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U.S. expected to recommend Open XML as ISO standard

With a few weeks before a final decision on Open XML's standards bid, technical committee is set to vote in favor of Microsoft-backed document formats.

The United States is expected to recommend that Microsoft's Open XML file formats be ratified as an international standard, according to people involved in the process.

Two members of the technical committee tasked with setting the national position on a pivotal vote said the States will retain its "Approve" position in a vote to make Open XML a standard at the International Organization for Standards (ISO).

The chair of the committee, Patrick Durusau, who is also the editor of the rival OpenDocument standard, said that the controversy surrounding Microsoft's Open XML standards bid is being fueled by an irrational anti-Microsoft sentiment.

"What is puzzling in this day and age of quarterly reports and returns is that any corporate-governance structure would long tolerate spite as a business strategy. Or that investors would stay with companies that follow such strategies," Durusau wrote Friday (PDF).

The Executive Board of the U.S. technical committee, called INCITS, will make the final decision on that recommendation.

Microsoft started the process of trying to make Open XML an international standard at the ISO two years ago. Last fall, Open XML failed to pass a ballot of international standards delegates. But a meeting in Geneva earlier this month, called the Ballot Resolution Meeting, sought to resolve technical problems and move the specification closer to standardization.

Delegates from national standards bodies have until March 29 to vote on Open XML. If it gains enough support, it will be certified as a standard.

Doug Mahugh, a Microsoft senior product manager and member of the INCITS committee, said on Friday that the next step for the U.S. delegation is to hold a ballot on the recommendation.

In addition to inciting anti-Open XML campaigns, such as the NOOXML movement, Microsoft's handling of the process has dismayed many industry observers, who say the company inappropriately chose an accelerated process for a very complicated technical specification.

A number of attendees to the Ballot Resolution Meeting at the end of last month complained that many of the technical issues were not thoroughly examined and that the credibility of the ISO standard process has been damaged.

In one example, a delegate from Brazil said the country's plan to discuss backward compatibility was not addressed during the BRM.