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8/29/2007
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Linux Foundation Urges 'No' Vote On Microsoft's Open XML Format

With voting underway, critics contend there is already an ISO/IEC standard intended for documents -- the Open Document Format.

The Linux Foundation on Wednesday has come out against ISO/IEC member countries adopting Microsoft's Open XML as a document standard. The voting is currently underway around the world, with the outcome still uncertain.

The ISO is the International Standardization Organization, which works in tandem with the International Electrotechnical Commission in setting language, file format and hardware standards for the computer industry.

Microsoft Office's Open XML or OOXML is the default file format for documents built and used by Office applications. The Linux Foundation says the format "is specific to Windows and other Microsoft products," it relies on references to "many Microsoft proprietary specifications" that are not publicly available and it is uncertain whether Open XML "can be used with other operating systems, like Linux."

Andrew Updegrove, a software licensing specialist in the Boston firm of Gesmer Updegrove, said in a blog that the foundation was acting on both its concern over Open XML's "immature technical status" and "widespread reports of undesirable conduct during the voting process to date." He didn't refer to specific countries' votes other than Sweden's Aug. 28 vote, which was "dramatically impacted by the last minute addition of 23 members to the committee casting the Swedish vote." Brazil has voted no on the proposal. India's Bureau of Indian Standards last week withheld its endorsement of Microsoft's Office Open XML format as a standard, indicating its preference for ODF.

The Linux foundation said it's established a standard through the ISO/IEC, the Linux Standard Base, as an agreed up standard for the basic elements of a Linux distribution. The foundation "has a vested interest in the preservation of the validity and integrity of the global standards adoption process. When that process works well, everyone wins."

"To be universally adopted, it is important for the process that creates those standards to be above reproach," it added.

Critics of Open XML contend there is already an ISO/IEC standard intended for documents -- the Open Document Format. The world marketplace would be better off getting Microsoft to merge Open XML and ODF into "a single, common specification," the foundation's statement said.

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