Chris Capossela, SVP at Microsoft (somewhere high in the altitude of my management chain) has published an open letter regarding Open XML. This is another effort to underscore our commitments to openness, the Open XML process, and building the Open XML community. This is a great letter that you should read in its entirety, but I've extracted an important section here, based on my recent increased readership from the likes of Groklaw.
"Pledging our supportAbove and beyond our own implementation, however, I wish to make it clear that to enable broader adoption of the format – including for use by our current and future competitors - we have made our commitment to Open XML unambiguous, and as such have made (through our Open Specification Promise) irrevocable, royalty-free patent commitments to all developers to implement the formats.
We submitted the original Open XML specification to Ecma International for consideration in 2005 because we wanted to respond to our public and private sector customers' requests that we turn over control of the specification to the community. Ecma International's further development of the specification for more than a year, and its adoption of Open XML as an Ecma International Standard (Ecma 376) in December 2006 was a realization of that goal. Now, the global community has the opportunity to take control of the future of the specification by ratifying Ecma 376 as an ISO/IEC standard. We know that it will be in good hands when this happens based on the tremendous work and improvements that have been made to the specification during the ISO/IEC process over the past 14 months. We are committed to the healthy maintenance of the standard once ratification takes place so that it will continue to be useful and relevant to the rapidly growing number of implementers and users around the world.
We have listened to our customers and the community and are proud of the work that has been done on the Open XML formats. We believe that these formats deliver unique value to the industry and users will benefit from it being in the hands of the global community as an ISO/IEC standard."
Open XML has the commitment, the community support and the momentum working for it now.
After reading Brian Jones' blog, I noticed that there is a clear commitment in there to update your products to comply with the standard. Sorry for the noise.
I'm still nervous about the maintenance plan, and currently I'm trying to discover all I can about how the plenary works, what SC34 can do, what the UK's proposal to create a new WG means, etc. By the time I understand how it all works, the decisions will probably all have been made!
Rob, thank you for your comment. I do hope others will also understand that our commitment to Open XML support is very real, and the interoperability principles are not just words.
During a very busy day, I lost your other comment. Feel free to re-post that, I'll ensure it gets put up here as well... Sorry for the error on my part.
I don't have my other post, but it didn't say much once the noise was removed. I just don't know how much weight to attach to Ecma's proposal for OOXML maintenance: if it is approved as is, then quite a lot of people (including me) will find it unacceptable. But other comments I'm reading say that the outcome of the SC34 plenary is not bound by that proposal, and it's likely that the result will achieve broad representation from industry players. Hence my current digging.
At least the plenary is soon after the post-BRM consideration phase, so the whole process won't drag on for too long and in a month or so we'll all know where we stand.