The long contentious fight over standardisation of Office Open XML has ended with approval of the document standard after nearly 15 months of work by the International Standardisation Organisation.

While the ISO has not yet made it official, a major opponent of OOXML said the ISO has confirmed the results he posted on his blog. "I have a copy of the ISO report now so there is no question that it has passed," said Andy Updegrove, a lawyer, Linux Foundation board member and author of the Consortiuminfo's Standards blog. Updegrove has been a vocal opponent of OOXML standardisation.

Microsoft, which developed the format, Microsoft issued a press release yesterday, also saying that OOXML, known as DIS 29500 at the ISO, received overwhelming support. Neither, however, presented any concrete validation of the ISO vote.

Updegrove said the final tally verified by the ISO was 24 participant members, or P-members, out of 32 voted in favour of approving DIS 29500. The 75-percent approval rate was more than the 66 percent needed for ratification. In addition, among the voting national bodies of the individual nations, only 10 negative votes were cast out of 71 total. The 14 percent negative voting rate came in well below the threshold of 25 percent established by the ISO to mark failure of a measure.

"It was not even close," said Peter O'Kelly, an analyst with the Burton Group. "Most significantly from the Microsoft perspective is that Microsoft will not be precluded from doing business with organisations that mandate ISO standards for document formats."

That is what the vendor was gunning for with OOXML. The Microsoft version of OOXML, not the DIS 29500 version, is the default file format in Office 2007.

O'Kelly said the 15-month contentious process to approve DIS 29500 also is likely to have a lasting impact on how standards are created and judged.

"I think this will be a milestone, or checkpoint, for what does it mean to be a standard. And why is one standards organisation perceived to be better or more authoritative than another and what are the policies for becoming a standard? Is it the case that Microsoft did an etiquette breach? Or is this kind of business as usual for standards organisations?"

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