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Tuesday, October 21 2014 @ 11:45 AM CDT

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OOXML is Approved [retitled]

OpenDocument and OOXML
Updated: 

1. I have now received confirmation from a second source that these results are accurate.
2. Microsoft has issued a press release announcing that OOXML "Appears to Win Approval" (text below)
3. (1:00 PM EDT) I have now received a copy of the ISO communication from a National Body source entitled to receive it, and can confirm the data below.
4.  Ecma's press release confirming approval is here

Open Malaysia has posted a final update of their vote registry, based upon an email from the OpenDoc Society to which is attached what they say are the final numbers on the OOXML vote.  The document looks authentic, and I should have an independent verification some time this morning.  You can see the final totals reflected in the Open Malaysia chart, which can be found here.  The summary in the document reads as follows:

 

        Result of voting

P-Members voting: 24 in favour out of 32 = 75 % (requirement >= 66.66%)

(P-Members having abstained are not counted in this vote.)

Member bodies voting: 10 negative votes out of 71 = 14 % (requirement <= 25%)

Approved

 
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OOXML Woes Continue as Norway Files Protest with ISO Relating to its Own Vote

OpenDocument and OOXML

Updated 4/1:  A press release has been issued by Standards Norge defending its decision.  An English translation of that press release is posted at Steve McGibbon's blog, and can be found here.  Geir Isene has posted a partial response here.

One of the things that most of us learn at our mother's knee is that you shouldn't rush things.  If you do, you'll make silly mistakes.  Mothers also tend to tell their children to play by the rules, but some apparently listen better than others to that advice as well.

The wisdom of the first truism was demonstrated most clearly during the Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva, although its effects had been evident throughout the entire Fast Track process.  In the latest evidence of the other truism, the first formal protest has been filed with ISO over a National Body vote.  The National Body in question is Norway, and the protest has been filed by...(wait for it)...Norway itself. 

How can all of this be true in a country like Norway?  Elections this flawed usually only occur in Florida.

The complete story has been developing at the blog of Geir Isene, who left a comment at my blog yesterday, pointing tohis account of what had transpired on Friday at a meeting of Standards Norge, the Norwegian Standards Intitute.  That entry read in part as follows:

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OOXML Vote Tracker and Calculation Guide

OpenDocument and OOXML
Updated:  (8:45 AM EDT 4/1):  OOXML has  been adopted

Updated:  (1:45 OM EDT 3/31):
Reuters has just reported that ISO will not announce the results of the OOXML vote until Wednesday April 2

Updated (3:30 PM EDT 3/29): 
Unless thus-far unannounced votes that were formerly "approve" or "abstain" switch to "disapprove," it appears that OOXML will be approved.  See details in the cumulative "updates" section below


Like many I'm sure, I'm trying to keep track of the votes on OOXML as they become known.  I've set up a spreadsheet where I'm recording votes as they become known, whether they are formal and confirmed, or coming to light from other sources, and therefore to a greater or lesser extent possibly not accurate, what the sources are, and any associated comments (mostly from Pamela's articles at Groklaw, the most recent of which is being updated with new votes as news comes in to her).  You'll find the most information about specific country voting there, and at several of her prior blog posts, including this one, this one, this one, and this one.

For the benefit of those that want to get a quick look throughout the weekend, I'll post the running tally here of which votes have switched, what the net change has been, now many votes have come to light, and how many remain to be announced.  It is likely that it will not be possible to know the final vote until all votes are in, due to the complicated, double test way in which the vote is counted, which is complicated by the fact that the final number of abstentions, and whether they move from "yes" or "no" votes, can decrease the number of votes that need to switch to "yes" votes. For that reason, I also include an explanation of how the omplicated two-part test for approval will be calculated.

You may also want to read my last blog entry, which discusses the impact (or non-impact) of a vote to approve OOXML, called The Future of ODF and OOXML.

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The Future of ODF and OOXML

OpenDocument and OOXML

Tomorrow is the last day that a National Body (NB) can change its vote on OOXML.  Only a few NBs have announced what they have decided, and of those, not enough have changed their votes to reverse the outcome of last summer, in which DIS 29500 (a/k/a OOXML) failed to gain approval.  It will not be until Monday that the final vote will be announced by ISO/IEC JTC1 (or become public through disclosure by an NB committee member, as the case may be).

Many journalists and others have asked me whether I have a prediction on what the outcome will be, and also what I think it will mean if OOXML is approved.  I don’t have an answer to the first question, as there are too many countries involved, and too much may change until the last minute.  But I do have an answer to the second question, and that answer is the same one that I have given every time that a new decision point has loomed in the ongoing quest for a useful format standard that can bring competition and innovation back to the desktop, as well as ensure that the history and creativity of today will remain accessible far into the future.

