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ISO takes up Open XML-ODF 'harmonization' as Norwegians protest

Office Open XML is now in the hands of the ISO which is taking on ODF interoperability. But angry Norwegians stage a demonstration.

Correction done to Alex Brown's affiliation.

The ISO has taken over control of the Open XML specification and started a committee to consider harmonization with the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Wednesday was the last day that all resolutions to the new standard, called ISO/IEC 29500, were accepted, according to Brian Jones, a program manager for office at Microsoft who has been involved in the standardization process.

Last week, the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) announced that Office Open XML (OOXML) gained enough votes to pass as a standard.

Alex Brown, a member of the U.K.'s national standards body who led the Ballot Resolution Meeting in February, laid out what happens next now that Open XML is a standard in his blog.

Three committees have been formed to usher development of the standard going forward, two of which deal with handling Open XML.

The third is dealing specifically with interoperability between Open XML and ODF.

The most extreme voices in this debate are unhappy about Open XML's standardization.

But people dealing with exchanging documents and writing document-oriented software should take note that interoperability is now part of the ISO's digital documents charter. How that work will interact with other ongoing projects is unclear, but it is now be addressed at the level of national standards bodies.

"The DIN Delegate (DIN is the German national standards body) presented an update on the work that they have been doing around translation between the Open XML formats and ODF. I've discussed this a number of times before as being a key piece of the harmonization work," according to Jones.

Meanwhile, the protested Norway vote did not go down without a demonstration.

On Wednesday, sympathizers of the Norwegian committee that was essentially overruled by Norway's standards body to vote yes on the Open XML ballads staged a protest.

If anyone thinks that standards don't matter, take a look at these photos on Flickr of the event.

These people are protesting the fact that the technical committee tasked with forming Norway's position voted against Open XML ISO certification. Yet, Standards Norway decided to vote for it even though the country's issues were not sufficiently addressed.

One committee member, Geir Isene, wrote a quick summary of the drizzly event in his blog, saying that it was only the second IT-related protest in Norway.