In a circular email I received from AccountingWEB, tech editor John Stokdyk said of me:
"More than 120m people use Excel, even if many of them, like Dennis Howlett, seem to resent the fact."
In the editorial, it said:
"Somewhat ironically, wikiCalc was brought to our attention by Dennis Howlett, who in recent years has styled himself as an anti-spreadsheet crusader."
I've known John a long time and so I don't mind the occasional, if overly editorialised opinion. But at the end of the email he said:
"Thanks for the tip, Dennis. But I don't think wikiCalc will topple Goliath just yet. And neither will OpenOffice (see below)."
That doesn't get a pass. This article talks about Microsoft vowing to make its XML formats available to Ecma. It notes the opposition from the likes of IBM and Sun. It then completely misses the point by not offering editorial. I reckon John and the lads have been supping a bit too much of the Microsoft Kool-Aid. So - in the absence of a discussion - here's my 2p'th.
Anyone who thinks that Microsoft is being Mr. Nice Guy doesn't know that the Redmond Giant is in the fight of its life. On the opposite side this time around is IBM, Sun (usual suspects then) joined by Google. This is where it gets very serious. Gartner says:
""Companies have been unsuccessful at competing (against) Microsoft Office for at least 10 years with other products," said Gartner analyst Michael Silver. "Now they are trying to use the file format as a wedge issue to try to unlock Microsoft's hold.""
Google has an enormous number of friends. It is spawning an entire industry geared towards getting bought out by a Google or Yahoo! Along the way, there are some fantastic tools, widgets and other great consumery things being brought into existence. When it comes to standards, the article goes on to note:
"Andy Updegrove, partner at Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove, called Microsoft's Ecma submission "a naked request to rubber stamp a vendor-specific solution." Updegrove is an attorney for OASIS, the standards body developing the OpenDocument standard, which was ratified in May."
Regardless of what Microsoft says in public, there are enormous pressures on the company. Making its de facto standards the real thing gives Microsoft the power to kill off what is happening right now. But it will have a monumental battle on its hands.
At organisations like the BBC, black-projects...ones that are under the radar and are very low cost, are having an enormous impact on the business. These are services that run on the Internet and don't require Microsoft technology. Why else is Microsoft desperate to make an integration play at media organisations around the world? It's already got its claws into MTV as it tries to reduce the growing influence of Apple.
Let's not write off the contenders just yet.