decoration decoration

When you want to know more...
For layout only
Site Map
About Groklaw
Legal Research
ApplevSamsung p.2
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Gordon v MS
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
MS Litigations
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
OOXML Appeals
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v Novell
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Unix Books


Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

You won't find me on Facebook


Donate Paypal

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.

What's New

No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM - Updated 3Xs
Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:15 PM EST

Andy Updegrove has the results in detail here, including a breakdown of the votes. Basically, there were too many proposed changes to be able to cover them in the BRM, so they tried a workaround, but the upshot is ... it's a mess. Oddly, despite the rules, Alex Brown, Updegrove reports, allowed non P countries to vote, but OOXML still couldn't get a majority of the delegations to back it at the BRM. Nor is it clear that allowing non P countries to vote is even legitimate. Now it's the 30-day voting period, but Updegrove asks, if they never could discuss all the issues, which is the purpose of a BRM, what's the basis for a vote? And with the vast majority either voting to abstain or even refusing to vote as a protest, I think one may conclude this proposal didn't belong on the fast track, and it isn't getting the kind of support you would have thought it might, given all the muscle that has gone into the push to get OOXML approved.

Here's what happened next in this unusual situation, after they realized it was humanly impossible to cover all the comments and try to reach consensus:
Acknowledging the impossibility of achieving the stated goal of a BRM (e.g, to carefully review each proposed disposition and reach consensus on an appropriate resolution), a proposal was made on Wednesday to approve all proposed resolutions in a single vote before the end of the BRM, thus nominally "resolving" each remaining proposed disposition without any discussion at all. It was agreed that this was the only available option, and a written ballot with all of the c. 900 proposed dispositions that had never been discussed was accordingly issued on Thursday. Each National Body delegation was requested to complete and return on Friday. The alternatives offered were as follows:
1. Indicate "adopt," "disapprove" or "abstain" after each proposed disposition.

2. Indicate such a vote on as many proposed dispositions as desired (or none), and vote "accept," "reject" or "abstain" on all of the rest.

It is significant to note that voting to accept all dispositions that were not discussed is a less obvious choice than might be assumed. In fact, few if any of the dispositions that were individually discussed and voted upon during the week were adopted without change. In other words, adopting a proposed resolution without discussion could result in making OOXML worse, rather than better, because of dependencies.

On Friday, the ballots came back.

There were 25 P countries, and 32 voting if you add in the non P countries. The breakdown for the P countries worked like this:

Approve = 4
Disapprove = 4
Refuse to Vote = 2
Abstain = 15

Even if you add in the non P countries, which may or may not be legitimate under Directive 9.1.4, Updegrove tells us, it goes like this:

Approve = 6
Disapprove = 4
Refuse to Vote = 4
Abstain = 18

However, only approve and disapprove votes are supposedly going to count, so I'm sure you can figure out what Microsoft will spin from the numbers. They acted like the first vote was some kind of a victory, if you recall, back in September of 2007.

What next? I mean that in every possible sense. If they haven't discussed so many dispositions, how can they meaningfully vote on whether OOXML should be an ISO standard in the 30-day voting period left in this weird process? Updegrove concludes:

Many, many, people around the world have trie[d] very hard to make the OOXML adoption process work. It is very unfortunate that they were put to this predictably unsuccessful result through the self-interest of a single vendor taking advantage of a permissive process that was never intended to be abused in this fashion. It would be highly inappropriate to compound this error by approving a clearly unfinished specification in the voting period ahead.

That would be harmonious with the directions in the FAQ Alex Brown directed all the NBs and the public to read prior to the BRM:

4.5 What if there is not time in the meeting to satisfy NBs’ concerns?

If NBs find the outcome of the BRM inadequate then their recourse is to disapprove the DIS.

That's clear enough. I have a question: were countries told in advance that only approve and disapprove responses would count in this workaround vote? I'd very much like to see the instructions given, wouldn't you? I thought it was supposed to be only approved if by consensus, technical point by point. How do you get that without discussions? I've never seen anything like this process, and I hope never to see anything like it again.

InfoWorld's Peter Sayer caught up with Vint Cerf, and in the article, Does OOXML vote really matter?, Cerf points out that if interoperability is really your goal, duplicate formats will not help you get there:

One who thinks the vote does matter is Vint Cerf, co-designer of the TCP/IP technology that underpin the Internet, and now chief Internet evangelist at Google.

