ISO Open XML Vote to Be Fast-Tracked

The process towards certifying the Microsoft-backed Office Open XML as a standard moved closer to reality Monday, as the Ecma standards body said that the format will be put to a five-month vote to standardize it.

A vote would mean that Open XML could become a standard as early as August, and will make both ODF and itself as competing ISO standards. OpenDocument received ISO standardization last May.

Supporters of the format say it provides an international open standard for word-processing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets that can be freely implemented across multiple applications and platforms.

The format has already been integrated into products from Corel, Microsoft, and Novell. Its detractors, however, say Open XML is overly complicated and that there is no need for two competing standards.

Nevertheless, Ecma sees no issue with standardizing both, although it is inviting member nations of ISO to comment on the process. JTC 1, the ISO committee tasked with Open XML, first made suggestions that the process should be fast-tracked in mid-March.

The apparent reversal of fortune in Microsoft's favor had some perennial advocates of open standardization crying foul, having reversed their stance from faith in the open standards community to doubts as to its integrity.

A request for comment from Microsoft was outstanding as of press time.

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