Friday, March 21, 2008

India says NO to Microsoft OOXML

India has decided to vote against Microsoft's OOXML file format being accepted as an ISO standard in the meeting of the committee convened by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Out of 19 members of the BIS committee, five did not attend the meeting, five voted in favour of OOXML and the rest (eight) voted against.

It is interesting to note that those who voted in favour of accepting OOXML as a standard were Wipro, TCS, Infosys, NASSCOM and, of course, Microsoft itself. As Anivar Aravind asks, "Did these companies vote purely in favour of their economic interests and against the national interest?" It appears to be that way. Thus the Open Document Format (ODF), a format that is already an ISO standard, will remain the only approved document format for India. BIS had earlier voted "No" with comments, and the present decision confirms this. For approval as ISO standard, at least two-thirds of the participating members (of which India is one) should vote "Yes" and only less than one-fourth of the total members should say "No". At present, only 53% of participating members have said "Yes" and 26% of all members have said "No", as per the report here. This means that OOXML cannot become an ISO standard. Hurray!

Congratulations to Prof. G. Nagarjuna (Chairperson, Free Software Foundation of India and Professor at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, Mumbai), Venkatesh Hariharan of RedHat India, and others who worked hard to prevent a proprietary standard from being made an ISO standard.