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Brazil Appeals OOXML Too! Asks Approval Be Reconsidered - Update: India Files Too
Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 08:33 PM EDT

South Africa was the first, but not the last. Now Brazil has sent a letter protesting the adoption of OOXML as an ISO standard also, and Andy Updegrove says he has heard there will be more:
Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT), the National Body representing Brazil, today filed an appeal to the approval of OOXML by ISO/IEC, bringing the current total of appeals to two, with as many as two additional appeals to come, based upon what I have heard from private sources. The text of the Brazilian appeal appears in full at the end of this blog entry, supplied by a trusted source in Brazil.

While this latest appeal overlaps the South African objections in part, it also raises new concerns, some of which are particular to the interests of Brazil, rather than applying to the process as a whole. As a result, it raises not only additional issues, but also ones that present a categorically different basis for appeal as well.

They ask that the approval be "reconsidered", and believe it or not, it was a very heated meeting, and at the end one member of the committee quit in disgust that the letter wasn't even stronger. It seems there actually is a limit to how much Microsoft can push the entire world around.

[ Update: India has now filed an appeal also. Andy Updegrove has more.]

Frank Hayes puzzles, as have so many of us, over why Microsoft suddenly decided to support ODF after all (although only ODF 1.1). I'm thinking maybe we can deduce at least one reason, now two, why Microsoft might have suddenly decided to support ODF, n'est-ce pas?

Brazil says it was not allowed to present a proposal regarding legacy binary mapping at the BRM, with the excuse there was a lack of time. But others were allowed to give half-hour speeches. There was inadequate discussion, and voting wasn't done the way it should have been:

The voting rules of that meeting were not taken in accordance with ISO/IEC/JTC1 directives subclause 9.1.4. Brazil also notes that the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 was voted under ISO/IEC/JTC1 but the BRM was organized by ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34. Even if the directives subclause 9.1.4 was intended to be used, Brazil cannot understand if the P member status considered, should be the ISO/IEC/JTC1 or the ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34 one.

The block voting bothered Brazil. They went to discuss technical issues, not vote without a chance to discuss. Also, looking over the notes of the meeting, they don't see an objection listed that was raised.

These are serious accusations, and Brazil says the odd voting arrangement leads it to believe that the results are "inconclusive". It also protests the failure to distribute the final draft in a timely way. You might ask, as I do, why every NB is not protesting, if what Brazil writes is true. On the other hand, consider that the appeals go to the same folks who brought you the BRM, as far as I can make out. Might someone take a look at that issue, at least for the future?

Here's the letter, mirrored for our archives:


Dear Sirs,

The Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT), as a P member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34, would like to present, to ISO/IEC/JTC1 and ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34, this appeal for reconsideration of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 final result.

This appeal is based on two main considerations:

1. Brazil considers that the BRM was inconclusive.

2. Brazil considers that the final version of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 text shall be released immediately.

1. About the BRM

At the BRM, the Brazilian delegation was not allowed to present an important proposal regarding the legacy binary mapping. This proposal was a complementary part of USA delegation proposal regarding the new organization of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500. It also shall complement the scope change proposal approved at the BRM.

Brazil has tried to present this proposal, during the debates, on the first day of the meeting and, attending to a request made by the convenor, Brazil has taken offline discussions with USA and other delegations and prepared its proposal to be presented on Friday, during USA proposal presentation. On Friday, when USA ended their part of presentation and asked for Brazil to present its part of it, the convenor denied this opportunity to Brazilian delegation.

Several delegations has protested against that arbitrary decision, but those appeal was in vain and until the end of the BRM, the Brazilian delegation was not able to present its proposal. The main reason alleged by the convenor was “lack of time”.

The proposal here mentioned, is the one available on the file “Br_Multipart_Proposal.ppt” available to all BRM members the ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34 website at least since the fourth day of the meeting.

