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And for the Standards-Obsessed...

Michael Desmond, founding editor of Redmond Developer News and Desmond File blogger, is on vacation. Filling in for him this week is John Waters, contributing editor of RDN.

Meanwhile, the folks across the pond have launched a new investigation that focuses on whether Microsoft violated antitrust laws by too-aggressively pushing for adoption of its Open Office XML (OOXML) as a global standard. As the standards geeks in the audience know, OOXML is the Microsoft-developed, XML-aware document format implemented in Microsoft Office 2007. It became an Ecma International Technical Committee standard in 2006.

The investigation will be especially welcome in standards circles, according to attorney and standards specialist Andy Updegrove, publisher of the ConsortiumInfo.org Web site, largely because of what he described as the "wide range of reports from the field" that Microsoft has engaged in "stacking" of the national committees voting on OOXML, as well as other "over-reaching activities" intended to influence the result.

"While the results of this new investigation will take far too long to become public to have much impact on the upcoming final vote on OOXML," Updegrove wrote in an e-mail, "the fact that the EU is opening an investigation into Microsoft's conduct -- and no one else's -- is telling."

He added, "I particularly applaud this action because the credibility and integrity of the standard-setting system has been called into serious question by the events of the last year. Whichever way the final results come out, that system will benefit from the fact that regulators were willing to get to the bottom of things when the trust of the public in standards was increasingly at risk."

Updegrove is a longtime champion of the OpenDocument Format (ODF), an OOXML rival standard developed earlier by the OASIS standards consortium. For more on this topic, check out Updegrove's blog here. --John Waters

Posted on 02/28/2008 at 1:15 PM


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