Microsoft Votes for Choice
May 16, 2007
Company backs the addition of ODF to American National Standards list.

REDMOND, Wash. — May 16, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that it has voted to support the addition of OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.0 to the nonexclusive American National Standards list. The vote took place as part of a process managed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

“We have listened to our customers, and they have told us they want choice, they want interoperability, they want innovation,” said Tom Robertson, general manager for Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft. “The American National Standards list does not include a number of document format standards in wide use today, such as PDF, .doc, RTF and HTML. The inclusion of ODF is just the beginning; we expect the list will grow in the future to reflect the choices customers already have in today’s marketplace.”

ANSI oversees the development of standards for products, services, processes and systems in the United States; through its InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) group, it also coordinates with international groups such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) so that American products can be used worldwide. Members of the INCITS executive board include Apple Inc., HP, IBM Corp., Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Oracle Corp. and Sony Corp.

Another new standard that the company anticipates will be approved for ANSI’s list is the recently ratified ECMA Open XML File Formats. Known in standards-body circles as ECMA-376, the new open standard is under review by ISO, with a final vote expected in late 2007 or early 2008 following a ballot vote in early September.

Open XML File Formats were standardized in ECMA with overwhelming support in December 2006. The ratification of the formats used in the 2007 Microsoft® Office software as an international standard is a boon to customers and governments that want the ability to pick the standard that meets their needs. Already customers and partners from dozens of countries have expressed their support for the new international standard. More information about customers and developers working with the ECMA-376 formats is available at http://www.openxmlcommunity.org and http://openxmldeveloper.org/default.aspx.

Microsoft has been diligent in its promotion of choice for governments and industries throughout the process and has undertaken a number of initiatives in that regard. Customers of the 2007 Microsoft Office system have the ability to work with various document formats, including ECMA-376, ODF, PDF and a wide range of other formats either natively or through free add-ins provided by Microsoft to its customers. More information about open source projects to develop translators between ECMA-376 and ODF 1.0 funded by Microsoft is available at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/jul06/07-06OpenSourceProjectPR.mspx.

The company also has been collaborating with a wide variety of industry leaders to help enable greater interoperability and wider choice for customers, including working with DIN, the German national standards body, and the Fraunhofer Institute on the creation of a technical report that will help developers who want to translate between the ECMA-376 formats and ODF 1.0 to support interoperability. Further details about the work of DIN and the Fraunhofer Institute are available at http://www.fokus.fraunhofer.de/fokus/fokus/presse/meldungen_fokus/2007/05/DIN-E.pdf.

A number of vendors, including Novell Inc. and DataViz Inc., have shipped versions of their own products that support the ECMA-376 formats, while others such as Corel Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. have announced plans to do so in the near future. As a result, customers using the Windows® operating system, Linux and Palm platforms will have the ability to choose not only the formats they prefer but also a wide variety of applications that support different existing standards.

More information about ANSI is available at http://www.ansi.org.

Further information about ODF can be found at http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=office.

Additional details about the ECMA-376 formats can be found at http://www.ecma-international.org/publications/standards/Ecma-376.htm.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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