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The results of the ISO voting: Office Open XML is Disapproved - Updated: It's Official
Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 08:26 AM EDT

Here are the results of the voting on OOXML: Disapproved.

The official word is not yet released, but I have seen the results. UK disapproved, as did Ireland. So did Canada. So did the Czech Republic and Korea. Malaysia abstained (which is unexplained, since it was reported the technical committee voted No with Comments). Oddly, I don't see Hungary on the list.

The 11 new P signups, Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Ecuador, Jamaica, Lebanon, Malta, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela, all voted to approve or approve with comments, except for Ecuador, which disapproved, and Trinidad and Tobago which abstained. What about the O members? Almost to a man, they voted to approve. What an amazing coincidence.

Microsoft is telling it in their press release that 74% of all qualified votes approved: "The results show that 51 ISO members, representing 74 percent of all qualified votes, stated their support for ratification of Open XML."

That is downright silly. If that were true, it would have been approved, not disapproved. All you need for approval is any number greater than 66.6% and not too many no votes. This press release is a masterpiece, no doubt about it. I'll show you the real figures.

Update as of 11:54 AM: Here's official word in a press release from ISO. Here's the opening paragraph:

A ballot on whether to publish the draft standard ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML file formats, as an International Standard by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has not achieved the required number of votes for approval.

Microsoft says they expect to win approval after the February meeting, and you can see why they would think that, looking at the O members' votes. They are on the committee that handles the comments. Here's the story in PC World from Peter Sayer:

Microsoft Corp. has failed in its attempt to have its Office Open XML document format fast-tracked straight to the status of an international standard by the International Organization for Standardization.

The proposal must now be revised to take into account the negative comments made during the voting process. Microsoft expects that a second vote early next year will result in approval, it said Tuesday.

Not to interfere with the positive spin or anything, but I thought they expected they'd win the first vote too. Here's Andy Updegrove:

Last night, I projected that the OOXML vote in ISO/IEC JTC1 would fail. I now have confirmation from someone who has seen the official results that indeed the vote has failed.

By way of indirect confirmation, Microsoft has issued a press release on the OOXML vote. The release is titled Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process, and subtitled, "Significant participation by National Bodies in ISO/IEC ratification process for Open XML; final decision expected in March 2008 at close of ballot resolution period."

Microsoft is, of course, counting P and O members in one bunch. The actual percentages go like this:

P-Members voting: 17 in favor out of 32 = 53.12% (requirement >= 66.66%)

Member bodies voting: 18 negative votes out of 69 = 26.08%


Abstentions are not counted. So. There you are. Microsoft's truthiness. A loss is a win in their PR universe. By the way, despite what they say about ODF, there were no negative votes when ODF was voted on and approved as a standard.

So what does it mean? Money can't buy you love, despite my fears shared by some. Not tech love, anyway. If you try to fast track an unbaked format, tech folks will notice it's not done yet.

The Microsoft press release isn't fooling most professional journalists either. Here's the Wall St. Journal's coverage, for example. And here's Times Online's headline: "Microsoft suffers set back in key standards battle". A few are repeating the press release spin, however. That one is funny, because the writer actually thinks the vote was yes. He ends the article, "The NoOOXML campaign, which had predicted a "no" vote, has yet to respond." Duh, it was a No vote. I wonder how he will feel the next time he gets a Microsoft press release. I guess I'll put the press release here too, so you can compare it to the press coverage. This is one time when CompTIA is more forthright than Microsoft. The at least said they were disappointed "but not disheartened."

