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ISO Moves MS Office Open XML to Approval Fast Track

ISO Moves MS Office Open XML to Approval Fast Track

by , 9:15 AM EDT, March 13th, 2007

The International Standards Organization has decided to move Microsoft's proposed Office Open XML standard to a fast track approval process. According to Computerworld, the process could lead to ratification or dismissal of the proposed standard by August.

The ISO Joint Technical Committee (JTC-1) on Information Technology secretariat, Lisa Rajchel, chose to move Open XML to the fast track five month balloting process after discussing the proposal with the International Technology Task Force.

Microsoft proposed Open XML as an alternative standard to the already approved Open Document Format (ODF) - a document standard that is compatible with Microsoft's Office applications and other non-Microsoft products. Should Microsoft's format gain ratification, there will be two competing standards for open office document file formats.

Moving a proposed standard to the fast track process does not guarantee approval, and this proposal is experiencing steep opposition. Of the 30 countries with seats on the JTC-1 committee, 20 have criticized the proposal, and several companies, including IBM, have voiced opposition.

Common objections to Microsoft's proposed standard include the overlap between Open XML and ODF, patent violations by Open XML, issues related to how Open XML actually works, as well as the massive size of the proposal at 6,000 pages.

Moving Open XML to the fast track approval process may be a sign of Microsoft's desire to push the standard through the ratification process before additional concerns can be raised. Or it could indicate a desire by Ms. Rajchel and the JTC-1 to wrap up the process and move on to other proposals as quickly as possible.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the fast tack decision, we'll know by August if there will be two competing open document standards, or if ODF will stand alone.

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