Category Archives: open standards

ISO:NO OOXML

The vote count was close, but it appears that Microsoft’s OOXML as an International standard has been voted down .

A ballot on whether to publish the draft standard ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML file formats, as an International Standard by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has not achieved the required number of votes for approval.

This seems to be good news for fans of open standards… for now at least. The Open Document Format (ODF) has been accepted by ISO and could be implemented by Microsoft in their Office suite as it has been in all other word processing and office software packages (Notably the FOSS OpenOffice.org). It seems quite interesting that Microsoft is a member of Open Standards for the Information Society (OASIS) which created the ODF standard, but Microsoft wishes to make their own standard instead of adopting a standard already embraced by the ISO and increasingly the world. For governments (and others like libraries) concerned with open access to information and freedom from proprietary formats, the battle for a standard causes more confusion.

Many have accused MS of influencing votes and the evidence does seem compelling. The Free Software Foundation of Europe has uncovered influence peddling on Microsoft’s part in many countries. The Electronic Frontier Foundation shows a link between corrupt countries and “yes” votes:

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Open standards are critical for open government and many governments are standing firm on this principal. Libraries should also demand open standards. We simply cannot afford the cost of proprietary systems for archiving and retrieving information. Our aim is much the same as governments concern with open and transparent access: standards must be open to ensure open access to information.

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