Friday, March 28, 2008

Why Miguel, Why?

Dear Miguel,

Read your post. One question immediately springs to mind.


You said:

I have been reading the OOXML storm in a teacup for more than a year now. Am looking forward to the approval of OOXML as an ISO standard and to be able to move the discussion back to the things that actually matter: free and open source software.
I think we all agree that what matters is Free and Open Source software. Where we differ is in the looking forward to the ISO approval of OOXML.

How would this be beneficial to FLOSS? The implication is that the long string of "countless bytes" being "wasted" on this subject would be over, and we will all get back to writing about more important matters.

The problem with this way of thinking is not to hard understand. Most of the Free Software community is strongly opposed to OOXML as an ISO standard, either because of the FACT that it is a horribly incomplete and unimplementable document format or the FACT that OOXML is redundant. ISO already approved a document standard, ODF.

Punditry and lobbying will not get us very far, real work will.

Surely, you don't honestly think the pundits do that work, do you? I'm a pundit and sure I submit bug reports (not as often as I should), I write software (not as much as I'd like), but my real contribution is as an advocate, to my customers and to my visitors. (and pretty much anybody else who doesn't run screaming from the room)

So I ask you again, how will ISO approval of a proprietary, incomplete, Microsoft format, benefit the Free Desktop, or Open Source office applications?

In short Why Miguel? Why are you looking forward to it?

We have about 24hrs left for the decisions of member countries to be tallied. I for one, am looking forward to Monday, when we (hopefully) will have a single open and implementable document format. I look forward to Microsoft supporting that format in order to meet the requirements of government agencies the world over who mandate their data be Vendor Neutral and long lived.

Looking forward to Microsoft subverting an International Standards Organizations submission process, and beginning a new era of vendor lock-in and monopolistic office suites seems to be antithetical to Free and Open Source philosophy.

Of course there is another possibility. Perhaps, and this pure speculation of the wildest kind, but perhaps, you care less about the philosophy of open source and Free Software than you would have us believe. Perhaps you speak publicly from the same script as Patrick Durusau, mainly that ISO approval of OOXML is good for ODF. I am as persuaded by your argument as I am by his. You seem completely unfazed by the questionable tactics Microsoft has employed to try to ram this spec down the ISO's throat.

Maybe it is time for you to get back to your roots. Your entanglement in Microsoft technology has become more troubling every year. It is as if, you cannot see the thorns of the brambles you are wading through. It troubles me personally, the free desktop world needs good coders and if nothing else you certainly are that.

What happened to you Miguel, you used to be cool?


This is a verbatim copy of an email sent to Miguel, No comment section on his blog.

For more coverage of the ISO approval process of OOXML:
Last Minute Vote Switching in OOXML Decision
Continuing Coverage of the process at
Vote Tallies as we learn them @ OpenMalaysia

Update: Unofficial reports indicate Approval. By one vote. How depressing! We must wait until Wednesday for the official announcement according to Roger Frost @ ISO a press release will be issued.

Update#2 - 3/31/2008: Miguel has responded by email. First I must thank him (again) for his time. Second he has asked that I keep our conversation private. Rest assured he answered my Why question and made a vigorous defense of his position. He has done so in such a way that was, frankly, reassuring about his commitments to Free Software despite the allusions and appearances otherwise. I still disagree with him, but I understand his reasoning a little better now.


Jeff Waugh said...

That's a big GNOME logo there -- how is it relevant to the post?

(Sure, Miguel founded GNOME, but I'm not sure how that is relevant.)

MrCopilot said...


Can't get far enough away.

It was used to identify which Miguel and his roots.

Is this better?

Anonymous said...


Tech Articles