Some time ago the Dataformat ODF (Open Document Format), that is specified by oasis was ISO certified (Norm ISO/IEC 26300). (Microsoft is part of oasis but only passively observed the ODF-group and refused an active cooperation). This format is most known in the use of OpenOffice, Abiword und Google Docs, and KOffice. It’s a open, free accessible standard, on which the documentation and specification is accessible and freely applicable. After a short time Microsoft refused to make this format readable and writable for the Microsoft Office Software what caused that some parties, lately also Sun Microsystems himself, have written a Plugin for it. Microsoft recognised the danger and feared a financial break-in and countered with it’s new format for Microsoft Office 2007 (for Microsoft Windows Vista). The Format is called “Office Open XML” and is neither open nor it is XML. This all wouldn’t be so sad, if Microsoft wouldn’t try to certify that format by the ISO Organisation through corrupt connections. So far the strategy of Microsoft was to modify established and standardisised formats, interfaces and protocols so that they work best with their own applications and complicate interoperability between different systems. (e.g. Kerberos, html, smtp and many others).
Anyway oooxml is “Defective by Design” and may not be ISO certified. The process for such a standardisation usually goes through norming and standardisation organisations of the concerned countries. In Germany it’s called DIN (Deutscher Industrie Standart) and in Switzerland SNV (Schweizerische Normen-Vereinigung) that certify such standardisations. In Germany the lately approved certification of the ooxml format is heavily critisised and disputed. In Switzerland the polls took place until Monday morning, the 27. august 2007. Aparently many Swiss banks are members of the SNV Organisation and speak out on behalf of Microsoft. I thought banks might be interested of the fact, that ooxml generates rounding errors in Microsoft Excel.
Anyway China, Brasil and India have yet disapproved the ooxml format. The Free Software and “Opensource” Community says “If OOXML goes through as an ISO standard, the IT industry, government and business will [be] encumbered with a 6,000-page specification peppered with potential patent liabilities“.
It looks like none of this “Click-Clack Engineers” cares about the technical problems that this format brings along and just blindly approves, what Microsoft asks them to.
Here are some Links to the No-ooxml campaign of the Free Software Foundation: http://www.noooxml.org and Groklaw articles: ooxml Irregularities, FSFE & SIUG objections in Switzerland
If you need more information about this topic, don’t hesitate to contact me or Shane M. Coughlan, the coordinator of the FTF (Free Software Foundation) or Georg Greve, the president of the Free Software Foundation Europe.