Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process

    Significant participation by National Bodies in ISO/IEC ratification
    process for Open XML; final decision expected in March 2008 at close of
    ballot resolution period.

    REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 4 /CNW/ -- Today the International Organization for
Standardization (ISO) released the results of the preliminary ballot to
participating National Body members for the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Ecma 376 Office
Open XML file formats) ratification process. The results show that 51 ISO
members, representing 74 percent of all qualified votes, stated their support
for ratification of Open XML. Along with their votes, the National Bodies also
provided invaluable technical comments designed to improve the specification.
Many of the remaining ISO members stated that they will support Open XML after
their comments are addressed during the final phase of the process, which is
expected to close in March 2008.
    With at least 87 countries taking part in some way, the Open XML review
represents an unprecedented level of participation in the standardization of a
document format. Fifty-one ISO members voicing support at this preliminary
stage of the process compares favorably with the 32 ISO members supporting
Open Document Format (ODF) 1.0 at the end of its process and the 15 ISO
members supporting PDF/A-1 at the end of its process. This widespread
participation and support is consistent with the rapid adoption of the Ecma
Office Open XML file formats across multiple platforms and products from a
wide range of IT vendors (including Apple, Novell, Corel, Sun, Microsoft, Java
developers and Linux distributors), creating real value for IT users around
the globe.
    "We are extremely delighted to see that 51 ISO members, representing 74
percent of the qualified votes, have already voiced their support for ISO
ratification of Open XML, and that many others have indicated they will
support ratification once their comments are resolved in the next phase of the
ISO process," said Tom Robertson, general manager for Interoperability and
Standards at Microsoft Corp. "This preliminary vote is a milestone for the
widespread adoption of the Open XML formats around the world for the benefit
of millions of customers. Given how encouraging today's results were, we
believe that the final tally in early 2008 will result in the ratification of
Open XML as an ISO standard."
    Technical Input Will Enhance the Standard
    Today's results represent the beginning of the third phase of the ISO/IEC
process, called "ballot resolution," during which time Ecma International will
respond to all comments that have been submitted by ISO National Bodies and
provide them with a final opportunity to voice their support.
    "Technical experts around the world have provided invaluable feedback and
technical recommendations for evolving the format," Robertson said. "The high
quality of the Open XML format will be improved as a result of this process,
and we take seriously our role in working within the Ecma technical committee
to address the comments received. We believe that the ISO National Bodies will
be pleased with the results."
    The ISO/IEC process is also designed to create maximum opportunities for
ISO members to move from "no" to "yes" in this final phase, and we fully
expect the total number of supporting votes to grow. "The objective of the
standardization process, whether with Ecma International, ISO/IEC or another
standards body, is ultimately to refine a specification and achieve a positive
consensus around its formal adoption for the benefit of the entire industry,"
said Hugo Lueders, group director of EU Public Policy for the Computer
Industry Technology Association. "Given the remarkable level of participation
from the global standards community, the results from this preliminary ballot
are very encouraging."
    Although no date has been formally set, the final tally is likely to take
place in March 2008. ISO/IEC requires that at least 75 percent of all "yes" or
"no" votes (qualified votes) and at least two-thirds of "P" members that vote
"yes" or "no" support ratification of a format in the Fast Track process. More
information about the ISO/IEC JTC-1 process and its participants is available
    Widespread Support for Open XML
    The Ecma Office Open XML file formats are being rapidly adopted across
multiple platforms and products from a wide range of IT vendors, creating real
value for IT users around the globe. Thousands of companies from 67 countries
on six continents have raised their voices in support of Open XML and its
ratification by ISO/IEC at As well, the open
standard has also been gaining broad adoption across the software industry for
use on a variety of platforms - including Linux, Windows(R), Mac OS and the
Palm OS. Independent software vendors (ISVs) and platform providers around the
world - such as Apple, Corel, Sun, Microsoft and Novell - are developing
solutions using Open XML. Many developers working with the formats are active
contributors to
    Those working with Open XML can attest to the benefits of this open file
format in the areas of file and data management, data recovery,
interoperability with line-of-business systems, and the long-term preservation
of documents. Open XML is optimized for the level of precision and detail that
facilitates carrying forward billions of existing files. As well, Open XML
file formats are uniquely capable of integrating other types of systems and
data with Open XML documents, while maintaining a clean, simple separation of
presentation (Open XML markup) and data (custom schemas and instances
thereof). This means that organizations can use Open XML formats to report
information from other applications and systems without having to translate it
first, which is a key innovation for developers seeking to incorporate real-
time business information into their documents, or those who seek to "tag"
documents with their own categorization system to improve their understanding
of its contents.
    More information about Open XML, as well as available solutions using the
open standard specification, is available at
    Commitment to Interoperability
    The Open XML Translator (
converter) is one among many interoperability projects Microsoft has
undertaken. We continue to work with customers and others in the industry to
address the critical interoperability issues of our customers through the
delivery of products that are interoperable by design, collaboration on
interoperability projects, providing access to interoperability technologies,
and standardization. Other evidence of collaboration includes our technical
collaborations with AOL LLC and Yahoo! Inc. for instant messaging
interoperability, the broad collaboration with Novell on virtualization,
document formats and intellectual property, and the creation of the
Interoperability Vendor Alliance. More information is available at
    Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq:   MSFT) is the worldwide leader in
software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their
full potential.

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