Microsoft confident leading up to OOXML BRM

Company says it's taking a "wait and see" approach to BRM. Opponents say Microsoft's hands are dirty

By the end of this month, national standards bodies from around the world will be returning home from the Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva to consider the revised specification for the standardisation of Microsoft's Office Open XML document format.

The software giant is confident the format will overcome the hurdles that saw the ISO vote against a proposal to fast-track the process last September, a vote from which Australia abstained.

Microsoft's global public sector lead for Microsoft Office Business, Greg Thomas, said the company is feeling optimistic in the lead-up to the BRM, and that a huge amount of work has been done on the specification since September.

"I would say it has probably been a very long time since an ISO standard has had this much attention from the public, and Microsoft's position is that this has contributed to a vastly improved specification, " Thomas told Computerworld.

"We're seeing a lot of people who are very positive about the work that Microsoft and ECMA have done to address any concerns that were with the specification and we are really optimistic," he said.

Just over 3,500 comments on the specification were provided by the national bodies that voted in September. The comments were sent back to the original proposer of the standard, ECMA International, for review in preparation for the JTC1 BRM in Geneva from February 25-29.

The revised specification, set to address every one of the concerns, will not be made publicly available until after the BRM.

"1000 of those comments were unique comments, and of those 1000 there were a lot of editorial changes that had to do with misplaced semi colons and things like that. But there were definitely some things that countries were looking at and wanted to make sure that their concerns were addressed; issues like having to do with language sets and the way that certain things were hashed," Thomas said.

"But there is nobody that knows exactly what the final specification will be and how changed it will be until after the BRM, after all the national bodies have returned to their home countries and made their final determination as to what their final position will be."

Microsoft has been reported to be heavily contacting various national standards bodies in the lead-up to the BRM, but Thomas insists the company is just one voice among the many companies, associations, organizations and individuals participating in the process.

"There are certainly people that are supportive of the specification, there are people who are opposed to the specification for various reasons, and there are people who are just really focused on trying to make the standard better and Microsoft is just one of those voices," he said.

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