Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Orifice Open XML

A Guardian Unlimited Technology article today, "Microsoft OOXML not a standard, standards body votes," tells of Microsoft's latest setback in having their latest non-standard declared a standard.

OOXML (Office Open XML)is Microsoft's XML-based document format, which is being used in Office 2007. Apparently the awkward name "Office Open" is meant to avoid any mixup with "OpenOffice," which is a multiplatform and multilingual office suite and an open-source project. Quite an orifice full.

The New York Times Technolgy article, "Panel Reject Microsoft's Open Format," offers more details of this tempest. In five months of voting by member of the International Organization for Standardization, or the I.S.O., Microsoft has failed to win designation of OOXML as an approved standard.

The fight over the standard, while technically arcane, is commercially important because more governments are demanding interchangeable open document formats for their vast amounts of records, instead of proprietary formats tied to one company’s software. The only standardized format now available to government buyers is OpenDocument Format, developed by a consortium led by I.B.M., which the I.S.O. approved in May 2006.

According to Gartner, more than 90 percent of all digital text documents in the world are in Microsoft formats. This statistic is important because many groups, here and abroad, are arguing for a reduction of our reliance upon Microsoft's propriety products.

BSI, a Brittish Standards group, has some great arguments against OOXML.

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