ODF vs MSXML adoption

On the eve of what may well be an ‘ends justify the means’ victory for MS at the ISO [Update March 31: I note the latest Slashdot headline regarding the matter, “OOXML Will Pass Amid Massive Irregularities” Update April 2: See here for an overview of the ‘irregularities‘; the sneaky trick MS used: “if you can pick the moderator, you win” Update April 6: See also this article.], I did a little experiment to compare the rate of ODF format documents vs MS’ XML document format ala this page (though don’t ask me why some of the numbers are so different; I might be doing something completely different) by typing queries like ‘filetype:doc site:microsoft.com’ into a Google search:

DOC
about 35,000,000
about 29,400 from microsoft.com (<0.1%)

DOCX
about 30,700
about 741 from microsoft.com (~2.4%)

ODT
about 55,700 (~181.4% DOCX)

XLS
about 6,930,000
about 872 from microsoft.com (<<0.1%)

XLSX
about 6,330
about 32 from microsoft.com (~0.5%)

ODS
about 12,800 (~202.2% XLSX)

PPT
about 4,880,000
about 13,700 from microsoft.com (~0.3%)

PPTX
about 12,600
about 1,440 from microsoft.com (~11.4%)

ODP
about 18,600 (~147.6% PPTX)

sum old MS Office: ~46.81 M
sum new MS Office: ~49.63 K (~0.1% old)
sum ODF: ~87.1 K (~175.5% new MS Office, ~0.2% old MS Office)
sum XML: ~136.73 K (~0.3% old MS Office)

What I take from this is that although ODF usage (as posted online) is ~1.5-2X the new MS XML formats, it still is a drop in the bucket compared to the old MS Office formats.  If MS gets OOXML (not quite the same as what Office 2007 outputs (what I’ve been calling MSXML [Update April 21: see this article]), but close enough that they can gloss over the discrepancies [Update April 2: “[Tom Robertson, general manager of Microsoft interoperability and standards] said that Microsoft will begin work on an Open XML implementation road map for implementation at an as yet unknown time. He noted that the ISO is now responsible for the file format and must finalize the standard specifications. He expected the organization’s work to be complete by the end of this year.”  So minimum 2009 before there is even a finalized OOXML!]) made into an ISO standard, they’ll maintain most of their Office profits for the time being and maximize their suppression of ODF. However, even so, given that MS Office is NOT free of cost, the free alternatives do save as ODF and there will be translators available (even if imperfect), I cannot see ODF dying out.  In fact, MS may only have bought itself some time; instead of MSXML facing irrelevance now, they may still face extinction at a later date.  And there will certainly be anti-trust issues raised…  What to watch for will be the curve of adoption of the two XML formats and the rate at which the old MS Office ones are abandoned. Much as MS faces IE7 adoption issues vs Firefox AND IE6, they will face the biggest hurdle from getting people to abandon old versions of Office.  If you want to help ODF, simply save in that format, even if from inside MSOffice with Sun’s Plugin.

Update April 7: I just noticed an article with Mark Shuttleworth’s reaction to the ISO fiasco. I suspect that projects such as OpenOffice.org probably won’t bother implementing the ISO ‘standard’ OOXML, but rather do what they’ve always done: attempt to match the output of MS Office (so, instead of the old DOC, the new DOCX MSXML)

Update April 21: An article: Critics brand OOXML a Microsoft ‘marketing tool’

Don’t hold your breath waiting for MS Office to output valid OOXML (so literally, AFAIK, there are ZERO apps which produce valid OOXML.  And yet ODF is out there with several implementations…)

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One Response to “ODF vs MSXML adoption”

  1. aussiebear Says:

    They will win the battle, but they will lose the war.

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