Microsoft Office XML gets fast-tracked to ISO standard

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has announced that it is putting Microsoft's Open XML format (the file format used for Office 2007) on a five-month schedule to become a full ISO standard as early as this August. An e-mail by Lisa Rajchel, the secretariat of ISO's Joint Technical Committee, confirmed this decision. The proposal still has to be put to a ballot and distributed to all 157 member countries in the ISO, which is likely to happen sometime this week. The move would put Microsoft's format on par with OpenDocument (created from the existing XML-based file formats of Open, which received ISO's blessing last May.

Some industry observers have pointed out that having two separate XML document standards for office suites could potentially be confusing. Some member countries of the ISO have proposed "harmonizing" ODF and Open XML to make them more interoperable, although this would involve lengthy and complicated changes to both formats. Other criticisms of Open XML include the complexity of the format, as it is a more complex format than OpenDocument, but it has to be because it is required to support every feature that exists in Microsoft Office, many of which have no analog in OpenOffice. A spokesperson for the Ecma addressed the criticism that having two document standards (ODF and Open XML) was potentially confusing: "Ecma does not see a problem to have several, competing format standards in ISO/IEC, such as PDF and the standards for the disjoint. Ecma is, of course, very interested to learn the views of the National Bodies in JTC 1 and ISO/IEC about this subject."

News source: Ars Technica

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