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Updegrove: Germany Told "Impossible" to Vote No. So, They Vote Yes - Updated 2Xs: Finland Yes
Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 11:41 PM EDT

Andy Updegrove is reporting now that Germany is another odd case. He says a friend is telling him that DIN told the committee there they couldn't vote no, only yes or abstain. So the bottom line is it will not change its September Yes vote. I know. Weird. They certainly can vote no, according to my reading of the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 website. Maybe they should vote again?

The following is the message that he got from a German expert that he knows personally "who sits on the relevant DIN (the German standards body) committee":
Germany is voting "YES" on DIS 29500 at ISO. The relevant committee was given by DIN only the choice between "YES" and "ABSTAIN" on DIS 29500, since changing from "YES with comments" in September 2007 to "NO" in March 2008 was deemed impossible. Everyone could vote "yes", "abstain" or "no" on the question whether Germany should vote "YES" or "ABSTAIN" on DIS 29500.

8 votes were in favour of "YES", 6 were in favour of "ABSTAIN", some pointing out that they would have preferred to vote an outright "NO". 4 voted "abstain to the DIN vote", i.e. on the vote between "YES" and "ABSTAIN" to ISO. 2 of the 4 had initially voted for a German "ABSTAIN", but under pressure changed within 48 hours their vote from a German "ABSTAIN" to "abstain to the DIN vote"; one of the 4 was compelled by instruction to vote "abstain to the DIN vote", even though he wanted to vote at least "ABSTAIN". That means: without very strong pressure from Microsoft Germany would have voted "ABSTAIN", with 9 to 8.

Who at DIN told them it's impossible to go from Yes to No? On what basis? The rules give them the exact option to change from Yes to No. Is there some footnote or rule hidden in someone's closet or some new rule that says you can't change from Yes with Comments to No? Here are the directions given when the new rules for recording a changed vote were published on the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 website:
* In regard to the September 2, 2007 JTC 1 ballot on the fast track DIS 29500 based on Ecma 376, the ballot resolution meeting (BRM) was held in the week of February 25-29, 2008 at the International Conference Centre Geneva Within 30 days after the BRM, national bodies voted in the 2 September ballot may change their vote from any of “approve”, “disapprove” or “abstain” to any of “approve”, “disapprove” or “abstain”. Any NB wishing to change its vote must inform ITTF of this intention in writing by 29th March, 2008.

If anyone has details on who said it was impossible, or why, or who changed at the last minute under pressure, do tell. What is meant precisely by "pressure" from Microsoft in this context? Updegrove indicates he thinks it will probably be Monday before anyone can figure out the final results.

Update: Uh oh. Finland has reportedly voted Yes, a change from Abstain.

Update 2: Now Denmark has gone Yes. You might want to look at this YouTube presentation by Jan van den Beld, former Secretary General of ECMA and now with CompTIA, for a cynical view of multiple standards. He compares the DVD formats war. Choice is good, he says. Let the marketplace decide. They'll all die but one. And if one is from a monopoly looking for lock-in? Then is it good? Also he mentions that he sometimes would ask, why do you need 5 DVD formats? Do you still call that standardization? He says the answer was always, "You are well paid. Shut up." He goes on to say that behind such wars are patents and a desire by each format to sue over patents.

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