updated 12:10 pm EDT, Thu May 22, 2008
EU Watching MS Open Move
European Union officials will be watching Microsoft's open format support to ensure the developer's move remains honest, the European Commission said on Thursday. The regulatory body says it will specifically monitor the newly added support for the universal Open Document Format (ODF) to determine if it delivers on Microsoft's promises of interoperability with other programs, many of which already support ODF but until now have been unable to send those files to users of Microsoft's software, forcing them to choose a more restrictive format such as Microsoft's DOC format for Word files.
The Commission has frequently chastized Microsoft for alleged failures to properly open access to its formats as well as to support those of others, and earlier this year was given a record-breaking fine of approximately $1.4 billion as a penalty for perceived resistance to making its standards accessible. Microsoft has in part already responded to the European scrutiny through its Document Interoperability Initiative and publishing many standards for free online.
Critics have charged Microsoft with attempting to isolate ODF in favor of its Open XML standard, which is claimed to be readily accessible but finds little support outside of Microsoft-made software.
Microsoft's implementation is now scheduled to arrive in 2009 and will include open versions of Adobe's PDF format along with ODF, both of which should be available in patch for Office 2007 as well as a future version of the suite.