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Decision on OOXML: Potentially Months Ahead

Posted in Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 2:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

According to ISO, the final decision may be months ahead. [via Leif Lodahl]

The two management boards will then decide whether the appeals should be further processed or not. If they decide in favour of proceeding, the chairmen of the two boards are required to establish a conciliation panel which will attempt to resolve the appeals. The process could take several months.

As an article about this development, consider one from the BBC.

Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela have complained that there was not enough time given to discuss improvements to the format.


The ratification of OpenXML would be an important seal of approval for Microsoft, which has long been held to task for its failure to embrace open standards.

Government bodies would be more likely to adopt the standard if it had an “open” rubber-stamp as many are concerned that storing documents in a proprietary format could cause problems for future archiving.

The Office OpenXML format was initially approved by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) in April but will now remain on hold while the appeals are investigated.

This could take several months.

There is a good summary of recent events in the links at the bottom. Until a decision is made, Microsoft will pretend that OOXML is pending approval and is therefore “open”.

Be warned that Microsoft continues to ‘embrace’ (and essentially hijack) what was once known as “open source”. OOXML is part of this shameless charade, but it goes further. Microsoft now takes an authoritative position as ‘open source policeman’, to which the apt reply was (see the comment that slants a headline): “Microsoft Says Open Source Is Nothing without the Source Code – Move Over Richard Stallman.”

Over the past day we have identified some incidents (mentioned in the IRC Channel) where Sharepoint-dependent bits of software are characterised as ‘open source’. The same goes for other such projects that depend on the proprietary Microsoft stack, but that’s a story for another post.

Below we append the ODF Alliance Newsletter for June 2008.


South Africa, Brazil, India and Venezuela have officially appealed ISO’s vote on Microsoft’s OOXML (DIS 29500), leaving OOXML in limbo until officials in the ISO/IEC hierarchy determine how to resolve the complaints. South Africa’s appeal cites instances both before and during the Ballot Resolution Meeting held on Feb 25-29 2008 in which the ISO/IEC JTC1 directives were not followed, voices concern over the circumvention of the consensus-building process by large organizations, and challenges the validity of the final vote…Brazil’s appeal raises additional objections to those cited by South Africa, including the failure to allow the Brazilian delegation to present its proposal regarding “legacy” formats and the failure to deliver the final text of DIS 29500 as required under the directives…IEC spokespersons confirmed the receipt of formal appeals from India and Venezuela, though the exact nature of the complaints was not known…Denmark’s Open Source Leverandørforeningen (OSL) lodged an official complaint to the ISO vice president and Danish Standard managing director Jacob Holmblad urging ISO to reconsider OOXML in light of the violation of the directives… The UK’s Unix and Open Systems User Group (UKUUG) mounted a legal challenge to a British Standards Institute decision to approve the fast-tracking of OOXML.

South Africa –

Brazil –

India –

Venezuela –

Denmark –

United Kingdom –


In a statement, the ODF Alliance greeted with skepticism Microsoft’s announcement of its intention to include support for ODF in the first half of 2009, noting that “the proof will be whether and when Microsoft’s promised support for ODF is on par with its support for its own format,” while citing the announcement as a reflection of “the strong demand from customers worldwide, especially governments, for access to ODF…”.

ODF Alliance Statement –

ConsortiumInfo.org Analysis –


A report published by the New York State’s Office of the CIO and the Office for Technology — “A Strategy for Openness: Enhancing E-Records Access in New York State” — concerns issues that feature prominently in the growing public debate over document formats, including choice, cost and mandating in procurement. By far the most thorough review and analysis of the issue to date, the report found that increased numbers of formats for doing the same office tasks increase complexity, add to costs, and do not increase choice. Calling for harmonization between ODF and OOXML, the report concludes that “the use of single, standardized formats increases efficiencies and furthers compatibility and interoperability,” and requests that New York State “be added to the list of those who are asking proprietary vendors to directly support document formats such as ODF or other formats that maintain the same level of ODF’s openness.” The report notes that “despite expressly being asked, not one of the 114 commentators cited a single study finding higher costs after migration to open format solutions.” The report recommends a process culminating in April 2009 that will determine specific changes to procurement policies to “integrate openness… as one of the most desired features” and other requirements to allow state agencies to begin accepting office suite documents in open formats.

