continued, “More specifically, the battle had been joined between the supporters of the Open Document Format – ODF for short – developed by OASIS, and then adopted by ISO/IEC, and a format developed and promoted by Microsoft, called Open XML, which it contributed to ECMA for adoption before also being submitted to ISO/IEC. In due course, Open XML was adopted as well, but only after a global battle that, improbably, even inspired a public protest on the sidewalks outside a standards committee meeting.”
The battle was largely over Microsoft’s desire to control “open” document standards.