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OOXML Fails to Gain Approval in US

On Friday July 13th, INCITS V1 met via teleconference for 3 hours but failed to reach a 2/3 consensus necessary to recommend an “Approval, with comments” position on Microsoft “Office Open XML” (OOXML) document specification.

V1 is a Technical Committee of INCITS, an industry forum accredited by ANSI for recommending the US position on ISO/IEC JTC1 ballots. On April 2nd the INCITS Executive Board asked V1 “to coordinate and develop the U.S. recommended position” on OOXML and to return this recommendation by July 17th. After several meetings, including a two-day face-to-face meeting in Washington, DC in late June, and the recording of over 300 member-submitted comments, V1 voted last Friday.

The initial motion of “Approval, with comments” failed by two votes to receive the 2/3 necessary to pass the motion. Further motions of “Disapproval, with comments” and “Abstention, with comments” also failed. (“Disapproval, with comments” is also sometimes called “Conditional Approval” since it signals that the committee would change its vote to Approval if the concerns raised in the comments were addressed in a revised version of the submission). The result is that V1 will report out a large list of technical comments for consideration by INCITS, but will not report a consensus position on this controversial ISO “Fast Track” submission.

An important factor in the V1 vote was the large number of members who joined very late in the process. At the start of the year, V1 had only 7 voting members. But by Friday’s meeting V1 had 26 voting members. There was a clear pattern in the voting where the long-time V1 members voted for the “Disapproval, with comments” position as well as “Abstention, with comments” while the newer members voted overwhelmingly “Yes, with comments” and against “Abstention with comments.” This is not surprising since the new members were largely Microsoft business partners.

The following chart makes this trend clear. As you can see, at the start of the year, V1’s membership consisted of seven organizations, six of whom on Friday voted “Disapproval, with comments”, and one (Microsoft) who voted “Approval, with comments”. The membership spurt came at the very end, in the last month, when 16 new members joined V1. Of these 16 new members, 14 of them voted, “Approval, with comments” on Friday.

Note that this is not the final step in developing the US position on OOXML. The next step will be for the INCITS Executive Board to review the comments V1 has generated, and then to determine the US position via a 30-day letter ballot. That, followed by a possible 10-day reconsideration ballot, will take us to the September 2nd deadline for this JTC1 ballot. It is typical practice for INCITS to follow the recommendations of its technical committees. But since the committee of technical experts in V1 was not able to develop a consensus recommendation, it is not clear how the INCITS Executive Board will now make their decision.



So it is perfectly clear to all, the above represents my views, observations and opinions. It does not represent an official report of V1’s position, nor necessary reflect the views of INCITS staff and officers or other V1 members. Of course, I was on the call, I voted, and I have the meeting minutes in front of me. This isn’t exactly rocket science. But I’m adding this disclaimer so there is no room for confusion on this point.


It has been brought to my attention that the “Approval, with comments” ballot failed by two votes, not by one. This was a mathematical error on my part. I’ve corrected the post accordingly.

{ 37 comments… add one }
  • camc 2007/07/15, 9:52 pm

    Could we have, or at least have some pointers to, how each of the 27 members voted and when they joined?

    I remember that when the United Nations was organized just after World War Two, that the Soviet Union insisted that each of its constituent republics have a separate vote in the general assembly. If Microsoft is trying similarly to pack the ballot box with its loyal comrades, doesn’t that make them Communists who need to be stamped out?

  • Anonymous 2007/07/15, 10:06 pm

    Hopefully the executive cannot be bought as easily as the committee was stacked!

  • Anonymous 2007/07/15, 10:33 pm

    Is ti really suprising? A bunch of new members trying to help Microsoft get its’ way on an inferior standard, that is not really open.

  • Anonymous 2007/07/15, 11:02 pm

    Please indicate how we see the identities of the new v1 membership…, how to join, and “qualification” requirements – thanks, –tce

  • Roy Schestowitz 2007/07/15, 11:48 pm


    Your headline sounded very encouraging, but I fear that in reality, surprises come when/where you least expect them. Consider the ISO for example.

    “…P member countries (‘participating member’ countries) sending representatives, and I am interested to note the majority of their representatives are, as individuals, also Microsoft employees.”

    Source: http://lnxwalt.wordpress.com/2007/03/23/packing-the-court-at-the-iso/

    Also see the following antitrust exhibit which reveals methods for manipulating panels’ decisions.

