It’s not just Britain and it isn’t just Portugal, either. Watch the following observation which comes from Italy. Voting on OOXML seems like a rather iffy business, not just in the United States. The story, however, ends nicely.
Actually it is quite impressing seeing how the voting panel [for OOXML] was formed. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that among those favouring the adoption of the standard without reservation a large majority is made of business partners of the proposing entity [Microsoft], a law firm retained by the latter, the official certified business partners association of the proposing entity. “Money can’t buy me love” Beatles used to sing: perhaps neither a standard.
OOXML is not an open standard. It is an XML representation of Microsoft’s proprietary data structures used in their line of office software. It is only designed to match the feature set of MS Office and nothing else. It ignores the pre-existing ISO standards for dates/times, mathematical formula as well as using poor XML design practices.
If Microsoft truly intended to use an open format for their office software they would have joined the committee for the ODF standard and proposed the features they needed to be added to the specification. Instead, they are trying to trick people looking for open standards that their OOXML is an open format. Even if the specification is open for use, and that it would be under the control of an independent organization (required for ISO standardization), you can bet that Microsoft will deviate from the standard as soon as possible once they hold the majority of market share, convincing users that the other software is ‘broken’.
ODF isn’t perfect, but it is much closer to what is needed. It uses common standards that are already supported and provides a vendor neutral specification for generating generic, compatible, documents.
Actually, I’ll quote another comment because it is short and precise:
Per the usual, Microsoft is engaging in shady dealing and collusion in order to forward its own agenda. Not that this sort of corruption is unique to Microsoft by any means, but it is typical of large corporations who have reached the point where they lack the agility to compete on a technical level and therefore must do so on the playing-field of bought influence and barriers to entry.
Update: you might find the following item from the Inquirer amusing: Microsoft twists and turns over ODF – Microsoft claims ODF is a monopoly. Pot calls kettle black.