Final OpenXML Approval Draft May be Posted by Ecma on Monday

According to a short "Tech Informer" article just posted at, Ecma, the European IT standards organization on Monday may post  "as early as Monday," the final approval draft of Open XML, the document format specification contributed to Ecma by Microsoft in an effort to counter the momentum behind the OASIS and ISO adopted ODF.  Further details may be found in an informational Status Update posted at the Ecma Website, dated September 28, 2006, which reads in part as follows:

The [Open XML drafting] committee held its sixth face-to-face meeting on September 26-28, 2006, this time in Trondheim, Norway....During the meeting, the committee created the Final Draft of the Office Open XML v1.0 format. The committee, with representation from all Ecma member organizations actively participating in TC45 (Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, The British Library, Essilor, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage, Novell, Statoil, Toshiba, and the United States Library of Congress) unanimously approved the Final Draft standard and agreed to propose it to the General Assembly of Ecma International for publication as an Ecma standard. The Final Draft standard will be made publicly available on the Ecma web site in the coming days. The GA will vote on this proposal during the GA meeting December 7-8, 2006.

ODF was adopted by OASIS in May of 2005, and the voting window that resulted in ODF's approval by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, closed on May 1of 2006.  Given that the ISO process, from first submission to closure of the voting window takes 6 to 9 months, this would mean that the earliest that OpenXML could achieve comparable status to ODF (assuming that both the Ecma and ISO memberships voted in favor of adoption) would be in May to August of 2007.

Ecma posted the first draft of Open XML in mid-May of this year, and the level of detail quickly became apparent from its length (in excess of 4,000 pages).  That draft was the work product of the technical working group that will present the finished specification to the Ecma for an up or down “take it or leave it” (i.e., without the opportunity to amend it) vote.

If that vote is favorable, then it is assumed that Microsoft will urge Ecma to promptly submit the specifiation to ISO for approval as a global standard.  ISO adoption is either important or essential in many countries in the world, including in many European nations.  This is significant in that a number of European nations (e.g., Denmark and France) are at the forefront of favorably considering adopting, or mandating use of, ODF.

While adoption by Ecma is presumably assured, approval by ISO is less certain, according to some sources with whom I am in contact.

IDG reporter Steven Sayer, the author of the article, identifies Ecma employee Isabelle Walch and “another source with knowledge of the process” as the sources of its information.

For further blog entries on ODF, click here

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