    Source: http://antitrust.slated.org/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/3000/PX03096.pdf

    “Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our [Microsoft] technology is a key evangelism function. “Independent” analysts’ reports should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent consultants should write articles, give conference presentations, moderate stacked panels on our behalf, and set themselves up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour. “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and granted research money).”

    From Mark E. Smith’s comments:

    “The document admitted into evidence also says, “The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator,” and explains how to find “pliable” moderators–those who will sell out.

    It is all a big money game. Most activists in any field know of countless “hearings,” in which hundreds of citizens would testify before a panel, only to be ignored in favor of two or three industry “experts.” When a
    panel is chosen, the outcome seems to be a foregone conclusion. As with elections, they don’t leave anything to chance.”

    I would like to believe that you are right, but I don’t hold my breath or keep my hopes high. Not in America anyway. Nobody believed ISO would fast-track OOXML, but it did.

  • billposer 2007/07/16, 1:13 am

    I am stunned that organizations are allowed to join a technical committee at the last minute so as to influence the vote on a particular issue. This invites committee-packing, which is precisely what happened in this case.

  • Anonymous 2007/07/16, 1:19 am

    Numbers don’t add up.

    You say started with 7, added 16 (=23), but state 26 members.

  • Anonymous 2007/07/16, 1:51 am

    So how many partners does Microsoft need to have join to win their way in this ballot? Another 5 or so?

    Also, if that many more people join while they’re working on their position, will they get a vote, too? In other words, is it too late for Microsoft to stuff the ballot box with a few more votes before a consensus is reached?

  • Anonymous 2007/07/16, 4:32 am

    The “Voices for Innovation” currupt the functioning of the standards system…

  • Nick Demou 2007/07/16, 4:56 am

    The article mentions:
    > […] the new members
    > were largely Microsoft business partners.

    it would be very interesting to know who were those new members and what we know about their connection with Microsoft.

  • Rob 2007/07/16, 8:00 am

    A response to a few comments–

    First, someone noted that the “numbers don’t add up”, that we started with 7 and added 16 which gives 23, so why did I say the final membership was 26? Actually, what I said was that 16 joined in the last month. But there were a small number of others who joined earlier in the year, as you can see from the chart.

    Second, we should all be aware that it is not necessary to assume bad will, or even coordination on the part of the new members. All that is necessary is that some asymmetrical force selected them for their pro-OOXML predispositions and then that these companies then acted honestly and expressed their preferences.

    An analogy — suppose you are doing a survey of American political opinion and you form a focus group. You then have someone go out and round up a set of volunteers who are 2/3 Republicans. You don’t need to say anything bad about these Republicans, or presume any bad will on their part, but still you can observe that the focus group is not going to give a balanced view.

    As I’ve said before, it is important for all stakeholders to be represented in the standards process. No doubt Microsoft business partners are among the stakeholders and should be represented. However, there is something disproportionate about them comprising 2/3 of the committee.

    There was a question on qualifications for being a member of V1. The qualifications for voting rights are that you must be a US domiciled organization, pay an $800 membership fee and attend two consecutive meetings.

  • marc 2007/07/16, 8:27 am

    (note: this comment belongs to a jellife’s post, i post it here because is relevant to this discussion:)

    at July 10, 2007 02:48 PM Doug Mahugh said:

    >And the implication that we’re rubber-stamping comments doesn’t hold up.
    >There’s a long list of comments we all agreed are reasonable and useful changes/improvements
    >to the spec. Yes, we’ve not submitted comments, but we already have more comments from IBM
    >than we can possibly process in the allotted time.

    I stand by my statement: 0 (zero) [1] comments/critics/improvements raised by this people. They are rushing the standard, don’t reviewing it.

    The following are some of the voting members of Incits-V1 committee reviewing OOXML ( they represent more than 50% of the total members ), see how vendor-neutral they are:

    1. 3Sharp -> Microsoft gold partner, mentioned in [2], front page says “3Sharp is a key contributor to Microsoft’s new Data Encryption Toolkit”

    2. Advaiya -> 7 ocurrences of “Microsoft” in front page

    3. BP -> ECMA TC-45 (OOXML) member

    4. Microsoft -> the OOXML creator

    5. Mimosa Systems -> Microsoft gold certified, flagship product is “Mimosa NearPoint for Microsoft Exchange Server”

    6. NextPage -> Microsoft certified partner

    7. Peters & Associates -> Microsoft gold partner, 10 ocurrences of “Microsoft” in front page

    8. Reality Mobile -> flagship product transmit real-time video and geospatial coordinates WHAT THIS HAVE TO DO WITH OFFICE DOCUMENT STANDARDS????

