Websites claim to host leaked OOXML results

Ahead of Wednesday's official announcement, documents posted online appear to suggest Microsoft's document format is set to become an official standard, despite claims of voting irregularities
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Documents purporting to be leaked results of the OOXML vote have been posted on the internet.

The documents appear to confirm that Microsoft's nascent document format has been approved as an official standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Office Open XML (OOXML) is Microsoft's "open" document specification, in competition with the OpenDocument Format (ODF) being promoted by the open-source community and companies including IBM and Sun.

On the basis of votes by the standards bodies of countries around the world, OOXML failed to gain so-called "fast-track" approval last September. However, its second attempt at fast-track approval appears to have succeeded.

ISO plans to announce the official result on Wednesday. However, websites OpenSourcerer and OpenDocSociety are hosting what they claim to be leaked copies of the result. The result was originally to have been released on Monday, the deadline for voting having been Saturday night.

According to the leaked documents, 24 out of 32 of the "Principal Countries" involved in the process voted in favour of OOXML becoming the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 standard. That represents 75 percent approval, significantly above the two-thirds majority needed.

The other criterion for passage was that under a quarter of all members within ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) disapprove. According to the leaked documents, 10 out of 71 — or 14 percent — of those national member bodies disapproved of OOXML becoming an official standard.

ISO spokesperson Roger Frost refused to comment on the leaked documents' veracity on Tuesday, but Machteld Garrels of OpenDocSociety told ZDNet.co.uk that there was "no reason to think [the documents] are not genuine".

The run-up to Saturday's deadline was contentious. OOXML's initial rejection by the member bodies within ISO was based on a number of unanswered questions and issues regarding elements of the specification, which runs to around 6,000 pages. These issues were to be addressed at a ballot resolution meeting in late February, but a Brazilian delegate to that meeting has said that the vast majority of those issues were dismissed without being individually considered.

Since that ballot resolution meeting, many countries — including the UK — changed their votes from disapproval to approval. This was apparently done on the basis of the issues surrounding OOXML having been resolved.

However, there have been numerous claims of procedural problems in the changing of those votes, particularly in Poland, Germany and Croatia. Norway is now also part of that list, according to Steve Pepper, the chairman of Standard Norge's joint technical committee.

"I wish to inform you of serious irregularities in connection with the Norwegian vote on ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Office Open XML) and to lodge a formal protest," wrote Pepper in a faxed letter to ISO. "You will have been notified that Norway voted to approve OOXML in this ballot. This decision does not reflect the view of the vast majority of the Norwegian committee, 80 percent of which was against changing Norway's vote from No with comments to Yes."

Pepper called for the Norwegian decision to be "suspended", adding: "Because of this irregularity, a call has been made for an investigation by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry with a view to changing the vote."

According to ISO's Frost, the official result of the OOXML vote will be announced early on Wednesday morning.

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