That answer is this:  if anyone had asked me to predict in August of 2005 (the date of the initial Massachusetts decision that set the ODF ball rolling) how far ODF might go and what impact it might have, I would never have guessed that it would have gone so far, and had such impact, in so short a period of time.  I think it’s safe to say that whatever happens with the OOXML vote is likely to have little true impact at all on the future success of ODF compliant products. 

Here are ten reasons why I believe this prediction will be borne out.

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In Close Vote, Germany Stays in the OOXML "Yes" Column as More Reports Dribble in - Updated

OpenDocument and OOXML

With fewer than 48 hours to go throughout most of the world, only a small percentage of the 87 countries that voted last summer on OOXML have announced whether they will stand by, or change, the votes that they cast during the original six month voting period.  To my knowledge, only one National Body (NB) has formally announced a change of vote thus far (Czechia has changed from "disapprove" to "approve").  Pamela Jones earlier today posted an informal report that Kenya, a P member, has switched its vote from "approve" to "abstain."  And Pamela also reported that Cuba has not only announced a "disapproval" vote, but that it's earlier vote to approve was incorrectly registered, placing it in a unique category of its own.  In yet another category can be found reports that a committee has recommended one action or another, but is not itself the committee that is able to make the final decision for the NB (the United Kingdom is an example).

All other reports, official and informal, of which I am aware are to the effect that the prior vote will stand, including the United States (approve), Brazil and India (both disapprove).  And I've now learned that Germany can be added to the "no change" category as well, although the vote was not only very close, but, as has become almost more the expected rather than the unusual, was also unique to the circumstances and decisions made within the NB committee about what options would be permitted in the vote. The following is the message that I received a few hours ago from a German expert that I know personally who sits on the relevant DIN (the German standards body) committee:

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The Fog of War and a Ray of Light

OpenDocument and OOXML

As regular readers will have noticed, I haven’t blogged in awhile.  This is in part because I’m on the road for most of six weeks, but also because the news about OOXML continues to be both more predictable as well as more intense.  At some point, the single events of the day become less individually meaningful, because they are simply part of the same fractal pattern that has replicated itself over and over since September of 2005, when Massachusetts adopted ODF, putting document standards on many powerful companies’ strategic maps.  Since then, that pattern has spread dramatically, engulfing more companies, affecting more National Bodies in more countries, and invoking more campaigning on both sides.  Only rarely is something now written or said that cuts through this fog of war.  A few days ago in South Africa, someone did just that, and that’s what I’ve written about today.

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What Just Happened? An OOXML BRM Resource Page

OpenDocument and OOXML

On February 29, about an hour after the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting closed, I posted this blog entry, based on information available at the time. Corrections were made over the next two days to take further information into account as it became available; those corrections are duly noted in the text. Due to the extent and energy of the debate that has erupted around the BRM, I turned that blog entry into an ongoing resource page, adding  first-hand accounts of many delegates to the BRM, the views of selected non-attendees, the text of public statements and press releases by ISO/IEC JTC1, Ecma, various National Bodies and other interested parties, and more. 

In order to make that material easier to use, I've now moved that material to this new entry, reorganized it, and added the Table of Contents immediately below (the original blog entry, as corrected, now stands alone at the original date of posting, with a forward link to this resource page). You can also view the many press articles that continue to be written as I add them to the News Picks column to the right, as well as hundreds of additional articles from the past several years about ODF and OOXML, by bookmarking . You can therefore stay current on further developments and statements relating to the BRM by bookmarking this blog entry.

My thanks to all of you that have pointed me to much of the data that appears below. Please continue to send me links to information as you find it or provide it, and I'll add it below. NOTE:  you must click through to the full text of this entry for some of the Table of Contents links to work

Table of Contents


I.    Updated Blog Entry - As posted on February 29

II.   Comments to Blog Entry - Includes an extensive exchange with BRM Convenor Alex Brown

III.  Daily Updates -  Supplemental notes on the materials as added

IV.  BRM Accounts by Delegates (interested and neutral) - Blog postings and interviews of delegates with their details and perspectives

V.   BRM Commentary by Others - Both interested and neutral; for press accounts, see the ODF/OOXML News folder

VI.  Public Statements and Press Releases - ISO/IEC JTC1, Ecma, National Bodies, and more

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Showdown in Geneva: Majority of Proposed Dispositions Fail to be Approved by a Majority

OpenDocument and OOXML
I have now created a very extensive, indexed BRM Resource Page to hold the many links, press releases, delegate statements and other material that were originally found here.  You can find that extra materials here.