Brazil also noticed that most of the decisions taken during the BRM were based on the “lack of time” argument, and we think that this is completely incompatible with the kind of decisions that should have be taken on that meeting.

During the BRM, some decisions were also taken based on the argument that “we need to give answers to journalists”, and we think that the media coverage of that meeting was not so important as the meeting results, to be used as a decision making criteria.

Even with the “lack of time” alleged, some members of ECMA delegation, and not members of any NB, was allowed to do half-hour speeches during the two first days of the meeting.

The voting rules of that meeting were not taken in accordance with ISO/IEC/JTC1 directives subclause 9.1.4. Brazil also notes that the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 was voted under ISO/IEC/JTC1 but the BRM was organized by ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34. Even if the directives subclause 9.1.4 was intended to be used, Brazil cannot understand if the P member status considered, should be the ISO/IEC/JTC1 or the ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34 one.

Brazil also considers that if most part of the issues was to be decided by vote, without any kind of discussion allowed.

About the same subject, Brazil considers that the elected “default voting criteria” was only elected because it was the “less bad” criteria that could be analyzed, and we do not consider that this voting decision represents the intent of the vast majority of BRM delegates. They went there to discuss the technical propositions.

Analyzing the document “SC 34 N 990 - EDITED NOTES OF THE MEETING”, on page 7, we have found the register of BR objection to the multi-part split decision but analyzing the document “SC 34 N 989 - RESOLUTIONS OF THE MEETING” we do not find that objection registered.

During the BRM, the delegations were asked to vote in block for the rejection of a set of responses that was considered by the convenor as “responses without any editing instructions”. Those responses are listed on the file “dis29500-nochange.txt”, available at the SC34 website during the BRM and, as far as Brazilian delegates remember, this set of responses was “rejected in block” as requested.

When we analyze the documents N989 and N990 we do not see any reference to that decision and also at the ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34 document with title “Result of Proposed disposition of comments (SC 34 N 980)”, that presents a table with the status of each response, some of the “block rejected responses” appears as accepted (e.g. responses 3, 5, 10 and 11 among others).

To finalize our considerations about the BRM, analyzing the document N 989, we've found that the BRM can be summarized by:

Total of responses available for discussion: 1027 100 %
Total of responses addressed at the BRM: 189 18,4 %
Total of responses decided by “default” vote: 838 81,6 %

We use the term “responses addressed at the BRM” above because the majority of those responses was decided by block vote without any discussion at the BRM.

For the above-mentioned reasons, Brazil considers that the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 BRM was inconclusive.

2. About the final version of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 text

According to the directive item 13.12, the final version of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 text shall be distributed on not more than one month after the end of the BRM.

Seen that almost three months has passed after the end of BRM, without any final version of the text distributed or published, and based on directive subclause 13.12, Brazil request the distribution of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 final text.

For all those reasons presented, Brazil kindly request that the final result of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 should be reconsidered by ISO/IEC/JTC1 and ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34.

Best regards,

Marcia Cristina de Oliveira

ABNT – Manager Standardization Process


Brazil Appeals OOXML Too! Asks Approval Be Reconsidered - Update: India Files Too | 195 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: jplatt39 on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 08:34 PM EDT
if any

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Here
Authored by: jplatt39 on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 08:37 PM EDT
Make links clickable. To do so set post mode to HTML. Read instructions in
read. READ IMPORTANT STUFF PERIOD (sorry I shouted).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspicks here.
Authored by: jplatt39 on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 08:39 PM EDT
Try to make the name of your post the same as the name of the story in
newspicks, unless you are replying to someone.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Are you sure?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 08:43 PM EDT
I'm not sure that Brazil is actually appealing. Based on some comments over at
Slashdot, it sounds like maybe they are "protesting" but not actually

[ Reply to This | # ]

Well, it's worth a try, but . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 09:12 PM EDT

The appeals are being addressed to the same people
who ignored the rules in the first place, as has been
pointed out before.

