Four nations fight Microsoft document-format standard

Microsoft Corp Chairman Bill Gates speaks during a news conference in Tokyo May 7, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

BERLIN (Reuters) - Four developing countries have appealed against the adoption of Microsoft's MSFT.O Office Open XML document format as an international standard, the International Organisation for Standardisation said on Monday.

ISO said in a statement the national standards bodies of Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela had appealed against the positive outcome of a vote it held in March after a controversial fast-track ratification process.

It gave no details of the substance of the appeals. At the time of the vote, several parties complained that the discussion and subsequent voting process was muddled and rushed.

Gaining the final ISO stamp of approval would help Microsoft win more public-sector contracts, as some government bodies are nervous about storing archives in a proprietary format.

The adoption of OOXML as an ISO standard will remain on hold until the appeals are resolved, which could take several months, ISO said.

Critics say OOXML is not fully translatable into other document formats, notably the open-source Open Document Format that is already recognized as an international standard.

ISO’s secretary-general and the general secretary of the International Electrotechnical Commission are considering the appeals and will submit them to their respective management boards for consideration by the end of the month.

The boards will then decide whether to proceed with the appeals process.

Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Gary Hill