April 2, 2008

Microsoft’s OOXML Receives Standardization Approval

Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) is set to receive approval by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), causing the format to be adopted as a global standard.

News of the decision was leaked on Tuesday prior to an official ISO statement on Wednesday. Microsoft embraced the decision that they hope will even their odds with chief competitor Open Document Format (ODF).

"Open XML joins the ranks of PDF, HTML and ODF among the ranks of document formats," said Tom Robertson, Microsoft's head of interoperability and standards. "I think it makes it easier for governments to offer users choice."

"The control over the specification now moves into the hands of the global community. This is going to be one of the most, if not the most important document format around the world for years to come."

Microsoft tried to gain approval in September, but failed to win the ISO vote. A second vote was initiated last month and closed on March 29.

Microsoft won 86 percent of voting national bodies and 75 percent of P-members, of which a two-thirds majority was required.

The OpenDoc Society, who was first to reveal OOXML's approval, reported that nations voting in favor of the format included the United States, Britain, German and Japan. Dissenters included China, India and Russia.

James Love, director of Knowledge Economy International said the decision was a disappointment.

"Microsoft's control over document formats has destroyed competition on the desktop, and the fight over OOXML is really a fight over the future of competition and innovation."

Other critics say that the market isn't ready for both OOXML and ODF, and differences between the two might result in unnecessary confusion.

For example, OOXML is defined by 6,000 pages of code, while ODF's consists of 860 pages. Experts say that translation between the two is incomplete for interoperability.
Michiel Leenaars, who is on the OpenDoc Society board and chaired the Dutch committee in the first stage of the ISO process, said he disagrees with the decision, and that the 15-month process which resulted in OOXML's approval was premature.

"It was mission impossible," he said. "The process wasn't meant for this type of thing."


On the Net:

OpenDoc Society

Open XML Community