    9. Xinnovation -> Microsoft gold certified , flagship product built around Microsoft Office software

    10. mindjet: Microsoft Gold Certified Partner -> flagship product supports Office 2007

    11. z5 technologies, one of flagship products runs XP with MS Office, mentioned in [2]

    [1] http://www.ibiblio.org/bosak/v1mail/200706/2007Jun30-173123.eml, file “v1 comments.pdf”

    [2] http://blogs.msdn.com/dmahugh/archive/2007/07/09/open-xml-solution-demonstration-at-wpc.aspx

  • Marbux 2007/07/16, 6:08 pm

    Rob, plus 1 on your comment caution against accusing members of corruption and having been selected/funded because of their predispositions.

    This is precisely the problem faced over and over again with the federal judiciary, where all judges are appointed. It is not that judges are corrupt, instances of federal judges being found corrupt are almost unheard of. The problem is that judges are selected because of their pre-existing biases. Witness the debate over appoint of Supreme Court justices in regard to the abortion issue.

    The real issues here, as I see them, are:

    [i] My legal research says there is no legal authorization for INCITS to be formulating the position of the U.S. government, despite the Memorandum of Understanding between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and ANSI/INCITS.

    Indeed, I can find no statute where Congress even granted NIST the authority to proclaim the U.S. position on internatonal standards, so by default the authority falls to the State Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

    Legally, the decision must be made by a federal agency head or cabinet level official, after giving official notice and soliciting public comment. The formulation of federal substantive positions is non-delegable to private entities. This is a simple matter of constitutional law and the federal Administrative Procedures Act.

    [ii] It is the ANSI/INCITS process and procedures that are corrupt, not its TC members. Charging $800 to have a voice in formulating an official U.S. government position on a matter that imposes legal obligations on all all levels of the U.S. government is anti-democratic and outrageous. And the duty on government thus imposed is well explained in the international Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and the Agreement on Government Procurement.

    Letters to Congress Critters complaining about NIST’s improper delegation of governmental functions to an industry consortium would likely be far more effective than buying into the practice of responding to the illegal stuffing of the ballot box by a countering effort to outdo the other side in the illegal stuffing.

    Asking elected federal representatives and senators to explain how NIST acquired the legal authority to represent the U.S. government at ISO and how it legally acquired the right to delegate such authority to an industry consortium (both clearly set out in the memorandum of understanding) asks the right questions AND will result in massive pressure on NIST to intervene. That is because the Congress critters will forward those letters/emails to NIST for response and NIST folk know who writes the checks for their salaries and programs. I speak from long experience here.

    Allowing people with vested financial interests to cast ballots on federal government decisions also violates federal conflict of interest laws.

    And the fact that INCITS is allowing its decisions to be made by those with a financial interest is all the justification for such letters/emails that is needed. And I am working on contacting my elected federal officials in that regard.

    INCITS lacks the legal authority to do what it is doing. That memorandum of understanding is not worth the bits it takes to load it into a browser. That is my opinion as a retired lawyer who has thoroughly researched the legal issues and has a tremendous amount of experience in lobbying government issues from the public interest side.

    My 2 cents.

  • Queen Elizabeth 2007/07/16, 7:35 pm

    A couple thoughts, Rob:

    Why don’t you plot the frequency of your posts alongside the accession of new members to V1? Or perhaps the number of comments they have elicited?

    Another possibility besides Microsoft nudging and paying its partners to join is that that it has been dawning on the latter that it is in their self-interest to join.

    Web sites like yours have drawn enormous attention to the issue–and not only on the part of ODFies. You and others have expanded the conflict. And as a good lobbyist will tell you, conflict expansion is unpredictable: sometimes it galvanizes supporters, sometimes it goads opponents. The anti-OOXML campaign may have inadvertently brought Microsoft dependents into the fray.

    One last note: is it really disproportionate that Microsoft and its “allies” comprise 2/3 of the committee? What percent of the software world do the make up (in terms of sales and installed base?) You could argue that 2/3 is actually too little–90% would’ve been more appropriate!