I do hope, though, that the appeals will be sufficient
grounds for these countries to ignore the standard
when considering government contracts for software.

I think the appeals will fail in the narrow ISO structure
but form the foundation for rejection of the standard

The ISO process for OOXML was obviously fraudulent.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Party's Starting, But Dinner's Gotten Cold
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 09:15 PM EDT
Hey, everybody!

While I certainly applaud this, at the same time, come on. IIRC, it was
Brazil's rep who blew the whistle and exposed the questionable practices in the
first place. UhOhXML got approved, and for the longest time, everyone was
silent, including Brazil. What took so long? And what's taking everyone else
so long? I just hate the thought of, "Protest? Great idea. You

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

[ Reply to This | # ]

No Doubt ISO Railroad Crew Will Balk!
Authored by: kawabago on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 09:19 PM EDT
The key people at ISO have been bought lock stock and barrel by Microsoft as
evidenced by their actions thus far. They will simply ignore any complaints
about the ooxml train wreck as it lumbers on to become the standard no body
wants except Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Brazil Appeals OOXML Too! Asks Approval Be Reconsidered
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 10:47 PM EDT

chickens. home. roost.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Brazil Appeals OOXML Too! Asks Approval Be Reconsidered
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 12:03 AM EDT
"It seems there actually is a limit to how much Microsoft can push the
entire world around."

I thought God was the one who started the world turning?

Of course, Microsoft does think it's God.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Frank Hayes puzzlement
Authored by: PolR on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 12:39 AM EDT
PJ was kind enough to point to the Frank Hayes article. It includes this interesting tidbit about why they will support ODF in Office 2007 but OOXML has to wait.
After a hard look at how long it would take to meet the ISO specifications for each of the formats, Microsoft decided ODF would be easier to do. That's why it will come first.
Microsoft finds easier to do ODF than OOXML? This rhyme with this other article from ZDNet. There they claim an actual quote from a Microsoft representative:
"We already substantially support IS29500 [the Open XML specification that was recently approved by ISO/IEC members] in Office 2007 and we've announced our plans to update that support in the next version of Office, code-named Office 14," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "The ISO/IEC standardization process resulted in a number of changes to the Open XML specification. While developing our support for ODF requires a substantial amount of work, changes to existing file formats are often more complex than developing new code and therefore more difficult to implement due to backwards compatibility considerations."
Microsoft through ECMA basically wrote the changes to OOXML, These changes were rammed through the BRM with a block voting procedure. There are reports that Microsoft representatives in SC34 vocally opposed any change that would introduce incompatibilities in Office. And now they claim ODF is easier to implement????

I can't help but wonder. Is there a LGPL implementation of ODF that is easier to integrate with Office 2007 than trying to adapt their native code to ISO 29500? I don't really know. I am just wondering.

The ZDNet article notices the EU Commissionis skeptical. They are not cutting Microsoft any slack.

"The Commission would welcome any step that Microsoft took towards genuine interoperability, more consumer choice and less vendor lock-in," the Commission said in a statement. "In its ongoing antitrust investigation concerning interoperability with Microsoft, the Commission will investigate whether the announced support of ODF in Office leads to better interoperability and allows consumers to process and exchange their documents with the software product of their choice."

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Office & ODF - compatibility, document fidelity, community. Shareholders Unite!
Authored by: tce on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 01:26 AM EDT
Hey Microsoft shareholder/employees and Partners,

Its time to nudge... your employer/supplier/owner has not earned my trust, but
they have a chance to start down that path, and the path to bring applications
to a $50b worldwide multi-vendor, open standards, and F/OSS compatible market.

So, PICK, please, and lobby your managers/masters.

Door #1, protect a shrinking proprietary market and pretend we are happy with
forced upgrades and lock-in standards. Pretend we are stupid. Pretend we don't
have other choices.

