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Australia stalls OOXML vote as NZ scratches head

With the countdown on to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ballot on OOXML, Australia and New Zealand's representatives are keeping their cards close to their chests on which way they will vote.
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Written by Marcus Browne on

With the countdown on to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ballot on OOXML, Australia and New Zealand's representatives are keeping their cards close to their chests on which way they will vote.

Standards Australia will not be casting its final vote on OOXML until the ISO voting deadline closes at the end of the month, while New Zealand has followed suit and will take some time to decide whether it still opposes the format becoming an international standard.

After reports today confirming that Malaysia has cast its vote disapproving a number of technical specifications raised at the ISO ballot resolution meeting in Geneva late last month, it has been revealed that Standards Australia is waiting until the 29 March deadline make its final decision on the status of the software giant's contentious document format.

"At the moment we're in the process of formalising a report to our technical advisory group, and we won't be making a decision on which way to vote until the end of the month," a Standards Australia spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au today.

The national standards development body is due to meet with the technical working group next week to discuss the outcomes of last month's meeting and other relevant concerns ahead of the definitive OOXML vote.

Australia cast a vote of abstinence at last September's ballot, with the organisation stating at the time that the decision not to vote came after "months of consultation and a clear lack of consensus in Australia on this issue by stakeholders".

"The decision to abstain is the most responsible position we can take at the moment and reflects the strongly held and diverse views of the Australian stakeholders that have taken part in the process," said Alistair Tegart, Program Manager for Standards Australia at the time of the decision.

Despite this, the Australian standards body did submit 30 general and technical comments for consideration at February's resolution meeting.

Standards New Zealand also announced its intention to withhold its vote until the 29 March deadline, despite the fact it cast a vote against the proposed OOXML standard at the initial ballot last year.

Like Australia, the New Zealand standards authority will be in consultation with a technical advisory group ahead of the final vote, but will be doing so to "determine whether our previous concerns have been adequately addressed" since last month's ballot resolution meeting.

"The meeting was an opportunity for the delegations to discuss proposed resolutions to problems raised by countries that voted against the specification," said Grant Thomas, Standards New Zealand CEO in a statement.

"New Zealand proposed significant changes to improve accessibility for the disabled, and also changes to the specification relating to Web browser compatibility to ensure compatibility with browsers such as Firefox and Safari, both these proposals were accepted and this was a big win for New Zealand," he added.

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