"If OOXML is adopted, it leads to a problem of duplicate formats for document exchange," he said.

That duplication is bad for interoperability: In the Internet world, standards makers work hard on agreeing "one way to do things, and then evolving it," he said. "We don't reinvent the wheel."

You will find Bob Sutor's Some metrics for measuring the success of the OOXML BRM, his recent blog post, relevant in trying to put everything into some kind of context.

Update: You will not believe how Microsoft's Brian Jones describes it:

There were many technical changes the delegates made to really get consensus on some of the more challenging issues, but all of these passed overwhelmingly once they were updated. The process really worked (it was very cool).

The meeting closed with clapping and cheering, folks were really happy about the improved proposals for the specification and it was a very positive experience for me personally.

Is he kidding? Overwhelming approval? I'm sorry, but 4 out of 25 P countries is not overwhelming approval. Neither is 6 out of 32.

Update 2: Tim Bray has now written about the BRM also. [Language warning.] He also writes "the process is irretrievably broken".

And here's Reuters' account:

A meeting to hammer out a consensus on whether a Microsoft document format should become an international standard descended into near chaos this week, people close to the meeting told Reuters....

The Free Software Foundation's Coughlan said the difficulties of resolving the issue within the ISO framework illustrated a growing awareness that the implications of such decisions went far beyond the software industry.

"In the last few years, we've seen a lot more awareness of the digital world as a key aspect of society ... We're not just looking at the traditional economic powers asking questions or being involved. This is very broad," he said. "The standardization process itself has been tested quite extensively by this."

And here's ComputerWorld's Eric Lai's report, "Weak ISO support for changes to Open XML throws shadow over final approval":

"Eighty percent of the changes were not discussed," said Frank Farance, head of the U.S. delegation to this week's ballot resolution meeting (BRM) in ISO, which voted against the changes. "It's like if you had a massive software project and 80% of it was not run through QA.

"It's a big problem," Farance continued. "I've never seen anything like this, and I've been doing this for 25 years."...

Four countries, including the U.S. and Malaysia, according to Farance, voted not to approve those 900 changes. That, according to critics, indicates a lack of actual support for Open XML....Microsoft hopes that enough countries will change their minds in the next 30 days because of the BRM result.

Another quotation from Farance, in CIO:

"Virtually every comment we processed did not survive unedited," he said.

The 80 percent of comments that were not discussed during the meeting were put to a "default vote," resulting in the automatic adoption of ECMA's recommendations without modification by delegates, he said.

And there you have it. ECMA Fast Track. The real question is, whose idea was it to do the "default vote" and were NBs asked to vote if the Ecma proposals were "improved" or "not improved"? Or "approved" or "disapproved" or was there a melding of the two, resulting in confusion and chaos and a default that in no way reflected true feelings? For example, if something was improved but not enough to approve, how do you vote? If an NB said it was improved, but insufficiently, how was such a vote counted? Or was it counted?

Update 3: More from Charles-H. Schultz:

I think the article from CIO says it all. The Head of Delegation of the ANSI (USA) explains what went wrong. I think it’s a pity that the BRM ended up like this. In a nutshell, the whole idea of the BRM was to discuss the proposals from Ecma and the comments made by the delegations, and it just didn’t turn out it was possible. Delegates were rushed to vote on hundreds of comments in bulk , were told new rules had to be applied, and when many of them tried to propose solutions to technical or legal issues they were simply dismissed.

We’ll talk about this more in detail later, but as it stands today, the BRM has failed - failed to work, failed to impress, failed to create consensus and failed to succeed. Rules that were not part of the existing JTC-1 corpus had to be invented to come up with the astounding result of 6 countries approving the bulk voting versus 4 countries formally disapproving them, 18 others abstaining, while four others even refusing to vote as a way to show their complete disapproval of the way the BRM was being handled.Only committees of countries that were present in Geneva could vote, so they do not speak for the rest of the world. It is unfortunately likely that Microsoft and the European Committee of Microsoft Advocates (Ecma) will declare victory, based on what is a pathetically weak relative majority and on the set of rules that go against both the letter and spirit of the JTC-1 legislation. Would this then be a pyrrhic victory? Hardly. It has yet to to be shown if the Ecma and ISO can actually do anything with that result and the growing resentment of national standardization committees.

