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8/15/2008
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OOXML Gets Final Nod After Standards Body Rejects Appeals

Office Open XML is the basis of the format that lies behind Microsoft's Office 2007 and Office for Mac 2008 desktop application suites.

The International Organization for Standardization said Friday that it has formally rejected appeals to its decision earlier this year to ratify the Microsoft-backed OOXML format as an international standard.

The decision had been challenged by officials from Brazil, India, South Africa, and Venezuela, who claimed that the voting process was marred by irregularities. In a statement Friday, the ISO, along with counterparts at the International Electrotechnical Commission, said that none of the appeals "received the support for further processing."

For the appeals to have succeeded, two-thirds of members of the ISO and IEC's technical committees would have to have voted to further investigate them.

Office Open XML is the basis of the format that lies behind Microsoft's Office 2007 and Office for Mac 2008 desktop application suites. The ISO's initial approval of the format in April opened the door to its use in public agencies that require technology to conform to international standards.

With the appeals rejected, the ISO said that OOXML can now proceed directly to final publication as an international standard.

Officials from Brazil, India, South Africa, and Venezuela weren't the only ones who challenged the ISO's ratification of OOXML. The chairman of a Norwegian technology committee earlier this year filed a protest against his country's decision to vote to approve the format.

In a letter to the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Steve Pepper said "serious irregularities" were behind Norway's main standards body's decision to vote in favor of OOXML ratification.

Peppers said Standard Norge's decision ignored his group's recommendation to vote against OOXML. "This decision does not reflect the view of the vast majority of the Norwegian committee," said Pepper.

There were other complaints about the process, as well. Microsoft last year conceded that an employee in Sweden offered to compensate local tech execs for joining the country's standards committee and voting in favor of OOXML.

Microsoft, however, has claimed that the irregularities were limited and that it worked with ISO officials to put a halt to any improper behavior by its employees.

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