September 4, 2007 / 8:10 PM / 10 years ago

Microsoft loses vote on "open" document format

FRANKFURT, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Microsoft (MSFT.O) has lost a vote to have its Office Open XML document format approved as an international standard, dashing the company’s hopes of wider adoption of the standard by public-sector organisations. The result of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) ballot was hailed as a victory for open standards by supporters of the rival Open Document Format, who argued the Microsoft format was not open, but a ploy to lock in users. Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) is the default file-saving format in Microsoft Office 2007. The widely used Open Document Format (ODF) is already an international standard.

Microsoft argues that its format has higher specifications and is more useful than ODF, while opponents say Open XML’s 6,000 pages of code compared with ODF’s 860 pages make it artificially complicated and untranslatable into other formats.

The ISO said in a statement on Tuesday that 53 percent of the votes cast by national standards bodies were in favour of Microsoft, missing the necessary two-thirds majority.

Twenty-six percent of national votes cast were against approving Open XML in the five-month ballot process, in which 104 national member bodies were entitled to vote.

Comments that national bodies submitted with their votes will now be discussed at a meeting in February 2008, at which the parties will try to find a consensus on modifications that may encourage members to change their mind.

If the necessary two-thirds majority is not met after that the proposal, which was submitted under a fast-track procedure will be judged to have failed. Microsoft may still resubmit under the normal procedural rules.

    The ODF Alliance said in a statement on Tuesday that the large number of “no” votes “demonstrates the depth of concern around the world over OOXML’s interoperability and openness.”

    “Microsoft has every right to seek the ISO label for OOXML, but, as the ballot results show, it has a long way to go before it earns it and can be considered a truly open, interoperable document format,” it said.

    ((Reporting by Georgina Prodhan, editing by Leslie Gevirtz; Frankfurt newsroom +4969 7565 1265;; Reuters Messaging: Keywords: MICROSOFT FORMAT/VOTE

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