Doom. Scorn. Falling market share, falling stock price.
JPS (Just Plain Stupid).

Door #2,
Properly support ODF 1.2.

Contribute clean, bug free (e.g. no backwards compatibility w/ broken things)
no-(patent)-strings-attached, formula standards language proposal to OASIS for
ODF 1.3

Withdraw opposition to ISO fixing it process.
Ask your "well aligned" NBs to just quit.
You can get OOXML to not be standardized and just drop it and still "save

Do not Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.
Do not even look like it.

Do add odf compatibility to sharepoint.

Do add .net libraries for odf, and make the interfaces creative commons
licensed. (Heck, since you are on a new road, GLP v3 the code.) If they are any
good, then they will pop up in Ruby, Java, Smalltalk, PHP, etc.

Stick silverlight where...

As a worldwide monopoly your actions are no longer about competition between
corps - your actions are routinely seen as harming citizens, governments,
education, and children (e.g. fighting OLPC)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Frank Hayes Puzzles
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 09:02 AM EDT
"And that the competing standard, the OpenDocument format (ODF), will
actually be easier to add to Microsoft Office than Open XML would be."

"Follow all that? Good. Now will someone please remind me again that
standards are all about predictability?"

I find it just so very ironic that for years Microsoft told us that they
couldn't, wouldn't provide ODF support for Microsoft Office. That it would
leave it up the third party developers to provide converters. Just follow our
bouncing maybe we won't sue patents to build your converters.

And in all of this, they are not supporting the current version.

Actually, when you come down to it, the developers of the ODF standard need a
rousing round of standing ovation. Had they not started on this so very
laborous process of developing the open standard, there would now be no demand
for it. Microsoft is bowing to the many governments that are demanding the new
open standard, and taking this very important step so they can protect a
siginifcant market share.

Even in 2011, when they get Office to produce OOXML, they still won't be there,
because OOXML will be two years out of date with the product they will be
pushing. You will get messages with "Standard OOXML" that saving in
that format will loose some features.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Again.. No One Read Robert's Rules?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 09:08 AM EDT

It's good that countries are now stepping forward and complaining about procedural errors made at the OOXML meetings. But why weren't objections made directly in the meetings, at the time?

Since Robert's Rules Of Order is the mandated underlying RULE BOOK for these meetings; all one person had to do was to tell the Chairperson that procedural errors were being made. The Chairperson would have then been obligated to cease/adjourn the business that was going on at the time. And the Chair would have then been obligated to switch to a discussion about the procedural errors. No other business could be carried on until this discussion took place and the errors resolved/fixed.

The whole point of Robert's Rule is the doctrine of FAIRNESS. Not that I am an expert on Robert's Rules; but at least I have read it several times and used the Rules to bring down an illegitimate Board. How many here have read Robert's

I know that OBFUSCATION; that is, lawyers and others (SCO) playing with language via legalese, is at the center of most/many of PJ's posts here; but, at least Robert's document is relatively clear and concise. It needs to be read and used.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is the the text of the actual Letter?
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 10:26 AM EDT
I was just wondering if the actual appeal letter was submitted in Portuguese?

Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ramifications of OOXML failure and Mircrosoft's ODF support
Authored by: TiddlyPom on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 10:46 AM EDT
One thing struck me like a thunderbolt and that is the possible ramifications of OOXML failure and (the possibility of) full ODF support in Microsoft Office 2007 (SP2).

Microsoft Office becomes OPTIONAL rather than MANDATORY for businesses

Let me explain what I mean.

If (and it's a BIG IF) Microsoft fully implement ODF then full interoperability between OpenOffice/StarOffice and Microsoft Office becomes a reality.

Yes I know that you can read/write Microsoft Office documents in OpenOffice (I do it all the time) BUT often the formatting is subtly different or reformatting is necessary to allow the document to appear the same in both office suites. This is not acceptible to businesses who need to know that documents will render the same for all employees - hence the insistence on having the latest version of Microsoft Office.

