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Standards Council of Canada Seeks Comment on Open XML

The Standards Council of Canada has launched a public consultation on a proposal to adopt Office Open XML (Open XML) as an international open standard. Deadline for comment is July 5, 2007 (hat tip: Tobin Dalrymple).


  1. Open XML vs ODF
    Open XML is a primarily Microsoft backed format designed to compete with the Open Document Format, backed by IBM, Sun, Open Office et al. In many places, Open XML is not a complete specification: for example there is a “autoSpaceLikeWord95” parameter with no explanation of how exactly Word 95 auto spaces.

    Both formats have their supporters, detractors and shortcomings and advantages. Ultimately, any move towards an open, defined document format is a good one; however note that choosing a format does not necessarily free you from a vendor.

  2. Mr.
    Some background / criticism of the Microsoft format is at

    [ link ]


    [ link ]

    It’s a long read, but the upshot is that this format is rather useless.

    Microsoft realizes that it earns a lot of money from its Office package, but other free versions like Open Office ([ link ]) and KOffice ([ link ]) are going to cut into its profits. These alternatives conform to the Open Document Format (ttp://

    So Microsoft launched this rather feeble attempt at keeping its lock-down on how individuals, businesses and governments work with text documents. Sadly government officials are going along. Looks like corruption somewhere.

  3. Russell McOrmond says:

    One to Many…
    I have explained the differences between Open XML vs OpenDocument (ODF) this way: each is a one-to-many format.

    With ODF the idea is to have one definition for a given type of document (Word processor, presentation, spreadsheet, etc) and many implementations of tools that can manipulate them.

    With Open XML the idea is to have one implementation (Microsoft) and allow user to create many custom document types with specialized fields. In many ways, Open XML is really a configuration language for Microsoft Office, allowing you to better integrate third party application

    They solve entirely different types of problems, and are not interchangeable. In fact, I think the writeup on the SCC site is misleading as it talks about Open XML but gives a description that better describes OpenDocument.

  4. Dr. Geist,

    I’ve had a quick look at some of the comments which have been supplied to the SCC and I am afraid that many of them leave rather a bad impression of their authors. I wonder if you will be submitting a comment? Someone with your reputation and writing ability would make more of a positive impression than some of the submissions I saw there.

  5. ISO works by

    Comments on ballot documents to the SCC and onward to ISO MUST be of a technical nature.

    The basic rule in MPEG (TC1/SC29/WG11) is that it is not enough to say some part of a standard is weak, one must propose a better solution if one exist. I assume the rest of ISO operates similarly.

    The weaknesses outlined by are real but someone need to propose something better (ODF?)