The newswires are buzzing today with Microsoft XML action. So, what do you want from an XML-based standard, whether it’s about synchronization or spreadsheets? First, you want it to be stable. Second, you want it to be legally unencumbered, so anyone can use it in their software. These things are really essential. Less essential, but important: you’d like it to have community involvement, some sort of open process; and finally, you’d like it to be, you know, technically good. So let’s look at today’s headliners, SSE and MSFT Office XML. Stable? SSE at the moment is just something Ozzie and Winer are kicking around, but who knows? As for OfficeXML, yup, this move to ECMA/ISO will make it stable. Unencumbered? SSE’s Creative-Commons license looks pretty good to me. Today, Jean Paoli told Scoble that they’d be doing some sort of “covenant not to sue” over OfficeXML. This would be great news, and we hope that, unlike the current license, it’s GPL-friendly. This is real important, because neither ECMA nor ISO have problems with standardizing heavily-encumbered technology. Open, transparent processes? Well, er, not exactly a Microsoft strength. I honestly don’t know whether ECMA will provide for meaningful input, or whether the process’ outcome, as for example OASIS allows, is completely predetermined. You have to admire the chutzpah in pre-announcing that the ECMA and ISO processes will finish before Office 12 ships, if only by minutes, especially since one assumes that the idea is that Office 12 is going to comply with those standards. Remarkable process-management and software development skills are evidently involved. Finally, are these technologies actually any good? As for SSE, I don’t know a thing about synchronization and Ray Ozzie knows lots, so I’ll hold my peace. On the OfficeXML side I have lots of opinions, but the opinion that’ll matter is that of ISO JTC1 (I’d guess more specifically SC34), which will soon be dealing with two attempts to standardize a solution to the same problem. Should be fun to watch. Oh yes, and since we’re talking about standards, would MSDN please get a clue!?!?.