Google: OOXML 'insufficient and unnecessary'

The search giant claims Microsoft designed Office Open XML 'purely around the needs of Office' and says it should be rolled into the rival ODF format
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Google has claimed that Microsoft's proposed Office Open XML document standard is unnecessary and should be rolled into the rival OpenDocument Format.

In a Monday post on Google's official blog, open-source programs manager Zaheda Bhorat said the issue affects everybody who uses editable documents.

"A document standards decision may not matter to you today but, as someone who relies on constant access to editable documents, spreadsheets and presentations, it may matter immensely in the near future," wrote Bhorat.

Document formats are shifting towards the use of the Extensible Markup Language (XML), which allows types of data to be defined and tagged within documents. The OpenDocument Format (ODF) has already been ratified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), but Microsoft's alternative, Office Open XML (OOXML), is currently undergoing its second attempt to gain ISO approval.

Google's technical analysis of the OOXML specification — which notoriously runs to 6,000 pages of code, compared with ODF's 860 pages — has led the company to believe that "OOXML would be an insufficient and unnecessary standard, designed purely around the needs of Microsoft Office", Bhorat claimed.

OOXML is this week being debated for the second time by ISO, having failed to gain approval in a preliminary vote held six months ago. A ballot will not be held during the meeting, but the various national standards bodies that voted in September are being invited to adjust their positions, if they wish, by the end of March.

"We join the OpenDocument Format Alliance and many other experts in our belief that OOXML doesn't meet the criteria required for a globally-accepted standard," Bhorat wrote. "As ISO member bodies around the world work on possible revisions of their vote previously submitted, the deadline of 30 March approaches fast. I invite you to pay close attention and heed the call of many for unification of OOXML into ODF."

A Microsoft spokesperson defended OOXML by saying that its customers "have told us their data needs can't be addressed by a one-format-fits-all approach".

"Everyone wants to use their data in slightly different ways," said Microsoft's spokesperson. "Furthermore, multiple standards can foster a healthy, competitive industry. By developing tools like the [Office] Open XML-ODF translators and making them widely available, we are promoting customer choice, which is our top priority."

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