Brazil votes down Open Office XML

Microsoft’s bid to get its OOXML approved as an ISO accredited standard has gotten a kick in the shin. The Brazilian Technical Standards Organization, one of the 55 voting members of the committee that approves standards, voted no to approving OOXML as a standard, according to a story from ZDNet UK. The rejection was explained in a long blog post by committee member Avi Alkalay, who is open standards and Linux advisor at IBM Brazil. 

“I was a member of the technical group that have studied OOXML specification extensively. I learned that it is unbelievable how ECMA (same guys that put together the JavaScript standard!) can think that a wannabe spec like OOXML is ready for submission. … Shame on you, ECMA. Your position as a trusted standards organization was severely damaged.”  

Pro-open source blogger Groklaw has a post on the alleged uproar in Germany over the ECMA International OOXML vote. Groklaw also says there were similar controversies in Portugal and Switzerland. To make a long story short the accusation in the post is that Microsoft partners were in charge of the strategic committees and anti-OOXML forces were strategically not allowed to vote. OK. Groklaw can’t be expected to take any other position, but the post makes this perfectly reasonable point: 

“You know what I don't understand? Why doesn't Microsoft get its format approved by just fixing it? Just as a start. Ideal would be to put into ODF whatever Microsoft thinks ODF needs and there we are, one standard the whole world can use freely. Then all its partners, working so hard with procedures in the ISO matter, could put their energies instead into making money with Microsoft, without forcing the world to suffer having to cope with two standards, neither of which works well with the other's documents. What are they all thinking?” 

We know what the powers that be at Microsoft are thinking. They fear that adopting a standard they do not control will eventually lead to word processors/spreadsheets, etc. becoming a commodity products. End of cash cow. And rightly so. They know that Google Apps and others, while not a serious threat today, would become one in a heartbeat if people didn’t need to use the defacto “.doc” or “.xls” formats for sharing documents. 

But they also know that such a day is inevitable. If the document standard is one that they control, all the better. If it isn’t, then OO XML has bought them precious time to mature their SaaS offerings so they can compete in the office commodity wars.  It maybe diabolical -- but it certainly is smart.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

SD-WAN buyers guide: Key questions to ask vendors (and yourself)