Here are the real results country by country, again with the proviso that this is an advance peek, not yet the official announcement from ISO:


Country Member Participation Voted

Argentina - IRAM - O Member - Abstention
Armenia - SARM - O Member - Approval
Australia - SA - P Member - Abstention
Austria - ON - O Member - Approval with comments
Azerbaijan - AZSTAND - P Member - Approval
Bangladesh - BSTI - - Approval
Barbados - BNSI - - Approval
Belarus - BELST - O Member - Approval
Belgium - NBN - P Member - Abstention
Bosnia and Herzegovina - BAS - - Approval
Brazil - ABNT - O Member - Disapproval
Bulgaria - BDS - O Member - Approval with comments
Canada - SCC - P Member - Disapproval
Chile - INN - O Member - Abstention
China - SAC - P Member - Disapproval
Colombia - ICONTEC - O Member - Approval with comments
Congo, The Democratic Republic of OCC - - Approval
Costa Rica - INTECO - O Member - Approval
Cte-d'Ivoire - CODINORM - P Member - Approval
Croatia - HZN - O Member - Approval
Cuba - NC - O Member - Approval
Cyprus - CYS - P Member - Approval
Czech Republic - CNI - P Member - Disapproval
Denmark - DS - P Member - Disapproval
Ecuador - INEN - P Member - Disapproval
Egypt - EOS - O Member - Approval
Fiji - FTSQCO - - Approval
Finland - SFS - P Member - Abstention
France - AFNOR - P Member - Disapproval
Germany - DIN - P Member - Approval with comments
Ghana - GSB - - Approval with comments
Greece - ELOT - O Member - Approval with comments
India - BIS - P Member - Disapproval
Iran, Islamic Republic of - ISIRI - P Member - Disapproval
Ireland - NSAI - P Member - Disapproval
Israel - SII - O Member - Abstention
Italy - UNI - P Member - Abstention
Jamaica - JBS - P Member - Approval
Japan - JISC - P Member - Disapproval
Jordan - JISM - - Approval with comments
Kazakhstan - KAZMEMST - P Member - Approval
Kenya - KEBS - P Member - Approval with comments
Korea, Republic of - KATS - P Member - Disapproval
Kuwait - KOWSMD - - Approval
Lebanon - LIBNOR - P Member - Approval
Luxembourg - SEE - O Member - Abstention
Malaysia - DSM - P Member - Abstention
Malta - MSA - P Member - Approval with comments
Mauritius - MSB - - Abstention
Mexico - DGN - O Member - Abstention
Morocco - SNIMA - O Member - Approval
Netherlands - NEN - P Member - Abstention
New Zealand - SNZ - P Member - Disapproval
Nigeria - SON - - Approval
Norway - SN - P Member - Disapproval
Pakistan - PSQCA - P Member -Approval
Panama - COPANIT - - Approval
Peru - INDECOPI - O Member - Abstention
Philippines - BPS - O Member - Disapproval
Poland - PKN - O Member - Approval with comments
Portugal - IPQ - O Member - Approval with comments
Qatar - QS - - Approval
Romania - ASRO - O Member - Approval
Russian Federation - GOST R - O Member - Approval
Saudi Arabia - SASO - P Member - Approval
Serbia - ISS - O Member - Approval
Singapore - SPRING SG - P Member - Approval with comments
Slovenia - SIST - P Member - Abstention
South Africa - SABS - P Member - Disapproval
Spain - AENOR - P Member - Abstention
Sri Lanka - SLSI - O Member - Approval
Switzerland - SNV - P Member - Approval with comments
Syrian Arab Republic - SASMO - - Approval
Tanzania, United Rep. of - TBS - - Approval
Thailand - TISI - O Member - Disapproval
Trinidad and Tobago - TTBS - P Member - Abstention
Tunisia - INNORPI - O Member - Approval with comments
Turkey - TSE - P Member - Approval with comments
Ukraine - DSSU - O Member - Approval
United Arab Emirates - ESMA - - Approval
United Kingdom - BSI - P Member - Disapproval
Uruguay - UNIT - P Member - Approval with comments
USA - ANSI - Secretariat - Approval with comments
Uzbekistan - UZSTANDARD - - Approval
Venezuela - FONDONORMA - P Member - Approval with comments
Viet Nam - TCVN - O Member - Abstention
Zimbabwe - SAZ - - Abstention
Ecma International - - Comment Only

Here's the full ISO press statement:


Ref.: 1070

Vote closes on draft ISO/IEC DIS 29500 standard


A ballot on whether to publish the draft standard ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML file formats, as an International Standard by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has not achieved the required number of votes for approval.

