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Office XML Format Wars

It looks like battle lines are brewing once again between Sun and Microsoft.  So far, I've only read what is published in popular press, and what is out there is a bit confusing.  But from what I see, there is value in both positions.

Microsoft seems to be pushing the idea that users can define and document new XML vocabularies, and providing tools that will assist with creation of documents that conform to such vocabularies.  This is goodness.

Sun seems to be pushing for the idea of standardized and interoperable vocabularies for such concepts as pie charts.  This is also a good idea (much as a standardized and interoperable vocabulary for unordered sets of key, value pairs would be a good idea, but I digress).

I don't know if either ideal can be pulled off, but any effort to produce XML vocabularies that are widely supported, not mandatory, and extensible is a good thing.

The best Microsoft piece about the Office XML story is at

I may be doing a piece in the near future that goes into some more detail about it if everything falls into place. Until then you can read

for your "XML articles by Dare" fix. :)

Posted by Dare Obasanjo


Much though it may seem like it this isn't another Sun vs. MS borefest. This is an 'Open Source Community vs. MS' borefest.

To be honest it's MS seeing that their primary weapon is retaining control of their file format and trying to work out a way to do that, preferably in a way that goes against what everyone else is doing.

If you want details on how the open file format currently works check out There's a load of other cool stuff there including xfilter which lets you use XSLT to make file format converters.

If you've got any other questions or want more in depth stuff let me know, we like to chat. Or I can at least push you to the right person who's a bit more knowledgable than myself.

Posted by Nick Richards at

Pingback from Sam Ruby: Open Office Wars, part 2


Open Office Wars, part 3

Simon St. Laurent: I still think there are two sides to this story. On one side, the ability of MS tools to adapt to formats that users can describe will be an incredible step forward. On the other hand, this doesn't explain an unwillingness to ... [more]

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