UK may make last-minute U-turn on OOXML

UK may make last-minute U-turn on OOXML

Summary: The UK may be poised to vote in favour of Microsoft's Office Open XML becoming an ISO standard, after previously voting against

TOPICS: Tech Industry

The British Standards Institution could change sides, days before voting closes, and register a vote in favour of Microsoft's Office Open XML becoming an International Organization for Standardization standard — having previously voted against.

If the British Standards Institution (BSI) registers a vote in favour, Office Open XML (OOXML) would pass one of two criteria to becoming a standard, but fail the other.

A technical group formed to make a recommendation to the BSI's policy panel has voted five-to-one in favour of OOXML being accepted as an international standard, a source close to the process has told There was intense lobbying by interested parties before a meeting on Tuesday, in which IBM was apparently the one remaining dissident. IBM uses the competing OpenDocument Format (ODF), which is already an international standard.

The committee — whose members are not made public — voted against OOXML in September, criticising it, among other things, for failing to take account of existing international standards, including ODF.

The BSI policy panel is not obliged to follow the technical group's recommendation and can simply note it, leaving its vote unchanged. If it does approve OOXML and other votes remain the same, the specification would be approved by 59 percent of the 32 eligible organisations, or "P-members". However, OOXML would still fall short of the two-thirds majority that is required and would not, therefore, become a standard.

The complex ISO standards process does, however, have a second criterion: OOXML has to be disapproved of by less than 25 percent of a larger group of 69 standards bodies, known as "O-members". A switch by BSI would take this figure down from 26 percent to 24.6 percent (17 out of 69). Without a majority of the P-members voting in favour, this would not allow OOXML to become a standard, but it illustrates the knife-edge closeness of the ballot.

It appears that OOXML needs another four of the P-Members, including the UK, to change sides before it becomes a standard.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • So, what happens if...

    OOXML is fast-track approved and everyone's worst fears about it come to pass?

    Is there a process in ISO for recovering from that sort of "Well, that didn't work" moment? Or, once there is it OOXML just going to point at the world and laugh at its foolishness?
  • Well, not every ISO standard is a success

    Anyone remember Open Systems Interconnection? Still there on the books, including a host of protocols, some of which were never implemented.
  • UK may make last-minute U-turn on OOXML

    Get used to a double standard, because it will happen. M$ is not used to losing, and even doing things underhanded isn't going to lose them any points.
  • Well, ok...

    But OSI kind of withered on the vine because a bunch of people sort of gave up on it (if I remember correctly).

    Here I see it as a thing that:
    a) Should never have been put on the fast-track route
    b) Microsoft itself will say it supports, but will extend past the standard
    c) Microsoft is using to destroy/hamstring attempts at IT standards that aren't theirs.

    I guess it's a bit like C# (and Mono). Something that was done with a flurry of money, ill intent and not strictly legal actions to stop the rise of Java.
  • In fact it's almost an opposite case

    They're both failures of the standards process, but OSI used masses of public money to try and build something vendor-independent; OOXML is a massive effort by a vendor to get its specification blessed.

    OSI withered because no one used it. OOXML will allow governments to continue pumping money into the use of proprietary formats, while meeting the letter of their "open" policies.