Microsoft Awaits Vote Results On Open XML Standardization - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Software // Enterprise Applications
News
3/31/2008
04:58 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft Awaits Vote Results On Open XML Standardization

If the file format does not become a standard, some governments could shy away from using Open XML -- and therefore, potentially, Microsoft Office.

After years of wrangling, Microsoft's Office Open XML file formats are set to gain or lose approval as international standards. The ballots are in and being counted, but the world won't know the verdict of the International Standards Organization until Wednesday.

The voting ended over the weekend, and it's not clear exactly what is delaying the results. A total of 87 national standards bodies are voting. In at least one case, Steve Pepper, chairman of Norway's committee on the approval of Open XML is reported to have filed a formal protest with his country's yes vote, citing "serious irregularities" with the vote.

The voting process has been marked by jostling and sometimes open hostility on both sides of Open XML's standardization, with Microsoft competitors like IBM repeatedly coming down hard on Microsoft and with reports of Microsoft's heavy-handed lobbying for its format, including promising "marketing contributions" in exchange for votes in Sweden -- a move that Microsoft later said wasn't company approved.

If the file format does not become a standard, some governments could shy away from using Open XML -- and therefore, potentially, Microsoft Office -- in favor of something like Open Document Format, (ODF) which has already become a standard. However, Tom Robertson, Microsoft's general manager for interoperability said in an interview, "most governments will come down on the side of choice." The state of Massachusetts along with the countries of Switzerland and Denmark are among those that have said they'll use either format.

Either way, Microsoft is pushing forward to get its formats used in more places. With Microsoft's large market share in productivity software, Open XML isn't likely to decrease in importance anytime soon.

Last week, for example, Microsoft announced that it would contribute to an Apache project that would let Open XML be used in Java apps. The formats have already been employed or supported in Apple's iWork productivity suite, a productivity suite for Symbian mobile devices and a range of IBM products despite IBM's efforts with its own ODF.

As Open XML moves forward, a few vital missing pieces need to be put into place. For example, there are no standard interoperability test suites available for Open XML. "It's a real need," said Robertson, who pointed out that Microsoft recently launched a Document Interoperability Initiative aimed at creating test suites and templates for forms that would be optimized for interoperability between Open XML and ODF.

Currently, Microsoft's Open XML is a standard of ECMA International, where Microsoft is chair of the technical committee leading the standard's development. However, Microsoft anticipates significant changes in the future course of the standard's development if passed. Control of the standard will shift to ISO, where groups representing larger constituencies than in ECMA will be represented.

Microsoft has not yet said whether it will continue to use the standard version of Open XML for future releases of Office, and Robertson wouldn't confirm its use in the upcoming Office 14. "I don't know that there's a company on earth that would say, into the future, we're going to do X, Y or Z," he said.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
Reflections on Tech in 2019
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  12/9/2019
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll