The format OOXML went up for a vote by the V1, which is a technical committee of INCITS… which is a industry forum that has been accredited by ANSI, the American National Standards Institute. This vote was to begin a process to determine the US’s position on OOXML for when the actual voting comes around.
The vote was barely turned down, missing the 2/3 of votes needed to approve OOXML. While this is only the first step in the process, it is nice to see that at least this vote was turned down. Next up will be a 30 day letter-ballot period. The final recommendation will be made on September 2nd. Good stuff indeed – for us Linux folks.
Here’s the article from Rob Weir:
And another good article from Brian Proffitt, Managin Editor at Linux Today:
For those who may not be familiar with Office Open XML, OOXML for short, it is an XML-based file format that was created (and is still being worked on) by Microsoft. There is already an XML file format called the ODF, or Open Document Format. This format is open source as well, which allows people to help out on the project. A neutral party (OASIS) controls the direction of the standard, ensuring backward compatibility, and doesn’t play favorites with companies. Microsoft argues that ODF is designed for OpenOffice.org exclusively, while the reality is that many applications use the format. Microsoft wanted to create one of their own, that was open source, since many governments are starting to choose open formats, including the ODF. Microsoft, however, controls the formats direction, and have not released any support for Linux, locking in the users to their products, exclusively.
In order to catch up with the ODF, Microsoft had submitted OOXML to ECMA, which fast-tracks the approval process. However, that is not the final step. The ISO, or International Organization for Standardization, is the official and final step for standardization – which the ODF has already been approved.
The funny thing is… if you are against OOXML and choose one that has been in place since 2004(ODF) and already approved by the ISO, Microsoft says that you are ” killing choice”, claiming that people want choice when it comes to standards. Well, really the fight among standards happens at the level of corporations. Think of the old VHS vs. Betamax format wars. Hardly anyone bought either of these formats until a clear winner was apparent. The same goes for the HD-DVD vs. Blueray format wars, which is still going on now. The only disks in either format being purchased are for game consoles, and only a few movies being purchased for combo HD-DVD/Blueray players.
The format war between ODF and OOXML will be fought for sure, however, if the ISO turns down the OOXML, the fight may be much easier for the ODF. Microsoft has HUGE lobbying power, as was experienced during the Massachusetts government switch to ODF. OOXML has already been placed in Office 2007, although it is not an ISO official standard, so it will be interesting to see who wins. Whoever wins will control the XML Document format, and will also control the success of different systems/applications, which it is why I support the ODF – a neutral party, not just a Microsoft-only format.