Microsofts Office Standard Gets Green Light

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-12-09 Print this article Print

Microsoft's wish to produce a standard for office apps that is compatible with its Open XML formats was granted by standards body Ecma International.

Standards body Ecma International accepted on Thursday Microsoft Corp.s application to produce a standard for office productivity applications that is compatible with Microsofts Office Open XML Formats. "At the General Assembly meeting held in Nice on December 8, 2005, Ecma International has created Technical Committee 45 (TC45) to produce a formal standard for office productivity applications which is fully compatible with the Office Open XML Formats, submitted by Microsoft," Ecma International Secretary General, Jan van den Beld, said in a prepared statement.
"The aim is to enable the implementation of the standard by a wide set of tools and platforms in order to foster interoperability across office productivity applications and with line-of-business systems. The TC will also be responsible for the ongoing maintenance and evolution of the standard," he said.
TC45 was set up at the request of Apple Computer Inc., Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel Corp., NextPage Inc., Statoil ASA and Toshiba, all of which are co-sponsoring the initiative, Van den Beld added. Click here to read more about Microsofts decision to open up the Office XML formats. For his part, Alan Yates, the general manager of Microsofts Information Worker Strategy, said the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant is "extremely pleased" that its Open XML file format submission had been accepted. This "means customers and the industry are a major step forward toward preserved interoperability. We look forward to a continued open and productive process with Ecma and its members," he said. Microsofts move to a formal standard follows the controversial Massachusetts OpenDocument debate, and appears to be a direct move by the company to prevent the potential loss of any further government and business contracts for Office. Microsoft also plans to post an updated question and answer document on the Ecma International standardization of the Open XML file format to its Web site shortly. A Microsoft spokeswoman told Ziff Davis Internet News on Friday that the Q&A had been updated to address some of the common questions that the company had been hearing from partners and customers about the file formats. The area that has been most controversial since Microsoft announced its plans for the standard, and the area that gets the most coverage in the Q&A, is Microsofts CNS (Covenant Not to Sue) licensing changes. Ziff Davis Internet News received an advance copy of the updated Q&A, which answers the question of why Microsoft took a CNS approach by saying that "it was a simple, clear way to reassure a broad audience of developers and customers, within a rapidly changing licensing environment, that the formats could be used without constraint forever." To read more about Massachusetts decision to mandate use of the OpenDocument format, click here. The Q&A continues: "We looked at many different types of licensing approaches that would recognize the legitimacy of intellectual property but would make it clear that the intellectual property in the Open XML document formats would be available freely, now and forever. "Given that this is a rapidly changing area and lay people sometimes have difficulty understanding terms, we wanted to create something simple and clear," the Q&A said. Next Page: Following Suns lead?

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.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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