The five-month ballot process ended on 2 September and was open to the IEC and ISO national member bodies from 104 countries, including 41 that are participating members of the joint ISO/IEC technical committee, JTC 1, Information technology.

Approval requires at least 2/3 (i.e. 66.66 %) of the votes cast by national bodies participating in ISO/IEC JTC 1 to be positive; and no more than 1/4 (i.e. 25 %) of the total number of national body votes cast negative. Neither of these criteria were achieved, with 53 % of votes cast by national bodies participating in ISO/IEC JTC 1 being positive and 26 % of national votes cast being negative.

Comments that accompanied the votes will be discussed at a ballot resolution meeting (BRM) to be organized by the relevant subcommittee of ISO/IEC JTC 1 (SC 34, Document description and processing languages) in February 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The objective of the meeting will be to review and seek consensus on possible modifications to the document in light of the comments received along with the votes. If the proposed modifications are such that national bodies then wish to withdraw their negative votes, and the above acceptance criteria are then met, the standard may proceed to publication.

Otherwise, the proposal will have failed and this fast-track procedure will be terminated. This would not preclude subsequent re-submission under the normal ISO/IEC standards development rules.

ISO/IEC DIS 29500 is a proposed standard for word-processing documents, presentations and spreadsheets that is intended to be implemented by multiple applications on multiple platforms. According to the submitters, one of its objectives is to ensure the long-term preservation of documents created over the last two decades using programmes that are becoming incompatible with continuing advances in the IT field.

ISO/IEC DIS 29500 was originally developed as the Office Open XML Specification by Microsoft Corporation which submitted it to Ecma International for transposing into an ECMA standard. Following a process in which other IT industry players participated, Ecma International subsequently published the document as ECMA standard 376.

Ecma International then submitted the standard in December 2006 to ISO/IEC JTC 1, with whom it has category A liaison status, for adoption as an International Standard under the JTC 1 "fast track" procedure. This allows a standard developed within the IT industry to be presented to JTC 1 as a Draft International Standard (DIS) that can be adopted after a process consisting of a one-month review by the national bodies of JTC 1 and then a five-month ballot open to all voting national bodies of ISO and IEC.

About ISO

ISO is a global network of national standards institutes from 157 countries. It has a current portfolio of more than 16 500 standards for business, government and society. ISO's standards make up a complete offering for all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, environmental and social. ISO standards provide solutions and achieve benefits for almost all sectors of activity, including agriculture, construction, mechanical engineering, manufacturing, distribution, transport, medical devices, information and communication technologies, the environment, energy, quality management, conformity assessment and services.

About IEC

The IEC, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is the world’s leading organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as “electrotechnology”. IEC standards cover a vast range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, semiconductors, fibre optics, batteries, flat panel displays and solar energy, to mention just a few. Wherever you find electricity and electronics, you find the IEC supporting safety and performance, the environment, electrical energy efficiency and renewable energies. The IEC also manages conformity assessment schemes that certify whether equipment, systems or components conform to its International Standards.

Here is Microsoft's spin:


Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process

Significant participation by National Bodies in ISO/IEC ratification process for Open XML; final decision expected in March 2008 at close of ballot resolution period.

September 04, 2007: 06:31 AM EST

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released the results of the preliminary ballot to participating National Body members for the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Ecma 376 Office Open XML file formats) ratification process. The results show that 51 ISO members, representing 74 percent of all qualified votes, stated their support for ratification of Open XML. Along with their votes, the National Bodies also provided invaluable technical comments designed to improve the specification. Many of the remaining ISO members stated that they will support Open XML after their comments are addressed during the final phase of the process, which is expected to close in March 2008.

With at least 87 countries taking part in some way, the Open XML review represents an unprecedented level of participation in the standardization of a document format. Fifty-one ISO members voicing support at this preliminary stage of the process compares favorably with the 32 ISO members supporting Open Document Format (ODF) 1.0 at the end of its process and the 15 ISO members supporting PDF/A-1 at the end of its process. This widespread participation and support is consistent with the rapid adoption of the Ecma Office Open XML file formats across multiple platforms and products from a wide range of IT vendors (including Apple, Novell, Corel, Sun, Microsoft, Java developers and Linux distributors), creating real value for IT users around the globe.

