We're a couple weeks away from the final decision on whether DIS 29500 will become IS 29500 and if ISO will take on the stewardship of the Open XML formats. We already had a good preview of the type of work we can achieve within the SC34 group over the past 14 months. Those same sorts of improvements that we saw during the review period, and well as the BRM will continue as we enter the next stage where SC34 will establish the plans for maintenance going forward. Maintenance is going to involve a number of activities, including continual improvement and evolution, as well as clarifications and corrections. The maintenance of Open XML will obviously be a bit different from what you see in ODF, where OASIS has decided to maintain full control for now. Open XML's maintenance plans will be decided by SC34, and while Ecma has expressed some opinions on how it would like to be involved, ultimately it is going to be up to SC34 to decide.

A common question I've seen lately is whether or not Microsoft will support the updated standard if it is approved by ISO. Should DIS 29500 become an IS, then we will indeed update our products to support the new spec. This was made clear in Chris Capossela's open letter released yesterday (http://www.microsoft.com/interop/letters/ChrisCapOpenLetter.mspx):

As a result of global feedback and consideration, the Open XML standard under consideration by ISO/IEC has been significantly improved. Microsoft has been afforded a wonderful opportunity as a result of this process. We've listened to the global community and learned a lot, and we are committed to supporting the Open XML specification that is approved by ISO/IEC in our products.

Chris then goes on to talk about our support for the process overall and the maintenance going forward:

Pledging our support
Above and beyond our own implementation, however, I wish to make it clear that to enable broader adoption of the format – including for use by our current and future competitors - we have made our commitment to Open XML unambiguous, and as such have made (through our Open Specification Promise) irrevocable, royalty-free patent commitments to all developers to implement the formats.

We submitted the original Open XML specification to Ecma International for consideration in 2005 because we wanted to respond to our public and private sector customers' requests that we turn over control of the specification to the community. Ecma International's further development of the specification for more than a year, and its adoption of Open XML as an Ecma International Standard (Ecma 376) in December 2006 was a realization of that goal. Now, the global community has the opportunity to take control of the future of the specification by ratifying Ecma 376 as an ISO/IEC standard. We know that it will be in good hands when this happens based on the tremendous work and improvements that have been made to the specification during the ISO/IEC process over the past 14 months. We are committed to the healthy maintenance of the standard once ratification takes place so that it will continue to be useful and relevant to the rapidly growing number of implementers and users around the world.

We have listened to our customers and the community and are proud of the work that has been done on the Open XML formats. We believe that these formats deliver unique value to the industry and users will benefit from it being in the hands of the global community as an ISO/IEC standard.

 

-Brian