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France and OOXML: Majority Voted No with Comments in PreVote, But... Consensus Outcome Unknown
Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:12 PM EDT

Here's the story from France so far. Apparently, the majority voted No with Comments in a pre-vote, but I understand France is a country that must reach consensus. You can see the results of the "pre-vote" (not sure if that's the best translation for "enquête probatoire nationale") on PC INpact, and you'll see that it does appear that a majority felt that AFNOR's choice should be No with Comments:
* Approbation au projet de normalisation : 20
* Approbation au projet de normalisation avec commentaires : 12
* Désapprobation avec commentaires : 81
* Abstention : 14

81 pre-votes indicating the choice of No with Comments, 14 abstentions, 12 Yes with Comments, and 20 Yes. That's overwhelmingly no. I think you can probably fill in the blanks at what happened at the meeting on that news, however. I hear Microsoft didn't like the vote results, and from reports coming in, the meeting became quite heated. The question now is, can one powerful proponent of a standard negate the wishes of the majority?

Some links in French:

AFNOR is quiet as a churchyard, saying it will release its decision on September 2. The thing about a consensus process is that normally, there's no vote. Everyone talks it out and finally they all agree. That's the idea of it, anyway. But if the vendor behind a proposed standard can kill any consensus that isn't a Yes by objecting to a majority vote that is against it, then what happens? It seems a demonstration that the consensus process is flawed, if a proponent of a standard has total veto power over a majority that doesn't wish to accept the proposed format as is. Perhaps the process needs to address such questions as we all go forward.

And as we wait to find out what France's AFNOR will do, who knows what is happening behind closed doors. And really, who knew standards setting could be so appallingly thrilling? It's like watching a train wreck. I can't bear to watch, and I can't look away.


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