Microsoft has been accused of both trying to buy votes among member countries voting on the ISO standardization proposal, and of trying to introduce a format that does little more than follow the ‘embrace and extend’ policies of the past with a format that is thousands of pages longer than the competing and already ratified ODF ‘open document format’ standard, and of a format that stands accused of being incomplete and unable to properly convert Office document formats into the OOXML format.
When the voting was complete, Microsoft failed to gain enough votes to secure a majority, causing OOXML sceptics to rejoice, and causing Microsoft to issue a press release touting the broad support of members which, as it turned out, wasn’t enough to see the OOXML standard ratified this time around, leaving it with one more chance early next year to see if ratification can’t be achieved by additional lobbying and fixing of problems that some countries that voted ‘no’ identified as being an issue.
Microsoft needs the OOXML standard to be ratified so it can assure governments around the world that it supports an industry-standardized ‘open standard’, helping Microsoft to dull arguments that its file formats lock users in to Microsoft products.
Critics argue that this scenario would be precisely the wrong reason to cut Microsoft any kind of standards slack, although if the standards process encourages Microsoft to produce a better OOXML format than is currently on offer, that is a good thing.
After all, despite Microsoft’s inability to get the OOXML format approved this time around, Microsoft really, really wants the OOXML format to become a de-facto standard, if not an honest to goodness mainstream standard.
So expect to hear plenty more about OOXML in the weeks and months ahead, as the battle lines have been drawn in anticipation a quite a fight in the ISO standards body over just how best to handle the Microsoft juggernaut.
So while Microsoft’s quest for OOXML may well have gone OOPS, the next time around, they could be popping champagne corks.
Choose your side wisely in the ever more exciting technology wars, so you always stay, or at least try to stay, on the right side of the technological divide, and hopefullly avoid a few OOPS of your own!
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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.