ISO officials, others dispute claims that Open XML meeting was flawed

Voting on changes to proposed standard followed ISO rules, 'convener' says

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ISO added that the meeting "followed the orderly and inclusive process" set out by the organization, and that JTC 1 "is one of the most experienced and productive" of its technical committees.

Patrick Durusau, a consultant who is the editor of the specification for the Open Document Format (ODF) for Office Applications, also weighed in on Wednesday, posting an open letter (download PDF) in which he said critics of the Open XML ballot resolution meeting had overstated their claims that the process was flawed.

Durusau didn't attend the meeting himself, but he said that he found a common thread in all the reports coming out of Geneva. "Everyone at the table was heard," he wrote. "That may not seem like a lot to an Oracle or IBM, but name the last time Microsoft was listening to everyone in a public and international forum? At a table where a standard for a future product was being debated by non-Microsoft groups?"

Durusau also chairs an esoteric but influential technical standards committee that advises the panel that votes for the U.S. within ISO. Last summer, his committee voted not to endorse the Open XML standards proposal.

But despite his ties to ODF, a rival file format to Open XML that already has been ratified as an ISO standard, Durusau has since changed his mind and now supports the adoption of Microsoft's format as a standard. Although he wrote in his open letter this week that parts of the Open XML specification make him "wince," he noted that rejecting it would carry a big cost: "ordinary users, governments, smaller interests, [would] all lose a seat at the table where the next version of the Office standard is being written."

Standards groups from Denmark and Norway also posted statement in support of the process at last week's ballot resolution meeting. The Danish government is testing both ODF and Open XML, while Norway's is evaluating ODF only at this point.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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