Microsoft intends to submit file formats for its new Office 12 applications to the European standards body ECMA International. The company hopes this will allay concern about its level of control over document formats.
Microsoft, which dominates the market for desktop productivity software, plans to provide the specifications of Office 12 file formats to ECMA early next month. The technical committee is also being sponsored by Intel, Apple Computer, NextPage and some European customers, including British Petroleum and the British Library.
The creation of a fully documented standard submission derived from the formats, called Microsoft Office Open XML, will likely take about a year, Microsoft executives said. Once Microsoft Office Open XML is recognized as an ECMA standard, the group of companies then intends to pursue standardization at ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, which is particularly influential among government customers.
As part of its standardization effort, Microsoft will change the license in order to remove “virtually all the barriers” for developers working with the file formats.