"We are extremely delighted to see that 51 ISO members, representing 74 percent of the qualified votes, have already voiced their support for ISO ratification of Open XML, and that many others have indicated they will support ratification once their comments are resolved in the next phase of the ISO process," said Tom Robertson, general manager for Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft Corp. "This preliminary vote is a milestone for the widespread adoption of the Open XML formats around the world for the benefit of millions of customers. Given how encouraging today's results were, we believe that the final tally in early 2008 will result in the ratification of Open XML as an ISO standard."

Technical Input Will Enhance the Standard

Today's results represent the beginning of the third phase of the ISO/IEC process, called "ballot resolution," during which time Ecma International will respond to all comments that have been submitted by ISO National Bodies and provide them with a final opportunity to voice their support.

"Technical experts around the world have provided invaluable feedback and technical recommendations for evolving the format," Robertson said. "The high quality of the Open XML format will be improved as a result of this process, and we take seriously our role in working within the Ecma technical committee to address the comments received. We believe that the ISO National Bodies will be pleased with the results."

The ISO/IEC process is also designed to create maximum opportunities for ISO members to move from "no" to "yes" in this final phase, and we fully expect the total number of supporting votes to grow. "The objective of the standardization process, whether with Ecma International, ISO/IEC or another standards body, is ultimately to refine a specification and achieve a positive consensus around its formal adoption for the benefit of the entire industry," said Hugo Lueders, group director of EU Public Policy for the Computer Industry Technology Association. "Given the remarkable level of participation from the global standards community, the results from this preliminary ballot are very encouraging."

Although no date has been formally set, the final tally is likely to take place in March 2008. ISO/IEC requires that at least 75 percent of all "yes" or "no" votes (qualified votes) and at least two-thirds of "P" members that vote "yes" or "no" support ratification of a format in the Fast Track process. More information about the ISO/IEC JTC-1 process and its participants is available at processes_and_procedures/iso_iec_ directives_and_iso_supplement.htm.

Widespread Support for Open XML

The Ecma Office Open XML file formats are being rapidly adopted across multiple platforms and products from a wide range of IT vendors, creating real value for IT users around the globe. Thousands of companies from 67 countries on six continents have raised their voices in support of Open XML and its ratification by ISO/IEC at As well, the open standard has also been gaining broad adoption across the software industry for use on a variety of platforms - including Linux, Windows(R), Mac OS and the Palm OS. Independent software vendors (ISVs) and platform providers around the world - such as Apple, Corel, Sun, Microsoft and Novell - are developing solutions using Open XML. Many developers working with the formats are active contributors to

Those working with Open XML can attest to the benefits of this open file format in the areas of file and data management, data recovery, interoperability with line-of-business systems, and the long-term preservation of documents. Open XML is optimized for the level of precision and detail that facilitates carrying forward billions of existing files. As well, Open XML file formats are uniquely capable of integrating other types of systems and data with Open XML documents, while maintaining a clean, simple separation of presentation (Open XML markup) and data (custom schemas and instances thereof). This means that organizations can use Open XML formats to report information from other applications and systems without having to translate it first, which is a key innovation for developers seeking to incorporate real- time business information into their documents, or those who seek to "tag" documents with their own categorization system to improve their understanding of its contents.

More information about Open XML, as well as available solutions using the open standard specification, is available at momentum.aspx#technology.

Commitment to Interoperability

The Open XML Translator ( odf- converter) is one among many interoperability projects Microsoft has undertaken. We continue to work with customers and others in the industry to address the critical interoperability issues of our customers through the delivery of products that are interoperable by design, collaboration on interoperability projects, providing access to interoperability technologies, and standardization. Other evidence of collaboration includes our technical collaborations with AOL LLC and Yahoo! Inc. for instant messaging interoperability, the broad collaboration with Novell on virtualization, document formats and intellectual property, and the creation of the Interoperability Vendor Alliance. More information is available at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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