OpenDocument standard ratified

An international standards group sets the stage for worldwide adoption of this open-source file format.

OpenDocument was ratified as a file format standard Tuesday night by an international standards group, setting the stage for greater worldwide adoption of the open-source file format technology.

Members of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) ratified the file-format standard with no opposition among the 31 votes. And because only seven members submitted comments for review, the closely watched OpenDocument standard may be published in fast order.

"With adoption of ODF by ISO/IEC now assured, software that implements the standard will now become more attractive to those European and other government purchasers for whom global adoption by ISO/IEC is either desirable, or required," Andrew Updegrove, attorney with law firm Gesmer Updegrove wrote in his blog.

A number of productivity applications, such as OpenOffice 2.0, Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 8 and IBM's Workplace, support the OpenDocument file format. Microsoft, however, is not supporting OpenDocument and instead is seeking ISO standardization for its own Office Open XML file formats.

Although Microsoft sits on the ballot resolution committee that will have a chance to review the ISO/IEC's comments on OpenDocument, competitors such as Sun Microsystems are not worried that Microsoft will affect the publication of the newly ratified standard.

"It would be hard for Microsoft to now interfere with the process," said Simon Phipps, Sun's chief open-source officer, noting that the standard was ratified with no opposition. "We know we have the strongest validation as possible for this file format."

Microsoft said it will support interoperability with OpenDocument file formats and not oppose its standardization or use by any organization.

However, Jason Matusow, Microsoft director of standards affairs, said in a statement: "The ODF format is limited to the features and performance of OpenOffice and StarOffice and would not satisfy most of our Microsoft Office customers today."

The process to move the standard to publication may come quickly, said a representative for the American Standards Institute, which represents the United States to the ISO. The spokesman noted that in similar situations, his organization has seen the process take from weeks to several months for a standard to be published.

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