Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process

Significant participation by National Bodies in ISO/IEC ratification

process for Open XML; final decision expected in March 2008 at close of

ballot resolution period.

Sep 04, 2007, 01:00 ET from Microsoft

    REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today the
 International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released the results
 of the preliminary ballot to participating National Body members for the
 ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Ecma 376 Office Open XML file formats) ratification
 process. The results show that 51 ISO members, representing 74 percent of
 all qualified votes, stated their support for ratification of Open XML.
 Along with their votes, the National Bodies also provided invaluable
 technical comments designed to improve the specification. Many of the
 remaining ISO members stated that they will support Open XML after their
 comments are addressed during the final phase of the process, which is
 expected to close in March 2008.
     With at least 87 countries taking part in some way, the Open XML review
 represents an unprecedented level of participation in the standardization
 of a document format. Fifty-one ISO members voicing support at this
 preliminary stage of the process compares favorably with the 32 ISO members
 supporting Open Document Format (ODF) 1.0 at the end of its process and the
 15 ISO members supporting PDF/A-1 at the end of its process. This
 widespread participation and support is consistent with the rapid adoption
 of the Ecma Office Open XML file formats across multiple platforms and
 products from a wide range of IT vendors (including Apple, Novell, Corel,
 Sun, Microsoft, Java developers and Linux distributors), creating real
 value for IT users around the globe.
     "We are extremely delighted to see that 51 ISO members, representing 74
 percent of the qualified votes, have already voiced their support for ISO
 ratification of Open XML, and that many others have indicated they will
 support ratification once their comments are resolved in the next phase of
 the ISO process," said Tom Robertson, general manager for Interoperability
 and Standards at Microsoft Corp. "This preliminary vote is a milestone for
 the widespread adoption of the Open XML formats around the world for the
 benefit of millions of customers. Given how encouraging today's results
 were, we believe that the final tally in early 2008 will result in the
 ratification of Open XML as an ISO standard."
     Technical Input Will Enhance the Standard
     Today's results represent the beginning of the third phase of the
 ISO/IEC process, called "ballot resolution," during which time Ecma
 International will respond to all comments that have been submitted by ISO
 National Bodies and provide them with a final opportunity to voice their
     "Technical experts around the world have provided invaluable feedback
 and technical recommendations for evolving the format," Robertson said.
 "The high quality of the Open XML format will be improved as a result of
 this process, and we take seriously our role in working within the Ecma
 technical committee to address the comments received. We believe that the
 ISO National Bodies will be pleased with the results."
     The ISO/IEC process is also designed to create maximum opportunities
 for ISO members to move from "no" to "yes" in this final phase, and we
 fully expect the total number of supporting votes to grow. "The objective
 of the standardization process, whether with Ecma International, ISO/IEC or
 another standards body, is ultimately to refine a specification and achieve
 a positive consensus around its formal adoption for the benefit of the
 entire industry," said Hugo Lueders, group director of EU Public Policy for
 the Computer Industry Technology Association. "Given the remarkable level
 of participation from the global standards community, the results from this
 preliminary ballot are very encouraging."
     Although no date has been formally set, the final tally is likely to
 take place in March 2008. ISO/IEC requires that at least 75 percent of all
 "yes" or "no" votes (qualified votes) and at least two-thirds of "P"
 members that vote "yes" or "no" support ratification of a format in the
 Fast Track process. More information about the ISO/IEC JTC-1 process and
 its participants is available at
 ec_ directives_and_iso_supplement.htm.
     Widespread Support for Open XML
     The Ecma Office Open XML file formats are being rapidly adopted across
 multiple platforms and products from a wide range of IT vendors, creating
 real value for IT users around the globe. Thousands of companies from 67
 countries on six continents have raised their voices in support of Open XML
 and its ratification by ISO/IEC at As
 well, the open standard has also been gaining broad adoption across the
 software industry for use on a variety of platforms - including Linux,
 Windows(R), Mac OS and the Palm OS. Independent software vendors (ISVs) and
 platform providers around the world - such as Apple, Corel, Sun, Microsoft
 and Novell - are developing solutions using Open XML. Many developers
 working with the formats are active contributors to
     Those working with Open XML can attest to the benefits of this open
 file format in the areas of file and data management, data recovery,
 interoperability with line-of-business systems, and the long-term
 preservation of documents. Open XML is optimized for the level of precision
 and detail that facilitates carrying forward billions of existing files. As
 well, Open XML file formats are uniquely capable of integrating other types
 of systems and data with Open XML documents, while maintaining a clean,
 simple separation of presentation (Open XML markup) and data (custom
 schemas and instances thereof). This means that organizations can use Open
 XML formats to report information from other applications and systems
 without having to translate it first, which is a key innovation for
 developers seeking to incorporate real- time business information into
 their documents, or those who seek to "tag" documents with their own
 categorization system to improve their understanding of its contents.
     More information about Open XML, as well as available solutions using
 the open standard specification, is available at
     Commitment to Interoperability
     The Open XML Translator (
 converter) is one among many interoperability projects Microsoft has
 undertaken. We continue to work with customers and others in the industry
 to address the critical interoperability issues of our customers through
 the delivery of products that are interoperable by design, collaboration on
 interoperability projects, providing access to interoperability
 technologies, and standardization. Other evidence of collaboration includes
 our technical collaborations with AOL LLC and Yahoo! Inc. for instant
 messaging interoperability, the broad collaboration with Novell on
 virtualization, document formats and intellectual property, and the
 creation of the Interoperability Vendor Alliance. More information is
 available at
     Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq:   MSFT) is the worldwide leader in
 software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize
 their full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft