Remember OOXML

All information related to Office Open XML (OOXML) can be found on the NoOOXML Campaign website created by Benjamin Henrion - now President of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure - in 2007 : The website is ful of pertinent details about the OOXML standardization process and it might be interesting to point out the main apsects of what it was all about.

I am copy-pasting here extract of B.H.'s last press release on the issue, which I consider a good summary of the process :

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"Brussels, 2 April 2008 — ISO members failed to disapprove the Open XML format. Microsoft has compromised the International Standards Organisation (ISO) during the rush to get a stamp for their Office OpenXML (OOXML), using unfair practices such as committee stuffing in several countries and political interventions of ministers in the standardization process.

A vote by national members of ISO indicates a majority for the controversial Open XML format. OOXML received 75 percent approval votes of p-members of JTC1, among them many nations of questionable expertise in standardization. In September a first attempt to approve the 6000 page standard Open XML failed with more than 3500 submitted comments. As in September many of the new approval votes were won by political high level intervention and the vendors dominance in national technical committees.

From June 2007 to March 2008, technical committees around the world studied and analysed one of the largest IT standards proposal ever, Microsoft's OOXML. In order to get its format safely through ISO, Microsoft had to stuff committees, lobby ministers, mobilize business partners, and rewrite the ISO rules.

The rush for Open XML started with the adoption of OpenDocument format as the ISO standard for office documents (ISO 26300:2006). The open standard ODF is considered a danger for the market monopolist Microsoft with its flag ship product Microsoft Office. Governments worldwide are switching to the ISO standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) as their default format for office documents. ODF is a vendor neutral ISO open standard. The reaction of Microsoft to defend their monopoly position was to rush through their incompatible alternative format Open XML via ECMA international to become a second ISO standard. Although the Open XML format lacks maturity on formal grounds Microsoft has been able to hijack the entire ISO process. The technical review of the format was strongly obstructed by its originator and its political interference in the ISO process.

Presence of Microsoft Business Partners has been reported in the following countries: Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Italy, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America. Furthermore, it has been reported in several countries, such as France and Malaysia, that Microsoft has lobbied the government and the responsible ministers to override the decisions of the technical committees, which spoke out against an approval of the format. […]"

» Entire release available here.

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Why should OOXML have been dispaproved :

Irregularities observed in the standardisation process :

I will try to make some sort of summary out of this in the coming days. As for the problems related to the specification itself, I suggest to discuss it in MS Published Documentation forum.

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