There’s been general surprise at Microsoft’s failure to secure their ‘Open XML’ interchangeable document standard to be accepted by the ISO – International Standards Committee – and the IEC – International Electronic Commission.
It is important to Microsoft as Governments around the world are looking to allow simple document interchange between all of their systems.
There’s one accepted standard in place already – Open Document Format (ODF) – which was lead by IBM and approved back in May 2006. Gartner are quoted in the IHT stating the over 90% of all digital text documents in the world are in Microsoft format currently.
The voting has been interesting. 87 countries took part, 53% voted in favour (they needs at least 2/3rds), 26% voted against (ISO rules don’t allow there to be more than 25%), the rest (18 countries) abstained.
Many blame over-aggressive lobbying, other claim that sections of the supposedly open standard, running to 2,500 pages, still contain close connections to other proprietary Microsoft file standards.
_Huge lobbying pressure
Many reports have been circulation as to how hard Microsoft have been lobbying in many countries at the highest government levels – the IHT cite an example in Malaysia where a voting panel member made claims that lobbying was “unprecedented.” It appears that it might have worked, as the countries Industry Standards Committee voted against the proposal, but the government overruled it, forcing an abstention from the vote.
Despite the obvious embarrassment, Microsoft have two more bites at the cherry. They get to meet the voting members in Geneva between 25-29 Feb, to address the problems. Failing success there will put them on a slower application path that will take 2-3 years, according to the FT.