(Note: I’m cleaning out some topics I wanted to get to… so these aren’t necessarily timely thoughts I’m exposing here. This trend will probably continue until I actually get caught up.)
It literally is amazing how far Microsoft has sunk under its own weight. I know there have been a lot of examples of late to choose from, but this struck me as particularly appalling. The fact that Microsoft’s attempt at standardizing this crap has met with significant resistance is really a testament to how low they have sunk (and how often of late they have resorted to this sort of thing). I don’t remember how many thousands of pages the spec is but the fact that everyone knows they won’t even follow their own (there really is no way they could from a sheer engineering perspective) makes some of their outrageous antics (like trying to buy off the standards commission) laughable.
Just image a world where Office and Windows were separate entities — for the sake of argument, separate companies. Office would be available on every conceivable platform. Windows might actually innovate as an Operating System rather than a delivery platform for other Microsoft products. There was a non-zero chance that had the first Microsoft anti-trust trial not turned into a debacle, that world might exist now.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Open Office’s spec is a saint either, but at least it is an open spec in good faith and relatively simple. Though having tried to generate OO documents via their API, I can tell you it’s extremely clumsy. It’s really a bloated and obtuse API if you ask me. Why you would establish a client-server model API is really beyond me. Though to be fair, those complaints are directed at the OO API (specifically scripting), rather than the file format generation. The whole beauty of it is that some one else could come along and develop an intelligent API for file generation.
Given where Apple, Google, Linux/KDE/Gnome, Adobe and Sun (and to a less extent, Sony) have placed themselves, I think within ten years, Microsoft will become a pale shade of what it was in the late 90’s. Sure, they can have success in different arenas (Xbox for example) but their bread and butter is being slowly eaten away.
Ain’t competition wonderful?