The Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), a software rights advocacy group, has offered a EUR 2,500 prize to whoever can devise the best campaign against Microsoft’s attempts to seek standardisation for its Office file formats.

The FFII objects to the Redmond, Washington, software giant’s attempts to gain International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) approval for its Office OpenXML file format.

The Office OpenXML (OOXML) format is used in the most recent Office 2007 release, but some critics claim the format is “broken”.

Most notable criticisms include complaints OOXML does not work sufficiently well with the truly open OpenDocument format.

So FFII, a non-profit, has decided to make an award to the individual or team that makes the best effort in “helping the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) fight off Microsoft’s lobbying stands”.

“Microsoft is spending millions on rent-a-crowd support for international certification for its proprietary Office format, OOXML,” said FFII’s Benjamin Henrion.

“But we already have an ISO standard for word processing, called ODF (Open Document Format). OOXML is Microsoft’s attempt to subvert this existing standard, to keep its strangle-hold on the world of documents. It’s time for activists across the world to stand up, to reach out to their national ISO bodies, and to explain why Microsoft’s format is not open, not a standard, and not XML.”

The award is dubbed “Kayak” and can be bestowed upon the winner who participates in letter-writing, website building or any other well received advocacy effort. Deadline for entries is August 31.