Timely snapshot of the XML file format debate
Why is there so much passion in a debate about something as esoteric as XML-based file formats? In a word: Microsoft. The software giant in September failed to get its OOXML format ratified as an international standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The run up to that vote -- and to a second vote slated for February 2008 -- has ignited a passionate debate about file formats and suspicions about Microsoft's intentions as it pushes OOXML.
At issue is the way organizations will store, access and manipulate files created by productivity applications like Microsoft Office and OpenOffice. Today's binary files are often opaque to third-party applications, meaning companies can't process these files anywhere but on the client. Moving to open, XML-based file formats radically changes that, says Alexander Falk, CEO of XML tools vendor Altova Inc.
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