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NIST Votes for U.S. Approval of the Modified Office Open XML Standard

From NIST Tech Beat: March 18, 2008

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Contact: Ben Stein
301-975-3097

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has voted for U.S. approval of a modified version of the proposed international standard known as Office Open XML (OOXML).  NIST is one of 17 voting members of the U.S. body known as the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards Executive Board (INCITS EB). This NIST vote comes in response to modifications made to OOXML at an international meeting last month.

Last summer, the U.S. body initially voted on a ballot from the international standards organization ISO/IEC that would fast-track OOXML to the status of an international standard. The U.S. body voted “approve, with comments” on the ballot, but the proposed standard failed to win approval in the initial international tally.

In late February, comments from national bodies were considered at an ISO/IEC ballot resolution meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Participants in the ballot resolution meeting modified the proposed OOXML standard in response to comments from the national bodies. Based upon the changes to the OOXML standard agreed to at the ballot resolution meeting, national bodies have until March 29, 2008, to reconsider their original votes. 

The U.S. body has voted to approve the modified OOXML standard with 11 members, including NIST, voting “yes,” four members voting “no,” one member voting to abstain and one member not casting a vote.  If the final international vote tally is sufficient for approval, OOXML will be published as an ISO/IEC international standard.  If the final vote fails, then OOXML could still be submitted for consideration again to an ISO/IEC subcommittee known as JTC 1/SC 34.

If approved, OOXML would join the Open Document Format (ODF) as another worldwide standard for “open documents.” Open document standards are applicable to word processing, spreadsheets and other types of documents intended to allow computer users to exchange documents more easily between software programs and across hardware platforms.  Presently, most office application software relies on proprietary file formats.  OOXML is intended to enable users to read and write files in an open document format that Microsoft and other OOXML proponents have stated will be free of any proprietary content.

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Links to earlier news releases on NIST and OOXML: