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Formal Protest Filed Asking that Norway's Vote Be Annulled & KEI Statement
Monday, March 31 2008 @ 02:47 PM EDT

The uproar over OOXML just won't quit. There has now been a formal protest filed, stating that due to irregularities, Norway's Yes vote should be changed to No and informing ISO that there has been a request for an investigation by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry:
Formal protest regarding the Norwegian vote on ISO/IEC DIS 29500

I am writing to you in my capacity as Chairman (of 13 years standing) of the Norwegian mirror committee to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34. I wish to inform you of serious irregularities in connection with the Norwegian vote on ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Office Open XML) and to lodge a formal protest.

You will have been notified that Norway voted to approve OOXML in this ballot. This decision does not reflect the view of the vast majority of the Norwegian committee, 80% of which was against changing Norway’s vote from No with comments to Yes.

Because of this irregularity, a call has been made for an investigation by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry with a view to changing the vote.

I hereby request that the Norwegian decision be suspended pending the results of this investigation.

Yours sincerely,
Steve Pepper
Chairman, SN/K185 (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 mirror committee)

I feel confident this won't be the last. Pepper is the chairman of the committee that had the job of evaluating OOXML.

Update: ISO now says they will tell us the results Wednesday, not today after all. I suspect there may be a connection. And Microsoft says it won't say anything until Wednesday either, "out of respect for the standards process." Hahahahaha. Priceless.

Knowledge Ecology International has reacted also, with this statement:

"It appears as if OOXML will be approved by the ISO. If so, we are disappointed. Microsoft's control over document formats has destroyed competition on the desktop, and the fight over OOXML is really a fight over the future of competition and innovation.

At this point, few software programs can implement the OOXML standard, and it is likely that Microsoft will use this standard as a weapon against its competitors, by introducing various obscure elements of the standard into MS Word and PowerPoint documents, so that only their products can be trusted. They have been doing for this decades already.

The TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) will meet with European and US trade officials next week and likely recommend procurement policies that would look at the practical implementation of document formats. Specifically, they will ask that procurement be limited to software programs that support multiple effective implementations for word processing on at least each of the three leading operating systems for consumers. This is a test that OOXML does not meet."

This story is so not over.

Groklaw member trtl sent me a helpful email, taking a look at how appeals work. He's been slogging through the rules in JTC-1 Directives [PDF]. Keep in mind that an appeal is something you'd normally see a failed applicant to file, and it's not the same thing as filing an objection, which is what just happened regarding Norway. And frankly if you think the fix is in, appealing to the folks who you suspect helped to fix it probably isn't so helpful. But it's interesting to try to understand the JTC 1's labyrinthine rules. Not that anybody seems to follow them. Here's what he found:

According to JTC1 directives, approving a standard would be an appealable decision, with appeals handled by Section 11 of the JTC1 directives:
11.1.1 NBs have the right of appeal • To JTC 1 on a decision of an SC; • To TMB/SMB on a decision of JTC 1; • To the Councils on a decision of the TMB/SMB. Appeals shall be made within two months after receipt by the P-members of the report of JTC 1 or SC on the relevant meeting or vote by correspondence. The decision of the Councils on any case of appeal is final.

This means that NBs can appeal to the Technical Management Board/IEC Standards Management Board and have to do so within 2 months of receipt of the vote by correspondence. If I read it correctly, even the report/results of the BRM can be so appealed, because 2 months haven't passed yet since.

11.1.2 A P-member of JTC 1 or an SC may appeal against any action, or inaction, on the part of JTC 1 or an SC when the P-member considers that such action or inaction is:
  • Not in accordance with these directives; or
  • Not in the best interests of international trade and commerce, or such public factors as safety, health or environment.

OK, so the appeal *has* to come from a P-member. This leaves Canada, China, Ecuador, France, India, Iran, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and Venezuela as likely appealers. Setting aside possible procedural faults, sub 2 can be successfully argued, as having a bad 6000-page 'standard' is not in the best interests of international trade and commerce.

11.1.3 Matters under appeal may be either technical or administrative in nature. Appeals on decisions concerning NPs, CDs and DISs are only eligible for consideration if:
  • Questions of principle are involved;
  • The contents of a draft may be detrimental to the reputation of IEC or ISO; or
  • The point giving rise to objection was not known to JTC 1 or SC during earlier discussions.

It would be interesting to find out what 'questions of principle' are. They aren't further defined as far as I can see. The second point I consider to be easy to prove, seeing the irregularities in the process and the quality of the 'standard'.

