NEW DELHI: India on Thursday gave Microsoft a thumbs-down in the war of standards for office documents. In a tense meeting at Delhi’s Manak Bhawan, the 21-member technical committee decided that India will vote a ‘no’ against Microsoft’s Open Office Extensible Mark Up Language (OOXML) standard at the International Standards Organisation (ISO) in Geneva on September 2.
“We unanimously agree on the disapproval of OOXML with comments. The same will be submitted to ISO,” National Informatics Centre head and BIS technical committee chairperson Nita Verma said after a marathon meeting that lasted over six hours. There was no need for a voting as only Infosys Technologies and CSI supported Microsoft.
The Open Document Format (ODF) alliance, enjoying widespread support from academia and corporates like Oracle, IBM, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, Google, were in a jubilant mood having succeeded in stalling OOXML from being accepted as a standard in India.
Microsoft said it respect’s the government’s decision. “There were only three options `Yes’, `No’ and `Abstain’ to be taken and we respect the government’s decision,” Microsoft’s legal affairs head Rakesh Bakshi said. He, however, added that India’s ‘No’ vote will become a ‘Yes’ if Microsoft is able to resolve all technical issues with OOXML before the ballot resolution committee of ISO.
Prof DB Phatak of IIT Mumbai, who was instrumental in conducting the meetings, looked relieved after being flooded with calls from both camps over the week.
Speaking to ET outside the BIS premises, the Microsoft camp complained that when ODF was being standardised by ISO, they did not oppose it and now the ODF camp refused to return the favour. ODF supporters said they would have no problems with OOXML if all the 200 technical issues were taken care of.
Amongst hectic lobbying from both camps, the US government on Thursday said that it will abstain from voting. China has already voted a ‘No’ against Microsoft, while Malaysia, Denmark and Switzerland are supporting the software major.
A global alliance of Sun-IBM, Oracle, Google, Red Hat have ganged up against Microsoft which is being supported by Apple, Quark, Accenture and Novell. On Indian soil, Infosys, HCL, Skelta, Sonata Software and Sify have come out in support of Microsoft.
September 2 is the last date to submit the vote with comments to ISO. About 123 counties are participating in the vote. Votes from most are still to come. Canada, Czech Republic, Iran, Japan, Libya, Cuba, New Zealand, UK are likely to back the IBM-Sun’s ODF Alliance. On the other hand, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Singapore, Korea, France and Australia are likely to abstain from voting.