US INCITS Votes to Approve OOXML With Comments
The executive board of the INCITS standards body voted yesterday to approve the recommendation of Microsoft's Office Open XML standard to the International Standards Organization as Draft International Standard 29500, once concerns voiced by some of its members have been attached and adequately addressed by Microsoft. The vote was 12 yea, 3 nay, and one abstention - again by the IEEE.
Voting in the negative were Oracle; standards consulting body Farance, Inc.; and IBM, which had earlier indicated it would change its vote to "Yes, with comments" if others would do the same.
Voting in the affirmative were Apple, the US Dept. of Homeland Security, the Electronic Industries Alliance, storage network manufacturer EMC, the barcode standards group GS1 US, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lexmark, the National Institute of Science and Technology, Sony Electronics, Microsoft itself, and the US Dept. of Defense - which had been believed to be a staunch opponent of OOXML's recommendation. It did not comment as to why.
For its part, the yea-voting DHS commented that it "remains concerned by the comments, and it is our desire that the comments be formatted (as was agreed to at the August 15th Ballot Resolution Meeting), adjudicated and addressed as part of this process." The entirety of Sony's comments read, "All comments should be resolved." No other yea voter provided comments.
IBM's comments returned back to the company's original objections: that the V1 technical committee had no real time to review the unprecedentedly long specification submitted by Microsoft.
"The current five month Fast Track process has not allowed for a sufficient technical review of this unprecedented 6,000+ page specification," commented IBM for its nay vote. "The JTC1 Directives are explicit in their instructions in section 9.8 which clearly states that an Approval position on a Fast Track [draft international standard] denotes that the technical content of the DIS is approved 'as presented.' However, our US technical committee, INCITS V1, by a consensus process, has identified many hundreds of technical flaws in OOXML, some of them quite serious. How can this proposal then be called acceptable 'as presented?' To approve this proposal, in this condition, and at this stage, is to ignore the plain language of the Directives and substitute a political decision for sound technical judgment. We do not believe that the technical content of DIS 29500 is even remotely acceptable 'as presented."'
On a subsequent ballot on the same measure - most likely an affirmation of the previous vote's recommendations on behalf of the Executive Board as a whole - the measure passed unanimously.
Last Tuesday, the German standards group DIN voted to approve recommendation of OOXML to the ISO, again so long as Microsoft addresses members' many comments. Adding a noteworthy note of support was the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communications Systems, which is connected with the laboratory that developed the MP3 standard, and that licenses its use worldwide to Apple and Microsoft, among others.
But this morning, there was the first indication that all would not be so rosy for OOXML worldwide. The Indian business journal Business Standard reported today that the Bureau of Indian Standards officially voted to disapprove OOXML from recommendation, though with comments from both supporters and opponents of that standard. The Standard did not report the vote tally, though it did say that under that country's system, the vote remains on the table for review until September 2.
The paper quoted an unnamed supporter of the competing OpenDocument Format there as saying, "Multiple standards are always bad." It then cited from Microsoft's official statement, which said it will continue to work closely with the BIS, adding, "It is important to note that all the BIS members unanimously support the need for multiple standards."