Microsoft criticised over OOXML standardisation

Janet Harris

December 19, 2007

There is speculation that Microsoft could be backing out of its promise to give control of Office Open XML (OOXML) to the International Standards Organisation (ISO). OOXML is an XML-based file format specification for documents such as word processing file, spreadsheets, and presentations.

It seems that Microsoft now hopes to retain indirect control of the standard through Ecma International, which originally approved OOXML in December 2006. Ecma International is an industry association dedicated to the standardisation of information and communication systems.

Microsoft hopes to have OOXML accepted as an international standard before the ISO votes on the format in February.

This could mean that the ISO would not be able to make OOXML compatible with existing standards and would only be able to publish a list of errata, while Ecma would have control of the format.

The latest criticism follows allegations that Microsoft tried to manipulate an ISO vote on the draft format in September.

It was claimed that Microsoft gave its partners in Sweden marketing incentives to join the ISO, in order to vote on the format. Microsoft said that this was the action of one employee who acted without the approval of the company.

The vote on the draft failed to gain sufficient approval and Sweden’s vote was invalidated after someone was allowed to vote twice.


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