With FULL ODF compliance this need evaporates so this means:
  • Companies do not need to buy Microsoft Office anymore. A free office suite such as OpenOffice or Google Documents will do.
  • Even more significantly, no mandatory use of Microsoft Office means that Linux COULD be used by many businesses right now instead of Windows.
This is no less than the freedom of platform independence that we have been fighting for.

Yes I know that Microsoft will probably not implement ODF correctly or attempt their usual Embrace-Extend-Extinguish strategy with it but

ODF is now a ratified standard and Microsoft Office can be checked for compliance.

Perhaps this is the first tiny step towards breaking Microsoft's domination of the desktop. I certainly hope so.

Open Source Software - Unpicking the Microsoft monopoly piece-by-piece.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ODF 1.1 vs 1.2
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 11:37 AM EDT

Does anyone know why Microsoft would support ODF 1.1 instead of 1.2?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Now I'm LOST! The deadlines issues.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 12:51 PM EDT
"By the deadline last night, we had received three appeals, from Brazil,
India and South Africa," said Jonathan Buck, spokesman for IEC.

Can someone please clear this for me:

So, they are late delivering the final text of the standard, by one month... but
the deadline doesn't move accordingly?!?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Brazilian Appeal Not 'Correctly Filed'?
Authored by: ankylosaurus on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 01:06 PM EDT
From the PC World article ( als_against_ooxml_standardization.html :
"The Brazillian [sic] appeal was not lodged in the correct procedure -- it was not send to the CEOs of the two organizations -- but nonetheless it has been received," Buck said, adding that it will be treated in the same way as the Indian and South African appeals.

The Dinosaur with a Club at the End of its Tail

[ Reply to This | # ]

Frank seems more then a little confused....
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 02:54 PM EDT

From the article:

And that's why developers of competing office suites -- in particular, the open-source OpenOffice -- started lobbying years ago to get large users such as governments to require archival storage formats that aren't under the control of a single vendor.
Err..... someone should perhaps break it to him that MS' customers, including Government bodies, have been requesting interoperability from MS for at least the last 15 years.

I simply view the Government requirements as the Government deciding:

    Since MS won't comply willingly, we'll implement a requirement where they will have to comply!
Somehow I doubt the FOSS developers had to really pressure the Government in any way in that regard.

Business that can afford lobbiests tend to pressure the Governement. If there's been any pressure on the Governements to have their documents in easily accessible formats to the public, it's been the Public itself that's applied the pressure.

As a result, let's attach the blame for the Government's requirements on those actually responsible: MS itself.

After all, if MS had been creating the office products in such a way as to comply with backward's compatibility of their own products let alone competition, the Governement wouldn't currently be in a position of having historical documents saved in a format the last couple generations of MS Word can't even read.

That's part of what's really amusing. The FOSS Office word processors have an easier time to read historical MS Word documents then the last couple versions of MS Word.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Hanging Chad - or would it be a lynch mob?
Authored by: tz on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 03:29 PM EDT
Remembering back to various elections with irregularities, the ghost of the
elder Mayor Daily is laughing, as should be the residents of Florida who had to
go through a bunch of stuff in 2000.

If only ISO used Diebold machines to count the votes!

At least some are stepping up and saying how stupid it is. 6000 pages of
contradictions and ambiguities fast trackes?

Then with a limited time BRM where they have long speeches then basically have a
quick final blanket vote?

And they can't even get the edited text out in three months, when they are
required to in one.

There are standards as to how to set standards, but they weren't followed.

I don't think this has gone unnoticed, but we will see where it leads.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML not yet approved
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 30 2008 @ 05:07 PM EDT
At least that's what the IDABC believe, in an official EC news release which was listed on GL's Wednesday NewsPicks. Was that just a slip of the pen? Or have they got a crystal ball focussed on these appeals?

[ Reply to This | # ]

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