Updated (twice): 9:30 AM and 2:30 PM
Last night, I projected that the OOXML vote in ISO/IEC JTC1 would fail (the New York Times predicted the opposite). I have now seen the official vote tally, and confirmed that the vote failed both tests for approval (details are included at the end of this blog entry). The official ISO announcement is here.
Microsoft issued a press release early this morning, seeking to put the best face on the OOXML in advance of the official announcement by ISO. The release is titled Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process, and subtitled, "Significant participation by National Bodies in ISO/IEC ratification process for Open XML; final decision expected in March 2008 at close of ballot resolution period."
The release focuses on the degree of participation (51 National Bodies), and level of "support" (74% of all qualified votes, without differentiating between P and O countries). It also refers to this level of support at "this preliminary stage of the process," and compares it "favorably" to the number of countries participating in the votes to consider ODF and PDF, but without mentioning percentage levels of support: the OpenDocument Format received a total of 31 votes - all to approve. Moreover, there were so few comments offered along with those votes that no Ballot Resolution Meeting was required.
The Microsoft press release tries to draw good news from the level of participation in the OOXML vote, stating perhaps more accurately than intended (out of 41 P members, 24 voted either against approval, or abstained) as follows:
This widespread participation and support is consistent with the rapid adoption of the Ecma Office Open XML file formats across multiple platforms and products from a wide range of IT vendors (including Apple, Novell, Corel, Sun, Microsoft, Java developers and Linux distributors), creating real value for IT users around the globe.
More tellingly, the cornerstone quote from Microsoft's Tom Robertson reads in part as follows,surely placing it in the running for winner of the "Pony in the Pile" award for today:
This preliminary vote is a milestone for the widespread adoption of the Open XML formats around the world for the benefit of millions of customers. Given how encouraging today's results were, we believe that the final tally in early 2008 will result in the ratification of Open XML as an ISO standard.
The actual numbers for the final tally are now what you could rightly call "encouraging." All 41 P members voted, with the following breakdown: 17 yes, 15 no, and 9 abstain. Or, as the ISO press release more neutrally described the result:
Approval requires at least 2/3 (i.e. 66.66 %) of the votes cast by national bodies participating in ISO/IEC JTC 1 to be positive; and no more than 1/4 (i.e. 25 %) of the total number of national body votes cast negative. Neither of these criteria were achieved, with 53 % of votes cast by national bodies participating in ISO/IEC JTC 1 being positive and 26 % of national votes cast being negative.
Rather incredibly, some early articles in the press are buying the Microsoft press release at face value. Here is an article at PCPro, by Simon Aughton, which reads in part as follows:
The ISO has given preliminary backing to Office Open XML. A large majority of the international standards body voted to support ratification of Microsoft's file format. Although the "yes" vote was short of the required majority, many of the members who voted no, including the UK, indicated they would approve OOXML as a standard once some technical issues have been addressed. Microsoft was naturally delighted with the result and welcomed the "invaluable technical comments designed to improve the specification"....The NoOOXML campaign, which had predicted a "no" vote, has yet to respond.
Although I have described the next steps in the past, it is interesting to see them described from an authoritative source, in this case, the ISO press release:
Comments that accompanied the votes will be discussed at a ballot resolution meeting (BRM) to be organized by the relevant subcommittee of ISO/IEC JTC 1 (SC 34, Document description and processing languages) in February 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The objective of the meeting will be to review and seek consensus on possible modifications to the document in light of the comments received along with the votes. If the proposed modifications are such that national bodies then wish to withdraw their negative votes, and the above acceptance criteria are then met, the standard may proceed to publication.
Otherwise, the proposal will have failed and this fast-track procedure will be terminated. This would not preclude subsequent re-submission under the normal ISO/IEC standards development rules.
Finally, recall that I have consistently predicted that the vast majority of the O members that upgraded to P membership would vote in favor of approval, presumably inspired to do so at the urging of Microsoft. That expectation has been confirmed, although the motivation must continue to be inferred from the results, which are as follows: of the 11 upgrades, 9 voted to approve, or approve with comments, and only one voted against approval (Ecuador; Trinidad and Tobago abstained).
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Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process
Significant participation by National Bodies in ISO/IEC ratification process for Open XML; final decision expected in March 2008 at close of ballot resolution period.
September 04, 2007: 06:31 AM EST
REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released the results of the preliminary ballot to participating National Body members for the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Ecma 376 Office Open XML file formats) ratification process. The results show that 51 ISO members, representing 74 percent of all qualified votes, stated their support for ratification of Open XML. Along with their votes, the National Bodies also provided invaluable technical comments designed to improve the specification. Many of the remaining ISO members stated that they will support Open XML after their comments are addressed during the final phase of the process, which is expected to close in March 2008.
