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OOXML put on hold amid opposition from India

Following appeals by four countries, including India, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has put on hold its earlier decision approving Microsoft’s Open Office OXML (OOXML) file format as an international standard. OOXML is a format for word-processing, presentations and spreadsheets.

ET Bureau|
Jun 13, 2008, 12.19 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Following appeals by four countries, including India, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has put on hold its earlier decision approving Microsoft���s Open Office OXML (OOXML) file format as an international standard. OOXML is a format for word-processing, presentations and spreadsheets.

The other countries that appealed against the ISO decision are Brazil, South Africa and Venezuela. In April, OOXML was approved as an ISO/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) International Standard, having received the mandated over two-third votes of participating members.

���The fact that these countries have appealed against the OOXML after ISO���s approval in April clearly shows the opposition to it. India has repeatedly voted against the proprietary format. However, the country was not even allowed to present all its comments against OOXML at the ballot resolution meeting (BRM) at Geneva last year.

All this has put a question mark on the credibility of ISO,��� said a member of the Bureau of Indian Standards committee, which was responsible for examining the standard and deciding India���s position at ISO.

The appeals by the four countries are being considered by the ISO secretary general and the IEC general secretary, who will, by June- end, submit the appeals with their comments to the ISO Technical Management Board and the IEC Standardization Management Board.

The two boards will then decide whether the appeals should be further processed or not. If the appeals are further processed, a conciliation panel would be established to resolve the appeals. The process could take several months and till it���s over, the Open Office XML format can���t be published as an international standard.

OOXML was originally disapproved in a ���fast-track vote��� in September 2007. It was followed, as required under the rules, by a BRM at Geneva in February this year to address comments made by voting members. India voted against the format at the BRM. However, when final votes were cast in March, OOXML got 75% votes in its favour.

The BIS committee retained its earlier disapproval vote in March in its final verdict. While Indian software & services body Nasscom and IT majors TCS, Infosys and Wipro supported OOXML at BIS committee meetings, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Google, Department of IT, IIT-Bombay and IIM-Ahmedabad were in favour of the Open Document Format (ODF). IIT Bombay professor Deepak Phatak, in an open letter to BIS members, said that Microsoft continued to make representations to top Indian leadership to change the country���s final vote against OOXML.
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