Hi All,

After more than 14 months of intensive review, a Joint Technical Committee of the International Standardization Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has concluded its formal process to evaluate Ecma International’s submission of the Draft International Standard (DIS) 29500: Office Open XML (Open XML).

While the final vote has not yet been announced formally, publicly available information appears to indicate the proposed Open XML standard received extremely broad support. According to documents available on the Internet, 86 percent of all voting national body members support ISO/IEC standardization, well above the 75 percent requirement for formal acceptance under ISO and IEC rules. In addition, 75 percent of the voting Participating national body members (known as P-members) support standardization, also well above the 66.7 percent requirement for this group. Open XML now joins HTML, PDF and ODF as ISO- and IEC-recognized open document format standards.

“With 86 percent of voting national bodies supporting ratification, there is overwhelming support for Open XML. This outcome is a clear win for the customers, technology providers and governments that want to choose the format that best meets their needs and have a voice in the evolution of this widely adopted standard,” said Tom Robertson, general manager of Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft Corp. “The input from technical experts, customers and governments around the world has greatly improved the Open XML specification and will make it even more useful to developers and customers. Once it is formally approved, we are committed to supporting this specification in our products, and we will continue to work with standards bodies, governments and the industry to promote greater interoperability and innovation.”

The open standard has gained broad adoption across the software industry for use on a variety of platforms — including Linux, Windows, Mac OS and Palm OS. Hundreds of independent software vendors and platform providers around the world — such as Apple Inc., Corel Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Microsoft and Novell Inc. — are developing solutions using Open XML that offer real value for IT users around the globe. Independent research has concluded that use of Open XML is likely to expand further over time.* Thousands of companies have expressed support for Open XML and its ratification by ISO (http://www.iso.org) and IEC at http://www.openxmlcommunity.org.

Those working with Open XML can attest to the benefits of this open file format in the areas of file and data management, data recovery, interoperability with line-of-business systems, and the long-term preservation of documents. The formats are optimized for the level of precision and detail that facilitates carrying forward billions of existing files. Open XML file formats are uniquely capable of integrating other types of systems and data with Open XML documents, while maintaining a clean, simple separation of presentation (Open XML markup) and data (custom schemas and instances thereof). This means that organizations can use Open XML formats to report information from other applications and systems without having to translate it first, which is a key innovation for developers seeking to incorporate real-time business information into their documents, or those who seek to “tag” documents with their own categorization system to improve their understanding of the documents’ contents.

More information about Open XML, as well as available solutions using the open standard specification, is available at http://www.openxmlcommunity.org/inuse.aspx.

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Nick.