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Office to Become Fully Open XML Compliant (at last)

The Standards Blog - Yesterday, Microsoft made an unobtrusive announcement that brings a degree of closure to a seven year long epic battle between some of the largest technology companies in the world.  The same saga pitted open source advocates against proprietary vendors, and for the first time brought the importance of technical standards to the attention of millions of people around the world, and at the center of the action were Microsoft and IBM, the latter supported by Google and Oracle, among other allies. 

The standards in question described the format specifications that can allow documents created by one proprietary software product to be opened, edited and saved in another. 

More specifically, the battle had been joined between the supporters of the Open Document Format – ODF for short – developed by OASIS, and then adopted by ISO/IEC, and a format developed and promoted by Microsoft, called Open XML, which it contributed to ECMA for adoption before also being submitted to ISO/IEC. In due course, Open XML was adopted as well, but only after a global battle that, improbably, even inspired a public protest on the sidewalks outside a standards committee meeting.

The heat of the action mostly occurred between the summer of 2005, when Massachusetts first endorsed ODF, and the end of 2008, the year that Open XML became an ISO/IEC standard, and inspired tens of thousands of news articles and blog posts (you can find my 284 stories on this topic here, and a partially completed book telling the story here).