ISO won't fast-track MS OOXML consideration

Background: OpenDocument format was approved as an ISO standard in May 2006. This was important for the free software community because there are free software applications for reading and writing OpenDocument files.

It was also good news because we could now ask governments to use this standard instead of existing proprietary formats. Most governments currently use Microsoft's Word format, and while we have software to read and write that format, our software isn't perfect, and it will never be perfect because we can't see the specification of that format. As a counter-move, Microsoft then applied to have its format also approved as an ISO standard.

Recent events: Microsoft requested that their format approved by a "fast-track" procedure. The fast-track procedure is appropriate for applications which don't contradict existing ISO standards. The Grokdoc website did a great job of examining Microsoft's format and building a list of where it contradicts existing ISO standards. There were then efforts in many countries to inform national standards agencies of these contradictions so that they could raise these when responding in ISO's discussion of the fast-track request.

This request was discussed by ISO and its national mirror committees on February 6th, and the request was rejected. So Microsoft's application will follow the usual, more detailed process.

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