Anyone out there following this OOXML (Microsoft’s Office Open XML standard) debate? I have to admit, the whole OpenDocument thing has fallen to the wayside this year ever since I covered it ad nauseum in 2006. Seems I’ve been missing some heated discussions, to put it mildly.
Today, it seems, I can’t go a minute without reading a blog post or news article about the OOXML ISO approval process. Marino Marcich, the managing director of the OpenDocument Alliance, wrote me this morning with an update:
While we await official confirmation of the ballot results, it appears that Microsoft’s Office Open XML failed to secure the necessary 2/3 vote among so-called P members of ISO. The large number of reported “no” votes (15) and “abstentions” (9) demonstrates the depth of concern around the world over OOXML’s interoperability and openness. The “no’s” included some of the fastest growing economies in the world and major industrialized countries, in stark contrast to ODF, which was approved unanimously (31-0) by ISO in 2006. ODF remains the document format of choice for governments, as it is now being considered for use by countries in every major region of the globe. Microsoft has every right to seek the ISO label for OOXML, but, as the ballot results show, it has a long way to go before it earns it and can be considered a truly open, interoperable document format.
Other vendors, like Sun Microsystems, support the ODF standard and cite a “Digital Dark Age” will form in the future if open standards are not adopted for our documents. What they argue, in layman’s terms, is that documents created under closed formats, like Word, will be unreadable in the future. Currently, documents are created by public sector agencies using different applications that may not be compatible with one another. The aim of the bodies like the ODF alliance is to use an open standard file format like OpenDocument that enables governments and their constituents to use, access and store documents, records and information both today and in the future.
It would appear that the ODF Alliance is please with this result today. That bodes well for ODF as a standard, even if it’s not enjoying those same successes here in the States. With that unanimous vote by ISO in 2006, however, it makes me wonder why this is the case.
EDIT: This is not an outright rejection. Instead, the ISO rejected “fast track” approval status for OOXML.