In any case, we’re now back on for a month of national ballot in each national committee, and I believe our discussions will be interesting as many of them will not find the results of this week satisfying.

And Yoon Kit Yong of OpenMalaysia Blog now tells us more:

The final day was absolute mayhem. We had to submit decisions on over 500 items which we hadn't have the time to review. All the important issues which have been worked on repeatedly happened to appear on this final day. So it was non-stop important matters. Unfortunately I was caught up in a change from Malaysia, so I must have missed deliberating on a few important matters.

But it's all over now. Due to the quirks in the voting mechanisms, a reported 98.4% of Ecma resolutions were approved. This on the surface projects an impression that the BRM is a resounding success. Unfortunately this is not the sentiment of the majority of participants...

This is not in criticism of the Convener Mr Alex Brown. He had a monumental task ahead of him at the beginning of the BRM. The chips were stacked high against him. It was not the failure of the National Bodies which attended. It was merely a failure of the process. And it may not be the failure of ISO as a process for creating standards, but mainly because a client chose the wrong method in forcefeeding a large draft standard in the conservative process of the ISO.

It was a failure of the Fast Track process, and Ecma for choosing it. It should have been obvious to the administrators that submitting a 6000+ page document which failed the contradiction period, the 5 month ballot vote and poor resolution dispositions, should be pulled from the process. It should have been blatantly obvious that if you force National Bodies to contribute in the BRM and end up not deliberating on over 80% of their concerns, you will make a lot of people very unhappy.

I think coming into the BRM at the beginning of the week, some people were optimistic that this could make a positive difference. But judging from the reactions from the National Bodies who truly tried to contribute on a positive manner, without having their concerns heard let alone resolved, they leave the BRM with only one decision in their mind come March 29th.

The Fast Tracking process is NOT suitable for ISO/IEC DIS 29500. It will fail yet again. And this time it will be final.

And please now, don't say we didn't try ...

Update: Updegrove has posted on March 2 a comment on Jason Matusow's blog, and here's a bit of it:

2. My figures come from the SC 34 Web site and were given to me by a delegate. We will have to wait and see whether ISO/IEC JTC1 releases the exact numbers and countries or not (I had, but did not release the countries). I totally reject that an organization that purports to set "de jure global standards" for preferential adoption by governments has any business keeping the facts about how their "open" standards are determined secret from those that are affected by them. Fortunately, many delegates agree, and are therefore sharing their stories....

9. I find it incredible how often you, Doug Mahugh and others rave about "how much better OOXML is now!" as if this was some great thing. ODF sailed through with _no_ significant comments, and did not need a BRM at all. To have submitted a 6,000 page specification under Fast Track at all was regrettable. To submit somethig in this poor shape was unconscionable. To subject the BRM delegates to this miserable process and then take advantage of their efforts by calling it a huge success is pathetic.

In conclusion: It would have likely taken Microsoft fewer engineer-years of effort to implement ODF in Office 2007 than it took engineering years for all these delegates to prepare for and attend the BRM,and certainly been far more beneficial. And your customers would have been better off and happier if they did.

Speaking of which: I'll close with a story from Geneva last week. You mentioned above, i think, that Microsoft did not attend the simultaneous OpenForum Europe event. In fact, there were one or more Microsoft representatives in attendance all the time. In one panel presentation, Nick Tsilas from your legal department, and someone I've known for years, tried once more to say how Microsoft's customers haven't yet asked for Microsoft to implement ODF.

Unfortunately, he picked the wrong panel to make that claim, because one of the panelists on stage just then was Dr. Rolf Theodor Schuster, the CIO of the German Federal Foreign Office. Rolf lit into Nick in no uncertain terms, saying that his office had demanded that Microsoft implement ODF and not OOXML. After "listening to its customer," Microsoft responded by going over his head to his superiors and getting these bureaucrats to tell them not to worry about it. Nick tried to make the same claim again, and Rolf really ripped him a new one.

Jason, people generally think you're a good guy. But this blog entry is so far out in left field that I don't think that I'll be hearing that as often as I used to. Go give a read to the first hand accounts I've compiled at my blog, and then let us know whether your blog entry requires modification, will you?

