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SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Microsoft announced Sept. 28 that Intel has joined it in an initiative to get its proposed Office Open XML format standard approved by an international standards body.

The Office Open XML format standard for documents—a more than 4,000-page, 6.7MB Microsoft Word document—is less of a standard and more of a detailed description of how Open XML could be used to display almost any Microsoft Office document.

The Open XML document format is aimed at improving SMB (small and midsize business) and enterprise-and-supplier collaboration in the IT industry, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., and Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash.—which have seen their products become de facto standards in sectors of the industry for years—are co-sponsoring the next-generation RosettaNet Automated Enablement program as part of the RosettaNet consortium, which is holding its global council summit this week in Santa Clara, Calif.

RosettaNet is a global standards-setting organization committed to finding better ways to achieve a globally integrated value network.

While Microsoft is proposing this as the better alternative to ODF (OpenDocument Format), Andrew “Andy” Updegrove, a partner with Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove LLP and the editor of, told eWEEK that the level is so high, that if Open XML becomes a standard, “only clones can be built, which is good for interoperability, but death to innovation.”

Click here to read more about an open-source project to create a series of tools that allow translation between the Open XML format and the ODF format.

“It can also be death to competition, since if [as in this case] the standard is based on an existing product, then no would-be competitor would ever expect to be able to catch up with the incumbent, much less compete on price,” Updegrove said.

ODF, a completely nonproprietary document format that has already been adopted by the state of Massachusetts and other organizations, became an international ISO standard last May.

Microsoft said Office Open XML is designed to capture text-based information and can repurpose and reuse the information from the XML format regardless of
platform. Standard invoicing, inventory and purchase order forms would be based in XML formats and easily utilized by all supplier companies, a spokesperson said.

Next Page: Finalizing Office Open XML spec.

The Ecma International Technical Committee is close to finalizing the Office Open XML specification, which has been developed in part to enable different solutions and software to meet the interoperability challenges represented by the RosettaNet.

Under the management of the open standards body Ecma International, the Open XML document formats are now being finalized as a worldwide standard by a group of companies led by Intel and Microsoft. The document format standard offers flexible support for integration of external XML information, which is critical to RosettaNet requirements.

“Microsoft is investing in the creation of interoperable technologies for the high-tech manufacturing industry that enable companies of all sizes to effectively collaborate across the global value chain,” said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer of Microsoft, at the company’s Global High-Tech Summit held here.

“The adoption of the Office Open XML standard will mean that manufacturing companies are able to use the 2007 Microsoft Office system not only as a document-authoring tool for information workers, but also as an effective supply chain platform for value-chain integration,” Turner said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that supply chain inadequacies waste $3.9 billion a year in the high-tech and electronics industry alone.

With roughly 15,000 suppliers, most of which are in the SME (small and midsize enterprise) segment, Intel itself would be a significant beneficiary of this next-generation standard.

Intel, which has been pushing channel-side standards for a long time, last year recorded more than $44 million in buy, sell and logistics value through its B2Bi (business-to-business integration) strategy and transacted more than $18 billion in standards-based RosettaNet transactions to its top 300 suppliers and customers, a company spokesperson said.

eWEEK Open Source Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols contributed to this story.

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