Genii Weblog

OpenSesame: Part of the "why?"

Thu 10 May 2007, 09:33 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
A few people have questioned me over the past few months about my fixation on OpenDocument Format, and particularly my work on OpenSesame.  I'm clearly not some open source nut, so why not focus where the money is, or will be, and write tools for Open XML and Office 2007.

Well, they are right that I am not an open source nut.  I write proprietary software in order to make money off selling licenses, and I'm proud of it.  But Rob Weir of IBM had a post today which explains a little part of the "why?".  In his post, So where are all the OOXML documents?, Rob makes an interesting observation.  Despite the supposed 97% market share Microsoft enjoys, and despite the brisk sales of Office 2007 which Microsoft reports, and despite the fact that OOXML is the default format for Office 2007, the adoption of the OOXML formats seems a bit slow, at least out in the wild, wild web.

Google offers the ability to search by filetype, and Rob had the clever idea of simply using Google to see how many documents were out there of each type.  Now, ODF has been out there longer, and there is an inevitable "network effect" where nobody uses a format until everybody does, but this is still pretty astonishing.  I updated the numbers myself, and will note, as Rob did, that the larger numbers seem to be rounded.  I also added the percentage of the OOXML documents that are on the Microsoft website, as that seemed interesting.
Total ODF149,300

DOCX516 (12% on
XLSX68 (6% on
PPTX80 (13% on
Total OOXML664 (11% on

Copyright 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

590.1. Stephen Hood
(05/14/2007 06:47 PM)

The .doc formats that have given MS a stranglehold are going to be the albatross around their neck for the next several years .. if not forever.

590.2. Ian Randall
(05/15/2007 03:04 AM)

I don't think that the .doc format is necessarily a lock-in, As Open Office & other ODF Editors seem to do a pretty good job of Reading (& Saving Word) documents in their native format )and provide the option of saving files in other document formats). Even converting to alternative formats retains a high level of fidelity, so the .doc format is not necessarily a barrier.

More important as a lock-in is the investment that end users make in learning the MS Word user interface and the level of integration that is available with third party products.

But in my opinion the .doc file format is a relatively minor barrier to migrating to other software products.