back to article UK to fly the flag for OOXML

The British Standards Institute (BSI) looks set to reverse its position on Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) file format by approving it as an international standard. A source close to the matter told The Register today that the technical group chaired by Francis Cave and assigned to make recommendations to the policy making …


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  1. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Greased palms

    Nothing like a bit of palm greasing to change a few minds.

  2. Bruno Girin
    Thumb Down

    Something fishy

    There must be something fishy there. BSI had the most comprehensive list of comments on OOXML. Surely, they can't have dismissed all of them?

    Shame I'm away from home, I would have gone and knocked on their door to know why as I go past their offices virtually every day (they are located above Gunnersbury tube station in Chiswick, West London for those who were wondering).

  3. James
    Thumb Down

    Before being allowed to vote...

    ... delegates should have some kind of IT background. If they did, OOXML would not even be up for discussion.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Shame the Freedom of Information Act doesn't apply to BSI

    If the vote was 5-1 to Approve, which implies outstanding issues were resolved, how does the *six* voting members correlate to the statement by Richard Taylor, head of market development for the ICT and electronic sectors at the BSI, in Setember 2007 after the initial vote, where he mentioned a 30-member technical panel?

    "We set up the technical panel with wide industry representation, and we had no latecomers to that. We had 30 technical experts from government, industry, and academia. We put out invitations, then people applied through us to become a member. Everyone who applied was given a place. In the end there has been sufficient time for us to pull together comments and give [the specification] a rigorous review,"


    It's about time this supposed 'British' national standards body were open about both its decisions, make-up of the panels (since obviously Microsoft knows the panel members), and the process. If they won't or don't, then they certainly don't represent my part of Britain.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bought and Paid for.

    Good to see the BSI can be as easily bought as Which part of 'standard' does BSI not understand?

    Paris, because she's probably smarter than BSI.

  6. Martin Owens


    You traitors. misinformed or not, your not fit to sit on a standards board for these green and pleasant lands.

    It will be a shame to see ISO go, but death of ISO's reputation is the only thing to come out of OOXML passing as a standard.

  7. Red Bren
    Gates Horns


    The best open standard money can buy...

  8. Matt West

    Who do we complain at?

    Who were the other four voters? How do we register our disapproval?

  9. Alexander Hanff

    So good to see the UK supporting a convicted monopolist

    Title says it all...

  10. Mark
    Dead Vulture


    From your comment:

    "Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) file format"

    and later:

    "why the group has had an apparent change of heart after disapproving the Office 2007 format "

    Plus, it's not only IBM's application using ODF. Sun produces an office suite that uses ODF (Open Office. You may have heard of it >-) ).

  11. Sergey

    OOXML is no standard, it's rather a description of how microsoft office saves documents!

    Already found bugs in that "standard", ranging from copy-paste without updating identifier names in the Reference (Part4), all the way to an obvious bug in presetShapeDefinitions.xml - check out the "leftArrow" shape - uses "dy" variable without defining it in dgLst - it was meant to be "dy1"

    No, it's no standard

  12. Kevin Sedgley

    That's rubbish

    OOXML is the inbred runt of document formats

  13. Adrian Midgley

    Close scrutiny

    That would be a dubious decision - there is no need for the Microsoft formats to be declared international standards for people to carry on using them, and it is abundantly clear that what MS are presenting is nothing like a standard, or the documentation required for a standard.

    Such a decision would merit close scrutiny of the people and organisations involved, which is quite fashionable nowadays, extending even to the expenses and allowances of members of parliament.

  14. Alan Barnard

    I hope this is a false rumour

    There are really only two possible attitudes to DIS 29500. The first is to judge it on its technical merits - I thought that BSI had made a thorough job of this the first time round. The second is to totally ignore its technical merits and make a judgment purely on the basis of an anticipated personal pecuniary advantage.

  15. Joe Stalin
    Paris Hilton


    ...his name. Francis Cave and did he cave in, you bet!

    Paris, cause somebody at the BSI is having a blonde moment!

  16. Stephen Stagg

    MS PR

    It seems that the Microsoft PR department have done a very thorough job on this one.

  17. Enormous Cowturd
    Thumb Down


    Perhaps the wankers at the BSI will publish a specification for this abortion of a "standard", describing how it works - something which the "standard" its self notably fails to do. I doubt they will though - I don't suppose they have access to that sort of M$ "trade secret" themselves!

    As I say, wankers.

  18. OpenSauce

    ODF format IS an ISO standard already, no need for more

    True Open Standards such as ODF which is already an ISO standard are all we need.

    No vendor lock in and long term document support makes it a winner.

    The UK is not flying the flag, only those with hidden agendas.

    Anyone who can be bothered to read up on ODF/OOXML will understand.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    So where's the news?

    Any other result would be news, but this was so entirely predictable.

