Office Open XML Officially Approved As International StandardPublished on 1 April 2008 @ 11:37 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By Kaitlin Mara
The much-debated open document standard Office Open XML (OOXML) has been approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), according to a document obtained by Intellectual Property Watch.
The result of the voting showed 24 supporting votes by participating national standards bodies allowed to vote, known as “p-members,” versus eight opposing votes. This translates to a 75 percent approval rating among bodies which cast a vote, greater than the two-thirds approval required for approval by ISO. However, nine national standards bodies who abstained from voting were not included in this calculation.
The ISO document is available here [pdf].
The Microsoft document standard, which is a 6,000 page set of specifications, has been hotly contested, culminating in two parallel meetings in Geneva this February (IPW, Access to Knowledge, 27 February 2008): one, the Ballot Resolution Meeting meant to resolve technical issues with the specification before approval as a standard and the other, called OpenForum Europe, in which free software and rival Open Document Format supporters called for the rejection of OOXML.
Though the public announcement has not been made, Ecma, an industry standards-making body that had approved OOXML previously, has released a press statement welcoming the approval, with secretary general Istvan Sebestyen calling it “an important milestone.” Microsoft’s statement hailed the appearance of “extremely broad support” for the standard at the end of the ISO voting process.
Opponents of the OOXML standard disagree about the support, and accused Microsoft of irregularities during the voting process (IPW, Access to Knowledge, 29 February 2008). Knowledge Ecology International released an early statement saying it was “disappointed” about the likely approval and that “Microsoft’s control over document formats has destroyed competition on the desktop.”
Several other sources have raised questions about apparent last-minute vote changes, with several countries changing their votes from disapproval or abstention to approval in the eleventh hour, they said. Most notable of these is Norway, whose reportedly last-minute “yes” vote has raised questions about legitimacy, according to a Norwegian IT blog.
The ISO is a 157-member network of national standards bodies based in Geneva.
Kaitlin Mara may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.