[persbericht] FFII opposes Fasttrack adoption of Microsoft OOXML format as ISO standard

Wiebe van der Worp wiebe at vrijschrift.org
Mon Jan 29 19:15:12 CET 2007

PRESS RELEASE -- [ Europe / Economy / ICT ]

FFII opposes Fasttrack adoption of Microsoft OOXML format as ISO standard

Brussels, 29 January 2006 -- The FFII has sent an open letter to all
delegations of the International Standardization Organization (ISO) to
oppose with contradictions the "fast track" adoption of the Microsoft's
6000-page OOXML specification (ECMA-376) before the deadline of
February, 5th. Microsoft's proposal damages the adoption of the existing
ISO 26300 standard (OpenDocument) that covers almost the same
functionality in just 600 pages.

The FFII has several concerns with the proposed standard. OpenXML relies
on undisclosed patents, and undisclosed or incomplete licensing terms
that make any independent reimplementation impossible or heavily risky.
It obliges implementors to reverse-engineer the behavior of old closed
Microsoft applications and formats. It uses non-standard formats for
languages and dates, and specifies known bugs, such as treating 1900 as
a leap year.

Benjamin Henrion, FFII analyst, explains: "Microsoft is pushing through
a overcomplex proposal in a very short time frame. The fast-track
procedure was never intended for specifications of this size and
artificial complexity. It seems clear that the pressure is on ISO to not
look too closely at the many traps in OOXML, which include patent
minefields that will allow Microsoft to strictly control who implements
this. Microsoft tried to introduce its patents into international
standards before, resulting in the failure of an anti-spam standard."

Multiple associations, companies and bloggers who have looked at OOXML
describe it as a "single vendor standard", since large parts of the
standard simply refer to application behavior, not technical
specifications. Examples include the option to enable "WordPerfect text

OOXML was produced in one year by Microsoft alone and ratified as
ECMA-376 by ECMA, a private association that drafts standards on demand.
It is via ECMA that Microsoft has been able to push for a fast-track
procedure at ISO/IEC. By comparison, the Open Document Format ISO
standard took 5 years of work through ISO/IEC and OASIS and counts with
multiple implementation covering all the main platforms (Symbian,
Windows, Linux, Mac OS, BSDs and Solaris). In contrast, Microsoft's
format has no any implementation in market currently, and in medium
terms it is expected to cover only the Microsoft platform.

Alberto Barrionuevo, FFII Vice-President, concludes: "We ask all ISO
delegations to cancel the fast-track procedure. It is simply impossible
to clarify all the issues and contradictions existing in ECMA-376 within
such a short fast-track time frame. Indeed, this standards-stuffing
attempt undermines the entire credibility of the ISO/IEC process. If
Microsoft can buy a single-vendor 'standard' with impunity, what is ISO


* FFII's Open Letter to ISO: Contradictions to ECMA-376 fast track
process at ISO/IEC

* Grokdoc: List of Contacts of all ISO delegations

* Espacenet (EPO): 14 European software patent applications by Microsoft
regarding XM

* OpenDocumentFellowship: Licensing conditions that Microsoft offers for
Office Open XML http://opendocumentfellowship.org/files/JTC001-N-8455-3.pdf

* EP12711339: very broad software patent application on data
representation by Microsoft

* Permanent link to this press release

Contact information

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03 (fixed)
+32-484-56 61 09 (mobile)
openstandards at ffii.org

About the FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European
countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the
public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards.
More than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have
entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions
concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.

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