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OOXML Meeting Wraps Up -- Who Won?

Both sides in the Office Open XML (OOXML) debate claimed victory Friday as a key international standards body meeting called to help determine the file formats' future wrapped up in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ironically, despite the two sides' posturing, the meeting's outcome does not directly determine whether OOXML becomes a ratified standard for document interchange or not. Instead, it starts the clock running for countries to change their votes – or not.

[cob:Related_Articles]This week's meeting was held to resolve issues raised last summer by voting nations when they voted down a bid by Microsoft and European standards body Ecma International to get OOXML certified as a standard by the granddaddy of standards groups -- the Organization for International Standardization (ISO). Ecma already approved OOXML as its own standard in 2006 and is the organization submitting the formats to ISO.

Ending Friday, the week-long affair constituted what's referred to in ISO terminology as a "ballot resolution meeting" or BRM. In attendance: interested nations gathered to discuss proposed changes to the 6,000-page OOXML specification that would mollify their concerns regarding its adoption as a standard on a so-called 'fast track' basis – a process that can take as little as five months instead of the years a standard sometimes takes to move through ISO's more formal, and more protracted, full-scale process to achieve adoption.

Still, the end of the meeting gave both sides – supporters and critics – yet another bully pulpit upon which to claim victory.

Claiming to have received leaked information from inside the meeting, one leading critic disparaged OOXML as having failed to achieve acceptance.

"The OOXML proposed dispositions … were overwhelmingly rejected by the delegations in attendance at the BRM, indicating the inability of OOXML to be adequately addressed within the 'fast track' process," Andrew Updegrove, a vociferous opponent of OOXML and a member of the Linux Foundation's board of directors, said in a blog entry Friday.