A final thought: I heard many, many first hand horror stories from National Body delegates while I was in Geneva. Here's a sample: inone NB, the vote was 8 to 1 against OOXML last summer. The 1 vote to approve? The Microsoft employee. The result? An entire country had to abstain in the vote, because one conflicted (new) committee member took advantage of the unanimous voting rules of that country.

Of course, I also heard from many delegates that each European country has received a formal request letter from the European Commission calling for the disclosure of all bad acts that Microsoft had performed in the process so far as part of the EC's new antitrust investigations. This blog entry will, I expect, make them be even more attentive to what they hear in response.

In over twenty years of repsresenting standards bodies, I have never seen anything like this before, and I certainly hope that I never do again.

- Andy


OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM - Updated 3Xs | 271 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:22 PM EST
Please note corrections to the article here.

Please put the nature of the correction in the Title: field of your comment.

Form follows function.

[ Reply to This | # ]

[NP] Discuss Groklaw News Picks
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:25 PM EST
Discuss Groklaw's News Picks here.

Please note in your comment (preferably in the title) which News Pick you are commenting on.

What are Groklaw News Picks?

News Items

Form follows function.

[ Reply to This | # ]

[OT] Off Topic discusion
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:28 PM EST
Discuss anything Off Topic here.

Check out the HTML How To for help in making clicky links, etc.

Form follows function.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:35 PM EST
It reminds me of the classic story of the automobile race in which two cars only
were racing, one from the Soviet Union and one from the United States.

The automobile from the United States won the race, and it was reported as

The Soviet Union reported the results of the race in another manner:

The Soviet Union came in second, and the United States came in

So Microsoft can claim a victory, but the war was lost.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:38 PM EST

Say, does anyone know how Australia might've voted?? I don't think it was an
anonymous vote.

an open source Aussie

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM
Authored by: John Hasler on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:40 PM EST
How many of the P's that voted "Approve" were P's at the time of the
first vote and therefor qualified to vote at this one?

IOANAL. Licensed under the GNU General Public License

[ Reply to This | # ]

Broken Link
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:41 PM EST
The link to "They acted like the first vote was some kind of a
victory" is broken.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Victory - Authored by: Superbowl H5N1 on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 05:36 AM EST
    • Victory - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 08:50 AM EST
Define Consensus
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:52 PM EST

What's the BRM's definition of "consensus"?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Who is taking bets on?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 01:56 PM EST
All those countries that are yelling for open standards suddenly backtracking?
Do we have a list anywhere of countries that commited to open standards?

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM
Authored by: ThrPilgrim on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:02 PM EST
IIRC, the FAQ published before the BRM stated that if all the comments could not
be discussed then the only position for a P member to take was Disapprove.

I wonder if, after this vote on 'everything else', the official position is now
'all comments addressed' allowing P countries to vote approve.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: ThrPilgrim on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:08 PM EST
16% of P countries voted Approve
18.75% of all countries voted Approve.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Maths - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 03:09 PM EST
  • Maths - a spin - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 03:15 PM EST
In 30 days, the vote will be like this: All in favor - throw your chair!
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:14 PM EST
Really, the mess is due to one person.

His energy level is felt by every chair in his office. Hmmm, the chairs in his
office are the only ones at (xxxxx) needing medical attention (and a my guess is
that they might need a shrink to boot)!

His word to employees: "Come to me with your problems", (yea right)!

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:15 PM EST
Actually, as far as I can make out, the vote (or votes) at the Ballot Resolution Meeting are not significant. The point of the BRM was to produce a new text of the proposed standard, which is subsequently (and finally) voted upon. How that new text is generated is a bit of an irrelevant sideshow. If consensus, or valid votes had been achieved on all of the changes proposed, all that happens is that the editor (ECMA) issues a new revision of the proposed standard for people to vote on in the next 30 days.

The problem now is that the best that ECMA can do is offer up their own preferred text (after having made the changes that _were_ agreed upon in the BRM - there were some). Some of the National bodies will vote against the proposed standard as their requested changes will not have been included in the final text.

So, there is still all to play for. It all hinges on how all the members vote in the next 30 days, so I'd expect some serious lobbying to go on now. Anyone in favour of DIS 29500 becoming a full standard will be looking to (a) influence anyone whose vote was negative or abstain in the past to change to positive and (b) influence anyone thinking of changing from positive to abstain or negative not to do so. Obviously mutatis mutandis for the view from those not wishing DIS 29500 to become a standard.

