European standards body has published the first draft of the Office Open XML specification online. The move is a continuation of Microsoft's attempts to get its file format for office documents recognised by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

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.

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

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 Inc., Adobe Systems Inc., 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's Writely and others, in favour of Microsoft Office.

At least one group of analysts agrees with ODF proponents. Gartner published an 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.