ECMA Open XML needs you!

I'd like you to sign our petition to support ECMA Open XML as a standard in the UK.... Here are the benefits of the format:

  • Ecma Open XML was developed through the collaborative efforts of leading companies such as Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, The British Library, Essilor, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage, Novell, Statoil, Toshiba and the US Library of Congress.
  • Ecma Open XML is backward compatible with billions of archived documents held by the private and public sectors.
  • Any company can freely implement and develop innovative products using Ecma Open XML
  • Ecma Open XML enables interoperability, accommodates multiple languages and cultures, and supports technologies that enable people with disabilities to use computing devices.

Why is this important?  Steve has a good breakdown of why we need your support with this petition:

  • Customers and partners have repeatedly asked us over the years to open our proprietary Office document formats. You were probably one of them...I used to get this question a lot when I started at Microsoft.
  • We listened (novel I know) and in Office 2007 we included the Open XML format. We also support it in Office 2003 through a free add-on.
  • Customers have since told us they would like Open XML become an open standard with broad rights to use, without cost, without any patent infringement. Makes sense.
  • Microsoft agreed and called for the standardization of Open XML via international bodies like ECMA. They approved it as an open standard on Dec 7th 2006.  
  • The vote was nearly unanimous; of the 21 members, IBM’s was the sole dissenting vote. IBM (again) was the lone dissenter when ECMA agreed to submit Open XML as a standard for ratification by ISO.
  • The ISO process involves a 1 month period for national bodies to review followed by a 5 month technical review process and when ODF (an alternative doc format) was under consideration, Microsoft made no effort to slow down the process - why should we?
  • In the meantime, during the one-month period for consideration of Open XML in ISO, IBM led a global campaign urging national bodies to demand that Open XML was not even considered. They ignored the fact that the vast majority of ISO members chose not to submit comments. Nice eh?
  • We think this is a blatant attempt to use the ISO process to limit choice for commercial motives - no surprise that Notes doesn't support Open XML.
  • We think people want choice. Seriously.

So what are you waiting for?  We need you help so please sign the petition here, it's very quick:


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Comments (4)

  1. james says:

    I don’t know why we didn’t participate in the ODF process either.  Why didn’t any of the other supporters of Open XML?

  2. james says:


    Actually the fact that the specification is freely available and implementable by anyone means that it is an open standard.

    What choice to people have when it comes to open formats at the moment?

  3. W^L+ says:

    Aren’t you Softies embarassed by the constant whining? "Teacher, those IBM meanies are hurting me!" []

    Yes, people want an open standard XML-based file format specification with full freedom to implement it in any product.  They want a single format that is not controlled by any particular vendor, so that they have a choice of applications.  Unfortunately, the secret sauce ingredients in the not-so-OpenXML format are going to make it impossible to bring this *desired choice* assuming that the format is accepted by ISO and government markets.

    What people do *NOT* want is "choice in file formats," each fully supported in one vendor’s products and unsupported (or partially supported) in other vendors’ products. []

    I realize that choice in applications means that your office suite will have to compete on features and price, not on being the only product that fully implements a proprietary file format.  This is likely to cut margins in one of your key business units.

    However, I expect Microsoft to survive and even thrive in this new environment–after some adjustments.

    What I don’t get is why MSFT refused to participate in the ODF process at OASIS.  There would probably have been some changes in the format to help make it easier for the company to use in their products, seeing that the goal of ODF is to have a universal file format for office applications.

  4. Josh says:

    Calling it Open XML doesn’t make it an open format. I could build ‘open’ XML tags around my own proprietary file format as Microsoft does with RTF, etc… Does that make Open XML really open?

    Besides, people already have the choice: either use Open formats like ODF or proprietary formats like Microsoft’s. And there’s already a standard: ODF.

    IBM were probably the only ones who did the right thing. On Dell’s site, people chose Linux and OpenOffice instead of Microsoft’s software.

    People want choice, yes. But when the choice isn’t Microsoft, you don’t seem to see it.

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