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Flummoxed over File Formats

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that Microsoft has been working overtime to position its Office OpenXML (OOXML) file format specification as a standard document format. Much of this activity has been spurred by the OpenDocument Format (ODF) promoted by the open source OpenOffice suite and its commercial branches like Sun StarOffice.

How high are the stakes? In Massachusetts, a years-long effort to require that all documents be stored in an open, industry-standard format resulted in intense lobbying and opposition from Microsoft. It also helped drive the activity around OOXML as a viable standards-based alternative to ODF.

OOXML has already earned the imprimatur of Ecma International, a European standards-making body. Now Microsoft has OOXML before the International Standards Organization (ISO), the same body that put the gold stamp on ODF. The problem is a lot of folks are complaining that the spec is too heavy (at 6,000 pages of documentation) and burdened by dependencies within Windows to be a viable open standard.

We're planning to look into this effort in our next issue and would love to hear your thoughts. E-mail me at [email protected] and we may include your insights into Microsoft's file format push.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/24/2007

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