Microsoft’s OOXML document format will be ISO standard
Since Saturday, the ballot boxes at the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) for the final vote on the fast track procedure for standardising Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) have been sealed. This time, if international observers are to be believed, following its narrow rejection in the first round in September 2007, Redmond’s controversial document format could clear the final hurdle to become an ISO standard. According to these observers, on the basis of results released so far Office Open XML has obtained significant new ‘Yes’ votes, while few countries are thought to have switched previous neutral or positive votes to a ‘No’ or abstention.
Standardisation experts are therefore anticipating that the 6000 page specification will now gain the two thirds majority of qualified ISO main members required. Furthermore, less than a quarter of all voting countries will have voted against. OOXML, which originated in Microsoft’s Office 2007 package, may thefore soon be proclaimed ISO Standard DIS 29500 despite the delay in announcing the result.
For the second round, the national standardisation bodies from the 87 countries that took part in the first vote were given the opportunity to change their votes following a week-long ballot resolution meeting in February. The Open Malaysia blog, which is critical of OOXML, provides a good overview of the changes reported so far. According to it, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway and South Korea have all switched from abstention or rejection to approval for Open XML.
Only Venezuela and Kenya have switched from approval to rejection. Countries including Azerbaijan, Germany, the Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, the Lebanon, Malta, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey and the USA remain OOXML approvers. Countries continuing to vote against include China, Ecuador, France, India, Iran, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa. Standards expert Andy Updegrove has provided comparable lists. If a similar trend is seen in the other voting nations, Microsoft can let the champagne corks pop. The first Microsoft bloggers are already in a celebratory mood.
Meanwhile there are many reports of irregularities in the voting process in ISO member states. According to a report on Groklaw, in the wake of Poland and Germany, Norway and Croatia are the latest targets for criticism from Microsoft competitors and proponents of open source. It is alleged that only two parties voted for OOXML at the Norwegian standardisation organisation, with 21 against. Despite this, the result was a ‘Yes’ to the Microsoft format. Opponents of the decision are demanding a formal investigation into the process.
According to The register a formal announcement from ISO was expected today (1st April) but this has been postponed until tomorrow.
(Stefan Krempl) /