  • Anonymous 2007/07/16, 8:05 pm

    “One last note: is it really disproportionate that Microsoft and its “allies” comprise 2/3 of the committee? What percent of the software world do the make up (in terms of sales and installed base?) You could argue that 2/3 is actually too little–90% would’ve been more appropriate!”

    MSFT should dictate hugely flawed standards to the rest of the world now? They are a convicted monopolist in the US and monopolists in the EU and South Korea.

    And yes, MSFT already had their spot, as _MSFT_, puppet companies notwithstanding. It’s the likes of them who are blocking IBM and SUN from joining, eg., the Portugese standards committee.

  • Anonymous 2007/07/17, 4:50 am

    “INCITS is allowing its decisions to be made by those with a financial interest”

    Well, members have to have some motivation for their decisions. It’s not clear to me that a financial motive will lead to worse decisions than a political motive.

    What is clear is that ODF flew through because noone objected to it, not because it was “all that” — it isn’t. OOXML on the other hand is being actively obstructed by a major OSS and Linux vendor (IBM) in a way that ODF wasn’t obstructed by Microsoft.

  • Anonymous 2007/07/17, 10:25 am

    If you have valid reasons not to like the standard (i.e. it sucks and is unfairly slanted towards a particular interest), then why not actively obstruct it? One of the core parliamentary procedure rules is “Silence means consent”. You better believe that IBM is going to protest OOXML if it is hurting them. It’s as simple as that, regardless of how ODF went through.

  • Anonymous 2007/07/17, 11:01 am

    “Well, members have to have some motivation for their decisions. It’s not clear to me that a financial motive will lead to worse decisions than a political motive.”

    Um, when dealing with standards and standard bodies, I’d have hoped that the motivation would be *technical* rather than financial /or/ political.

    Is this standard technically acceptable? Is it technically sound? Is it clear enough? Complete enough? Does it follow existing standards and norms where appropriate (e.g. Does it get leap years right)? Can it be practically followed or implemented?

    These are the considerations which should motivate the decision of the members of INCITS.

    And, to add my bit of advocacy here, it’s these considerations which cause almost anyone not affiliated with MS to run screaming from the horror that is OOXML.

  • Anonymous 2007/07/17, 12:16 pm

    How many Micrsoft partners were there on the V1 commitee voting no against approval recommendation of the the ODF submission two years ago ?
    It seems that a lot of the sitting members voting against OOXML this time were/are actually voting for ODF two years ago and the objectivity of the sitting members could be questionable on that basis compared to the new member that as likely implemnters of OOXML seem valid stakeholders ????

  • digginestdogg 2007/07/17, 12:22 pm

    “Another possibility besides Microsoft nudging and paying its partners to join is that that it has been dawning on the latter that it is in their self-interest to join.”

    Anyone with any experience in business knows that’s not how it works: Micrsoft rallied their allies–we all know it cut the crud–we don’t buy it.

    Furthermore, what is the goal of a standard, to further the intersts of a monopoly and its ecosystem of partners, or the serve the much broader market of purchasers and users of IT infrastructure and their served market? Are standards for sale to the bidder who spedns the most? Many of us feel they should be selected on merit not by bids.

  • Rob 2007/07/17, 12:38 pm

    The ODF ballot ended back around May, 2006, so only one year ago. I don’t believe the membership changed between then and the time period shown in my chart. So Microsoft was a member then. Are you suggesting that their objectivity was compromised by them not opposing ODF then?

    The JTC1 Directives clearly call for a “Disapproval, with comments” position when there are known technical problems with the standard. Sure, no standard is perfect. Problems are found and fixed and errata and updates issued. But at approval time, it should be free of known serious problems. Based on the consensus list of problems found by V1, and approved by consensus, I don’t see how anyone could vote approval.

    So objectivity is demonstrated by debating and accepting 300+ detailed technical objections and then following the documented JTC1 Directives.

  • Rob 2007/07/17, 12:42 pm

    “Another possibility besides Microsoft nudging and paying its partners to join is that that it has been dawning on the latter that it is in their self-interest to join.”

    Yeah, right. Just like it suddenly dawned on 177 people to submit the same form letter to INCITS expressing approval of OOXML.