New York State Report –

ODF Alliance Statement –


A new international group, the Digital Standards Organization (“Digistan”), has launched an appeal for signatories to a declaration calling on governments to: procure only information technology that implements free and open standards; deliver e-government services based exclusively on free and open standards; and use only free and open digital standards in their own activities. The Hague Declaration is premised on the idea that more and more of our basic freedoms (speech, association, assembly, etc..) are exercised on the Internet. Full and effective participation in government and society, and indeed access to public services, education and opportunity, is therefore increasingly dependent upon access to electronic communications. As such, the declaration calls on governments to ensure affordable, equal access to the Internet, recognizing the unique role that free and open digital standards can play in ensuring this result.



Conformance to the ODF specification and interoperability among ODF-supporting applications is essential. You can help. Join the discussion list regarding the creation of a new OASIS ODF Implementation, Interoperability and Conformance (IIC) Technical Committee. Anyone, including OASIS members and non-members, may subscribe to the list by sending a message to: oiic-formation-discuss-subscribe@lists.oasis-open.org. The preliminary statement of scope for the TC includes providing a means for implementers to create applications which adhere to the ODF specification and are able to interoperate. As such, the TC may publish conformance test suites to confirm the interoperability of ODF-supporting applications and produce a set of implementation guidelines, among other deliverables. Discussion on the e-mail list will be open for 90 days.

OASIS OIIC Discussion List –


Document to DAISY DTBook Translator v0.0.4 is an OpenOffice.org plug-in for the creation of “talking” DAISY books for people with print impairments –

IBM’s Lotus Symphony 1.0, a suite of free, ODF-supporting software tools for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations, now includes an optional, fee-based service to support the needs of organizations –

IBM’s Lotus Foundations Start is a complete, ODF supporting software appliance that provides the essential software a business needs to focus on running the business –

IBM, Novell and Avnet have teamed up to develop IBM Open Collaboration Solution, which uses ODF-supporting software running on Novell’s Suse Linux –

Microsoft announced its intention to provide support for ODF in MS Office 2007 by the middle of 2009 –

ODFXSLTRunner is a new tool in the ODF Toolkit project that allows you to apply an XSLT stylesheet to an ODF document without extracting streams from the ODF package, and without having to update the ODF package files with the result of the transformation –


Please welcome the following new member: Network Design & Integration (USA).


XML Standards in Government Workshop [17-20 June 2008, Tshwane Univ. of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa]

Red Hat Summit [18-20 June 2008 - Boston, MA]

OpenOffice.org Conference (OOoCon 2008)[5-7 Nov 2008 - Beijing, China]


N.Y.’s CIO Urges Interoperable, Vendor-Neutral Document Format [K.C. Jones, InformationWeek]

Alliance Weighs In on Microsoft Interoperability in Education [Dave Nagel, The Journal]

NY commits to open formats as MSFT supports ODF [Richard Koman, ZDnet]

Microsoft’s ODF support points to OOXML challenges [Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News]

Brazil protests ratification of OOXML [Tom Espiner, CNET News.com]

EU will probe Microsoft’s ODF move [Gregg Keizer, ComputerWorld]

Forget file formats. The battle is Sharepoint [Matt Asay]

Louis Suarez-Potts: OOXML Has Zero Effect On ODF [Swapnil Bhartiya, EFY News Network]

OpenOffice 3.0 beta : Can it finally replace Microsoft Office? [Preston Gralla, ComputerWorld]

UK agency says Microsoft hurts student interests [David Lawsky, Reuters]

Eliminating the ‘Software Tax’ by Using ODF [Erwin Tenhumberg, itv.sys-con.com]

Microsoft OOXML: Dead Format Walking [Jason Brooks, eWeek]

Dutch Gov releases Open Source tool: Converts Microsoft docs to ODF [Stewart Meagher, The Inquirer]

IIT Bombay, Microsoft at loggerheads over standards [Leslie D`Monte, Business Standard]

The Embrace, Extend, Extinguish of ODF Begins? – Updated [Groklaw]

The Fall of Microsoft Office [Anders Bylund, The Motley Fool]

IBM to Sell Support for Rival to Microsoft Office [Reuters]

Your Second Economic Stimulus Check Is On Its Way [Phil Shapiro]

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

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