Belgium and the Netherlands will not yet consider OOXML, Microsoft's format for electronic documents, it appears from comments by the Belgian Federal ICT advisory body Fedict and the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs.
Asked to comment on last week's ISO approval for OOXML, Fedict's chief IT architect, Peter Strickx, said: "There will have to be multiple implementations, in order for us not to become dependent on a single vendor. It will also have to be compatible with open standards that we already use, in this case Open Document Format ODF."
Strickx explained these are the rules for any new standard to be considered for the country's public services.
In March, Tom Peelen, a policy maker at the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs, said that ISO's approval for OOXML would not immediately make it a standard that can be used by Dutch public administrations. OOXML will have to be approved by a commission on government standards. To be considered, a new standard may for example not have any patent restrictions and must have been approved by an open process. These are not the only criteria used, Peelen later added. The commission, the 'Forum Standaardisatie', will also consider how it relates to standards it approved earlier, such as ODF, which the committee approved last year. Peelen, in March: "To us, ODF is an important standard".
The Belgian and Dutch comments are similar to a response from the German Foreign Ministry. Rolf Theodor Schuster, head of the ministry's IT department said the ministry will not consider OOXML unless there is an Open Source implementation that can be used without any restrictions, regardless of the platform.
OOMXL was approved as a standard by the International Organization for Standardisation ISO, in a fast-track procedure started by Ecma, an industry standards body.
Opponents of OOXML claim Microsoft has unfairly influenced the OOXML procedure at ISO. The European Commission has asked the standard committees in its member states to provide information on these allegations.
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