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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What to know about OOXML

Market Intelligence:

Like in the April general elections, Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector would today, Wednesday, August 29, 2007, assemble at the headquarters of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in Lekki-Lagos State, to decide on whether or not Nigeria should adopt the controversial DIS 29500 ‘Office Open Extensible Markup Language (OOXML).’

OOXML is a standard being proposed by software giant, Microsoft Corporation seeking the certification of the International Standards Organisation (ISO), even as Sunday, September 2, 2007, has been scheduled as the final global voting day on the subject by ISO.

Before now, countries of the world and members of ISO have the opportunity of picking a date before the main global voting session to reach a consensus on the matter on whether or otherwise OOXML should be given or accepted as a global standard for document format.

However, experts have been raising dust of the implication of endorsing such a format in spite of the efforts at various levels of the globe to further close the digital divide.

The opposition to the OOXML endorsement being led by the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) argued that OOXML has many flaws disqualifying it from being globally applicable and acceptable, especially by ISO.

XML is a programmable code initiative by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which permits information and services to be encoded with meaningful structure and semantics, which computers and humans could understand.

Software experts described XML as a great formula for information exchange, and easily extendable to include user-specified and industry-specified tags.

United States, South Africa, Kenya, Spain and others, for instance, have already taken a stand by saying ‘No’ to the adoption of OOXML as a global standard.

Champion Infotel investigations revealed that if adopted, it is only those that own Microsoft Office 2007 could benefit from the document format.

“If you use any Office apart from 2007 edition, you first have to upgrade. I cannot understand why norms cannot be used unless certain proprietary changes had to be made,” one advocate told Champion Infotel.

It was also gathered that there would be no implication of voting ‘No’ to OOXML, mostly since some countries have began migration of their operating systems to Open Document Formats (ODF) as an alternative file format, including South Africa.

“Office Open XML’ (OOXML) does not meet the criteria defined by ISO and others for an International Standard, adding that OOXML is an immature documentation of one vendor’s proprietary document format, which depends on software patents held by this vendor,” our source declared.

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