Office Open XML Standard not so open

Microsoft have announced their new ‘Open Standard’ XML file format for the next release of Office.

Being a curious sort, I went and had a look at the license here.

Where it all goes wrong for me is in the phrases below (emphasis mine):

Notwithstanding the foregoing, “Necessary Claims” do not include any claims: (i) that would require a payment of royalties by Microsoft to unaffiliated third parties; (ii) covering any Enabling Technologies that may be necessary to make or use any product incorporating a Licensed Implementation, or (iii) covering the reading or writing of files other than those complying with the requirements of the specifications for the Office Schemas. “Enabling Technologies” means technologies that may be necessary to make or use any product or portion of a product that complies with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas, but are not expressly set forth or required in those specifications, such as general word processing, spreadsheet or presentation features or functionality, operating system technology, programming interfaces, protocols, and the like.

Not being a lawyer, I may be mistaken, but I interpret this to mean that the license explicitly does not allow competing productivity suites such as OpenOffice to read and write the new file formats. So much for openness then…

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