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Official: OOXML approved as international standard

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The ISO/IEC confirmed this morning that Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) has been approved as an international standard, leaving the Open Document Format (ODF) lobby raging about alleged voting irregularities.

The International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) finally posted a press release today officially confirming what was already widely known, that Microsoft bagged 75 per cent of the votes, enough to see its Office 2007 file format given the thumbs-up.

The decision follows February's ballot resolution meeting in Geneva, where delegates from 87 national bodies were given the opportunity to review comments and change their stance after voting to reject OOXML last autumn. It will come as a massive blow to advocates of ISO-approved ODF.

Many critics of OOXML have argued against the specification because Microsoft has failed to build in native support for ODF files, which are used by the likes of IBM, Sun Microsystems and others, into its latest Office suite. Others, meanwhile, have complained that approving OOXML as a standard would see Redmond tighten its monopolistic stranglehold on the software industry.

The ISO, which delayed its announcement by a day – presumably to review complaints over alleged voting misdeeds – said: “The issues addressed and revised have resulted in sufficient national bodies withdrawing their earlier disapproval votes, or transforming them into positive votes, so that the criteria for approval of the document as an International Standard have now been met.

“Subject to there being no formal appeals from ISO/IEC national bodies in the next two months, the International Standard will accordingly proceed to publication.”

Now that Microsoft has secured victory with the format, the firm will have an equal footing with its rivals, and will doubtless be gunning for OOXML to take supremacy on the global stage as the file format of choice among the biz community.

Yesterday, when documents first appeared on the internet that revealed the ISO’s result, Microsoft execs felt confident enough to put out a statement.

The company's interoperability and standards general manager Tom Robertson said: “This outcome is a clear win for the customers, technology providers and governments that want to choose the format that best meets their needs and have a voice in the evolution of this widely adopted standard.”

However, the whole process to fast-track OOXML through the ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has been marred by accusations of voting irregularities which are still loudly being voiced in some quarters.

National standard bodies in Norway and elsewhere could yet try and crash the party by mounting formal appeals in an attempt to reverse the ISO's approval of OOXML. ®

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