Shuttleworth Foundation backs ISO ruling


The Shuttleworth Foundation has announced its support for the decision by the The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) to reject the Microsoft-driven bid to fasttrack the OOXML document format as a second official standard.

The foundation's intellectual property fellow, Andrew Rens, explained the key reasons as being that the OOXML format is proprietary and that it would impact negatively on open access to have a second standard when the community-developed Open Document Format (ODF) already exists as a recognised standard.

Rens explained: "The use of two different document standards by governments, for example, would create a barrier to citizens being able to effectively access government information. It would also hinder the general sharing of information because it would create technical difficulties for people using different formats."

Rens added that the Microsoft-developed OOXML format was not fully open.

Rens explained that prior to the ISO ballot closing on 2 September 2007, a technical sub-committee of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) rejected the standard by 13 votes to 4 and resolved to recommend that South Africa should vote against the adoption of OOXML as an international standard.

The proposed standard was rejected for various technical reasons, including concerns about possible intellectual property rights claims against those implementing OOXML. "OOXML is based on proprietary software," stated Rens.