Apple released the newest incarnation of it’s operating system, Leopard. While many news sites cover the shiny improvements most of them fail to mention that Apple made a small but important step towards open standards: Leopard will be able to read OASIS’ ODF.
For unknown reasons Apple is battling at two fronts at the same time: while it tries to get some market share from Windows it at the same time does everything to hold down open standards of any form. This includes network protocols, audio and video formats, document file formats and so on. Apple’s programs all have their own formats and only support some other really wide spread de-facto-standards – if at all. In this behaviour – which sometimes even take a ridiculous form – Apple is worse than Microsoft.
Mac OS X is now a fully certified UNIX operating system, conforming to both the Single UNIX Specification (SUSv3) and POSIX 1003.1. Deploy Leopard in environments that demand full UNIX conformance and enjoy expanded support for open standards popular in the UNIX community such as the OASIS Open Document Format (ODF) or ECMA’s Office XML.
The fact however that Apple mentions ECMA’s Office XML as a UNIX standard is a bit confusing. I wonder if that is on purpose or if someone at Apple’s just wasn’t sure what he/she was talking about. Anyway, it is an improvement and it shows that even Apple cannot stand the pressure.
Of course, Apple could for once try to actually work together with the open parts of the world and drop their strange behaviour, but that is as unlikely as Microsoft dropping their XML format.
But still, this small step shows that even Apple actually *can* grow up in parts. Maybe one of the next versions of Apple’s office suite will come along with a plugin for ODF export or import. The pressure on Microsoft is tough, and if Apple wants to hold it’s share in the education sector it has to change it’s rather childish strategy.