After months of contentious debate, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has rejected appeals from Brazil, India, South Africa, and Venezuela to overturn the ratification of Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) file formats as international standards. While there is still time for some more drama, the OOXML standardization process has been the most heavily debated in the history of the organization.
"Two ISO and IEC technical boards have given the go-ahead to publish \[the\] Office Open XML formats as an ISO/IEC International Standard after appeals by four national standards bodies against the approval of the document failed to garner sufficient support," an ISO statement reads. The organization notes that OOXML should be published as an international standard within a few weeks, subject to no further appeals.
Microsoft created the OOXML file formats during the development of its Office 2007 productivity suite and uses these formats as the default document formats in several Office 2007 applications. The formats replace previous proprietary file formats and compete with other open standards such as Open Document Format (ODF). Microsoft opened up the formats in response to the needs of numerous national and local governments, which expressed concern at storing official documents in proprietary document formats.
But open source fanatics in particular see OOXML as a direct assault on their businesses and many rallied to try and defeat Microsoft's standardization attempts. Microsoft's first "fast-track" standardization attempt through the ISO met with failure. It was only on appeal that the company was able to squeak by the dissenters. And even then, there was plenty of contentious debate, both about the format and the way in which Microsoft handled the process.