Just before OOXML was approved in JTC1/SC34, a lot of us spent a lot of time discussing the differences of between Sun's CNS, IBM's ISP and Microsoft's OSP. Specifically, a thread on Oliver Bell's blog dealt with this topic. The post was called "The OSP will apply to future versions of DIS29500". Oliver said
For developers wanting to use the ISO/IEC DIS29500 specification this has raised some questions around exactly what level of support Microsoft will pledge to future versions of the OpenXML specification as it continues to evolve through the ISO process.
This is an important issue, and to date I don’t think we have been clear enough around our intent in this area. This has come up in internal discussions several times recently and today a decision was taken to make a public statement to continue to make the intellectual property that developers or users may need available to future versions.
The statement will appear on http://microsoft.com shortly
This was in late March 2008. I just checked the OSP-page and this change has still not been applied to the OSP. The text still says:
Q: Does this OSP apply to all versions of the standard, including future revisions?
A: The Open Specification Promise applies to all existing versions of
the specification(s) designated on the public list posted at
http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp/, unless otherwise noted with
respect to a particular specification (see, for example, specific notes
related to web services specifications).
Then in late May Microsoft announced their support of ODF in Microsoft Office 12 and joining ODF TC.I myself wrote a bit on it on my blog, and I made the following list of things Microsoft wanted to do:
- Microsoft will join OASIS ODF TC
- Microsoft will include ODF in their list of specifications covered by the Open Specification Promise (OSP)
will include full, native support for ODF 1.1 in Microsoft Office 14
and in Microsoft Office 12 SP2 - scheduled for Q2 2009. Microsoft
Office 12 SP2 will have built-in support for the three most widely used
ISO-standards for document formats, e.g. OOXML, ODF and PDF.
Well, I clearly misunderstood something with regards to OSP covering ODF, because that has not happened (yet). I was under the impression that it was a requirement when joining OASIS, but maybe Rob is right in saying that the OASIS IPR-policy participants in OASIS-work are required to sign actually trumps the ISP for IBM and perhaps also the OSP from Microsoft. On a funny note, I was actually quoted in their press release praising their modifications to specifications covered by their OSP ... but maybe they changed their mind.
Still, I think it would be a good move by Microsoft to include ODF in their OSP. As I wrote at that time
One of the aspects of the discussion that never really surfaced was
that if IBM has software patents covering ODF - some of them quite
possibly cover parts of OOXML as well. But the ISP of IBM does not
mention OOXML - it only mentions ODF. This leaves me as a developer in
quite a legal pickle, because by implementing OOXML I am covered by the
OSP - but I am not covered by IBM's ISP (and vice versa). To me as a
developer, Microsoft's coverage of ODF in their OSP is a good move,
because it should remove all legal worries I might have around stepping
into SW-patent covered territory.
This is still true, dear Microsoft.
I all bad, then? Well no - Microsoft recently won praise from no other than Groklaw with expanding their FAQ on their OSP - now specifically making it clear that the OSP covers GPL-licensed implementations. Groklaw seemed so confused by the "good news" they had to ask: "Are pigs flying, or what?"
So Microsoft - what are you going do?