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RE: Results of Open XML balloting at INCITS

  • From: "Michael Kay" <mike@s...>
  • To: "'Len Bullard'" <cbullard@h...>,"'Jim Melton'" <jim.melton@a...>
  • Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2007 00:03:47 +0100

RE:  Results of Open XML balloting at INCITS
>It would seem to be clearly in the interest of American economics that the
US vote for OOXML.

I would challenge the "clearly". I think it's a very complex argument and
the answer isn't at all clear.

Although the people making the most noise are probably the vendors, who have
most to gain or lose, the economic argument needs to be made in terms of
costs and benefits to the user community. This community is currently paying
a very high price for the near-monopoly enjoyed by Microsoft - a cost
measured both in the high price of software and in the cost of data lock-in.
Equally, the user community is largely comfortable with this monopoly
(indeed, the user community is responsible for it), because it significantly
reduces training costs and document interchange costs, as those of us who
were around when there was real competition for office software will

So the questions are (a) will making OOXML a standard affect the level (or
duration) of Microsoft's near-monopoly in office software, and (b) will it
reduce the costs or increase the compensatory benefits of that monopoly to
the user community. I certainly can't predict the answers to those

My instinct tells me that if it's good for Microsoft then it must be bad for
everyone else. But I suspect I'm falling into the trap of assuming that it
must be a zero-sum game, which may not be the case. Certainly one would like
to think that the standards game is not zero-sum in general!

Michael Kay

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