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Microsoft is calling on the Great British public to join its campaign to get the XML Office format adopted as an international standard.

The company has launched an online petition encouraging the British Standards Institute (BSI) to vote for ratification of the Open XML Format, used in Office 2007, 2003 and XP, as an official ISO standard. The BSI is an ISO member.

Open XML Format was ratified last year by the European Computer Manufacturers' Association (ECMA)- Microsoft's favorite standards body - putting it on a fast track to ISO ratification. But it is understood that Microsoft's proposed standard has seen opposition at ISO, with six member countries opposed to the fast tracking process. It is not clear if the UK is an opponent. However, a representative of fellow member the Bureau of Indian Standards recently reportedly complained to the IndiaTime.com over Microsoft's decision to dump 6,000 pages of documentation on them.

"Even if an expert were to spend every day to review it, he would have to read 200 pages of the technical documents per day, cross references and all," the source said.

As Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley notes, here, Microsoft's interest in fast tracking co-insides with the growing mandate from national and local governments that their software confirms to standards, and are no longer proprietary. Microsoft, of course, got a very high-profile pants dusting in the US commonwealth of Massachusetts on this issue.

Microsoft's UK campaign follows the company's recent complaints that IBM was deliberately hindering ratification of Open XML in standards bodies and through the corridors of power in international government. ®

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