    British business/government has become so corrupt it makes the Nigerians blush

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Integrity? We've heard of it.

    All I can say is that I am disappointed.

    It is one thing for the late-coming P members to vote yes, but for a standards body which has previously taken some kind of interest in the technical content of the proposed standard to vote for approval after the apparently farcical BRM boggles the mind.

    I can only infer some manifestation of Stockholm syndrome at work, unless there might be some other rea$on.

    *crossing fingers that the rumour is false*

  21. Bob Appleyard
    Gates Halo

    Let's be clear here

    This is just a rumour, so keep that salt pot at hand, but if it turns out to be true, there's a pretty straightforward explanation.

    The UK government is heavily invested in MS technology. They're very much in bed with the company. Workers in, for instance, the NHS, get "sweet deals" from Microsoft (like home licenses) in exchange for not allowing any of its potential competitors to participate (the GP surgery I worked for while this deal was made were forced to get rid of their UNIX server, and in doing so had to upgrade the hardware and sacrifice about half of the capabilities it provided).

    This whole standardisation nonsense is due to people making noises about "future-proof" office formats, we all know the story. Well, Microsoft's eagerness to get this as a standard could easily be said to mirror that of the govt: they don't want to have to spend a load of money training people to use some other office productivity suite, and MS knows how to chat decision-makers up.

    Unfortunately for them, Office 2007+ IS another office suite, and WILL require a whole load of training. But as anyone who follows the UK govt knows, giving ones decisions more than about five minutes of consideration is just out of the question.

    Bill in a halo, for the lulz.

  22. dodgy
    Thumb Down

    If this is true it is disgusting, M$ at its worst

    How can anyone with an ounce of technical savvy vote yes ?

    Some brown envelopes being passed around I expect !

    I feel ashamed to be British and in IT if this is what we can expect from our peers

  23. Morely Dotes
    Jobs Horns

    So will there be a new sign at Heathrow?

    "Welcome to the United Kingdom (A wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft)"

    Where's Guy Fawkes when you need him?

  24. kain preacher

    SHould of waited

    The reg should of waited till April fools day. After all this one giant joke.

    I dont mind office that much but office 2007 I hate the look. The feel and every thing else about it. Went back to office 2000. I might even try open office

  25. Matt Bradley
    Gates Horns

    Good reasons for standardising OOXML

    IF OOXML becomes a standard MIcrsosft will be REQUIRED to:

    a] document it properly.

    b] ensure that their software fully complies with the standard.

    This would probably be a GOOD THING - It then becomes a trivial mater for, et al to open OOXML documents natively, and save them out as ODF. :)

    Of course, it'll mean that we have not one, but TWO standards for the same file type. Which kind of defeats the whole object of having a standard...

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Vote for what ever you want

    I still tell people "If you to do business then send me a proper document"

    If you cant someone else will. 2Seconds later a .doc You still get those few sending you a link to install support for the file. Sadly they wonder why their sales are dropping. I aint installing....!

  27. Mike Banahan


    I can't believe this is true. Although my period as a member of IST/41 (the BSI panel that is reviewing the fast-track document) was short, there was an air of intellectual honesty that gave me some modest pride being a part of it.

    I really find it incomprehensible that the BSI panel might have changed its recommendation. The draft standard is truly, truly, appalling.

    I will be fascinated to see if the rumor of a 5-1 change of mind is really true. If so, there will be a lot of explaining to do.

    And I'd point out to anyone reading this that the panel is only advisory. If you feel that they have made a mistake, give the BSI a call on +44 (0)20 8996 9001 or email them at

    The ICT/-/1 (that's really its name) committee that actually decides the UK vote is only advised by IST/41, it doesn't have to abide by what they say. The BSI is supposed to work on consensus. If enough people call or contact it to tell it that it's made a mistake, it is supposed to do something about it.

    If you care, get off your backside and tell them. I have already. Their vote is due in on the 29th. You have essentially one day only to influence them.

  28. Ben Justice
    Thumb Down

    BSI -- Someone needs to clean house!

    One think is crystal clear, the BSI doesn't give a rat's patootie about British business! Heck, I'm an a American and I'm disgusted. Maybe the European Union will start digging about, I sure hope so. Something is rotten in Denmark!

    Yeah right, Microsoft all the sudden started caring about openness and interoperability just 60 days or so ago. Gee, what a coincidence. Shame, shame, shame on the BSI for even considering a one way vendor convicted monopolist lock-in full of hidden dependencies on windows, DRM, Sharepoint tags, and numerous other undocumented tidbits.

    Is the BSI anti HTML too? That's an open standard. All companies get to use it, including British ones. Never mind. Just answered my own question.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next month's headlines...

    I've recieved a psychic vision of a headline from Next Month:

    "Several Members of BSI have taken lucrative 'consultant' roles at Microsoft..."

