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Asking the right questions about Office 2010's OOXML support

Nov 23, 2009, 00:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rob Weir)

"This is the kind of dispute where you can go around in circles with for days and not reach agreement. The problem is they are arguing over words, not facts, and they do not agree perfectly on the meaning of the words. Words like "support" and "complete" and "conform" are used in different ways, with different meanings and intents.

"Let's try to escape the equivocation and instead try to establish the underling facts. I can't promise that this will clarify the situation any. In fact I suspect we'll end up even more confused about what exactly Office 2010 actually supports. But replacing a false certainty with an honest uncertainty is progress of a kind. It gives us something we can build on.

"First, we need to acknowledge that OOXML entered ISO as one standard, and was transformed, via the BRM and ISO ballot, formally into 4 standards, ISO/IEC 29500 Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. Within these parts are are several different conformance targets and conformance classes. In particular, these 4 standards encompass two different and incompatible schemas for many of its features: "Strict" and "Transitional". What was submitted in the Fast Track is essentially the "Transitional" schema. What was created by the BRM was the "Strict" schema. This is where Microsoft made most of its "concessions" in order to turn "No" votes into "Yes" votes. So things like support for spreadsheet dates before the year 1900, the elimination of VML graphics, etc., these are all in the "Strict" schema. All the legacy "DoItLikeWord95" garbage was in "Transitional" only."

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