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ECMA 376 Office Open XML submitted to ISO Print E-mail

ECMA 376Microsoft has submitted its ECMA 376 Office Open XML to the ISO usign the Fast Track Procedure. If none of the JTC-1 members opposes the ECMA 376 standard will be approved as an ISO standard.

This is a step back on the standardization of the file format for the different office suites as it fragments and divides the file implementation for different suites as Open Office and Microsoft Office.

Through this fast track procedure, Microsoft will make the ECMA standard an ISO standard just for their Microsoft Office product.

The actual ECMA 376 standard is full of errors at different levels and it also re-implements the ISO/IEC 26300:2006 standard (ODF file format) in an incompatible format.

There are several errors in the ECMA standard:

  • Several contradictions as in Gregorian calendar management relative to leap years and in contradiction with current ISO standards
  • Ignores the ISO 639 standard about current naming for languages and two and three letter codes
  • Ignores the current ISO standards for graphics file formats as the ISO/IEAC 8632
  • Implements new hash algorithms without been sufficiently review by the criptographic community. This is a security risk as it ignores current standards for secure hashing in digitally signed documents as the SHA or Whirpool widely recognized as secure hash implementations.

Also several references in the standard are about proprietary formats from Microsoft, and that no other manufacturer has access to. This renders the standard in a "just for Microsoft" standard, since only Microsoft can correctly implement it.

Actual status 

On feb. 5 if no JTC-1 member objects to it the ECMA standard will be passed to be a new ISO standard.

This attempt to get the ECMA 376 standard ratified as an ISO standard along with the contacts that Microsoft has made with the editors of Wikipedia to modify the ""mistakes" made on the articles about the Office Open XML file format, suggest that it is trying to form the perception that ECMA 376 is an open standard that different manufacturers can implement and offer diversity in the Office Suite markets.

Additional references

To know more about the objections to the ECMA 376 standard and about the standard itself you can access the following documents:

Last Updated ( Friday, 26 January 2007 )
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