Given the very strong business interests in favour of DIS29500 becoming a standard, I will not be surprised if it does get the votes it needs. Lobbying by moneyed businesses can be very influential.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Notice today's date
Authored by: lordshipmayhem on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:17 PM EST
Leap Year Day. We will be able to celebrate this day on the correct date only
once every four years.

That would fit with Microsoft's somewhat fractured history of

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM
Authored by: JamesK on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:19 PM EST
From the InfoWorld article:
"There's no shouting, no throwing chairs. It's all very polite."

I guess Steve Ballmer wasn't there. ;-)

This space intentionally left blank.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:21 PM EST
From the InfoWorld article:
said one delegate. "There's no shouting, no throwing chairs. It's all very polite."
No comment - just drawing people's attention to it. ;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not a good week in Redmond
Authored by: snorpus on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:53 PM EST
Vista price cuts, emails regarding the loose definition of "Vista Capable", and now the approval of OOXML appears to be seriously in doubt.

About all that's left is to find a new math bug in Excel '07.

73/88 de KQ3T ---
Montani Semper Liberi
Comments Licensed:

[ Reply to This | # ]

What is that whistling sound, I hear?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 02:53 PM EST
The Microsoft spin doctors getting up to speed.


[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML Progresses toward Approval at BRM
Authored by: webster on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 03:22 PM EST
Important steps were taken. Everyone can change their vote. Unlike code, the
promoters have the wherewithal to fix the problem and achieve their goal. With
billions at stake, a few million will do. Don't you wish you had a vote?

[ Reply to This | # ]

I am confused
Authored by: PolR on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 03:31 PM EST
What was this vote about? Was is to establish OOXML as a standard? Or was it to
determine what would be the text to consider in the 30 day period that is
starting now?

Also what is this "rule" about only approve and disapprove votes
counting? Does it mean for purposes of the BRM, the ECMA changed are
"approved" and will form the basis of the final vote at the end of

I try to figure out what we have on hand. Is it a plain rejection of OOXML? Or
is it a steamroller that forges ahead against all common sense?

My impression is we have the steamroller that cleared another step toward its
goal, although it did not do so elegantly. The ECMA changes to the standard are
considered "approved" 6 to 4. This vote does not change the previous
ballot votes on OOXML. This is scheduled in the 30 day period starting now. Next
step for the steamroller is the coercion of a sufficient NBs to change their
ballot vote to make OOXML a "pass" while freexing the others to their
current votes.

Do we have an official version of the DIS as amended by the BRM written
somewhere? I think the NBs may want to know what they are voting on.

[ Reply to This | # ]

expect to hear about 'qualified votes'
Authored by: Alan Bell on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 03:44 PM EST
which was the magic phrase used last time to ignore the abstains. So by a
majority of 6 to 4 the delegates allowed Microsoft/ECMA to get their suggested
changes applied to the text. To be fair many of the proposed changes will be
making the text less rubbish. They don't however make OOXML less redundant when
there is already an ISO/IEC standard for representing office documents.
It was always possible but very unlikely that the BRM would be declared a
failure and the whole thing halted with no agreed text. I fully expected a new
text to emerge and ISO/IEC to declare the BRM a procedural triumph under
difficult conditions. The fact that it came so close to a failure at this point
is a surprise to me.
I would expect several declarations of victory from various parties over the
next few weeks. Expect ISO/IEC to tell us about how their procedures were
followed with 'adaptations' and expect Microsoft to use creative statistics to
imply that the delegations really loved them.
Wouldn't it be nice to know how many of the 6 'yes' delegations had a Microsoft
employee as their head of delegation. By my count Microsoft had at least 6 heads
of delegation, but there may be some people who I think are employees of
Microsoft who turn out not to be so I could be wrong.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reading to much into it
Authored by: E-man on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 03:52 PM EST
I hope I didn't mislead PJ. I was one of the first to post on this in another place, but I overreacted.

The only thing that Updegrove is talking about is the "default" vote - which means what the vote was used if nothing else was specified. We still don't know what (if anything) was actually specified as the real votes for the individual items.

It's easy to understand why there are so many "abstain" votes if you think about it. Naturally, "abstain" is a safe thing to specify just in case you accidentally missed something even if you intended to specify your vote for each item. If you don't know how to vote on some, but did on others, you would also vote "abstain" as your default vote, but for each item where you knew how to vote, you would record your actual vote

What Updegrove wrote it just spin. It looks like he tried to beat MS to the spin. It really means next to nothing. I am sorry I got caught up in the spin myself.

