India Rejects Microsoft’s OOXML Format

India Rejects Microsoft’s OOXML Format: Reloaded!
Swapnil Bhartiya, EFY News Network
(Thursday, March 20, 2008 3:33:23 PM)

The BIS Committee has rejected the OOXML format.

Thursday, March 20, 2008: The BIS LITD 15 Committee has rejected Microsoft’s document format OOXML. According to sources, out of 19 members, five of them did not attend the meeting, one of them abstained, five voted in favour of OOXML and the rest voted against. The meeting took place today in Delhi at the BIS office.
Microsoft has released a statement which says, “While we are disappointed with the decision of the BIS LITD 15 committee, we are very encouraged by the support of IT industry players like NASSCOM, TCS, Wipro and Infosys who voted in favour of Open XML becoming an ISO standard. Further, the Indian government, industry stalwarts and trade bodies have supported multiple standards and technology neutrality. We will therefore continue to work with the government to address any concerns they may have and to achieve its stated goal of technology neutrality. We are committed to working towards what is best for the Indian IT industry.”

The statement is contradictory in itself where Microsoft is talking about neutrality. The European Union (EU) has worked really hard to neutralise most of Microsoft’s antics. Microsoft’s openness seems less out of desire and more out of growing power of FOSS movement and legal pressure by the EU. Neelie Kroes, Competition Commissioner, EU said last month, “Today, the European Commission has imposed a substantial fine, to be precise €899 million ($1.35 billion), on Microsoft for its non-compliance up until 27 October 2007 with its obligations under the Commission’s March 2004 decision to provide interoperability information on reasonable terms.”

Total penalties against Microsoft now stand tall at around $2.5 billion.

In the statement, Microsoft further said, “The concerns raised by the LITD 15 Committee have been addressed by the ISO and Ecma International (the proposer of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 Office Open XML) with a majority of the comments getting addressed at the recently concluded Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) at Geneva. We hoped that 98.73 per cent of the total 1027 comments from all National Bodies stood resolved at the BRM would be welcomed by the BIS, as it has been by the National Bodies of numerous countries.”

This is what the ISO website says about the BRM, “No decision or vote on the document as a whole or any part of it was taken at the meeting, but only on proposed changes to it.

It further says, “Following the BRM, all 87 national member bodies who voted in the original fast-track ballot have 30 days – until midnight CET on 29 March 2008 – to examine the actions taken in response to the comments and to reconsider their vote if they wish. If the modifications proposed are such that national bodies then wish to withdraw their negative votes, or turn abstentions into positive votes, and the acceptance criteria are then met, the standard may proceed to publication. Otherwise, the proposal will have failed and this fast-track procedure will be terminated. This would not preclude subsequent re-submission under the normal IEC and ISO standards development rules.”

India’s dismissal of OOXML could be seen as first major blow to Microsoft’s ambitions of making OOXML as an ISO standard. It might encourage other countries to follow the suite.

And everyone hopes this time we would not come across the infamous case reported in Sweden where some alleged Microsoft employees bribed to vote in OOXML’s favour.

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