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As the March 29th voting deadline on OOXML approaches, Red Hat has announced its support of Open Document Format (ODF) instead of Office Open XML (OOXML). The Company released its official position statement on OOXML on Wednesday, March 5, 2008. The statement, hosted on Red Hat’s new Open Standards website, cites the desire for interoperability and the inadequacy of review as the Company’s primary reasons for opposing OOXML.

Red Hat supports ODF, an existing ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard, which was openly reviewed and developed by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) for nearly three years before it was submitted to ISO for approval. In contrast, ECMA, the European Computer Manufacturer’s Association, reviewed OOXML for only one year before it sought ISO standardization. Despite the short review period, ECMA produced over 6,000 pages of documentation for OOXML, compared to the 700 pages of ODF.

Regardless of the complexity of the specifications, it is thought that OOXML is not currently defined enough to be fully implementable by those without access to inside information. ECMA, for example, acknowledges that additional information is necessary for compatibility with legacy application settings, and promises that the information will be made available. While it’s helpful to acknowledge the limitations of OOXML, we think it is unfair to ask the nation bodies, as members of ISO, to approve an incomplete standard. Given the lack of interoperability and inadequate review, Red Hat is asking members of ISO to vote “No” to OOXML this month.

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