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Leaks Suggest OOXML Approved as ISO/IEC Standard

Apparently, it's not a joke on this April Fools day that Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) document format was approved as an international standard. Information posted by the OpenDoc Society to its members and unofficial tallies and blogs all suggest it is true.

The decision by the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee (JTC) considering the matter is officially scheduled to be publicly disclosed tomorrow, although the group formalized its decision over the weekend. However, Microsoft itself did not wait for the announcement. The company issued a press release today pointing to "publicly available information" suggesting the formal acceptance of OOXML, or Draft International Standard 29500, by the committee.

According to the circulating information, 75 percent of participating national body members voted to approve OOXML as an international standard. Voting no were 14 percent.

ISO/IEC has a formula for determining the votes on international standards. Specifications need at least 66 percent positive votes from ISO/IEC JTC 1 participating national bodies and no more than 25 negative votes to become a standard. Microsoft's press release added the observing national body members to the final tally to suggest a total approval rate for OOXML of 86 percent.

"With 86 percent of voting national bodies supporting ratification, there is overwhelming support for Open XML," stated Tom Robertson, Microsoft Corp.'s general manager of interoperability and standards, in the press release.

Allegations of voting irregularities persist in Web accounts of the ISO/IEC voting process, especially with the vote counts for participating country Norway, as well as observing country Poland. However, Poland has confirmed its yes vote.

Microsoft's OOXML, an XML-based document sharing format used in the Office 2007 suite of applications, is currently approved as an Ecma standard (Ecma 376). It failed the first time it was considered for ISO/IEC international standards approval.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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