Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft OOXML Pollutes More Than Just Document Formats

OOXML is bad
Trojan horse for "platform as a standard"



Just to state or perhaps even emphasise the obvious, OOXML is a very large stack of proprietary Microsoft technologies, which directly contradict and antagonise existing standards, and not by coincidence. Microsoft has always established itself separately from the rest of the industry, as the following quote immediately reminds us:

"We want to own these standards, so we should not participate in standards groups. Rather, we should call 'to me' to the industry and set a standard that works now and is for everyone's benefit. We are large enough that this can work."

--Microsoft Corporation, internal memo (source [compressed PDF])



Now that Microsoft has sunk OOXML down ISO's throat (unless retraction will ensue), by association or inferences a lot of other rubbish has made it through too. What would this mean for the industry? The following breakdown runs through some of the gory details.

We already have an open standard for mathematical formulae and notation, it is called MathML and is published by the W3C math working group.
  • OOXML ignores this and uses its own Microsoft-specific Maths language.
We already have an open standard for vector graphics called Scalable Vector Graphics. This was produced to replace vendor specific formats such as Adobe's PGML and Microsoft's VML.
  • OOXML ignores this and uses Microsoft-specific VML.
We have a specification (RFC 3987) for UTF-8 capable Internet addresses. This allows URLs to be written in any language.
  • OOXML ignores this and can only use Latin characters in URLs, so speakers of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and many other languages are plain out of luck.


Regarding that last point, see the following damaging account.

Some of the Microsoft comments have just been leaked out of the ECMA fortress. Microsoft continues to ignore the Muslim world, and they don't want to correct its WORKDAY function in order to 'do not break backward compatibility': "Weekend days (Saturday and Sunday) are not considered as working days."


Despite all of this, stacking ensured that Arabic-speaking countries voted for the very same thing that discriminated against them. It's bizarre, but hey! It's Microsoft.

The VML issue was mentioned by Rob Weir a few days ago.

The world should be pleased to note, that with the approval of ISO/IEC 29500, Microsoft's Vector Markup Language (VML), after failing to be approved by the W3C in 1998 and after being neglected for the better part of a decade, is now also ISO-approved. Thus VML becomes the first and only standard that Microsoft Internet Explorer fully supports.


We wrote a lot more about this earlier today. It's bad news for the Internet as well. Now is the time to advocate ODF and ensure that OOXML gains no traction.

Use Open Document Format (ODF) - Free your documents. Well, that's the title of the following new video anyway.

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