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Study Says OOXML Unsuitable For Norwegian Government 145

Posted by kdawson
from the party-like-it's-1997 dept.
angry tapir writes "Microsoft's XML-based office document format, OOXML, does not meet the requirements for governmental use, according to a new report published by the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (DIFI). The agency wants to start a debate over the report as part of its work on standards in the Norwegian government. (As we discussed a week ago, Denmark has already decided to choose ODF over OOXML.)"
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Study Says OOXML Unsuitable For Norwegian Government

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  • Fredonia (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08, 2010 @08:04PM (#31067272)

    The government of Fredonia chooses .txt, ASCII, with \n line endings.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08, 2010 @08:06PM (#31067292)

    The OOXML-standardization backstory is pretty convoluted, so I'm not sure I can give an accurate summary, but as far as I can tell this is basically another round in the ongoing fight that seems to have, for some reason, been more active in Norway than elsewhere. The article mentions that the main author of this report was involved in the controversy at the ISO, and there was also a related controversy [slashdot.org] in one of Norway's national standards bodies.

    • As much as I think OOXML is a joke (hell, most of the people I've seen using Office 2007 are setting their defaults back to 2003 document formats, and not using docx or xlsx at all), I don't think you're going to get a completely unbiased assessment on OOXML's suitability from a guy who has already made his mark as being opposed.

      Despite all of that, OOXML is at least partially supported in OpenOffice, and hopefully in future versions support will be more complete. I think ODF is by far the superior standar

    • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:44PM (#31067916) Journal
      Government and industrial institutions, once they reach a certain size, are notoriously risk-adverse. If there's a change in the weather, they'd prefer someone else to be the weathervane. Things that happen in Norway can have a disproportionate amount of influence across the world.

      It's not a phenomenon limited to the office software industry, either; in the electricity distribution industry, for example, many very large organisations are watching what's happening in Portugal and Spain and have stated they want to incorporate that experience before they launch their own programmes of change.

      Why? Simply because they're doing it first. I guess it's because they're smaller and a bit more agile, I don't know. But it's much cheaper to watch someone else make mistakes and follow blind alleys rather than take the risk on yourself. Risk is expensive.

      So, the electricity world watches Iberia. The bureaucracies of the world will be watching Norway, make no mistake.

  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday February 08, 2010 @08:07PM (#31067300) Journal

    DIFI's[1] report was written by Hypatia, a Norwegian consultancy specializing in standardization and software accessibility.

    Strange, that the name of the consultancy is Hypatia. She, after all, was a mathematician-philosopher who ascribed to Plotinus's ideal... that empirical research is inherently flawed, and only logic and mathematics can achieve truth.

    I mean, there's a clear relationship here that I find very amusing. Microsoft's OOXML, while sure to be empirically more interoperable with most users due to the pervasity of Microsoft Office, is not logically more interoperable due to the nature of what MS has done to the "open" standard.

    Delicious allegory.

    [1] DIFI is the Norwegian Agency responsible for the decision.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Microsoft's OOXML I don't even think is true OOXML it is similar to OOXML but its different.
    • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday February 08, 2010 @08:27PM (#31067472)

      Microsoft's OOXML, while sure to be empirically more interoperable with most users due to the pervasity of Microsoft Office,

      Doesn't interoperability [wikipedia.org] mean ability to work with diverse systems?

      If users of MS Office share documents, that's not interoperability since they all use the same software family. You have to look at users who transfer documents back and forth between diverse software systems, eg MS Office, Open Office, Lotus Symphony, AppleWorks, etc.

      Interoperability is about making faithful conversions easy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vux984 (928602)

        Doesn't interoperability mean ability to work with diverse systems?

        Yes and no. The hiccup is the semantics of 'diverse'.

        I could, for example, argue that a random sampling of end users computers make for a collection of 'diverse systems'.

        The wikipedia article you linked for example contains this bit of doublespeak:

        According to ISO/IEC 2382-01, Information Technology Vocabulary, Fundamental Terms, interoperability is defined as follows: "The capability to communicate, execute programs, or transfer data among

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by willabr (684561)
        Norway, hm..... How about Open Object Foundation Document Architecture (OOFDA)
      • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:39PM (#31067882)

        If users of MS Office share documents, that's not interoperability since they all use the same software family.

        Sure, OOXML works with both Country and Western!

      • Re:What's in a name (Score:4, Informative)

        by rtb61 (674572) on Monday February 08, 2010 @11:09PM (#31068336) Homepage

        To cut a long story short http://news.cnet.com/Office-2007-fails-OOXML-conformance-test/2100-7344_3-6237855.html [cnet.com], M$ Office fails it's own standards test, so as regards the monopoly office application the standard is obviously not standard to anything, even within it's own purpose designed program suite. I suppose for that you have to buy the next upgrade or even perhaps the one after that etc. etc..

