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Microsoft Will Submit Office Schemas To Standards Body

In the midst of the acrimonious debate regarding whether Microsoft’s Office Open XML file format is really open or is instead proprietary, the company will submit its schemas to an important European international standards organization.

Microsoft announced Monday that it – along with co-sponsors that include Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Intel Corp., NextPage Inc., and Toshiba – plans to submit the schemas to Ecma International. That is the same organization to which Microsoft previously submitted ECMAScript, C#, and the Common Language Infrastructure.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, Ecma was founded in 1961 as the European Computer Manufacturers’ Association. It changed its name in 1994 as its role evolved into a full-blown standards organization to Ecma International, according to information on the group’s site. If Microsoft can get its Office schemas accepted as an Ecma standard, the company plans to submit it as a standard with the International Organization for Standardization.

Microsoft has already made its Office XML schemas available for use on a royalty-free basis but has not relinquished ownership of the intellectual property rights in them. However, there has been a lot of angst in some quarters because Microsoft is not placing the schemas fully in the public domain.

By contrast, critics say, Adobe’s Portable Document Format supports the OASIS OpenDocument format. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced its final proposal in late August that, after January 2007, will only allow applications created by workers in the state’s executive branch that save documents in OpenDocument format, but not Microsoft’s XML schemas due to legal questions regarding the format’s openness.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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