ISO/IEC ratifies Open XML after all...

David Mitchell, SVP IT Research at Ovum, comments on:
The Open XML standards decision  
It emerged yesterday that ISO/IEC DIS 29500 should gain formal ratification as an ISO standard for documents, following the Ballot Resolution Process (BRM) meeting. This reverses the previous rejection of the standard in September 2007. The standard was originally submitted by Microsoft to ECMA, and was approved as ECMA standard 376 before being submitted to ISO through the Fast Track process. Of course, this is the Open XML standards decision that has been hanging over the industry for some time.
  “So… what will change now that the standard has been ratified? In the short term very little will change. Those who were protesting and opposing the Open XML progress through the standards process will still oppose it they will not have a Road to Damascus moment. The nature of their protest will evolve. To begin with, there have been challenges to the process – and these will continue.”
  “Those who are supporters of Open XML will need to move into the implementation phase, because standards are simply documentation. One of companies that many will look to take a lead with implementation is Microsoft.”
  Full Comment:
“The decision in favour of Open XML has been a long time coming, although the decision has been widely predicted since the BRM in Geneva in late February – although everyone also predicted that the vote would be very close.”  
“For the previous rejection to have been overturned it needed the National Bodies of many countries to change their votes. Among the countries who changed their votes from “Disapprove” to “Approve” were Czech Republic, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom, Ireland, Trinidad & Tobago, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. Those changing from “Abstain” to “Approve” were Peru, Mexico, Israel, Mauritius, Finland and Slovenia. Of course, there were some countries such as Venezuela who changed from “Approve” to “Disapprove”. The two geographic blocks where changes drove the process were: Northern/Western Europe and North East/South East Asia. Together their changes tilted the balance of the process.”  
“So… what will change now that the standard has been ratified? In the short term very little will change. Those who were protesting and opposing the Open XML progress through the standards process will still oppose it, they will not have a Road to Damascus moment. The nature of their protest will evolve. To begin with, there have been challenges to the process – and these will continue.”
  “Those who are supporters of Open XML will need to move into the implementation phase, because standards are simply documentation. One of companies that many will look to take a lead with implementation is Microsoft. The standard that they initially submitted through ECMA has been revised by the standards process – generally improving it on the way. As such Microsoft will need to update their existing products and planned future products to support the format that was actually ratified. It is likely to take some time for this to be completed and Microsoft will also need to provide tools to convert from the existing Office 2007 formats into the new Open XML standard. Other ISV developers like Apple, IBM, Sun, et al will also need to put their plans in place for supporting this standard – it would not be wise for the developer community to ignore it.”
  “What this does not mean is the demise of ODF – one of the other ISO ratified document standards. What is does mean is that, developers of software that works with documents will have to support both formats, and that these developers will need to compete on the basis of the intrinsic merits of their products rather than using a standards body lockout – from either the ODF or the Open XML camp.”

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