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Google takes a swipe at OOXML

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Updated Google has slammed Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format as being “insufficient and unnecessary”.

The internet giant’s open source programs manager Zaheda Bhorat said yesterday on Google’s official blog that Redmond’s attempts to convince the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) to adopt OOXML as the international format should be ignored.

She reckons Microsoft Office-only functionality fails to meet the criteria for a globally-accepted standard.

Instead she calls for the “unification” of OOXML into OpenDocument Format (ODF), the international standard that was adopted by the ISO last year, and which is supported by Google.

Meanwhile, the Unix user group DKUUG also weighed in on the row against Microsoft’s Office 2007 file format yesterday.

It said it has made a formal complaint to the EU, for breach of the EC Treaty article 81 on unfair competition over the Danish state mandatory regulation of ECMA-approved OOXML.

“DKUUG asks the commission to make a decision to make void the part on OOXML of the Danish regulation on mandatory standards [ECMA-376 or ISO/IEC DIS 29500] OOXML, so that other products can participate in the competition on office software for the Danish state.

“This is in line with regulations in other countries, for example in the federal Belgium, or Norway, where only the ISO standard ODF is specified for the subject,” said the group in a statement.

DKUUG vice chair Keld Simonsen claims that the Danish state is allowing Redmond to maintain a private monopoly in Denmark, even though OOXML doesn’t fulfill the “requirements on openness” that parliament agreed upon in its decision B103 in 2006.

Bhorat and Simonsen's sabre-rattling follows Redmond’s apparent change of heart last week when it announced plans to go big on interoperability by opening up APIs and protocols on a raft of its products.

“A document standards decision may not matter to you today, but as someone who relies on constant access to editable documents, spreadsheets and presentations, it may matter immensely in the near future,” said Bhorat.

Microsoft is currently in the process of a second attempt to gain ISO approval of the OOXML format, after being bruised the first time round.

Last year Redmond swelled the ranks of standards bodies with Microsoft allies in the hope of ratifying its Office 2007 file format as the default standard for international use.

Microsoft had tried to fast-track OOXML via Ecma International, but a vote of the draft (DIS 29500) failed to gain adequate approval last September.

ISO members, who voted on the draft, are in Geneva this week debating OOXML. Delegates will be given until the end of March to adjust their positions on the format if they wish. ®

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