Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Is China Pulling a Bill Gates on ODF?

China is hot for open technologies, but on its own terms. So, does news that China has its own document format threaten prospects for the OpenDocument Format (ODF)?

The danger is a competing standard that might stall ODF's progress in Asia, but that risk seems low. Unlike Microsoft's OpenXML, China's UOF is not intended to compete with or stall ODF's acceptance.

Yes, China's Uniform Office Document Format (UOF) is the product of a broad public-private partnership among Chinese vendors, users and government-backed research institutes. Yes, key agencies--the Information Office of the State Council, Ministry of Information Industry, and Ministry of Science & Technology--support UOF.

However, China is not trying to kill or marginalize ODF. China is trying to solve a problem plaguing government procurement and its software industry -- the lack of compatability among Chinese office software is contributing to their unpopularity and difficulties in application integration.

The Chinese Working Group involved in UOF's development recommended an effort to harmonize UOF and ODF. OASIS will create a technical committee to collaborate with China on this. If China and OASIS are both serious about compatibility, this will be good news for ODF and China. UOF will be a truly open standard like ODF.

If they are successful, document formats will cease to be a barrier to innovation and interoperability. It will be a win-win situation that will increase choices for Chinese users, increase competition in office applications, strengthen the global competitiveness of Chinese IT companies, and drive open standards in a major IT market.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Bill Zedong - LOLOL

Great post, Jeff! Just read a great book: James Kynge's China Shakes the World.

Read it & weep.