December 21, 2005 12:01 AM PST

IBM sits out Office document standards effort

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IBM does not intend to participate in an Ecma International standards committee that is standardizing Microsoft Office document formats, an IBM company executive said on Tuesday.

As a member of the Geneva, Switzerland-based Ecma organization, IBM can participate in the committee, called Ecma 45, which is creating an internationally recognized standard from the XML-based document formats used in the forthcoming Microsoft Office 12 product. Microsoft submitted the 1,900-page Office Open XML specification to Ecma last week.

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Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of standards and open source, speaks with CNET News.com reporter Martin LaMonica about the importance of the emerging OpenDocument format, and what's happening with ODF in Massachusetts.
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But IBM has decided sit on the sidelines, at least for now, according to Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of standards and open source.

"We think there are just too many open switches on this right now for us to go in and do something there. Given the charter, it's not clear what anyone other than Microsoft is going to be doing on this committee," Sutor said on Tuesday.

IBM is a big supporter of OpenDocument and intends to have that document format as the default in its forthcoming Workplace products.

Bob Sutor
Bob Sutor
IBM VP of Standards

Sutor said Microsoft was trying to have its document formats "rubber-stamped" as standards by Ecma. He said it doesn't appear that the committee, which has Microsoft representatives as co-chairs, can be influenced by companies other than Microsoft.

A Microsoft representative was not available for comment Tuesday. The company posted an FAQ about Ecma and the standardization process last week.

Sutor said that within the next year or two the committee should consider a "convergence path" between the Office Open XML document formats and OpenDocument, another set of standards for creating and storing documents.

"We want to see flexibility. We'd like to see some convergence path. Fundamentally, it has to be community-driven thing and we don't see that now," he said.

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The creation of a >>>>"convergence path"
... between the Office Open XML document formats and OpenDocument, another set of standards for creating and storing documents"&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt; as stated by Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of standards and open source is quite obviously logical thinking and an overarching question to the Ecma International standards committee that is standardizing Microsoft Office document formats is -- what will inform their judgement that the proposed Microsoft Office format standards will be the ones acceptable to institutions such as the United Nations (UN); and, hemispheric as well as worldwide financial institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank ( <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iadb.org" target="_newWindow">http://www.iadb.org</a> ) that adheres to certain principles and procedures -- ERR (techniques) that may now constitute limitations to the proposed Microsoft Office format standards besides these have yet to be submitted to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
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