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Sharepoint and why ODF, CDF, and other file formats may not matter much

Sharepoint is the biggest threat to open source.

Glyn Moody has written a lengthy, probing piece on the bust-up of the Open Document Format and its weird morphing into Compound Document Format, with a twist of Da Vinci. At the heart of the change? Microsoft Sharepoint.

While most of the open-source world sleeps, Microsoft is gearing up for a truly innovative take on its next-generation operating system. Sharepoint, not Windows, is the future of Microsoft's intended dominance.

This line of thinking probably explains the widespread incomprehension that greeted the [Open Document] Foundation's decision to abandon ODF. Supporters of the latter believe that it is by far the best document format, one that provides numerous benefits to users, notably freedom from lock-in. Hiser couldn't agree more: "We don't want OOXML to ever see the light of day, and certainly we feel deeply that it needs to be rejected by ISO finally and conclusively." But he adds:

Whatever happens at ISO, though, the market is where acceptance of OOXML is inevitable. The clock is ticking as the major governments that are trying to adopt ODF are finding it quite taxing on a practical level (Mass, Denmark, Belgium). Each one is drifting from ODF-only policies to ODF + OOXML. This is because installation is not enough to overcome the sticky business processes in workgroups across the extended enterprise.

In companies running the Microsoft enterprise stack, those "sticky business processes" are defined and stored in a program that has a surprisingly low profile, but which may well turn out to be the biggest emerging threat to open source: Sharepoint.

Sharepoint doesn't make the file format question moot, but it does complicate it materially. Sharepoint is the future of Microsoft's operating system business. It's a good move by Microsoft, but one that the open-source community has been (mostly) slow to comprehend.

Time to wake up, folks.

Via OpenDotDot.

Disclosure: I work for Alfresco, an open source collaboration and content management company that competes with Sharepoint.