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MSXML Is Not an Open Standard

ECMA has approved Microsofts Office OpenXML and is about to submit it to the ISO/IEC for consideration as an open standard.

However, as it currently stands, this format cannot be considered a proper Open Standard and approving it for standardization is therefore a bad idea. ODF Alliance has issued a facts sheet stating certain points which describe the ECMA process and reasons why OpenXML can hardly be considered an Open Standard.


On December 7, 2006, Ecma approved Office Open XML (OOXML) and plans to submit it to the Joint
Technical Committee 1 of the International Organization for Standardization and International
Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC JTC1), triggering a 9-12 month process during which
OOXML will be considered for adoption as an international standard. Several critical questions
regarding the Ecma process itself and OOXML need to be carefully considered, given the long-
standing policies of ISO and IEC regarding openness and transparency of the standards-development
process, the technical quality of the standard, and the avoidance of “contradictory” standards.

You can download the full Facts Sheet here (in PDF).

Also check out the recent related article written by Charles H. Schulz of Lang Confederation: "A cathedral of formats or a castle of cards?"


thank you


Thank you Daniel for this link and article. Yes, I believe Open Standards are a very important topic and people inside as well as outside the FOSS community should be "educated" or "evangelized" on this. Open Standards do not mean Open Source or Free Software, although they are very friendly to both of them.

In any case, I am available to discuss this topic here or on the forum with any community member. Things need to be said and to be done...


No problem. Hopefully

No problem. Hopefully someone takes notice of this issue and relays the message further. The message is basically that ECMA made a mistake and that ISO/IEC should not in the end approve this for what it is not, an Open Standard, nor should organizations adopt it based on ECMA's submission.

So says history.

Apparently, their latest version of Office will DRM your documents by default. That looks to me like another good reason for using OpenOffice.

Things need to be done?


Hello Charles.

When you say things need to be done, can you provide me with examples? Things that a non-FOSS programmer or person actively involved with computer engineering related activities can do.

Things need to be done


Talk around you about Open Standards and why people should use them. It's not the same than with FOSS. Tell them about interoperability. Tell them about their data. People should know that they don't own their documents or their pics. The software vendor does.

And there is a legal uncertainty around OpenXML. So mostly it is an advocacy effort.

Terribly large uphill battle


There standards have been a problem since Outlook. Just try and transfer email to another email client from Outlook. I haven't found a reasonable way yet. Even users which have wanted to switch have to keep outlook for their old emails. Users don't seem to be at all concerned about it and one of these days they are going to lock down our data and a number of companies are going to find themselves on a permanently expensive merry go round.
I've already had users asking me to get them Vista. Why I ask? They don't know?. If they ever sell an Office version that has incompatability problems with previous versions, I'll make sure my CEO gets the first copy.

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