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10/27/2006
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Standards Body Strengthens Office Open XML

The new version of Microsoft's specification has removed all proprietary technology, standards group Ecma says.

International standards body Ecma has established an Office Open XML standard that is free from proprietary measures, Ecma said in a white paper issued this week.

Microsoft had submitted its entry to the Ecma a year ago to compete with the OpenDocument Format, which has been viewed as a competitor to the market-dominant Microsoft Office.

Tom Ngo, CTO of NextPage, a document tracking services firm, said work has been carried out over the past year by Ecma's TC45 committee to make changes to Office Open XML.

"We ensured that the standard discloses everything that vendors require to implement it interoperably, that it is independent of anything proprietary, and that developers can start small instead of having to implement the entire specification," Ngo said in a statement.

Ngo said OpenXML has been designed to represent all documents in XML, adding that such a standard will enable users to utilize the technology across a broad range of applications.

A ferocious debate over the relative benefits of OpenOffice versus the ODF format, has been underway in state government circles in Massachusetts.

Also working with Microsoft on the standard are representatives of Apple Computer, Barclays Capital BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel, Novell, Statoil, Toshiba and the U.S. Library of Congress.

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