MS Open Office format fails to get BIS backing

Written by Vrishti Beniwal | New Delhi, Aug 23 | Updated: Aug 24 2007, 06:11am hrs
Ending the five-month long suspense, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on Thursday recommended against making Microsofts Open Office XML format the national standard documentation platform for all PCs.

This means the Open Document Format (ODF) backed globally by Sun and IBM will continue as the only standard for the country. The BIS recommendation, which will now be sent to the International Standards Organisation (ISO), is based on the views and votes of members including IT companies, institutions and academic institutes. Earlier in the day, the resolution on the issue was proposed by IIT Mumbai and, to everybodys surprise, there was a unanimous decision to disapprove the OOXML format in the national interest.

India is one of the 32 countries that had to take a call on Microsofts OOXML format, which the company developed as an alternative to the Sun and IBM standard to run the usual office programmes. The format needs two-third votes to be recognised as an ISO standard. If it still manages to become an ISO standard, India will then have to decide whether to adopt the Microsoft platform as an additional national standard or continue with the already approved Open Document Format (ODF).

ODF has gone through a six-year review process before finally becoming a standard approved by the ISO. The OOXML proposal duplicates this standard, said Nandu Pradhan, president and MD, Red Hat, one of the proponents of ODF. According to proponents of open source, the direct cost implications of adopting OOXML could have been around $700 million, while the overall impact could have been around $1.4 billion. No Microsoft spokesperson could be reached for comment.