What I agree with, though, is that things didn't work smoothly and easily, despite the professionalism of those attending. It was just too complex. That is an indication of underlying problems in the specification that make it unsuitable for fast track, at least. I don't read anything much into the "default" vote, though.

[ Reply to This | # ]

    OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM
    Authored by: TemporalBeing on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 03:58 PM EST
    So then it looks like NBs are highly likely to reject OOXML, which would mean MS
    has to go the long route for approving OOXML, and we know that if that happens,
    ODF will take over as the standard format since it will be the only ISO approved
    format, and thus MS will have too much market share to pick up against to save
    OOXML - all this sums up to:

    The playing field for office applications has (will shortly) once again (be)
    leveled. MS will have to compete on stability, performance, and features.

    Thank you ISO/IEC. :->

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Great news! BUT ...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 04:16 PM EST

    This is really wonderful news. All Microsoft's money and talent and determination have been unable to completely destroy the ISO's function (though they came uncomfortably close).

    HOWEVER, it's premature to celebrate. This is just the beginning of a 30-day ballotting process. Logically. that process should confirm rejection of Microsoft's attempt to standardize an ill-defined proprietary format, but Microsoft will not have given up yet.

    And I personally find it very depressing that only 4 (out of 25!) "P" countries actually voted "No". Why so few?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    EU investigation
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 05:03 PM EST
    It has been reported that the EU is investigating if the ISO voting process on
    OOXML was influenced and misused.
    If they find that this was indeed the case, as a citizen from Europe I find that
    in that case the EU should abandon using ISO standards as the basis for European

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Counted Votes...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 06:10 PM EST
    If only { APPROVE | DISAPPROVE } votes count, is there a concept of a quorum,
    where the other votes-- like courteous abstention, for instance-- disappear, the
    4 approvals may count for more if there is no minimum quorum.

    Mind you, there are 6 forms of falsehoods:

    1) Lies,
    2) Damn Lies,
    3) Statistics,
    4) Benchmarks,
    5) Microsoft (Schedule?) Announcements, and
    6) Presidential Testimony.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Where and how to lobby
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 06:24 PM EST
    I have previously written to Standards Australia about this issue but am
    wondering if there is a spot we can go to know how to target our efforts on this
    I would be happy to write and call people on this matter but don't know who,
    what and where.

    I wonder if others would be the same - is there a page set up somewhere with
    this information ?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OOXML converts to ODF
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 06:47 PM EST

    What if you took those 1100 suggestions for changing the OOXML spec and
    implemented all of them and ended up with the ODF spec. The vote in 30 days
    would be to approve the "new" OOXML spec that was interoperable with
    ODF because it actually was the ODF spec. Microsoft would then implement the
    "approved" OOXML standard and everyone would be happy. Wouldn't that
    be interesting.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: Brian S. on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 09:10 PM EST

    Frank Farance, head of the U.S. delegation to this week's ballot resolution meeting (BRM) in ISO, which voted against the changes. "It's like if you had a massive software project and 80% of it was not run through QA.

    "It's a big problem," Farance continued. "I've never seen anything like this, and I've been doing this for 25 years."...only six, including the Czech Republic and Poland, voted to approve those 900 changes...Malaysia, according to Farance, voted not to approve... Computerworld

    Brian S.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A BRM analogy
    Authored by: elronxenu on Friday, February 29 2008 @ 11:54 PM EST
    I've been struggling to find an appropriate analogy for this BRM process.

    The best I've been able to come up with so far is, "putting perfume on a pig".

    Is that the best that can be done? Help me out here folks :-)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM - Updated 2Xs
    Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 12:30 AM EST

    ``Microsoft hopes that enough countries will change their minds in the next 30 days because of the BRM result.''

    What result? Over half abstained. Is Microsoft hoping they'll change their mind and actually vote next time? With that many not wanting to even cast a vote, I can't see what ``hope'' Microsoft sees as even being in the realm of possibility.

