Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm shocked

You can knock me over with a feather.

As a Linux and former Macintosh user, I'm quite used to being sent proprietary, Windows-only file formats that can't be read except by specific, commercial software -- although it must be said that over the last few years, Linux software has become very good at coping with all sorts of secret file formats. It's been a while I've come across a file I wasn't able to open under Linux.

And then the other day, I received an email with an attached .mht file, and neither Kmail, Firefox, Konqueror or Mozilla seemed able to deal with it correctly.

That's not the shocking thing. The shocking thing is that .mht files are a standard, open file format, with a RFC from 1999 specifying the format: HTML plus external resources such as images, in a MIME encoding. It is simply a MHTML file. Essentially, it is a web page, plus all its images, sounds or other extras, in a single file.

Internet Explorer has supported MHTML in the form of .mht files for years; Opera has recently added support for it. Konquorer does something similar, except it puts the files in a compressed tar ball (.tar.gz or .tgz) and calls it a .war (Web ARchive) file.

As far as I can tell, this is a case where Microsoft has actually done the right thing, using a standard, open file format, and the Linux world is lagging behind. Shocking, but true.

No comments: