James Governor's Monkchips

Why Microsoft Office XML could be a boon for MONO

Share via Twitter Share via Facebook Share via Linkedin Share via Reddit

If Microsoft wants to use ECMA standardisation as an argument for openstandardness (like open handedness, geddit), then it may have to cut the chilling effects that have so far held back Mono in production environments.
The idea is put forward in Stephen Walli’s note here, but i just wanted to amplify it.
This is similar to the sorts of games being played out around C# and the Common Language Infrastructure. Microsoft took these technology specifications through Ecma International as well, who then took them on to ISO for standardization.  Rather than encouraging the one other substantial implementation of these standards beyond Microsoft’s .NET platform, it continues a cloud of legal ambiguity around the Novell mono implementation. 

A similar game will be at hand around document format standards if and when the Microsoft Office XML specifications complete the cycle at Ecma International and later at ISO.  In the mean time (2-4 years), they will loudly continue to hammer home that government and enterprise customers should trust them that they’re building a standard which will be royalty free to implement.

Put simply, Microsoft’s standardisation of .NET through ECMA has been a failure, if by standard we mean there would (the would/could axis might be at the heart of the debate) be a number of market implementations. That “failure” lies squarely at Redmond’s window. Microsoft might take solace in pointing to Mainsoft in its defence. 
Which brings us back to Mono, and why Microsoft should stop put its weight behind this ECMA standardisation once and for all.
Put simply, Microsoft needs Mono to succeed more broadly in order to make an argument from history that alternative implementations of Office XML can succeed. Doing so would also mean formally removing patent restrictions around the .NET CLI with a patent covenant… now that will be an interesting discussion at Microsoft HQ… especially when the conversation turns to Avalon
It looks like Jason Matusow is being sent in to clear up the mess around Massachussets, and he will be working more closely with David Kaefer than ever.
Stephen is really the ODF and Mono maven, he is the guy that called for an umbrella legal amnesty for Mono, so I will leave it at that for now.
But it would be an interesting case indeed if Microsoft’s efforts to head off ODF meant that it had to open up .NET more broadly and start inviting Miguel to present at PDC.
Finally I should say its likely Microsoft will fight this battle as one of perception, in which case it is free to make any argument it likes, regardless of intellectual consistency. Who cares about a definition of open? What really matters is the facts on the ground. Incumbency is not an argument for openness but its an awfully good argument for maintaining the status quo.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *