Ecma publishes first draft of OpenXML spec

Ecma on Thursday published the first draft of the Microsoft-submitted Office Open XML specification online.

European standards body Ecma International Thursday published the first draft of the Office Open XML specification online, as Microsoft's file format for office documents continues the required process to win standards approval by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The first draft of Office Open XML (Extensible Markup Language) is available on Ecma's Web site at http://www.ecma-international.org/news/TC45_current_work/TC45-2006-50.htm

Companies in addition to Microsoft that contributed to the draft specification include Apple Computer, Novell, Toshiba and Intel, Microsoft said.

Microsoft wants to see Office Open XML, a file format it developed for its Office productivity suite, become the international standard for office documents. The company submitted the technology to Ecma in November to achieve this. Ecma approval can help fast-track a technology through the standards process of the ISO, an international consortium that works with the United Nations to maintain and approve international technology standards.

One roadblock to Microsoft's end goal for Open XML is the ISO's approval two weeks ago of a rival document file format, Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF). Companies including Microsoft rivals Sun Microsystems, Adobe Systems and IBM are hoping ODF will become the international standard instead. They said approval by the ISO paves the way for adoption of office suites that support ODF, such as Sun's own StarOffice, Google Inc.'s Writely and others, in favor of Microsoft Office.

At least one group of analysts agrees with ODF proponents. Gartner published a news analysis several days after the ISO approved Open XML that called the move a "blow to Microsoft," saying it's not likely the ISO will approve more than one XML-based standard for office document formats.

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