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Meeting Notice

The Southeastern Michigan IEEE presents:

"ODF: How a Digital Document Format is Threatening a Multibillion-Dollar Monopoly”

Presented by:  Dave Scholl, Ford Motor Company

Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Time: 5:30 PM

Location: Fairlane Campus - U of M Dearborn (Map Code FCN)

University of Michigan
School of Management
Fairlane Center
North - Room TBA
19000 Hubbard Drive
Dearborn, MI 48126

Driving Directions


Please pre-register for this free event online at:    

Registration is due Noon on the day prior to the event.


Schedule of Events 

5:30 – 6:00 Pizza and Refreshments Sponsor: Vector Cantec

6:00 – 7:00 Technical Presentation


The Chapter Presentation is a FREE event.  IEEE Non-Members Welcome!

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"ODF: How a Digital Document Format is Threatening a Multibillion-Dollar Monopoly (and what you can do to help)"  


Under the leadership of Bill Gates, Microsoft has become one of the most profitable companies in the history of the world. There are many keystones to Microsoft's continuing lock-in as a convicted (yet untrammeled) monopolist in the personal-computer software market. One of the most important of these keystones, and one which is a matter of personal experience for many of us, is their control over access to the information we store in digital documents. Microsoft Word, by default, stores documents in a proprietary format which can only be read reliably by other copies of the same version of Word. Therefore, almost everyone who works in any kind of office needs to purchase an up-to-date copy of Microsoft Word in order to be able to access these documents.

Recently, two powerful communities have joined to promote an alternative digital document format known as Open Document Format (ODF), which is a published open standard, free for any programmer to implement. The first and largest of these communities is all those who don't wish to pay Microsoft's monopoly-inflated prices. The Chinese government, on behalf of the Chinese business community, is a notable member of this group. The second such community is government archivists, who have a statutory responsibility to maintain collections of documents for public access over decades. This group is smaller than the first, but their voices are heard by lawmakers. They also find the default Microsoft document format unacceptable. Imperfect conversions to new formats can change the documents in unpredictable ways, and maintaining computers running older versions of Word is neither practical nor legal. In many countries, arranging a government archive in such a way that citizens are required to make a purchase from Microsoft before viewing public records is highly objectionable, not to mention illegal. More objectionable yet is the concept of the citizens of a sovereign government being unable to view their own government's electronic documents without licensing software patents held by Microsoft, a foreign corporation.

The seminar will present some technical background on ODF, as well as OOXML, Microsoft's response to ODF. The current status of these formats with regards to international standard-setting bodies such as ISO will be described. The political environment surrounding government decisions to adopt ODF will be reviewed, with particular attention to recent developments in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the People's Republic of China.


This meeting is joint with the EMC Society , the Vehicular Technology Society , the Computer Society , and the Engineering Management Society .



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