IBM sits out Office document standards effort

Big Blue won't participate in an international committee that is standardizing Microsoft Office document formats.

IBM does not intend to participate in an Ecma International standards committee that is standardizing Microsoft Office document formats, an IBM company executive said on Tuesday.

As a member of the Geneva, Switzerland-based Ecma organization, IBM can participate in the committee, called Ecma 45, which is creating an internationally recognized standard from the XML-based document formats used in the forthcoming Microsoft Office 12 product. Microsoft to Ecma last week.

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Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of standards and open source, speaks with CNET reporter Martin LaMonica about the importance of the emerging OpenDocument format, and what's happening with ODF in Massachusetts.
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But IBM has decided sit on the sidelines, at least for now, according to Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of standards and open source.

"We think there are just too many open switches on this right now for us to go in and do something there. Given the charter, it's not clear what anyone other than Microsoft is going to be doing on this committee," Sutor said on Tuesday.

IBM is a and intends to have that document format as the default in its forthcoming Workplace products.

Bob Sutor
Bob Sutor
IBM VP of Standards

Sutor said Microsoft was trying to have its document formats "rubber-stamped" as standards by Ecma. He said it doesn't appear that the committee, which has Microsoft representatives as co-chairs, can be influenced by companies other than Microsoft.

A Microsoft representative was not available for comment Tuesday. The company posted an last week.

Sutor said that within the next year or two the committee should consider a "convergence path" between the Office Open XML document formats and OpenDocument, another set of standards for creating and storing documents.

"We want to see flexibility. We'd like to see some convergence path. Fundamentally, it has to be community-driven thing and we don't see that now," he said.

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