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good Grief!

    Martin Owens: You traitors. *misinformed or not, 'your' not fit to sit on a standards board

    kain preacher: SHould 'of' waited - The reg should 'of' waited till April fools day

    I despair ....

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Somebody tell the tax inspector

    Well I hope that the 4 who voted yes infom the taxman of their recent windfall. or they cold all be in trouble

  32. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Gates Horns


    "This is just a rumour but if it turns out to be true, there's a pretty straightforward explanation.

    The UK government is heavily invested in MS technology. They're very much in bed with the company."

    The problem is one set up by New Labour when Tory B liar was angling for votes. It sounds like Sir William Gates the Third was a party supporter.

    All the government computers I have had pointed at me were Windows 2000 machines. I believe that it would cost an arm and a leg to undo everything that went wrong with those early party bribes.

    As for the BSI fiasco...

    From the article (which seems to have had a deep throated source, no comment from the BSI and no more news on Google News, except the Register's scoop) it seems thatthe committee was padded in the later stages after the dupes in charge invited any interested parties along for the ride.

    Leet a deed thy nose.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @Stephen Stagg

    I think you'll find the source of this rumour is IBM's PR department and the cause is Microsoft's Brown Envelope department.

  34. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Paris Hilton


    This page is not Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional!

    Result: Failed validation, 12 Errors


    Encoding: utf-8

    Doctype: XHTML 1.0 Transitional

    Root Element: html

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Just WHAT will this standard cover?

    Since there can only be one ISO standard for a given use, and since there already is a standard for exchange of editable documents, it would be interesting to know what the scope of OOXML will be. Is it supposed to be the ISO standard for interworking with Microsoft systems?

  36. Dave

    death knell for ISO

    this is just utterly abysmal and horrific

    the only legitimate word in the expansion of OOXML is 'office'

    it is bif12 (binary interchange format, 12th attempt to get it right)

    it is proprietary

    it is closed

    it is NOT XML

    adoption of a proprieatry, closed, not XML data format as an 'open', 'XML' *standard* is just SO WRONG wrong wrong

    If you agree, please, please register your complaint with BSI by email at - TODAY!!!

  37. Anonymous Coward

    contact them here....

    to register your disapproval with their views.

  38. Matty

    So will there be a new sign at Heathrow?

    >So will there be a new sign at Heathrow?

    >By Morely Dotes

    >Posted Wednesday 26th March 2008 22:43 GMT

    >Jobs Horns

    "Welcome to the United Kingdom (A wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft)"

    Can't mate - we're already owned by the rest of the world! No manufacturing left, virtually no motorcycle industry, almost no car plants left - Jag off to India, there's almost nothing we produce ourselves - successive governments have seen to that. Now Gordon's sold us out to Europe so we won't even own ourselves any more! So M$ won't get a lookin.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Does it matter

    It doesn't matter who defines a standard as long as everyone agrees to use it and it does become A STANDARD, not standard A used by this company and standard B used by that company. As long as everyone is provided the standards information and sticks to it, there really is no problem.

    Getting so sick of the whole 'it's MS so it must be evil' bullshit

    And yes, I have looked at both ODF and OOXML, and from what I can see, OOXML does have some advantages over ODF

    You want an evil proprietary company, have a really good look at Apple and you will find they are a hell of a lot worse

  40. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Who's idea was this?

    Perhaps Neville Chamberlain is still alive.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    But it is NOT a standard, quite the opposite

    For a start, it comes from Microsoft. Therefore, its a NON-standard.

    And there is ALREADY a proper standard, one that Microsoft's non-standard bears no relation to.

    Somebody, somewhere, is NOT doing their job properly if they haven't understood the above.

    It also puts BSI in the same "untrustworthy" kettle as the US Patent Office.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    A table is worth a thousand words.

    Have a look at the table in this blog.

    Using a simple line of left to right text shows up the horror of OOXML and MS software engineering.


    OOXML text: <w:jc w:val="right"/>

    OOXML sheet: <alignment horizontal="right"/>

    OOXML presentation: <a:pPr algn="r"/>

    ODF text: <style:paragraph-properties fo:text-align="end" />

    ODF sheet: <style:paragraph-properties fo:text-align="end" />

    ODF presentation: <style:paragraph-properties fo:text-align="end" />

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Bought out cheaply ?

    What they get offered - Vista ultimate ?

  44. BitTwister

    @Does it matter

    > Getting so sick of the whole 'it's MS so it must be evil' bullshit

    And I'm thoroughly sick of those who think that this is all there is to it.

    If you would care to READ Microsoft's "standard" definition you would find that it is full of gaping, undefined and proprietary holes - any of which would make this "standard" utterly impossible to implement.

    It's not the company, it's the MESS proposed as a standard.

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