Microsoft Office 2007 fails OOXML conformance test

Microsoft Office 2007 fails OOXML conformance test

Summary: Now that Office Open XML is on its way to becoming an international standard, it could be leaving Microsoft behind

TOPICS: Tech Industry

Word documents generated by today's version of Microsoft Office 2007 do not conform to the Office Open XML standard under development by the International Organization for Standardization, according to tests run by a document standards specialist.

In a blog posting this week, Alex Brown, leader of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) group in charge of maintaining the Office Open XML (OOXML) standard, revealed that Microsoft Office 2007 documents do not meet the latest specifications of the ISO OOXML draft standard.

"Word documents generated by today's version of Microsoft Office 2007 do not conform to ISO/IEC 29500," said Brown in a blog post recounting the process of testing a document against the "strict" and "transitional" schema defined in the standard.

Microsoft Office 2007 saves files in OOXML, an XML-based format, which has been offered for standardisation through the Ecma industry body to the ISO. Since a vote narrowly accepted OOXML as a draft international standard, ISO is now in control of the specification.

As changes were made at an ISO ballot resolution meeting, Office 2007 documents no longer conform to the current standard based on OOXML, known as ISO/IEC 29500, according to Brown.

In a statement sent to on Friday, Brown said that, although he was hopeful that Microsoft will update its Office products to stay in line with the version of OOXML approved by ISO, it is not guaranteed. "The question behind the question, for a lot of the current OOXML debate, seems to be: can Microsoft really be trusted to behave? We shall see," said Brown. 

Commentators, including Tim Bray, the inventor of XML, have suggested that Microsoft is unlikely to bother to keep conformant with the OOXML standard as it develops within ISO, but Brown was more optimistic: "Given Microsoft's proven ability to tinker with the Office XML file format between service packs, I am hoping that Microsoft Office will shortly be brought into line with the [ISO/IEC] 29500 specification, and will stay that way," he said. "Indeed, a strong motivation for approving 29500 as an ISO/IEC standard was to discourage Microsoft from this kind of file-format rug-pulling stunt in future."

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Brown added that Microsoft has probably realised that there may be considerable commercial advantages to becoming a good citizen in the standards community. "Actively working to make OOXML an internationally informed standard will help them to retain their considerable share of the desktop office space, as this removes objections to Office having a proprietary, vendor-controlled format," he said. 

In future, Brown hopes to repeat the test to see if the open-source alternative to Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, conforms with the ISO version of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) document standard — ISO/IEC 26300. He asked: "Will anyone be brave enough to predict what kind of result that exercise will have?"

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • ROFL

    ROFL - nuff said
  • Can Microsoft really be trusted to behave?

    You must have Alzheimers if you have to ask this question. M$ will continue with business as usual. They got what they wanted, and now look for them to change the standards to meet Micro$oft's whims. I can't believe no one saw this coming.
  • In my ignorance .......

    I always thought that Office 2007 formats never actually complied with the OOXML specification

    Was I wrong?
    The Former Moley
  • Probably not...

    I think Office 2007 formats were the input to the ECMA published standard which ISO considered. So they conformed to the proto OOXML that existed at the start of the process.

    Or I may be wrong....
  • I don't think you're wrong...

    But then I could be wrong :P

    That being said, I think that Microsoft have created for themselves a giant OXML shaped rod for their own backs. In particular I think the EC regulators (and not to be left out, the rest of the world following) will have a field day fining them for non-compliance with it, that is, if it gets chosen as the "document standard" that they want to use.

    Mind you, Microsoft could play the game, do the right thing etc blah blah blah, but I'm not holding out much hope for that. I rather thing America might accidentally manufacture proper beer before Microsoft is compliant with OXML.
  • OSI version?

    "In future, Brown hopes to repeat the test to see if the open-source alternative to Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, conforms with the Open Source Initiative (OSI) version of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) document standard
  • You're correct...

    ... Microsoft Office saves in Ecma-376 format today, IS29500 soon.
  • ISO does publish ODF

    ISO certainly does publish the ODF Open Document Format Standard. Here it is:

    Can you explain what you mean by "ISO does not publish document standards"?
  • My apologies - that should have read ISO, not OSI

    ISO publishes the ODF format, and OSI doesn't as you rightly point out.