Microsoft: 'OOXML one of best things we've ever done'

Ahead of this month's ISO 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.

Ahead of this month's ISO 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," he said.

Thomas told ZDNet.com.au today 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, 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 a vote-rigging incident that occurred in relation to the upcoming ISO decision last year, Microsoft's Thomas described the incident 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 visiting 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," he said.