Now a British educational agency raises alarms on OXML

A British watchdog agency has filed a complaint with the European Commission charging that Open XML -- on its way to standardization -- fails to do its stated job of supporting interoperability with software from other developers.

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA), a non-profit organization, wants the EC to find out whether, in obtaining standards approval for OXML, Microsoft might have intentionally withheld information from its competitors. This just weeks after the ISO's approval of OXML as international standard ISO/IEC 29500.

BECTA also contends that -- because of interoperability problems with the ISO-approved Open Document Format (ODF) -- the British educational system is paying more for software than it should.

In 2005, the same group published a study showing that British primary schools could save up to 50 percent of their software costs by choosing open source applications over "proprietary" ones.

In a related piece of its complaint to the EC, BECTA charges that Microsoft is displaying "anti-competitive practices" by requiring all computers on a school campus to carry Microsoft licenses, if any of the computers use such licenses.

"Microsoft is deeply committed to education and interoperability," responded a Microsoft spokesperson in a written statement, adding that Microsoft has started to create tools that will allow Microsoft Office to work better with ODF files.

The spokesperson also said that Microsoft will cooperate with both BECTA and the EC around document interoperability.

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