Google applauds ISO vote, voices OOXML concerns

Google voices support for ISO's decision to reject Microsoft's OOXML in blog posting.

Google, which has been less vocal than some on the furor surrounding the standards process for Microsoft's Office Open XML, came out Friday in support of the ISO's decision to reject the specification.

In a post on its internal Google Code blog, Open Source Programs Manager Zaheda Bhorat said that the company agreed with the decision of the International Organization for Standardization not to approve the fast track of OOXML, and listed some of the problems company engineers have with the format.

The ISO voted earlier this month to reject an attempt by Microsoft to use another standards body, Ecma International, to fast track its XML-based file format OOXML through the process to become an international standard.

The process was riddled with complaints that Microsoft placed people sympathetic to its cause in key voting positions toward the end of the process in an attempt to swing the vote in its favor. The company's decision to submit OOXML to Ecma and then the ISO has been controversial, since Open Document Format (ODF), which many rivals support, already is an ISO standard for XML-based documents. In fact, one of the problems Bhorat cited for why Google disapproves of OOXML is that it is incompatible with ODF.

Other reasons Google supports the ISO decision are that the company believes there was not enough time to review the specification; there are undocumented features of OOXML that prevent implementation by other vendors; and dependencies on Microsoft proprietary formats and technical defects makes OOXML difficult to fully implement, according to the blog post.

"Technical standards should be arrived at transparently, openly, and based on technical merit," Bhorat wrote on the blog. "Google is committed to helping the standards community remain true to this ideal and maintain their independence from any commercial pressure."

Bhorat also used the post to stump for ODF, which Google supports in its Web-based office applications. IBM, Sun Microsystems and other Microsoft rivals also are vocal supporters of ODF.

"With multiple implementations of one open standard for documents, users, businesses and governments around the world can have both choice and freedom to access their own documents, share with others and pass onto future generations," Bhorat wrote.

Issues raised by Google and technical experts about OOXML during the voting process are set to be resolved at an ISO ballot resolution meeting been scheduled for Feb. 25-29, 2008.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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