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On 02/25/2014 01:21 PM, Virgil Arrington wrote:
I haven't followed the entirety of this thread, but I live in a world which is (sadly perhaps) dominated by M$.

Here in the U.S., Asus is running commercials about how good their netbooks are because they run "Office" (as opposed to Google Apps online with a Chromebook). In other words, they portray *real* computer users as using *real* programs like M$ Office. Now, I don't particularly like the commercials, but they indicate to me how mainstream M$ Office has become, almost to the point of blending brand names with product times (Word is to word processing as "Kleenex" is to facial tissues.) Again, I don't like it, but it's a reality I live with.

I often have to write documents that are sent to colleagues who are using M$. What I write *must* be readable by their chosen program. They are not going to listen to an LO evangelist proclaiming the gospel of ODF. Heck, half of them can't even figure out how to put page numbers on the bottom of their pages, let alone learn an entirely new office suite with totally new concepts (page styles anyone?).

For most of my word processing work, I save my documents as .ODT. When I need to share with an M$ colleague, I convert it to .DOC (rather than insisting that they use LO, which they simply won't do). It *generally* works okay, but numbered lists and bulleted lists get messed up a bit, just because of the different ways the two programs deal with those things.

Having used PCs since my first Commodore 64 thirty years ago, I have long given up on any hope of seeing a true "standard" file format. Different programs perform tasks differently, and those differences are reflected in the information that gets stored in the native file formats. So, I don't see any hope of a true standard until all programs work the same way. I had great hope for RTF, but that bombed. Load an RTF file into four different word processors, and you'll see four different documents.


I think the issue is MS claiming that using ODF formats as defaults will somehow break MSO. As I understand the issue, the UK government is specifying the file formats not the applications. Since they are proposing using ODF formats this levels the playing field and allows any application to compete on value not just LO or AOO. This includes other commercial products also. If MS loses the ODF fight in the UK and Europe, they are afraid that MSO market share will drop with time as people look for alternatives to paying MS a fee. The only cudgel MS has now file format lock-in but if many national governments refuse to play they can change the default formats nationally.

If the UK goes through with ODF formats, first the UK government switches, then businesses and people who routinely directly interact with the government will change, then those on the periphery will change. They will change for the reason you alluded to; they want to keep up with only one version not two or three versions in different formats. Eventually the UK will use ODF formats almost everywhere. Note, I never said that users must change from MSO unless MS refuses to support ODF formats and refuses to backport parsers for MSO 2007 and 2010. However, Since several suites properly handle ODF already then it is easier for a user to switch to another suite (hopefully a FOSS solution).

Assuming MS loses the ODF fight, then having MSO becomes less important to all users. Many are currently staying with Windows because of MSO. So a major impediment to using LO and Linux is removed for many, some will migrate to LO (or something else) and Linux and become permanently lost sales to MS. I am a Linux user and would love to only use ODF format for office files. I am a lost sale to MS; no Windows, no MSO, no other MS products because they do not release software for Linux. The longer I use Linux without any MS applications the more likely in the future I will ignore Linux releases from MS. I am becoming MS' worst nightmare; a user who does not use their products or services for anything. Multiply this in the UK, instead of a few percent of Linux desktop users you could have 15-20% very easily and very rapidly. especially with ChromeOS and SteamOS available. This is a noticeable effect in one country.

Another effect of ODF in the UK is that UK companies will be using ODF formats in the future. Their overseas subsidiaries will be forced to adopt ODF formats to communicate internally so beachheads will be made unintentionally in other countries. This effect will be magnified if Europe follows the UK lead.

The problem with RTF was it was another MS controlled format.

Jay Lozier

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