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Microsoft’s OOXML Faces New EU Challenge

The UK’s Office of Fair Trading has forwarded a complaint from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) to the European Commission, alleging that Microsoft’s Open Office XML (OOXML) document format limits competition in the marketplace and impedes file exchange between Microsoft’s Office 2007 and competing products. Moreover, BECTA alleges that the licensing terms Microsoft imposes on the use of its software in schools are anticompetitive.

The BECTA complaint has been filed in support of an ongoing EU antitrust investigation looking into interoperability between Microsoft software and competing products—an issue which has been a thorn in Microsoft’s side for about a decade, and was the subject of a 2004 EU antitrust ruling against the company. Microsoft has recently announced it plans to appeal the $1.4 billion penalty handed down by the European Commission for failing to live up to terms of the 2004 antitrust ruling.

For its part, Microsoft says that the OOXML format is all about interoperability, and was created specifically to enable products from multiple vendors to seamlessly exchange complex document types, and is more capable than the competing Open Document Format (ODF). After a contested process, OOXML was recently approved as an ISO standard

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