Why is MS scared of competition?

  Rigga 08:49 12 Jul 2007

> click here

It's about open file formats, and the fact that there is an internationally recognized open standard file format called ODF.

This file format has been ratified as an ISO standard and is controlled by an independent organization.

My Q. if I could put one to MS is why do they find it necessary to refuse to implement the already agreed open standard, and try to create their own supposedly open format, OOXML which other vendors seem to agree is not really an open standard, as it is controlled by Microsoft.

I hope this thread does not start a load of MS bashing, as I for one think MS have done more good for computer use than harm over the last 20 years than any other company.

I just wondered what they are so scared of? MS Office being challenged by another suite of office applications? surely that's just healthy competition?


  interzone55 09:05 12 Jul 2007

Whilst many suites can open MS files such as DOC and XLS, they don't open flawlessly, so companies continue to use MS Office just in case they might not open properly.

But ODF files can be opened flawlessly in many Office suites, including the free Open Office. Now this scares MS, as if files are truly portable many companies may realise that they don't need to continue paying their MS tax for Office.

  Pesala 18:13 12 Jul 2007
  Forum Editor 18:27 12 Jul 2007

I see it more from the point of view of a company that spent billions of dollars and millions of development hours over many years in order to produce software that has become the market leader.

Lots of other companies had plenty of opportunity to compete with Microsoft in the past - remember 'Word Perfect'? In the 1980's you could have walked into almost any company's offices and more or less guaranteed that you would see WordPerfect in use - it dominated the market. The first version released for Windows was a distaster, and gave Microsoft the opportunity it had been looking for. The company marketed Microsoft Office very aggressively, spent a lot of time and money getting it right, and the rest is history - who do you know who uses WordPerfect nowadays?

When you've put all that money and effort into something you're hardly likely to look kindly on a scheme that will hand an advantage to other companies who have already tried to take market share and failed.

  Totally-braindead 18:41 12 Jul 2007

I do understand the point I think you were trying to make but, Microsoft have spent a great deal of time and money creating their programs and therefore from their point of view it makes sense to do what you can to protect your software - as they are doing.

  Rigga 18:53 12 Jul 2007

FE, I think that's the point, it doesn't hand an advantage to competitors it levels the playing field, and more importantly takes away the control of document formats from the dominant Office company.

I for one would still use MS Office as I think it's the best office suite, I would still also recommend it to clients for the same reason.

And I agree MS has spent billions of dollars on development, but they have also earned billions of dollars in profit from the resulting application. I just can’t picture them as the poor unfortunates that have spent billions of dollars for no reward. :)

I just don't see the point in MS not supporting the ODF standard, if it is as they "imply" an inferior document format, then businesses will decide not to use it.

Plus from my own point of view, trying to interface with Office documents is a nightmare.

A clearly defined standard format would benefit everyone, and would not harm MS if they have the best product, which I believe they currently do.


P.S. Yes I do remember Word Perfect, I even used it for a time back when, and agreed the better product won.

  Si_L 18:53 12 Jul 2007

The problem is that Microsoft like to monopolise the computer software industry. Unless another company can force its way up to their level, they will continue to dominate.

That is the reason why I, like countless others, paid their rip-off price for Vista, and why I will probably get their next OS too.

Every great product has another one snapping at its heels, to keep the quality up and prices low, the market requires this. There was an article in PCA recently about AMD and Intel, both pushing the prices of their processors down, that is a good example.

click here

  Kate B 18:56 12 Jul 2007

Why should Microsoft level the playing field? What's in it for them?

  Rigga 18:57 12 Jul 2007

TB, didn't they get into lots of trouble trying to protect a market share with another very well known product? :) *cough* IE *cough* :)

As I've said before I don't want to bash MS as without them, not only would I not have a job, but the world of computing would probably be ten years behind where it is now.


  Forum Editor 19:02 12 Jul 2007

Wouldn't you like to dominate the market if you had spent a mountain of cash and years of development on your product? Don't Walkers Crisps or Coca Cola, or a hundred other market leaders want to dominate the market?

If a company wants to develop a new product, and make it so good that it can compete with a market dominator then good luck to it, but don't blame successful businesses for wanting to protect their positions at the top of the tree - they have every right to do it.

  Rigga 19:11 12 Jul 2007

Kate B, nothings in it for them. I'm sure if they could they would tie down the OS so that only MS products would run. :) I mean that's in their best interests. :)

The article I linked to at the top of the post, was to a story about the problem with older MS file formats, and the fact that they are not openly documented.

Now I know at the moment MS are a nice company, they don't have a "Don't be Evil" motto, like one of the other huge companies around, but they are mostly nice, and seem content to continue support for older formats in newer releases, but at some point they will stop this.

Maybe when Office 30 comes along you will not be able to open your Office 1 documents, and Office 1 will no longer run on Windows v45. You end up with valuable information lost because not only can you no longer open the files, the file format was not openly documented and recorded.

I know it's taking a very long view of things, but I have seen files become useless because the company that created them have "lost" the format specs, and they are not in an open standard which is well documented. The files becomes useless.

I honestly don't see the harm to MS to support the ODF format.


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