Australia abstains on final OOXML vote

Standards Australia has maintained its "abstain" vote on Microsoft's attempt to attain international standard status for its Office Open XML file format.

Standards Australia has maintained its "abstain" vote on Microsoft's attempt to attain international standard status for its Office Open XML file format.

After a lengthy deliberation, Australia's peak standards development body has revealed it carried on its motion to abstain from voting on the status of the controversial document format, citing a lack of consensus amongst its members as reason for bypassing the decision.

Australia failed to take a position on the adoption of the format during the initial vote on the proposal in September last year, claiming that technical ambiguities and stakeholder indifference had inhibited the formulation of an official position.

The announcement concludes Australia's 14 month involvement in the vote, in which time Standards Australia claims to have consulted with industry and government to determine an agreed position on the technology. It has also sent delegates to various meetings in Europe to discuss the format's technical issues. Most recently this involved finalising queries at February's ballot resolution meeting (BRM) in Geneva, which was described as a "shocking tale" by one Brazilian delegate.

"Due to a lack of stakeholder commitment to ongoing engagement in the International Standards development process in this area, a formally constituted standards technical committee was unable to be formed," said Panjan Navaratnam, head of Standards Australia's delegation to the Geneva BRM.

"Unfortunately two clear groups have formed, in part along commercial lines, either supporting or opposing the adoption of OOXML as an International Standard, and despite the more than 1,000 technical issues addressed at the BRM and months of debate, neither side has moved," he said.

According to Navaratnam this predicament left the standards organisation with no other choice than to maintain its abstain position.