With at least 87 countries taking part in some way, the Open XML review represents an unprecedented level of participation in the standardization of a document format. Fifty-one ISO members voicing support at this preliminary stage of the process compares favorably with the 32 ISO members supporting Open Document Format (ODF) 1.0 at the end of its process and the 15 ISO members supporting PDF/A-1 at the end of its process. This widespread participation and support is consistent with the rapid adoption of the Ecma Office Open XML file formats across multiple platforms and products from a wide range of IT vendors (including Apple, Novell, Corel, Sun, Microsoft, Java developers and Linux distributors), creating real value for IT users around the globe.
"We are extremely delighted to see that 51 ISO members, representing 74 percent of the qualified votes, have already voiced their support for ISO ratification of Open XML, and that many others have indicated they will support ratification once their comments are resolved in the next phase of the ISO process," said Tom Robertson, general manager for Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft Corp. "This preliminary vote is a milestone for the widespread adoption of the Open XML formats around the world for the benefit of millions of customers. Given how encouraging today's results were, we believe that the final tally in early 2008 will result in the ratification of Open XML as an ISO standard."
Technical Input Will Enhance the Standard
Today's results represent the beginning of the third phase of the ISO/IEC process, called "ballot resolution," during which time Ecma International will respond to all comments that have been submitted by ISO National Bodies and provide them with a final opportunity to voice their support.
"Technical experts around the world have provided invaluable feedback and technical recommendations for evolving the format," Robertson said. "The high quality of the Open XML format will be improved as a result of this process, and we take seriously our role in working within the Ecma technical committee to address the comments received. We believe that the ISO National Bodies will be pleased with the results."
The ISO/IEC process is also designed to create maximum opportunities for ISO members to move from "no" to "yes" in this final phase, and we fully expect the total number of supporting votes to grow. "The objective of the standardization process, whether with Ecma International, ISO/IEC or another standards body, is ultimately to refine a specification and achieve a positive consensus around its formal adoption for the benefit of the entire industry," said Hugo Lueders, group director of EU Public Policy for the Computer Industry Technology Association. "Given the remarkable level of participation from the global standards community, the results from this preliminary ballot are very encouraging."
Although no date has been formally set, the final tally is likely to take place in March 2008. ISO/IEC requires that at least 75 percent of all "yes" or "no" votes (qualified votes) and at least two-thirds of "P" members that vote "yes" or "no" support ratification of a format in the Fast Track process. More information about the ISO/IEC JTC-1 process and its participants is available at http://www.iso.org/iso/standards_development/processes_and_procedures/iso_iec_ directives_and_iso_supplement.htm.
Widespread Support for Open XML
The Ecma Office Open XML file formats are being rapidly adopted across multiple platforms and products from a wide range of IT vendors, creating real value for IT users around the globe. Thousands of companies from 67 countries on six continents have raised their voices in support of Open XML and its ratification by ISO/IEC at http://www.openxmlcommunity.org. As well, the open standard has also been gaining broad adoption across the software industry for use on a variety of platforms - including Linux, Windows(R), Mac OS and the Palm OS. Independent software vendors (ISVs) and platform providers around the world - such as Apple, Corel, Sun, Microsoft and Novell - are developing solutions using Open XML. Many developers working with the formats are active contributors to http://www.openxmldeveloper.org.
Those working with Open XML can attest to the benefits of this open file format in the areas of file and data management, data recovery, interoperability with line-of-business systems, and the long-term preservation of documents. Open XML is optimized for the level of precision and detail that facilitates carrying forward billions of existing files. As well, Open XML file formats are uniquely capable of integrating other types of systems and data with Open XML documents, while maintaining a clean, simple separation of presentation (Open XML markup) and data (custom schemas and instances thereof). This means that organizations can use Open XML formats to report information from other applications and systems without having to translate it first, which is a key innovation for developers seeking to incorporate real- time business information into their documents, or those who seek to "tag" documents with their own categorization system to improve their understanding of its contents.
Commitment to Interoperability
The Open XML Translator (http://www.sourceforge.net/projects/odf- converter) is one among many interoperability projects Microsoft has undertaken. We continue to work with customers and others in the industry to address the critical interoperability issues of our customers through the delivery of products that are interoperable by design, collaboration on interoperability projects, providing access to interoperability technologies, and standardization. Other evidence of collaboration includes our technical collaborations with AOL LLC and Yahoo! Inc. for instant messaging interoperability, the broad collaboration with Novell on virtualization, document formats and intellectual property, and the creation of the Interoperability Vendor Alliance. More information is available at http://www.microsoft.com/interop.
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