OOXML gets the nod as an ISO standard

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) document format standard has finally gained approval as an ISO standard, according to an official announcement from the standards body today.
Jerry Fishenden, Microsoft UK’s national technology officer, said that while Microsoft was pleased with the outcome, it would benefit others more, “it’s a particularly good day for our customers and partners”. He added these organisations were keen for OOXML to gain ISO approval as a way of ensuring that “their data remains under their control”.
Fishenden said Microsoft would now focus on working to ensure its Office applications and translator tools between OOXML and the rival Open Document Format were compatible with the final approved standard documentation.
The outcome follows a week-long meeting in late February, where national standards bodies met to thrash out issues with the technical specification, and a previous negative vote last September.
National standards bodies had until 29 March to resubmit their votes on OOXML in this new round of voting. According to the ISO, three-quarters of participating standards bodies voted to approve the document format, while only 14 percent of votes were negative.
During the previous round of voting, only 53 per cent voted in favour of the standard, while 26 per cent of votes were negative. Denmark, the UK and the Czech Republic were among those countries that changed their votes from negative to positive this time round.
New Zealand was one of the few countries that maintained its negative vote.
Debbie Chin, chief executive at Standards New Zealand, explained, “Our role is to ensure that overall New Zealanders will benefit from publication of a particular standard and in this case it was clear that while some would benefit, there would be others who would be disadvantaged. A major concern is the expected increase in costs for government agencies that would result from the specification being adopted as an ISO/IEC international standard. Cost increases for government agencies ultimately impact all New Zealanders.”

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