Microsoft Office Open XML standard faces ratification set back

The US organisation that is a delegate to the ISO international standards body likely will vote against approving Microsoft's Office Open XML file format as a standard next month, after the proposal failed to get enough support from members of the group's board.

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The US organisation that is a delegate to the ISO international standards body likely will vote against approving Microsoft's Office Open XML file format as a standard next month, after the proposal failed to get enough support from members of the group's board.

But a defeat of the Open XML application within ISO may be reversed next year, said Frank Farance, a consultant whose firm voted "no" in balloting by the executive board of the Washington-based InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS).

Farance added that most INCITS members support the eventual ratification of Open XML, which Microsoft hopes to put on an even par with the ISO-approved Open Document Format for Office Applications.

"We think it will ultimately become an ISO standard," Farance said. "Let's just do it the right way."

The INCITS board voted 8-7 in favor of Open XML, with one abstention. But the proposal needed 10 "yes" votes - two-thirds of the ballots cast -- to pass.

Farance said concerns centred around some relatively minor technical details and poorly written or ambiguous wording in the 6,000-page application submitted by the Ecma International standards group, which gave Open XML its stamp of approval last year.

Microsoft said INCITS hasn't made a formal decision on the proposal and may not do so until the 2 September deadline for submitting a vote to ISO.

But the chance that the group will change its position is only "one in 100," said Farance, an INCITS member for the past 23 years.

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