Microsoft's OOXML gets ISO approval ... maybe

Looks like Microsoft’s Office Open XML will be an ISO standard after all. Maybe.

Looks like Microsoft’s Office Open XML will be an ISO standard after all. Maybe.

Pundits – even OOXML rivals --predicted on Sunday that the Redmond, Wash. software giant has amassed the required number of votes to pull it over the goal line. Of course, a final vote will not be tallied until Monday ... so hold on.

According to Consortium.org, Microsoft got a boost from Norway, Ireland, Czech Republic, Denmark and South Korea, which changed their respective ‘No' votes to ‘Yes' votes for Office Open XML, while Finland, which abstained from the last vote, gave OOXML the thumbs up.

Andy Updegrove of Gesmer Updegrove LLP, a technology law firm based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, has compiled the vote count and deemed that OOXML will get ISO approval.

In ODF’s favor, Venezuela changed its vote from “Yes” to “No” while Kenya, which formerly approved of OOXML becoming an ISO standard, opted to abstain.

ODF was approved as an ISO standard on May 1, 2006.

Microsoft began its battle to get ISO approval in early December of 2006. On December 7 of that year, ECMA International approved Office Open XML Formats as an Ecma standard and voted to submit the new standard to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for consideration as an ISO standard.

Although many argued that there ought to be just one document format standard, Microsoft has lobbied the national standards bodies in at least 87 countries for two long years to accept OOXML as an ISO standard. Microsoft maintains that Office dominates on the desktop worldwide and that OOXML is a de facto standard anyway. Microsoft also made some requested changes as of late to the spec that got a few no votes into yes votes.

Whatever the case, big bucks are at stake. An ISO approval would make Microsoft's Office an acceptable choice among many governments around the world. It will also make it harder for open source desktops, such as ODF, to gain market share.

It's 4 a.m. EST Monday and still no word from ISO or from Microsoft's European PR team. I found one Microsoft Office blogger rejoicing -- but he'd only read the same reports that are linked here. It should be an interesting day. According to some reports that came in over the weekend, voting irregularities have occurred in Croatia and Germany and ODF backers are calling for a re-vote.

What a drama. The early polling looks good for Microsoft, but don't hold me to it. Remember the major media outlets prematurely calling Al Gore's win over GW in 2000? And pundits prematurely announcing McCain's political death last year?

Some things are just too close to call.