The move comes less than two weeks after the competing Open Document Format was approved as an international standard by the ISO, a move that supporters said would serve as a springboard for the adoption and use of ODF around the world.
The first draft of the Office Open XML file format specification, which Microsoft submitted to standards body Ecma International in November 2005, has been published.
In December 2005, Ecma accepted Microsofts application to produce a standard for office productivity applications that is compatible with Microsofts Office Open XML file format.
It has doubled in size since its submission, and now contains more than 2,000 pages of additional documentation, including more than 160 pages devoted to documenting 356 different spreadsheet formulas alone.
"And this is just the first draft," a Microsoft spokesperson said, adding that the specification represents work from more than five months of technical committee meetings.
Weekly conference calls and in-person meetings are held every two months for three days at a time, she said.
As such, the draft specification contains significant contributions from Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, The British Library, Essilor, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage, Novell, Statoil, and Toshiba, she said.
Information posted on the Ecma Web site notes that this is still a work in progress and that those participating in the technical committee are providing the reference schema and specification as working documents, for informational purposes only.
"The contents are subject to change, and may change monthly," it says.
The publication of this draft specification comes less than two weeks after the competing Open Document Format was approved as an international standard by the International Standards Organization, a move that supporters said would serve as a springboard for the adoption and use of ODF around the world.
Click here to read more about ISO approval of the Open Document Format.
Microsoft has said it plans to seek ISO approval for its Office Open XML file format specification as well, once it has been approved by Ecma.
Jason Matusow, director of standards affairs for Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., has stressed Microsofts commitment to supporting interoperability between OpenXML and ODF documents, saying the "richness of competitive choices in the market is good for our customers and for the industry as a whole."
Matusow has previously told eWEEK that that the Redmond-based software giant shares the same vision as the proponents of the ODF: the promise of XML-based formats as the ideal technology for data interoperability and archiving.
But he maintained that with the new innovations in the use of XML giving users greater control over their documents on a daily basis, "no one XML schema can meet the archival needs of all government and businesses today."
There are hundreds of industry-specific XML schemas currently being used by industries such as health care, real estate, insurance, finance and publishing, he said.
"The progress of ODF and Open XML in the standardization processes is further evidence of the impact that XML will have on the industry as a whole. ODF is yet another XML-based format in the market, he said.
Coming soon: ODF for Microsoft Office. Click here to read more.
Microsoft also plans to support interoperability with ODF documents as they start to appear, and will not oppose its standardization or use by any organization, he has said.
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Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.
He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.
He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.
He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.
He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.
He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.
His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.
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