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Has Microsoft OOXML Jumped Off the ISO Fast Track?

Posted in Action, America, Formats, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 5:53 am by Shane Coyle

It appears that Microsoft may be encountering some delays in their attempts to gain fast-track approval for their Office Open XML file format, in fact it is being reported that they are one vote shy of Fast-Track approval in a recent internal INCITS poll.

The INCITS is the group that represents the United States in ISO deliberations, and according to the article the internal poll vote broke down as such:

Of the organizations that participated in the poll, Apple, the Department of Homeland Security, EIA, EMC, HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Sony all voted in favor of OOXML fast-track approval. Votes opposing approval came from Farance, GS1 US, IBM, Lexmark, NIST, Oracle, and the US Department of Defense. IEEE—which is comprised of numerous organizations including the companies that are on the INCITS executive board—abstained, citing internal disagreement.

Of course, even if OOXML is not given Fast-Track approval, it will continue to have the chance to slowly make its way through the ISO approval process and Microsoft will be afforded opportunities to correct or justify the numerous points of concern that have been raised since OOXML’s introduction such as reliance on proprietary formats and binary-only information, impossible (for third parties) to implement cryptic references to undocumented and proprietary information such as AutoSpaceLikeWord95, or their odd preference for reinventing the wheel with departure from accepted standards such as MathML, not to mention plain old bugs that should be addressed.

Then again, this entire exercise has been an example of Microsoft’s predilection for eschewing accepted standards and reinventing the wheel in their own proprietary way, since we already have an International Standard, ISO-approved, Office File Format.

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  1. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 12, 2007 at 6:32 am


    Be ready for Microsoft to do some special ‘deal’ with Lexmark (or something along those lines). They admitted playing dirty last week, just after the MA announcement.

    There is no question that all over the world the competing interests in the Open XML standardization process are going to use all tactics available to them within the rules.

        –Microsoft’s Director of Corporate Standards Jason Matusow

    Also see this older story:

    Microsoft’s ‘Men in Black’ kill Florida open standards legislation

    “It was just a bit of text advocating open data formats that was slipped into a Florida State Senate bill at the last minute with no fanfare, but within 24 hours three Microsoft-paid lobbyists, all wearing black suits, were pressuring members of the Senate Committee on Governmental Operations (COGO) to remove the words they didn’t like from Senate bill 1974.”

    Shame on Apple for screwing BSD users (again). They should support real standards, as opposed to a convicted monopoly abuser that uses a non-standard XML dump. It’s clear that there might be nepotism going on. Apple and Microsoft have some quiet IP-related deals.

  2. Sam Hiser said,

    August 12, 2007 at 9:12 am



    The special late news I predicted was they will release the specs on the undocumented proprietary legacy formats.

    This would sway the ISO vote while actually giving up very little practical advantages toward interoperability due to the complexity of business processes and the numerous embedded nasties (OLE, VBA scripts) which plague our document file store.

    Look for that if the going starts to look bleak for Microsoft closer to Sept. 2nd.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 12, 2007 at 9:31 am


    Rob’s comment is interesting. It reminds me of those ‘widgett salesman that yell out “order by the end of today and get another one absolutely free“.



  4. Finland calling said,

    August 15, 2007 at 5:26 pm


    I’m saddened to report that ooxml (msxml) corruption trains seems to have hit yet another country, Finland.
    One newsclip and one newscomment about it in webpages of national computing magazine, maybe more to follow tomorrow morning.


    Quick translation of the main points:

    Finland is about to publish its attitude towards OOXML ISO ratification and fast-tracking.
    Information technology leader of the state (country), Leena Honka (55yrs) from finance ministry tells that negotiator from “leading unit of information technology” (don’t know if there’s a realistic translation for this) will attend the meeting on August 20th and will discuss the matters.

    - BUT they won’t give out information if they’re for or against OOXML in any way!

    Lassi Nirhamo from SFS says that ministries have more weight in the matter than Microsoft or its opponents IBM and Novell.
    Also Nokia (Partner now maybe? Rumors about that new microsoft + nokia music/media cooperation to compete against iTunes), Tietoenator and WM-Data will be present there. They haven’t revealed their attitude on the matter either.

    - Tietoenator and WM-Data both are Microsoft partners, as usual..

    Nirhamo claims that they won’t decide until the meeting on Monday. He denies that ministry of trade and industry or any other ministry could force their way of choosing. Nirhamo will be chairman in the meeting.

    In the newscomment he just wonders what the ministries are afraid of and why won’t they reveal their way of decision – as it looks like they really don’t know on Wednesday which way it should go on next Monday? That’s worrisome.

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