Standards NZ disappointed at Open XML fast-track

Fast-track process may not allow enough time for thorough consideration, says chief executive

Standards New Zealand is disappointed at the go-ahead given to fast-track consideration of Microsoft’s Open XML data format as an ISO standard.

Rob Steele, Standards NZ’s chief executive, says “we do not object to consideration of any proposal for a new international standard, or for a revision of an existing standard.

“What we objected to here was the use of the fast-track process. We understand that there are existing international standards relating to XML formats and think it is important that there is thorough consideration of all the alternatives.

“The fast-track process may not allow enough time for this thorough consideration.”

New Zealand was one of six ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) member countries that objected to the proposal to put Microsoft’s Open XML on a six-month fast-track process. The existence of an existing ISO standard in the same area, ODF (Open Document Format) was New Zealand’s objection.

The ISO gave the go-ahead to the fast-track process earlier this month and the proposal will go to a vote of ISO member nations in August. The normal process would take substantially longer.

Open XML got on the accelerated path to ISO-certification because it has already been approved by another global standards organisation, Ecma, which has a “liaision” status with the ISO.

Only standards already approved by an organisation with that status can be considered for the fast-track process.

ODF also got a head start on the normal ISO approval practice, being approved under the PAS (publicly available specification) method. PAS is intended to allow de facto standards that are in widespread use to become ISO standards without going through the full ISO process.

ODF was originally nominated to be recognised under the PAS process by Oasis (the organisation for the advancement of structured information standards).

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