11.1.4 . All appeals shall be fully documented to support the NB’s concern. The complaint shall state the nature of the objection(s) including any direct and material adverse effects, the section(s) of these procedures or the standard that are at issue, actions or inactions that are at issue, and the specific remedial action(s) that would satisfy the appellant’s concerns. Previous efforts to resolve the objection(s) and the outcome of each shall be noted.

Some work to be done here. It would possibly help to make it a community effort to create such a documentation.

11.1.5 When an appeal is against a decision respecting work in progress, the work shall be continued, up to and including submission of the final text to the ITTF (see or 13.9).

So everything continues in the meantime, which makes sense. It helps to realize this though.

11.2 Appeal Against an SC Decision 11.2.1 The documented appeal shall be submitted by the P-member to the JTC 1 Secretariat with copies to the ITTF.

11.2.2 Upon receipt, the JTC 1 Secretariat shall advise all its P-members of the appeal, and take immediate action, by correspondence or at a meeting, to consider and decide on the appeal, consulting the Secretaries-General in the process.

11.2.3 If JTC 1 supports the SC, the P-member who initiated the appeal may either

  • Accept the JTC 1 decision, or
  • Appeal against it.

Probably 11.2 isn't needed here, as the vote is a JTC 1 decision, not one of a SC. Or is it?

11.3 Appeal Against a JTC 1 Decision

11.3.1 Appeals against a JTC 1 decision may be of two kinds:

  • An appeal against an original decision of JTC 1, or
  • An appeal arising out of 11.2.3 above.

11.3.2 The documented appeal shall, in all cases, be submitted to the Secretaries-General, with a copy to the JTC 1 Chairman and Secretariat.

11.3.3 The Secretaries-General shall, following whatever consultations they deem appropriate, refer the appeal together with their comments to the TMB/SMB within one month after receipt of the appeal.

11.3.4 The TMB/SMB shall decide whether an appeal shall be further processed or not. If the decision is in favour of proceeding, the Chairmen of the TMB/SMB shall form a conciliation panel (see 9.2). The conciliation panel shall hear the appeal and attempt to resolve the difference of opinion as soon as practicable. If the conciliation panel is unsuccessful in its endeavours, it shall so report within three months to the Secretaries-General, giving its recommendations on how the matter should be settled.

11.3.5 The Secretaries-General, on receipt of the report of the conciliation panel, shall inform the TMB/SMB, which will make their decision.

I haven't had time to work this out, unfortunately. But in short it seems that after handling the appeal at this level there's another level to go to to appeal:

11.4 Appeal Against a Decision of the TMB/SMBs

An appeal against a decision of the TMB/SMB shall be submitted to the Secretaries-General with full documentation on all stages of the case. The Secretaries-General shall refer the appeal together with their comments to the members of the Councils within one month after receipt of the appeal.

The Councils shall make their decision within three months.

And then it's final.

To make it short: Appeal against JTC1: 2 months to appeal, 1+3 months to handle it, plus an unknown time for the Secretary General to make a decision. Then an appeal against TMB/SMB decision: another 1+3 months. We might make it into 2009 this way ;-).

But what you are all asking is, what can we do? Glynn Moody in Linux Journal talks about what Microsoft has done, and has a few suggestions, in an article titled, Microsoft's Great Besmirching:

Microsoft has managed to besmirch the entire ISO process, which is now effectively worthless. Microsoft has shown that it knows how to get what it wants there, and will doubtless be applying that knowledge to further "standards" in the future. ISO has turned from being a kind of gold standard, into a worthless rubber stamp wielded at the behest of the rich and ruthless.

But is not only the ISO that Microsoft has sullied. It has also sullied itself, at a time when the perceived value of its brand is already plummeting. It may have been successful in somehow persuading various National Bodies to see its point of view, but it seems not to have noticed that something has changed from the good old days of meetings behind closed doors. In the age of the blog it is simply impossible to keep this stuff locked up. As the days and months go by, I predict that more and more and more details will emerge about what really happened. And then the real battle begins....

Writing to MEPs (if you're European) or to Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition, (if you're not) is one obvious action we can all take to press for an independent, transparent inquiry into possible irregularities during the OOXML voting process in Europe. But I think there's something just as important that we need to start doing immediately.

It is striking that some parts of Microsoft have been making soothing noises to the open source world, speaking of their desire to work alongside free software projects and to ensure "interoperability" - a favourite concept at the moment - between the open and closed worlds. Those voices have become increasingly seductive to some, especially in the open source business world, who would rather work with than against the Seattle behemoth, and who seem to believe that Microsoft is genuine in its offers. But if the whole sorry OOXML saga shows anything, it is Microsoft's deep and utter contempt for the whole idea of an open, collaborative process based on mutual respect and consensus. Henceforth, members of the open source community must view with deep cynicism all - not just some - offers by Microsoft to work more closely with the free software world. If they don't, they could find themselves used and abused just like the once famous, and now former, International Standards Organisation.

Andy Updegrove, interviewed by Elizabeth Montalbano of IDG, says it best:

Norway's protest likely means that the debate over OOXML won't end when the ISO announces the results of the final vote.

"Things are getting weirder and weirder," said Andrew Updegrove, a supporter of ODF, a rival to OOXML, and an open-source and open-standards attorney with Gesmer Updegrove in Boston. "I think OOXML is going to be in the news for a while."


Formal Protest Filed Asking that Norway's Vote Be Annulled & KEI Statement | 126 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: lordshipmayhem on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 02:49 PM EDT
Please put the nature of the error --> correction in the Title. Thanks!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here
Authored by: lordshipmayhem on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 02:50 PM EDT
Please make all links clickable
<a href="">Like this</a>
and by changing the Post Mode to HTML.


[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks discussions here
Authored by: lordshipmayhem on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 02:52 PM EDT
Please indicate in the Title which News Picks item you are discussing.


[ Reply to This | # ]

How many more to undo?
Authored by: designerfx on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 02:52 PM EDT
How many more would have to make similar cases in order for MSXML/DIS29500 (I
dare not call it OOXML) be disapproved?

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO will announce results on Wednesday
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 02:59 PM EDT
Reute rs news

[ Reply to This | # ]

Formal Protest Filed Asking that Norway's Vote Be Annulled & KEI Statement
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 03:00 PM EDT
Very cool

[ Reply to This | # ]

May this be the start of the avalanche -- please!
Authored by: say_what on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 03:03 PM EDT
Many of us have been frustrated by the lack of formal protests from people or bodies with standing about this ISO farce. Hopefully, they have only been held back because of the belief that it is poor protocol to formally protest something which hasn't actually happened yet.

Now that formal "positions" (many of them don't represent the votes, so I call them votes) have been registered, we may see many more of these protests. I certainly hope this is the start of the avalanche.

A cheap solution that doesn't work is neither,
Say What?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Embrace, Extend, Extinguish
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 03:13 PM EDT
It is starting to look Microsoft is applying their effective Embrace, Extend,
Extinguish strategy against the ISO.

Embrace the ISO by seeking ISO approval for OOXML.

Extend the ISO by inappropriately fast tracking a standard with the help of the

Extinguish the ISO by diminishing its reputation as an unbiased standards making

I don't know if this was their original intent or not.

But, as the old saying goes, "If your only tools is a hammer, everything
looks like a nail."

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRM appeal
Authored by: overshoot on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 03:27 PM EDT
Well, for starters the executive decision to allow O-members to vote is flagrantly in violation of the rules.

Then we get to the fun stuff -- as I asked before: the rules allow the BRM to declare that it cannot satisfactorily perform its task. Was that point brought up? Was there any effort to bring up that point? If anyone attempted to bring up that matter, were they allowed by the Chair to do so?

If, as some report, the Chair had its own agenda and did not allow the attending members to raise points of order then I would seriously challenge whether the BRM was valid.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: skip on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 03:41 PM EDT
if it gets ISO aproval in the next few days before the formal protests get any
momentum, then it becomes an effort to undo an unfair ruling.

That means it's going to become a matter for lawyers, and microsoft has lots of

They've got a history of dragging things out for a very long time.

I'm being pessimistic I know, but from the looks of it, corrupt practices and
money have all but given them the ISO.

Quite what it will be worth I don't know, but again, with innumerable millions
to spend on advertising, and their experience with spin, they'll do their very
best to get the not so legal way the ISO was obtained buried in fud.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Formal Protest Filed Asking that Norway's Vote Be Annulled & KEI Statement
Authored by: Jude on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 04:02 PM EDT
Let's not forget that this is exactly the same approach that Microsoft uses to
sell their products: Why should they bother to create products that people want
when they can bag deals by making sure the decision-makers are in their

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Ya know what? - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 04:26 PM EDT
    • Why bother? - Authored by: Jude on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 04:31 PM EDT
    • Ya know what? - Authored by: PolR on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 05:07 PM EDT
      • Ya know what? - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 09:49 AM EDT
"Out of respect for the standards process."
Authored by: billyskank on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 05:16 PM EDT
Laughing. My. Face. Off.

