Open XML stumbles in India

A technical committee in India has initially rejected the Open XML standard ahead of an ISO vote on making it an international standard.

A technical committee in India unanimously rejected Microsoft's Office Open XML file format as a standard, ahead of a vote on Sept. 2 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) on whether to approve Open XML as an international standard.

However, the rejection may be temporary should Microsoft meet some of the objections to Open XML raised by committee members.

The technical committee was set up by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), India's national standards body, which is a founder member of ISO, and represents India at the international standards organization.

"There were a large number of technical objections raised about Open XML, and many of which Microsoft was not able to address at this point," said D.B. Phatak, professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai. One of the objections was that Open XML was not fully compatible with OpenDocument Format (ODF), a rival existing ISO standard, he added. IIT Mumbai is a member of the technical committee.

The decision not to back Open XML as a standard was taken after a late evening meeting of the technical committee on Thursday in Delhi. Microsoft and Indian outsourcer Infosys Technologies were in favor of the committee voting "yes" but with qualifying comments, according to informed sources. That option wasn't available for voters.

Open XML will be again reconsidered for a standard by the technical committee and BIS after Microsoft makes the required changes to the document format, Phatak said.

Microsoft said in a statement that it respected the decision taken by the BIS, but it was important to note that all the BIS members unanimously support the need for multiple standards. The company will work with the BIS and the committee members on the comments noted during the ballot resolution process, the statement added.

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