Report: US likely to maintain 'yes' vote for OOXML in ISO

Standing by the Microsoft proposal

An esoteric-but-key technical committee will recommend that the US maintain its support for making Microsoft's Office Open XML document format an ISO-certified open standard, despite controversy at a meeting last week discussing fixes to the proposed specification.

The V1 Technical Committee advises the US tech standards body, the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), on text processing standards. It is made up of employees from 22 companies and governmental organizations, including Microsoft and its competitors, such as Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and IBM.

As the US delegate to ISO, INCITS had supported OOXML's failed ratification last September. OOXML got a majority of votes at the time, but not enough to pass.

According to a Friday blog post by Microsoft employee Doug Mahugh, V1 voted to recommend that INCITS maintain its Approve position on DIS 29500, the name for the OOXML proposal.

Mahugh is Microsoft's representative in V1. The news was confirmed by another source at INCITS.

At last week's Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM), an ISO committee met to approve more than 1,100 changes made to the OOXML spec in response to feedback from ISO members after last September.

A vote was taken at the beginning of the BRM to approve or disapprove more than 900 minor changes, in order to make time to discuss more important ones. Also,'O' Observer countries were allowed to vote.

Some critics had alleged that those changes to the established ISO protocol were significant and invalidated the outcome of the BRM, which was to have approved the changes.

That paves the way for a re-vote by ISO member nations, who must denote whether they plan to change or maintain their positions by March 29.

Before then, and without meeting again, the INCITS Executive Board will vote by letter ballot to approve or disapprove V1's recommendation.

The Executive Board is made up of 19 vendors and government groups, including Microsoft. It also includes natural Open XML foes such as Adobe Systems, whose PDF format is an open standard, as well as Sun and IBM, who both strongly support the competing OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Despite that, the Executive Board voted for OOXML's approval in ISO last September. That was despite V1 not recommending it.

V1 is chaired by Patrick Durusau, who also happens to be an editor paid by Sun to oversee ODF.

Durusau, despite his ties to ODF, recently changed his mind and now publicly supports OOXML's ratification.

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Eric Lai

Computerworld

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