Microsoft’s OOXML Gets ISO Approval

Microsoft‘s contested Open Office XML (OOXML) document format has received fast-track approval by the International Standards Organization (ISO), with 75 percent of eligible participants voting to fast-track the standard, and only 14 percent voting against it. ISO will now proceed to publish OOXML as an international standard alongside the competing Open Document Format (ODF).

In theory, standardized documents format should offer a wide range of file interoperability between competing applications: someone could create a document in say, OpenOffice or Apple’s Pages, for instance, save it in a standard file format, and expect that document to be fully accessible in any other application supporting that format—perhaps including Microsoft Word.

Because of Microsoft Office’s dominate position in the productivity applications marketplace, OOXML is likely to become a de facto industry standard format with widespread support from other applications developers. Critics of OOXML’s approval point out that Microsoft has a poor track record of working with standards organizations or supporting international standards, and has frequently leveraged its position in the marketplace to stifle competition. However, OOXML has gained supporters even among proponents of the competing Open Document Format, who are hopeful Microsoft will fully participate in the standards process, and that the two formats may "co-evolve" and encourage greater interoperability.

As ever-increasing amounts of data are stored in digital document formats, organizations, governments, corporations, and individuals are increasingly concerned that important data could be locked away in proprietary file formats and eventually become inaccessible as companies and applications fade from the scene, and current information technology may not be able run older applications. Using an open document format, conversely, assures that new applications can be created to access information in the files, even if the programs used to create them are long-gone.

The ISO approval is a victory for Microsoft, which previously lost a bid to have OOXML approved for fast-track status amid charges the company attempted to manipulate the voting process. Microsoft denied it tried to manipulate the initial vote, and implied OOXML failed to get fast-track approval the first time solely because IBM worked against it.

ISO rules call for at least two thirds of eligible votes approve a standard for fast-track consideration, with no more than 25 percent voting against it. The voting process was open to to IEC and ISO members from 104 countries, including 41 that are members of the ISO/IEC JTC 1 information technology group.


Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…

Convert your PDFs into convenient Word documents with Adobe or a free option

PDF files are great, but few document types are as malleable as those specific to Microsoft Word. Here's how to convert a PDF file into a Word document, whether you prefer to use Adobe's software suite or a freemium alternative.
Product Review

What do you do with 187 megapixels? The Lumix S1R is glorious overkill

The Lumix S1R is one of the most capable cameras ever made, from its robust build to extensive feature set. But its key feature, a 187MP high resolution mode, is something few customers will have use for.

Get the best of both worlds by sharing your data on MacOS and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.

Microsoft’s Clippy came back from the dead, but didn’t last very long

Before Cortana, Alexa, and Siri even existed, Microsoft Clippy dominated the screens of computers in the 1990s to help assist Microsoft Office users when writing letters. He recently made a bit of a comeback only to die off again.

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…

Time to do taxes? Save up to 50 percent on H&R Block tax software this weekend

Tax season is stressful, and with new tax laws in effect this year, it's not a bad idea to get some help. H&R Block has you covered: For two days only, you can save 50 percent on its great software so you can file your taxes online and save…

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.

The new iMacs push on iMac Pro territory, but how much power do you really need?

With Apple refreshing the higher-end iMacs with newer processors and graphics cards, it moves closer to the iMac Pro. In this guide, we consider the performance, features, and help make sense of the differences between the two.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Protect your expensive new laptop with the best Macbook cases

If you recently picked up a new MacBook, you’ll want something to protect its gorgeous exterior. Here, we've gathered the best MacBook cases and covers, whether you're looking for style or protection.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.