'Scandal' over Norway's vote for OOXML

We hear stories of "voting irregularities" around the world, not least of all right hear in the USA, but surely the ISO is different. No?

We hear stories of "voting irregularities" around the world, not least of all right hear in the USA, but surely the ISO is different. No? The Register reports that delegates have been "complaining loudly about alleged heavy-handed tactics and misdeeds in the voting process" on Microsoft's OOXML standard.

The Register says that Microsoft appears to have locked up the election after a number of countries' standards bodies made abrupt switches to favor the format.

Norway's Geir Isene says the country sees a booming business in fixing "such a broken standard.

The meeting: 27 people in the room, 4 of which were administrative staff from Standard Norge. The outcome: Of the 24 members attending, 19 disapproved, 5 approved. The result: The administrative staff decided that Norway wants to approve OOXML as an ISO standard.Their justification: “Standard Norge puts emphasis on that if this [OOXML] becomes an ISO/IEC standard, it will be improved to better accommodate the users’ needs.” This translates to: “Yes, we know the standard is broken, 79% of our technical committee have told us. But we hope that it someday will be repaired by someone. And we’ll be happy to help if someone can give us the resources.”

What happened in Norway is nothing less than a scandal, says Wium Lie of Opera Software, according to Computerworld.dk (translation via GrokLaw)

"This is a scandal! I am shocked. I am speechless. 21 members of the committee say no, while MS manages to win through its position anyway. It is incomprehensible," says Wium Lie angrily.

The meeting on Friday began first with a general committee in Standards Norway, which thereafter was reduced to key individuals in the organization plus five representatives who were in attendance at the ISO meeting in Geneva. At the end, even these were dismissed, and three individuals from Standards Norway made the decision.

"Those who made the decision at the end are not those who know the most about this. They are not qualified to make this type of decision and do not necessarily have national interests at heart. They do not represent the Norwegian committee," says Wium Lie.

The committe head, Steve Pepper, is similarly distressed:
"I am deeply shocked that Standards Norway has chosen to ignore the large majority in the committee. It is the bureaucrats in the committee who have said yes, not Norway. It is a win for MS and a great loss for the rest of the world," says Pepper.

"So if the majority in the committee were against OOXMl, why do you think that Standards Norway said yes. They have been targeted of enormous pressure from one market interest which has use of great resources, and they have most likely been more preoccupied by their own interests as a standards organization than by the end users interests," says Pepper.

More gory details at GrokLaw.