        For M$ to adhere to ODF is simply a choice, for others to adhere to OOXML represents high risk of patent infringement, licence fees, of the standard saying one thing whilst their program does another, ensuring all competitors will never end up being totally compatible and remain a bit buggy.

        • M$ Office fails it's own standards test

          C|Net is way to politically-correct to spell it openly.

          Large software standards are hard to conform to. Both OO.o and KOffice have problems complying with ODF here and there too. But they try to and the incompatibilities are treated as bugs.

          The crucial difference is that M$ openly stated that they are not going to hold M$O release nor change its development model to ensure conformance to their own still-born standard.

      • by mahadiga (1346169)
        I think Interoperability without Open source is Oxymoron.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by euxneks (516538)
      This has got to be one of the most geeky and wonderful posts I have read on Slashdot in a long long time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Red Flayer (890720)


        Every now and then I think perhaps I'm a pretender on slashdot, since it's been ages since I've done computer stuff as a hobby or profession. Sure, I use computers constantly, but only really as an end-user. At home, I spend more time on carpentry, or even painting, then I spend tinkering with my PCs or media server.

        Then someone like you comes along and reaffirms my membership in the greater geek community.

        Thanks.
        • by PitaBred (632671)

          Anybody that does anything other than consume media for a hobby can claim at least a passing level of geekiness, IMHO and to take this even further off-topic. It's really only the people who are leeches, who consume but never produce except to enable more consumption, that are not geeks. Making and changing and fixing things for the sake of doing so and improving one's knowledge and skills is what I would think is the hallmark of being a geek, whether it be PCs, software, furniture, cars, electronics, whate

          • But seriously, you make a very powerful point here:

            Making and changing and fixing things for the sake of doing so and improving one's knowledge and skills is what I would think is the hallmark of being a geek, whether it be PCs, software, furniture, cars, electronics, whatever.

            I'm not Jewish (heck, I'm not anything religion-wise), but my wife spent some years teaching at a Jewish school, and I learned quite a lot about Judaism that I didn't know before. One thing I very much respect (for those that follow

    • by Stumbles (602007) on Monday February 08, 2010 @08:52PM (#31067622)
      To summarize; Microsoft sabotaged the standards body with their own people to solidify OOXML as t h e standard. Despite their boldness in daylight to buy a standards body, the irony is; of all groups of people, governments are recognizing Microsoft to be nothing more than a Mobster/racketeer in shrink wrap.
    • Re:What's in a name (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Arker (91948) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:54PM (#31067966) Homepage

      Microsoft's OOXML, while sure to be empirically more interoperable with most users due to the pervasity of Microsoft Office

      Actually that is not correct. Most Microsoft Office implementations found "in the wild" are *less* interoperable with the new MS Office than with Open Office.

    • So she was into string theory, was she?

    • Strange, that the name of the consultancy is Hypatia. She, after all, was a mathematician-philosopher who ascribed to Plotinus's ideal... that empirical research is inherently flawed, and only logic and mathematics can achieve truth.

      She was also murdered by a mob of Christians, who accused her of being a pagan (she was), and trying to convert other Christians (she didn't) - flayed alive by oyster shells, then burned while still alive.

      Not sure if there's any clear relationship here. And definitely not amusing, if there is one.

  • by lotho brandybuck (720697) on Monday February 08, 2010 @08:16PM (#31067376) Homepage Journal
    OOXML.. I'm a regular user of Openoffice. I'm pretty interested in it succeeding, and was pretty aware of the OOXML v. ODF issues a year ago. And still, when I saw the title of this article, my first thought for 10 seconds was... oh shit.. they're ditching Openoffice in Scandanavia! Almost like someone deliberately named OOXML to create a little confusion, isn't it?
    • by IICV (652597) on Monday February 08, 2010 @08:21PM (#31067422)

      Yeah, I'm 90% certain that OOXML/Open Office confusion is the basis for the name. I mean seriously, Office Open XML? Why not Word Open XML (WOX)? Microsoft Open XML Interchange (MOXI)? There's a million more marketable names than OOXML, that wouldn't cause any confusion with Open Office.

      But then on the other hand, this is the company that brought us Bing.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        Why not Word Open XML (WOX)?

        I agwee, because Micwosoft Wuhd totawwy wocks!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by JohnFluxx (413620)

        Try to start a movement to call it Microsoft's OOXML. Or MooXML :-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Trails (629752)

        It's not just Bing. You have to say BING!!! Like it's a bell. BING!!!

        Say it! Fuck you, you're fired!!!

        • It's not just Bing. You have to say BING!!! Like it's a bell. BING!!!

          It's time for ...

                What's brown and sounds like a bell?

      • Office Open XML? Why not Word Open XML (WOX)? Microsoft Open XML Interchange (MOXI)?

