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IBM undeterred by setbacks to ODF adoption

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Interviews

You might think the steady defeat of bills in several U.S. states to mandate the use of free interoperable file formats might dampen the spirits of IBM Corp., one of the prime supporters of the OpenDocument Format (ODF). Far from it, said IBM's Bob Sutor, who sees the recent news as par for the course in the evolution of any open standard.

In an interview earlier this week, Sutor, vice president of standards and open source at IBM, talked about ODF and Microsoft Corp.'s rival Office Open XML document standard.

IDGNS: What's your take on the defeat of legislation in several U.S. states, which would've mandated the use of open document formats? Is it a setback for the adoption of ODF?

Sutor: We've seen this before around open standards. Take the Web itself. It went mainstream in about 1994 to 1995. If you trace it back, the Web was starting in the late 1980s. It takes most technology standards between 5 to 10 years to become established. They start in committees, come into their own, and then commercial interests come in. Web services kicked off in 2000 and we saw SOA [service-oriented architecture] in 2004 to 2005. Now, no one doubts that SOA is big business. In the same way, if you look back at ODF, you can go back to 2003 or more 2005. It's still very, very early.

We wouldn't have thought it possible in 2005 that in 2007 there would even be any legislative considering of ODF. It's great that people are even talking about this in the first place. It's extremely early. Legislative committee talks take time.

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