  • Anonymous 2007/07/17, 2:49 pm

    “What is clear is that ODF flew through because noone objected to it, not because it was “all that” — it isn’t. OOXML on the other hand is being actively obstructed by a major OSS and Linux vendor (IBM) in a way that ODF wasn’t obstructed by Microsoft.”

    If my memory is not failing me, ODF was submitted to ISO on the explicit request of the EU commision. The same commision that has asked Microsoft many times to collaborate with the ODF committee to agree on a common, open standard.

    There is a golden rule in standards: There shall be no overlapping standards. The mere existence of ODF as an ISO standard would preclude OOXML. Period.

    The Acme 376 plugin showed that legacy MS documents could be written to an adapted ODF file with 100% round trip fidelity by Office 2007. Until MS broke it with the final release. Thereby showing that there was no rational use for an OOXML standard separate from ODF.

    On a second note.

    It has been the explicit strategy of Microsoft to deny the existence of broad support fro ODF from the FLOSS communiy, companies, governements, and national and international bodies. This is done by first accusing ODF to be Sun/OpenOffice only, later by publicly mentioning only IBM as an ODF supporter. This is a political game, of which you show to be a, knowingly or unknowingly, acomplice here.

    The whole corruption game of MS to get ISO approval is needed to hide just the simple fact: OOXML is superfluous.


  • David 2007/07/17, 3:43 pm

    First off, what is OOXML – I have never heard of that standard – it seems like something you have created to try and make the OpenXML standard sound bad – I read the other day you wanted it to sound like Oh-Oh XML. Why would you do that unless you were really trying to taint it rather than inform?

  • Rob 2007/07/17, 4:04 pm

    OOXML is the obvious abbreviation and has been in use since the start. I heard the same story about “Uh Oh XML” but not until I (and many others) had been using the term of 8 months or so. But nice conspiracy theory all the same.

  • Răzvan 2007/07/17, 6:19 pm

    Just a few words for Rob:

    I write this from Bucharest, Romania, just to express thanks to Rob for the work he does!

    Many users in Europe are reading your blog daily – me and my colleagues did some efforts to present the issue of ODF vs. OOXML to the Romanian users.

    Despite the “wall of silence” which Microsoft Romania constructed here for the non-technical users, the ODF mass of users grows rapidly here.

    And this, I must underline, is NOT just because OpenOffice.org being distributed at no cost, but for the intrinsic quality of the program and ISO standard.

    Keep the good work, Rob ! We will help the truth to come out at daylight for us all.


  • Anonymous 2007/07/17, 9:40 pm

    > Web sites like yours have drawn enormous attention to the issue–and not only on the part of ODFies. You and others have expanded the conflict. And as a good lobbyist will tell you, conflict expansion is unpredictable: sometimes it galvanizes supporters, sometimes it goads opponents. The anti-OOXML campaign may have inadvertently brought Microsoft dependents into the fray.

    Well, pretty much all the technical discussion I’ve seen has been uniformly negative ever since people saw all the formatLikeLegacyProduct flags it stuffs into the format. Given that these will stick with converted files forever, who wants to drag the legacy code of that many ancient word processors along with us into each new one?

    I’ve seen ups and downs, but I’m pretty sure that was what galvanized pretty much all the non-Microsofties into opposition on technical grounds. Especially once it hit sites like Slashdot (and you can even blame me for that submission). I saw lots of comments from people saying they were ambivalent before that and disgusted afterwards.

    The “standard” should be put on The Daily WTF, not given ISO approval. And I don’t think you’ll find many technologists in the know who want to support a boondoggle like that.

    Because we lowly techs know: when stuff hits the fan, we’re the ones who have to clean it up.

    Too bad I don’t have $800, lots of free time, and a shell of a corporation to represent. Who knew it was that easy to influence US policy? Guess I should’ve figured that you have to incorporate, though.

  • Anonymous 2007/07/18, 1:16 pm

    How much do executive boards cost these days? Microsoft seems to have nearly unlimited pockets when it comes to bribing officials and paying off executives, so the OOXML standard is a merely a technicality.

  • Rob 2007/07/18, 1:36 pm

    INCITS membership fees are listed here . I can’t figure out why a small business can join for less than a user group.

    A list of current EB members are listed here.

  • Jose 2007/07/19, 6:40 pm

    There are some confused people posting comments here.

