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Gray Knowlton's blog on Microsoft Office

Open XML gains ISO approval

Open XML gains ISO approval

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The ratification of Open XML as an ISO standard is a great outcome from the post-BRM voting period. Ecma and the Open XML project editors have been working tirelessly to address the comments from national bodies. The consensus achieved during the Ballot Resolution Meeting resulted in many approved changes to the specification. National bodies acknowledged that improvement with many countries changing their votes in a positive direction, concluding with more than 85% of all countries voting to approve Open XML as an ISO standard.

Open XML has earned quick market adoption among a variety of applications and platforms, and its ratification today underscores the industry need for choice and freedom in technology standards. Standards organizations, individuals and consumers agree that representing the content of legacy documents is critical to the sustainability of information, and Open XML is a giant positive step in that direction.

When we first started with Open XML, much of the discussion revolved around how we are going to try to make the format acceptable to IT organizations, and how we are going to convince them that moving to XML-based document formats will be helpful to them. We wanted to learn from past experiences and make the transition to Open XML as easy as possible. We were determined to make sure that folks really understood that when we say "open" we mean it. We wanted to make sure that our partners could utilize tools and expertise to migrate their investment in the legacy document formats to the new XML-based formats.

A lot of people were enthused by the opportunity to submit the formats to a standards body. We'd been on a path to opening the formats, and we knew that submitting Open XML to Ecma was going to offer many new opportunities for people wanting to work with their documents. Open XML was improved by the participation of everyone in the community; its advancement has already been a global effort.

After the ratification of Open XML as an ISO standard, we can look back on the enormous amount of work undertaken and feel good about the process, the participants and the results. We have met with many challenges along the way, and Microsoft and Ecma have responded at each step. Microsoft has made huge strides toward openness and interoperability.

Looking toward the future, we will continue to work on the adoption of Open XML. We will work with more partners to develop Open XML solutions. I am looking forward to watching Open XML grow and mature within the technology marketplace. We have strong progress with the formats today. I also look forward to more interoperability-related activity from Microsoft, as we stand behind the commitment to our interoperability principles.

On a personal note, I've been around or involved with document format standards now since 2001, starting with the PDF/X family of standards. Working on Open XML for the past 3.5 years has been quite a pleasure because I have met many new people in many countries who have a lot to contribute on the topic of document formats, It started with early customer discussions, the planning of the announcement of Open XML at TechEd in 2005, all the way to the post BRM voting period within ISO/IEC… quite a ride.

If you didn't catch it my earlier blog post, while everyone else was at the BRM, I was busy becoming a new father. My daughter was born on the 29th of February. Just as the vote is winding down, I'm on my way out for paternity leave. After all the long nights and hard work on Open XML, I get to take a month off to be with my family, which will be a welcome adjustment to my perspective. I'm very glad to be beginning that time with a positive result.

It is a great day.

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