        I agree that OOXML is an unfortunate name, but naming a standard after a specific product or company name will not lend itself to becoming a standard format used by all your competitors. After all, ODF does not mention its pedigree either.

        • by IICV (652597)

          I agree that OOXML is an unfortunate name, but naming a standard after a specific product or company name will not lend itself to becoming a standard format used by all your competitors. After all, ODF does not mention its pedigree either.

          Office Open XML.

          • Office Open XML.

            As in:

            • Microsoft Office
            • OpenOffice.org
            • Star Office
            • Corel Wordperfect Office
            • Gnome Office (I use this one)
            • Ability Office (ah, that takes me back!)
            • KOffice
            • Siag Office
            • Kingsoft Office
            • SoftMaker Office
            • Breadbox Office
            • ... and so on ...

            Yes, by the end I was pulling them from the Office Suite page [wikipedia.org]. The point is, office is a generic term for a suite of software.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08, 2010 @08:33PM (#31067514)

      Not only that, but it combines "OO" and "XML", two of the most powerful buzzwords the computing industry has ever seen.

      I'm not trying to be funny, either. You wouldn't believe the number of managers I've had to deal with who see those terms, and go apeshit crazy about how good something is. Tell them your technology is "object-oriented", and they're sold. Then tell them it involves "XML", and they absolutely can't resist it.

      Mind you, these people tend to not know a thing about the technical aspects of software development. They don't know any programming languages, but are convinced that "object-oriented" is the ONLY way. They haven't got a clue what an XML document even looks like, but insist that it can do anything.

      The only thing managers these days slurp up more than "OO" and "XML" are "Web Services". If Microsoft had named it OOXMLWebServices instead of just OOXML, ODF would've been destroyed years ago.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        BOOBS also combines OO and BBS. Whats your point?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Trepidity (597)

          Thank you AC for your post, for I feel I've now understood something deep about the universe.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rattaroaz (1491445)

          BOOBS also combines OO and BBS. Whats your point?

          BOOBS are more popular that ODF and OOXML. That was the GP's point.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Barsteward (969998)
            yeah, but slashdotters have got more chance playing with ODF/OOXML than they have with BOOBS
      • by click2005 (921437) *

        It still leaves them time to add OOXML Cloud 2.0 in a future release.

    • by linebackn (131821)

      Calling it "OOXML" certainly can be confusing since it is easy to not know or remember what the "OO" stands for. But on top of that, the average person knows this format only as the "Microsoft Office 2007" format.

      And rightfully, the "Microsoft Office 2007" format is all it is.

      • by ais523 (1172701)
        Pretty much every nontechnical user I know just calls it DOCX, after the file extension Word 2007 uses by default. And they hate it; to them, it just doesn't work (i.e. they can't load it on their Word 2003 systems) and they don't know why.
        • by Xtifr (1323)

          No, DOCX is a separate de-facto standard--the XML format used by recent versions of MS Word. It is only tangentially related to MS's OOXML, the ISO-approved XML format not in use by anything or anyone.

  • It isn't OOXML.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by canuck57 (662392) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:29PM (#31067820)
    It isn't OOXML, it is MOOXML.
  • by steveha (103154) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:16PM (#31068070) Homepage

    MS is just as free to implement the OpenDocument format as anyone else; and they have in fact implemented ODF support.[1] So, if ODF is chosen as the standard in Norway, the Norwegian government is still free to buy copies of Microsoft Office, as long as it can do a good job of reading and writing ODF files.

    Of course, Microsoft will still view this as some kind of defeat, because they would prefer their own standard be adopted; OOXML will be just as much of a lockin trap as the older binary Microsoft formats. If OOXML is adopted, everyone has to buy Microsoft Office; if ODF is adopted, everyone can choose from among many alternatives, several of which are completely free.

    It is obvious why Microsoft would prefer OOXML adoption for government (and everywhere else). It is less obvious why government should adopt OOXML instead of ODF.

    [1] Microsoft resisted the inclusion of ODF import/export filters for some time, but finally decided to include them:
    http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20050930181153972 [groklaw.net]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument_software [wikipedia.org]

    steveha

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Last time I read about it, Office 2007 does not generate documents that comply with OOXML. Microsoft admitted that they would have to change their software to comply with their standard, and I think that might happen with the next release of Office.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by KarmaMB84 (743001)
      The first proposed amendment to the ISO standard will actually restore Office 2007 documents (which ARE ECMA-376 compliant) to being compliant OOXML Transitional documents. Because the entire point of the Transitional schema for OOXML was to make ECMA-376 documents ISO compliant as well, the modifications made that broke compatibility made absolutely no sense. If they were going to make ECMA-376 documents non-compliant, they should've thrown out the Transitional model and just made the Strict version the ON

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