    OOXML has many outstanding issues. How could you fast track a standard full of errors? ODF was ironed out over a long period of time. The starting point for ODF had already been a public document for a few years. ODF leverages many W3C and other existing public standards, some of which have been standards for a while. Taking that into account, ODF and ODF pre-drafts were out in the open for a very long time. OOXML came out of Microsoft a short time ago, and additionally, because it doesn’t reuse that many other standards that have been out in the open, fewer in the public have had the time to study it carefully as had the time to analyze pre-ISO ODF. This means that probably many of OOXML’s flaws have not yet been discovered. Despite this, it appears many errors have been ferreted out already, flaws which are not addressed in OOXML today as proposed. [eg, see http://www.xmlopen.org/ooxml-wiki/index.php/DIS_29500_Comments .]

    In response to a possible partial rebuttle that Microsoft may have used something like OOXML internally for a while: An internal company standard is not like a public standard because there is much that is understood within an organization that is never spelt out in detail carefully so that multiple sources from the outside would be able to implement interoperable products solely based on the descriptions used within that internal standard. Simply put, it is only through the tedious process of taking a format public and getting feedback where many potential conflicts that were overlooked by those with insider knowledge get pointed out to them. ODF went down this road for many years before being proposed to ISO, and even then, it relied more heavily than OOXML on reusing existing public standards. OOXML has just started down this path, reused fewer existing standards, yet wants to become an ISO format already? I am even giving MS the benefit of the doubt here that they had formalized the standard internally for some time (otherwise this hypothetical rebuttle doesn’t even get off the ground). The reality is that they likely reversed engineered some of the components of OOXML from code they analyzed only a short time prior to presenting OOXML to the public. OOXML stands today in a similar position that the original public Star Office/ Open Office formats stood which was a few years before being submitted to ISO.

    As for MS Gold partners, I doubt these represent a significant percentage of the customers in the US or worldwide that are using MS Office. They likely represent less than one-tenth of one percent of MS Office users. What they do probably represent in an accurate proportion is those groups which are profiting from MS Office and who stand to gain more with a bad standard in place since it would limit their competition in the future. Since MS Office is so prevalent compared to ODF platforms, naturally there are more groups that profit from MS Office in the manner described. However, the question posed to the standards body related more to what would benefit the most groups overall.

    As for Rob’s work, bringing this out into the open is very useful. Microsoft will undoubtedly work behind the scenes, but most of us wouldn’t know what is going on without exposure from public places. Remember that the entity with the most at stake here is Microsoft. They are fighting an uphill battle to grow their market. They stand to eventually lose billions in revenues yearly if MS Office is recognized by most of its users to represent an expensive lock-in product that has no 100% compatible alternatives but which has several (including no-cost) alternatives that would be 100% compatible where a good standard in place. OOXML as drafted today has many errors. Microsoft should work to clean up OOXML with its partners so that their next proposal to ANSI/ISO is able to actually lead to increase competition for the OOXML format. If done properly, Microsoft customers would benefit from the added competition at such time that OOXML-Improved becomes a formal standard. If OOXML, flawed as it is, is rejected, it would help the customers as ODF adoption would likely increase, and ODF is a vendor-neutral standard already implemented by several products. If OOXML-Flawed is accepted, the customers would come up short, as no one outside Microsoft has either the knowledge nor the motivation to implement this currently flawed 6,000+ page standard.

    As for allegations of IBM influence, recognize that many of the existing members voted for ODF then and against OOXML now. ODF came first and had most issues resolved by the time it was proposed. OOXML has been rushed and makes a critical mistake of not reusing existing standards, most notably ODF. ODF reused many standards that had been in place publicly. Supporters of OOXML will throw out the IBM allegations without going into detail. The fact is that ODF is a better public standard and spent a lot more time getting input from the public.

    Let me repeat this item I just mentioned. ODF reused what was available before it. OOXML did not (to any appreciable extent). That in itself is the biggest strike against OOXML. Note that the original Star Office formats which formed some of the roots of ODF was modified a lot over time to reuse then existing standards. At one point probably Star Office and MS Office formats used zero of the W3C XML family of standards (among others). What became ODF had been worked over for a prolonged period of time to reuse the existing investments by the industry. OOXML as proposed today has been thrown at the industry. You need look no further than the ridiculous length of OOXML standard as an indication of how little of the industry investments in standards it reused. And with OOXML being proposed after ODF, you have the extra burden to argue just why a whole new standard would be better (especially considering the huge overlap in functionality with ODF and the extreme length of the OOXML std) rather than the alternative of having a proposal to augment ODF to round out any potential ommissions that OOXML brings to the table.

