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

For Immediate Release: August 10, 2007

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Contact: Ben Stein
(301) 975-3097

August 10, 2007--The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has voted for conditional approval of a proposed international standard for open documents. The candidate standard, ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Office Open XML File Formats, sometimes abbreviated as “Office Open XML” or OOXML, is being fast-tracked by ISO/IEC (the International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission).

The OOXML describes its purpose in the following way: “OpenXML was designed from the start to be capable of faithfully representing the pre-existing corpus of word-processing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets that are encoded in binary formats defined by Microsoft Corporation.”

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. XML allows the sharing and manipulation of data across different computer platforms. XML is now incorporated in many standards, including ISO/IEC 26300:2006: Information technology—Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0, which is often abbreviated as ODF.

“NIST believes that ODF and OOXML can co-exist as international standards,” says NIST Director William Jeffrey. “NIST fully supports technology-neutral solutions and will support the standard once our technical concerns are addressed.”

“As was the case with ODF, the final approved text of DIS 29500 will be the result of negotiations on technical and other issues submitted by ISO/IEC National Bodies during the present ISO/IEC fast track ballot,” Jeffrey said.

NIST is a member of the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards Executive Board (INCITS EB), the body that will cast the U.S. vote on DIS 29500. INCITS serves as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group for ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC 1), which is responsible for international standardization in the field of information technology. The INCITS Executive Board is presently determining its vote and comments on the DIS 29500 fast track ballot, which closes on September 3, 2007.

In the absence of any non-resolvable substantive technical issue, NIST believes that the U.S. government should remain neutral with respect to technology and standards choices. The availability of a wide array of technologies and standards allows the U.S. government to best meet its information technology needs, while retaining the ability to exchange data.

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.