It's not the software that's free; it's you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I still think that OOXML passing is not entirely disasterous
Authored by: Peter Baker on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 06:00 PM EDT
I think there's a small thing everyone keeps overlooking.

Governments generally mandate standards to *use* them. I must confess I would
find it EXTREMELY amusing if MS is forced to implement OOXML itself, and made to
provide proof of competing products that can maintain the same fidelity.

Can you imagine the kind of pain they'd be in having to fix all those flaws?
Can you imagine the agony if some student in a "Summer of Code" wrote
an Open Source OOXML compliance checker so that EVERYONE could verify the MS
implementation against the formal standard? The beauty of it is that it's all
innocent "assistance". I guess this identifies a need for a ODF
compliance test as well, not sure if it already exists.

Trust me, there are plenty of ways to get blood flowing at MS. You're just all
too nice to use them.

= P =

[ Reply to This | # ]

action - Formal Protest Filed Asking that Norway's Vote Be Annulled & KEI Statement
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 06:04 PM EDT
"...specific remedial action(s) that would satisfy the appellant’s

Take it off fast track and make it go through the normal standards process!!!

Making it go through the normal standards process instead of fast track would at
least give it the appearance of being properly approved instead of this
outrageous farce that impunges the propriety of the ISO process!!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why not tomorrow???
Authored by: JamesK on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 06:15 PM EDT
"Update: ISO now says they will tell us the results Wednesday, not today
after all. I suspect there may be a connection. And Microsoft says it won't say
anything until Wednesday either, "out of respect for the standards
process." Hahahahaha. Priceless."

April 1 would be an excellent day for that announcement.

This space intentionally left blank.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What can an American do?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 06:21 PM EDT
IANAL but ihave to wonder if MicroSoft is in violation of antitrust laws and
perhaps of court orders. Is there a complaint that can be filed or an amicus
curiae? I expect such efforts to be futile but apathy is not an adequate excuse
to do nothing. I don't want to give up on our constitution just because it
hasn't been very well respected at times.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I Think You're All Wrong About The Reason For The Delay
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 06:49 PM EDT
Hey, everybody!

I suspect they are getting a whiff of all the trouble they caused and the spin
doctors need more time to hammer out something soothing for public
dissemination. You know, the Squealers to their Napoleons?

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger
who is going to bake a lasanga so he can eat something good and calm down....

[ Reply to This | # ]

SC 34 decision
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 09:43 PM EDT
From the email to PJ: "Probably 11.2 isn't needed here, as the vote is a
JTC 1 decision, not one of a SC. Or is it?"

It was a decision of SC 34 (Document Description and Processing Languages

[ Reply to This | # ]

Can msft be forced to adhere to the standard?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 31 2008 @ 11:16 PM EDT
Let's suppose that a government body decides that all future documents have to
be saved in an ISO approved format. To do so, the government body accepts bids
for it's new office software, and decides to adopt OOXML, and to use MS-Office
2007 to implement the new standard.

Could IBM then sue the government body, citing that MS-Office 2007, does not
save documents in a true ISO approved format - since the format saved by
office-2007 is not the same as the ISO approved format. Therefore, IBM could
claim that they unfairly lost the bid.

Or, is that just crazy talk?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Results here
Authored by: Jeetje on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 08:20 AM EDT
According to an article on No OOXML
, the results can be downloaded here:

Better get them while they're hot / up; especially the comments from various NBs
are quite an interesting read.

For example, notice AFNOR voted Abstain, yet their 122 page comments document
starts with 'In accordance with 9.8 of the ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives, AFNOR
disapproves Fast Track
ISO/IEC DIS 29500 “Information technology -- Office Open XML file formats » for
the reasons, stated below, albeit with proposals for changes that would possibly
make the document acceptable as a two-part Technical Specification*).'

Sorry AFNOR, there's no such thing as an 'Abstain, with comments' vote, so
that's 122 pages that can be thrown to the wind.

Ceterum censeo OOXML esse delendam

[ Reply to This | # ]

MSFT and "respect for the process"
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 01:52 PM EDT
Looks like MSFT PR didn't get the message

[ Reply to This | # ]

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