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December 5, 2005

IBM Workplace to support Open Document standard

Posted by David Hunter at 9:39 AM ET.

Cathleen Moore at InfoWorld:

IBM is now stepping to the plate with an Open Document Format-based offering to join Sun Microsystems’ StarOffice and

Big Blue on Monday plans to announce support for the ODF standard in an upcoming release of its Workplace Managed Client application.

The productivity tools in Version 2.6 of the Workplace Managed Client, due for release in early 2006, will include support for the ability to import, export, and rewrite files saved in Version 1.0 of the ODF standard. The Workplace productivity editor tools include word processing, presentation graphics, and spreadsheets.

This isn’t a surprise although it had been promised before the end of the year. Workplace is rather server-centric so it’s for larger enterprises, not end users. In particular, IBM seems to be targeting governments in developing nations:

At a press conference in Delhi, IBM executives plan to announce on Monday that the company’s Workplace Managed Client will be able to read, write and save documents in the OpenDocument format.

Arthur Fontaine, the marketing manager for Workplace Managed Client, believes IBM’s support for industry standards and the server-centric design of Workplace will appeal to customers in developing countries, particularly governments.

“The governments of India, China and other emerging markets are very interested in this,” Fontaine said. “They don’t have the legacy of having everything saved in Microsoft Office to transition from…This is an opportunity to start out right.”

Also worth noting is that after the announcement that Massachusetts was looking favorably at Microsoft Office again after the announcement that the Office 12 Open XML formats would be submitted to Ecma, Sun promptly wrote a letter of protest:

In his letter, Cargill said it would be a “mistake” for Massachusetts to support Open XML based on “a single vendor’s promise to submit a new product to a standards body at some point in the future.” Instead, the state should move forward with its support of OpenDocument as the standard format for state documents, because not only has it already been approved by a standards body, but it also allows any vendor to build upon the standard, something an ISO or ECMA standard would not allow, he wrote.

IBM joined in later although it was a little tepid by comparison:

Robert Sutor, IBM’s vice president of standards and open source, has written to Massachusetts’s secretary of administration and finance, Thomas Trimarco, to reaffirm IBM’s support for the OpenDocument Format that Massachusetts chose in September to become the standard for all state office documents by January 2007.

“In ODF, I believe that the Commonwealth made a wise choice in going with a specification that matured in a transparent way under the technical guidance of a community of a broad range of experts. I believe that it is important that you apply this same criteria to any additional standards you decide to develop,” wrote Sutor.

The letter does not actually make mention of the Office Open XML Formats that Microsoft recently announced will be submitted to Ecma for consideration as a standard, but the inference is clear.

Of course, Massachusetts is just one of many venues where this battle will be fought.

Filed under Coopetition, Governmental Relations, IBM, ODF, OOXML, Office, Office 2007,, Standards, Sun

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