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[ossig] Open Document Format Gets ISO Approval

The Open Document Format has been approved as an international standard by 
the International Standards Organization, a move that supporters say will 
serve as a springboard for the adoption and use of ODF around the world.

The ODF allows the retrieval of information and the exchange of documents 
without regard to the application or platform in which the document was 
created. The format is supported by Corel, IBM, Novell, Opera Software, 
Oracle, Red Hat and Sun Microsystems.

Microsoft, which is pushing its OpenXML document format as an alternative 
to ODF, plans to seek ISO approval for OpenXML as well.

Jason Matusow, director of standards affairs for Microsoft, in Redmond, 
Wash., reiterated Microsoft's commitment to supporting interoperability 
between OpenXML and ODF documents, saying the "richness of competitive 
choices in the market is good for our customers and for the industry as a 

The ODF developed out of work done at the open-source OpenOffice.org 
project. That work was later submitted to, and further developed at, OASIS 
(Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), 
where it was accepted as an official OASIS standard in May 2005.

The European Commission's IDA (Interchange of Data between Administrations) 
Management Committee also publicly encouraged OASIS to submit the OASIS ODF 
standard to the ISO once OASIS had completed its work on the standard.

The six-month approval ballot for the ODF's adoption as a standard by the 
ISO and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) ended on May 1 
in a vote to approve.

Also, in March, a coalition of organizations from across the world got 
together to launch the ODF Alliance, whose goal is to enable governments to 
have direct management and greater control over their documents.

The alliance started off with just 36 members, but has now grown to more 
than 150 members worldwide.

"The ODF Alliance believes that approval of ODF by the ISO standards body 
as an international standard will  have a particularly strong impact in 
Europe where ISO standards enjoy official recognition under European Union 
Directives," Marino Marcich, the recently appointed executive director of 
the ODF Alliance, said in a statement on May 3.

The approval of ODF by the ISO is also an important step in the effort to 
help governments solve the very real problem of finding a better way to 
preserve, access and control their documents now and in the future, Marcich 
said, in Washington.

"There's no doubt that this broad vote of support will serve as a 
springboard for adoption and use of ODF around the world and, at the same 
time, represents a milestone for the ODF Alliance," he said.

The ODF is also under consideration at the Regional Open ICT Ecosystem 
Conference, currently underway in Bangkok. The conference is being attended 
by representatives of a number of Asian governments and brings together 
experts, executives and policy makers from government, business and academia.

"Within it, ODF is being discussed as a vehicle for universally compatible, 
innovative and cost-effective technology used within governments. The 
conference and this week's positive ISO vote clearly demonstrate the 
momentum behind the Open Document Format," Marcich said.

But Microsoft is fighting back, trying to convince people that its OpenXML 
is an "open" standard that's every bit as good as the ODF.

In March 2006, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, 
speaking at the Microsoft Office System Developers Conference, announced 
that the company has joined with 39 other organizations to form the Open 
XML Formats Developer Group.

Microsoft's Matusow told eWEEK on May 3 that the Redmond-based software 
giant shares the same vision as the proponents of the ODF: the promise of 
XML-based formats as the ideal technology for data interoperability and 

But he maintained that with the new innovations in the use of XML giving 
users greater control over their documents on a daily basis, "no one XML 
schema can meet the archival needs of all government and businesses today."

PointerClick here to read more about the intensifying battle between 
Microsoft's OpenXML format and the ODF.

There are hundreds of industry-specific XML schemas currently being used by 
industries such as health care, real estate, insurance, finance and 
publishing, he said.

"The progress of ODF and Open XML in the standardization processes is 
further evidence of the impact that XML will have on the industry as a 
whole. ODF is yet another XML-based format in the market. The ODF format is 
limited to the features and performance of OpenOffice and StarOffice and 
would not satisfy most of our Microsoft Office customers today," he said.

But Microsoft plans to support interoperability with ODF documents as they 
start to appear and will not oppose its standardization or use by any 
organization, he said.

Microsoft is submitting its OpenXML formats to Ecma International for 
approval as an international standard.

Meanwhile, the ODF Alliance intends to build on the format's ISO approval 
by working with governments around the world to adopt the Open Document 
Format, Marcich said, adding, "We believe access to public records and 
essential services should never be restricted to users of a particular 
brand of software or computer platform."

Regards,                           /\_/\   "All dogs go to heaven."
dinesh@alphaque.com                (0 0)    http://www.alphaque.com/
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