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Sweden's SIS Declares OOXML Vote Invalid - Will Change Vote from Yes to Abstain - Updated
Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 03:51 PM EDT

SIS, the standards body in Sweden, has declared its vote on OOXML invalid. There is no time to start over, so Sweden will abstain. We don't have it translated for you yet, but a reader informs me of the gist. We'll do the rest as soon as we can. Here is the SIS statement [PDF], for those who can read it already and may wish to help tell the rest of us the details. Here is one translation online:
The Swedish working group of SiS, Swedish Standards Institute, Document description languages, SIS/TK 321/AG 17, decided on 27 August 2007 at a vote to vote for making Office Open XML an ISO standard. Today the board of SiS decided to invalidate the vote.

The motive of the decision of the board is that SiS has information suggesting that one of the members in the working group has participated in the vote with more than one vote. [...]

The media in Sweden is beginning to report it now. Here's coverage, also in Swedish. I am told that the issue was someone voting twice. I've written to SIS for clarification.

That isn't the big story though, to me. The real story is countries that voted No with Comments in the public process that are being pressured behind closed doors, sometimes successfully, to change the vote. Keep your eye on France and the Czech Republic, folks.

More media coverage:

  • IT Business Edge: Meantime, the managing director for the ODF Alliance notes that Microsoft’s work may backfire. As he told Computerworld: "Some of the comments that have been received from the countries… shine a light on OOXML defects. Governments will think long and hard after viewing some of these comments before using the format."

  • Eric Lai, ComputerWorld: Microsoft Corp. admitted Wednesday that an employee at its Swedish subsidiary offered monetary compensation to partners for voting in favor of the Office Open XML document format's approval as an ISO standard.

    Microsoft said the offer, when discovered, was quickly retracted and that its Sweden managers voluntarily notified the SIS, the national standards body.

    "We had a situation where an employee sent a communication via e-mail that was inconsistent with our corporate policy," said Tom Robertson, general manager for interoperability and standards at Microsoft. "That communication had no impact on the final vote." ...

    In a blog post late Wednesday night, Jason Matusow, Microsoft's senior director for intellectual property and interoperability, acknowledged that Microsoft had contacted business partners to support Open XML, though he stopped short of a full apology for that action.

    "It is critical to note that the addition of voting members at that time was completely within the rules of the national standards body," he wrote. "While there are many arguments to be had over the relative merits of this rule ... it is a rule nonetheless."

Apparently SIS disagrees.

Update: Groklaw member ingvar has translated the article about the SIS decision for us and here is the meat of it:

Tearing up the decision.

"One of the organisations that took part has voted twice", says Lars Flink, CEO for SIS, to CS. The standards organisation SIS invalidates the earlier vote where Microsoft's document format Open XML was voted through.

The reason is, however, not the harsh criticism that has been presented against the decision, but a mere formality. According to SIS the rules have not been adhered to during the recent vote.

It has been demonstrated that one of the organisations that voted did so with two votes. Since the rules for the voting have not been followed, the earlier decision is invalid, says Lars Flink, CEO for SIS to CS.

The result is that the vote will have to be re-done, and this could be hard, since it must be done before September 2nd. In may result in Sweden abstaining from voting....

That there were a lot turning up for the vote is not formally a problem. It is open for everyone to participate, he continues.

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