    One analysis of the ``rules'' (which seem to be pretty fuzzy; depending on who's looking at 'em) that I've seen seemed to indicate that, with all the uncertainty in what problems remain and haven't even been discussed, let alone resolved, that the only option is to vote against the proposed standard. Perhaps Microsoft is hoping that the national bodies will fail to understand this.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM - Updated 2Xs
    Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 12:35 AM EST
    Interesting article at
    "..We eventually found out that if any changes affected current
    implementations it would certainly be rejected. This seriously compromised any
    elegant solutions, and it forced us to be mindful of the "existing corpus
    of documents" in the wild. I personally don't believe that that should be
    our problem, but there was a large and vocal voting bloc which would oppose any
    changes to the spec which would 'break' Ecma 376."

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Clicky - Authored by: Brian S. on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 01:06 AM EST
    Who were there
    Authored by: Neurophys on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 02:50 AM EST
    I do not find a delegate list. Do anyone have a pointer. Last time around there
    were some delegates that must have been there acting like they had a mandate
    they probably did not have. In some cases it could be wise to tell formal
    authorities about "their" voting.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM - Updated 2Xs
    Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 04:40 AM EST
    There's Justice in the world after all.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM - Updated 2Xs
    Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 05:02 AM EST
    "If you flee the rules, you will be caught. And it will
    cost you dearly." - Nelly Kroes

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    So, THAT'S what it means.
    Authored by: JamesK on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 03:42 PM EST
    From Moved by Freedom - Powered by Standards
    "European Committee of Microsoft Advocates (Ecma)"

    This space intentionally left blank.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Voting to approve changes as a Block Failed
    Authored by: dio gratia on Saturday, March 01 2008 @ 05:33 PM EST

    Looking through the JTC1 Directives with respect to the reported ballot and the outcome there appears that the ballot on acceptance of the changes as a block failed. Fast track procedures:

    13.8 At the ballot resolution group meeting, decisions should be reached preferably by consensus. If a vote is unavoidable the vote of the NBs will be taken according to normal JTC 1 procedures.
    Normal procedures: At the ballot resolution group meeting, decisions should be reached preferably by consensus. If a vote is unavoidable, the approval criteria in the subclause 9.1.4 is applied.. If the decisions reached are not acceptable to the Recognised PAS Submitter, the Submitter may withdraw the document to terminate the procedure.
    The reference:
    9.1.4 In a meeting, except as otherwise specified in these directives, questions are decided by a majority of the votes cast at the meeting by P-members expressing either approval or disapproval.
    The reported voted:
    There were 25 P countries, and 32 voting if you add in the non P countries. The breakdown for the P countries worked like this:

    Approve = 4
    Disapprove = 4
    Refuse to Vote = 2
    Abstain = 15
    By definition the vote to accept the changes as a block failed, a majority of P-members not voting for approval. This means those changes would not be included in the DIS submitted as an IS. The NBs aren't made aware other than in the BRM itself that they are not approving the DIS without those as a block changes. Should the rely on the FUD presented by the Submitter or their apparent agents, their vote may be affected. One could surmise this is a deliberate act on those making media claims, and may reflect a structural issue with the fast track process based on timing. The NBs don't necessarily get to see the resolved document as approved by the BRM before voting closes, and there have been reports of separate votes on reviewed issues. One could also conjecture that this reflects the level of commitment required for P members to insure the integrity of the process.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Finding errors in the draft is the key to success
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, March 02 2008 @ 03:07 AM EST
    Actually the fact that things was approves as a block is rather good. The worst
    possible outcome of the BRM would been that the BRM covered every response, but
    that Microsoft payd delegates refuted any of the needed changes. From the
    accounts of the BRM there was people there blocking any change that meant
    breaking compability with the Ecma standard so the honest participants did
    indeed have that risk as a real concern.

    Having Ecam suggestions accepted without change mean that we will have a new
    round of finding defects. Extra care should be taken to expose problems caused
    by the 20 or so changes that was approved after dicsussion and all those that
    was approved by the gang vote at the end.

    In any way it is by now clear that there is lack of merit in dis29500 to be
    accepted as standard. Of course that doesn't stop Microsoft payd NBs to vote
    yes. Ecma got almost every suggestion they wanted approved so an ignorant person
    that votes might claim that everything is well since Ecma's responses must be
    good enough since Microsoft is a professional company. The real task here is not
    not to rant about the uneffective BRM but instead to expose how bad the draft
    really is.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
    Comments are owned by the individual posters.

    PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )