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Standards body rebuffs Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. lost two key votes to have an ‘open’ version of its Office software file format made the world standard, a Swiss standards group said Tuesday.

In voting among 104 countries, 53% of a committee of national-standards organizations that are members of Geneva’s International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, voted in favor of Microsoft Office Open XML and 26% voted against it, the ISO said. Microsoft had argued Open XML was ‘open source,’ designed to encourage programmer access and improvement. Microsoft needed 66% of ‘yes’ votes and no more than 25% opposing. In a separate vote, 74% of ISO voting member countries, separate from the committee, supported Microsoft’s bid. Microsoft needed 75%.

After the votes, Microsoft pledged to work with opponents to amend its proposal ahead of a February Geneva meeting where the Redmond, Wash., software maker will be able to seek consensus and more votes. Those opposed to Open XML say it isn’t really open at all - that it is actually so complex and so loaded with Microsoft-specific features no one but Microsoft can use it fully, The Wall Street Journal reported. Critics also say it needlessly duplicates the existing Open Document file format used by IBM and many open-source programmers. Microsoft said Open XML should be a standard in addition to Open Document. (m&