South Africa to appeal Open XML's ratification as a standard

Letters have been sent to both the International Standards Organization and the International Electrotechnical Commission saying the standardization process was flawed.

South Africa is believed to be the first country to file a formal appeal with the world's two leading technology standards organizations, protesting the ratification of what had been called "Office Open XML" as ISO/IEC 29500, and contesting its validity as a standard. The South African Bureau of Standards argued in both cases the process was rushed, and too much information was needed to be analyzed in too short a time.

SABS chief Martin Kuscus argued that the fast track process to standardize the format as well as "negative publicity" have "harmed the reputation of all member bodies of ISO and IEC."

Some OpenDocument Format supporters claim that Microsoft played hardball in getting its format approved. It is not clear if South Africa prefers ODF, although the country's government does prefer open source software.

Analysts seem to see valid points in the country's arguments, pointing to the significant amount of lobbying to get the standard through, and Microsoft's own admission that Open XML was a complex standard to understand.

Microsoft has pledged that it will ensure that competing standards will work with Office 2007. Countries have until Saturday to file appeals disputing the process.

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