Microsoft has failed to gain the foothold it has been seeking in the open-source digital documents field after a global technical panel unexpectedly refused to designate Redmond’s Office Open XML (OOXML) as an international standard.
Microsoft has been seeking to have Open XML declared a standard so it can sell software with open characteristics demanded by many European governments as well as Massachusetts in the US.
But in five months of electronic balloting, only 51 countries, or 74 percent of the 87 that had participated, supported Microsoft’s bid. Some 26 percent of the national bodies voted against standardising OOXML – and ISO rules stipulate that no more than 25 percent can oppose any successful bid.
The vote is seen as a boost for the rival open-source movement’s Open Document Format, or ODF, a file format claimed to ensure compatibility with technology from a wider array of companies.
But it’s not yet all over for Microsoft’s ambitions. Another ISO meeting will be held in February to discuss comments made by the national bodies on OOXML, and if Microsoft makes changes it could still be approved as an international standard. Standards Australia – official Down Under representative – reportedly abstained from voting: a stand which saw it labelled as excessively timid by some observers.