James Snell writes: I'd wager to say that developers in this field know all too well that the reality is that interoperability will never be "downright automatic".
I guess I'm a bit more optimistic. I remember when e-mail between companies never worked. Heck, I remember when clocks in cars could never be trusted (most clocks in US houses depend on the 60hz power cycles, as cars run off of DC power, the clocks must find other means).
Now I routinely send e-mail from Lotus Notes to people using Outlook, Eudora, or Pine. In fact, I don't need to worry about what they use. And I only need to set the clock in my car twice a year.
For all of this to work smoothly, we must be both aware of and tolerant of the differences between platforms, and provide as much documentation as we can - preferably containing copious amounts of human and machine readable content.