Industry body to push OOXML in Philippines

Country vetoed ISO certification of Open XML. But Microsoft, with CompTIA as partner, hopes to drive adoption of its document format in the Philippines.
Written by Joel D. Pinaroc, Contributor

PHILIPPINES--Microsoft and industry body Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) have teamed up to drive the adoption of Office Open XML in the Philippines.

Representatives from both organizations, in a briefing last week, said they will hold various campaigns, as well as hold talks with government and private sector groups, with the aim to disseminate information about Office Open XML (OOXML) across the country.

Microsoft's OOXML, or sometimes referred to as Open XML, is an XML-based document file format specification used for electronic data creation and delivery. It lost its initial bid for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification, after failing to secure enough votes from participating countries in September.

According to Dave Walsh, Microsoft's senior standard program manager, the Philippines was one of the countries which voted "no" on the use of OOXML.

"The country voted 'no' with clarifications. This means the panel voting on the standard still needs more information about Open XML," Walsh said at the briefing last week.

The next discussion on the issue has been scheduled for February 2008 in Geneva, he said. At this meeting, Managers of the OOXML specification are expected to address technical comments that accompanied the votes, after which, Microsoft can modify and resubmit its proposal.

A decision on whether OOXML is ratified, or not, will be revealed in March 2008, Walsh said.

Philippines wanted more info
According to the Microsoft executive, the Philippine panel which reviewed Open XML, had required more "descriptions and more information" regarding the document format.

The panel consisted of representatives from the Bureau of Products and Standards, under the government's Department of Trade and Industry, and the National Computer Center, noted Joanna Rodriguez, Microsoft Philippines' national technology officer.

The same panel will vote again in the upcoming February meeting, Rodriguez said.

She added that the Philippine Computer Society has submitted its recommendations to the government panel. The society has over 700 members, and aims to lead local and global initiatives that promote its members' IT profession.

According to Michael Mudd, CompTIA's Asia-Pacific director of public policy, said support for OOXML has been "pretty good", particularly in Asia. This support, he said, is evident despite the failure to convince the ISO to ratify the file format.

Mudd said: "It is a matter of [addressing] the clarifications and questions that the voting nations have regarding this standard."

He added that United Nations (UN) member countries are allowed to vote, but are not "obliged to" do so regarding standards such as Open XML.

CompTIA, which comprises mainly of manufacturers, distributors, ASPs (application service providers), software developers, e-commerce and telecom companies, sees the need for commercial companies to "be totally aligned with connectivity via interoperability", Mudd said.

Microsoft and supporters of OOXML say the technology will make it easier for users to create and share documents, regardless of the platform or application. Other major vendors supporting the document standard include Hewlett-Packard, EMC, Intel and Apple, among others, according to Microsoft.

OOXML skeptics, including supporters of open source software, have argued that the standard contain Microsoft-specific legacy format which can cause interoperability problems, and will serve only to strengthen Microsoft's domination in the office productivity software market.

Most OOXML detractors support the Open Document Format (ODF), which is itself already ISO-certified. Countries that have stepped up in support of the ODF include Malaysia, Japan and more recently, South Africa.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.

Editorial standards