  • walter 2007/07/20, 12:48 pm

    at 19 July 07 10:28 PM dough magugh said:

    “The INCITS executive board has been meeting this week, and today they decided to issue a ballot for “Approval with comments.” They’ll reach a decision within the executive board on this proposed position by mid-August, which allows plenty of time for subsequent discussion or another vote if needed before the final US position is due on September 2.”

    Rob, would you clarify ( if you can ) who can cast a vote at this Incits ballot ? Is there a list of members or anything like that ?

    Thank you


  • Rob 2007/07/20, 1:28 pm

    Walter, this would be the members of the INCITS Executive Board, listed here.

    Typically they would go with the recommendation of the technical committee. But in this case we deadlocked, so anything is possible. The fact that the ballot reads “Yes, with comments” rather than “Abstain, with comments” tells us something. It tells us that at least half of the committee favors OOXML approval “as-is.” Whether this view has 2/3 or not remains to be seen.

    Note that it is possible to send in letters to INCITS. Microsoft has been very good at getting their form letter out as you can see here.

    Also, I wonder if IEEE members can have any influence with how their organization votes in this ballot?

  • Mike Brown 2007/07/24, 8:50 pm

    What we should do is support OOXML as an ISO standard, because once ISO has control of OOXML, all of its inherent problems will magically disappear.

    So speaks “Microsoft UK’s lead technology advisor and spokesman on the value and implications of present and future technological developments”. So, it must be true.



    – Mike

  • Eduard 2007/09/28, 1:13 pm

    First of all, I want to let you all know that I’m not American. I’m natively Spanish, living in Ireland since almost a year ago.
    What I want to point out is that, while in the American case there is still room for doubt (ie: there is no definitive prove against the hipotesis that those 16 new V1 members would have joined by their own interests; being their partnership with MS a circumnstancial fact that, despite suspicious, isn’t enough to prove anything); there are cases of MS proven and verifiable manipulation (or attempts of manipulation) on this standard proposal. In the case of Spain, the one I’m best informed of, Microsoft used partial and out-of-context quotations to sustain their position taken from texts that either were unrelated; didn’t state a position on the subject; or stated a position clearly against OOXML. The most obvious and known example is a letter from Andalucía’s government body (for those who don’t know too much about Spain, it’s divided in 17 Comunidades Autónomas, Andalucía being one of them, which are, in the national political structure, comparable to the roughly 50 states that form the USA).
    The letter (in Spanish) can be publicly viewed at http://www.neutralidad.es/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/andalucia-cartaAENOR-01-2007-Sr_Sotorrios-200701.pdf and is signed by the Director of the department that cares about this subject. Here I include a few quotes translated to English:
    “[…] I have to express you our highest interest in […] standards about electronic documents exchange.
    Document exchange formats are a backbone for development […] and, for this reason, the Junta de Andalucía will always show its support towards the adoption of standards on this subject.”
    That’s the part of the letter that MS quoted to AENOR (the Spanish equivalent to INCITS/V1) members, the day before the most important meeting was to be made. How did MS got access to that letter, addressed to AENOR, before AENOR itself, is something that has no answer by now. Why did MS not mention the next paragraph in its quotation is quite obvious. That parapraph said:
    “Junta de Andalucía’s bet towards the adoption of open standards in the subject of information technologies […] is currently strongly supported by the standard ISO/IEC 26300 in the subject of document formats […]”
    For the case you haven’t figured out yet, ISO/IEC 26300 is the ODF standard.
    In addition, at http://www.neutralidad.es/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/andalucia-CARTA_AENOR_07-2007_Sr_Izquierdo-200707.pdf there is a later letter from Junta de Andalucía to AENOR, clarifying their position in favor of ODF, and asking how could their initial letter had been manipulated in such way.

    Those facts, besides de OOXML format itself, prove that MS is forcing (or attempting to force) the approval of the format, rather than submitting it to be reviewed by the ISO. Even if the format were good and it wasn’t overlapping an already existing standard (ODF), only this behaviour is enough to realize that something’s going wrong with this whole process.

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