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Friday, August 24, 2007

India Rejects OOXML, for Now

Another big shoe has dropped on OOXML.

India will vote "No" at the upcoming ISO vote on whether or not OOXML should be a standard. For the moment, India is saying "not."

After six hours of debate, 19 of the 21 members of India's technical committee agreed to vote "No" with comments, meaning that should Microsoft later address technical concerns about OOXML, India might shift its position. That will be no easy task. There are some 200 technical issues that have been raised by various parties to the OOXML specification, which itself spans a few thousand pages.

Last week a similarly big blow struck OOXML when Brazil decided to vote "No". As one member of its technical committee indicated, Brazil is likely to use ODF as the basis for its national document standard.

Most countries have not yet indicated their position. However, with the US abstaining and China and Japan voting "No," it is difficult to see how OOXML will in reality become a global standard, regardless of the ISO vote results.

ODF and OOXML will likely coexist for a time, and some (like Gartner) argue that OOXML will be the de facto standard given Microsoft's market dominance. Yet, technology dominance is a hard to maintain forever, and the winds are shifting as governments look to ODF, not OOXML, as the foundation for their own national standards.

After all, silicon is not stone. There is always the hope that Microsoft will continue to evolve and find a way to provide backward compatibility with all its proprietary formats while still ensuring that an unencumbered document standard like ODF is the way forward.

Categories: OpenStandards, OOXML, India, Brazil

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