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Latest INCITS Voting Results on OOXML; JTC1 Vote Begins to be Stacked

OpenDocument and OOXML

As you will recall, the Executive Board (EB) of INCITS, the US voting body on OOXML in the ISO/IEC JTC1, posted two simultaneous, seven day written ballots - one to approve, with comments, and one to abstain, again with comments.  The votes have now been received back. and are as follows:

  • Abstain, with comments:  Unanimous
  • Approve, with comments:  12 for, 3 against, 1 abstaining (six with appended comments).  The full results of this vote are here.

While the votes to approve are sufficient and that may well be the final result, the game is not necessarily over yet, as members will be free to change their votes at the August 29 if they so desire.  The EB members that switched their votes in this ballot were NIST, the Department of Defense, and GS1 (Lexmark had switched from "No" to "yes" in a straw vote held at the last in-person resolution meeting).

The government decided to vote together, and to follow NIST (Homeland Security had voted in favor of approval in the previous ballot), so DoD fell in line as well.  NIST, you may recall, is an agency of the Department of Commerce (as I reported Steve Ballmer personally called the Secretary of the DOC to urge this result).  GS1is a technical association.

Meanwhile, the votes around the world are beginning to come in, some (such as Germany) going with OOXML, and some (such as India) going against and announcing that fact, others voting against, and holding off on announcing their votes until September 2.  I know of several countries in this category.  When they are announced, I expect that the US is going to feel rather foolish, in comparison to its peer group if it decides to approve.

You may also recall from my prior post that I had said that I had had word that there was a sudden spate of countries suddenly, and at the last minute, deciding that they wanted to become "P" members of JTC1.  At that time there were two new additions - now their are six.  The recent arrivals are: Cyprus, Ecuador, Pakistan, Trinidad/Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.  I would be willing to put money on whether they will vote for OOXML, and which way they will vote.

So there we are for this Friday afternoon.  With many long-standing players voting against OOXML, but many hitherto-uninvolved countries sudenly deciding, at the last minute and before they can receive any input from informed sources, to become qualified to vote, we will just have to see how this vote turns out on September, after the vendors use "all tools at their (their?) disposal."

 

For further blog entries on ODF and OOXML, click here

 

 

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Comments

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...is a tree.  The country's name is "Cyprus".

[Nit picked, sorry about that, keep up the good reporting]

Right you are, of course, and thanks for the correction.

I'm afraid that my head, as well as my heart, is more in my nature writing right now.

  - Andy

ISO has not yet been compromised, I think. The voting procedures
for ISO members have been abused, but there is still hope that
ISO actually recognizes that problem and acts on it. Let's see what
happens after Sept 2, when the votes are in and ISO has the
initiative again.

That's an accurate statement.  The ISO/IEC rules are set up to encourage participation by as many countries as possible, to get the best result and to be sure that standards under consideration work for everyone as well as possible.  What the rules don't do very well is to guard against abuse. 

In other words, its a system that's predicated on good faith, maximizing the right to participate.  If you wanted to guard against abuse (say, by having a six month delay before you could vote after upgrading, or by saying that you could vote only on standards that haven't yet gotten into the approval process), you'd not only keep nations out with a genuine interest, but all you'd really accomplish would be to make those that wanted to abuse the system have to begin the process sooner.

What's an obvious shame, therefore, is when on rare occasions someone does want to game the system, then the system loses credibility, and may be forced to make rule changes to curb game playing that are possibly bad for the system as a whole.

But that's what perhaps will need to happen when one very powerful company decides to use "all tools at their disposal within the rules."  And that's a shame.

  -  Andy

I believe we have seen enough of the shenanigan that warrants letting ISO know about the enormous displeasure of the industry with how the process is proceeding. Better now than it is too late.

Obviously, the honor system is being taken advantage of, and concrete measures need to be taken now to fix the situation before it is too late, if it isn't already.