A rather incredible week in Geneva has just ended, bringing to a close the Herculean task assumed by the over 100 delegates from 32 countries that attended the BRM.  That challenge, of course, was how to productively resolve the more than 1,100 comments (after elimination of duplicates) registered by the 87 National Bodies that voted last summer with respect to a specification that itself exceeded 6,000 pages. 

I have spent the week in Geneva, and have spoken with many delegates from many delegations on a daily basis.  Each believed that a body that purports to issue "global open standards" should not impose an obligation of secrecy on how the standards that people must live with are approved on their behalf.  It would be fair to say that, notwithstanding all of the charges and counter charges that have been made leading up to the BRM regarding how National Body votes were taken last summer, how delegations have been selected, and how they have been instructed to act and vote at the BRM, there has been a good faith effort by all to try to achieve a successful result.  The same appears to have held true within delegations, even those that contained representatives of the most opposed parties.

There are two ways in which you may hear the results of the BRM summarized by those that issue statements and press releases in the days to come.  Perhaps inevitably, they are diametrically opposed, as has so often happened in the ODF - OOXML saga to date.  Those results are as follows:

98.4% of the OOXML Proposed Dispositions were approved by a three to two majority at the BRM, validating OOXML

The OOXML Proposed Dispositions were overwhelmingly rejected by the delegations in attendance at the BRM, indicating the inability of OOXML to be adequately addressed within the "Fast Track" process

[Paragraph updated]  In this blog entry, I will explain why the following is the best characterization, and help you read the various press releases and statements that may be made with the benefit of the appropriate context:

Only a very small percentage of the proposed dispositions were discussed in detail, amended and approved by the delegations in attendance at the BRM, indicating the inability of OOXML to be adequately addressed within the "Fast Track" process
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Why the OOXML Vote Still Matters: A Proposal to Recognize the Need for “Civil ICT Standards”

OpenDocument and OOXML

This rather long essay is in one sense a reply to the open letter recently released by Patrick Durusau, in which he suggested that it was time to acknowledge progress made and adopt OOXML.  But it is also an explanation of why I have for the first time in my career become personally involved in supporting a standard.  The reason is that I believe that we are at a watershed in public standards policy, and that there is much more at stake than ODF and OOXML.  In this essay, I explain why I think we need to recognize the existence and vital importance of what I call “Civil ICT Standards,” and why more than simple technical compromises are needed to create them in order to protect our “Civil ICT Rights.”

 

As I write this entry, hundreds of people from around the world are converging on Geneva, Switzerland.  120 will meet behind closed doors to hold the final collaborative discussions that will determine whether OOXML will become an ISO/IEC standard.  When their work is complete, not everyone will be pleased with the changes agreed upon, but all will acknowledge that the specification that eventually emerges will be much improved from the version that was originally submitted to Ecma two years ago.

Most will also agree that Microsoft’s customers and independent software vendors (ISVs) will be far better off with OOXML publicly available than they would if Microsoft had not offered the specification up at all.

To reach this final draft, hundreds of standards professionals in many nations have spent a great deal of time and effort, including many at Microsoft.  And while Microsoft, working with Ecma, has not agreed to all of the changes that have been requested, my impression is that it has agreed to many that will, if implemented by Microsoft, require a substantial amount of work and technical compromise on its part.  

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Microsoft Makes Major "Openness" Announcement on Eve of BRM (Updated)

OpenDocument and OOXML

Microsoft has just made a major announcement relating to its core products and involving the degree and manner in which it will make the details of those products available to developers.  The importance of the announcement was underlined by those that were brought together for the press event at which the decisions were announced:  chief executive Steve Ballmer, chief software architect Ray Ozzie, senior vice president of the server and tools business Bob Muglia, and Brad Smith, the senior vice president and general counsel for legal and corporate affairs.

At first glance, this appears to be an important decision by Microsoft indicating a greater willingness to be both open and cooperative.  There are a number of promises in the announcement that I like, including the commitment to publish a great deal of material on the Web, as well as the freedom that will be offered to developers to take certain actions without the necessity of first obtaining a license.  However, I have not had the opportunity to read any of the supporting details, and those details will be extremely significant, especially as regards the open source community, where subtle differences in legal terms can permit use under some open source licenses, but not others.

Similarly, with respect to ODF, it will be important to see what kind of plug ins are made available,  how they may be deployed, and also how effective (or ineffective) those translators may be.  If they are not easy for individual Office users to install, or if their results are less than satisfactory, then this promise will sound hopeful but deliver little.  I am disappointed that the press release does not, as I read it, indicate that Microsoft will ship Office with a "save to" ODF option already installed.  This means that ODF will continue to be virtually the only important document format that Office will not support "out of the box."