Microsoft: Don't be so quick to attack OOXML

The Office Open XML format is 'one of the best things we've ever done', according to the software giant

Ahead of this month's International Organization for Standardization decision in Geneva on the status of the software giant's contentious Office Open XML format, a visiting executive from Microsoft has said its persistence with the format has been spurred on by customer demand.

"One of the things I'm shocked by is how quick people are to attack Microsoft on this, because I believe it's one of the best things we've ever done," said Greg Thomas, Microsoft's public-sector lead information worker.

"Microsoft is taking its intellectual property and giving it to the world, and asking a global community of interested parties to improve it and be the custodians of it," Thomas said.

Thomas told ZDNet Australia that Microsoft was determined to secure international-standard status for the format to meet with customer demands, saying that a significant amount of the company's public-sector customers had been asking for it to be elevated to this standard.

John Brand, analyst for IT research firm Hydrasight, said he believes that Thomas has overstated the claims of public-sector demand for the document format.

"The feedback that I'm getting from clients in the market is that the only organisations that are really generating a demand are those that are creating customised applications within the public sector, and that's not a huge proportion," said Brand.

When asked about an alleged vote-rigging incident that occurred in relation to the upcoming International Organization for Standardization (ISO) decision last year, Microsoft's Thomas described it as "an unfortunate accident".

"It was a misunderstanding on behalf of an employee in one of our Swedish subsidiaries," he said. "It's been remedied and we've now reinforced with our people what's expected of them."

The Microsoft executive said the company is optimistic ahead of the vote and is looking forward to achieving a final result.

"I think it's real evidence that Microsoft is committed to opening up things and doing it in a fair sense," said Thomas.

"We wanted to make sure that if Microsoft was to go out of business in a hundred years — hopefully not, but you never know — anyone could take that software and use it to read and write documents without having to rely on the company," Thomas said.


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