The OOXML BRM and Australia: What happens next

Ballot Resolution Meeting underway in Geneva to address technical comments on OOXML. Will Australia cast a vote or continue to abstain?

After its initial submission for fast tracking through the ISO/IEC process for standardisation failed, the technical comments relating to Microsoft's Office Open XML document format are under review this week at the JTC1 Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva.

A senior delegation has been appointed by Standards Australia to attend the BRM, where some 3,500 technical comments on OOXML from the various participating national bodies are to be addressed.

Standards Australia initially abstained from the first stage of formal voting in September as the relevant government agencies, IT companies, the open source community and other stakeholders held "divergent and polarized" views and failed to achieve a clear consensus on the adoption of the standard.

In a statement released late last week by Standards Australia CEO John Tucker, Australia's peak standards body announced the appointment of the delegation that is attending the BRM this week and outlined the processes that will determine the continuation or amendment of Australia's position.

The delegation will consist of one senior Standards Australia representative and an external expert in the field.

Senior project manager at Standards Australia, Panjan Navaratnam, will head the delegation and shoulder the responsibility for all Australian positions. He will be supported in an advisory role by technical expert Rick Jeliffe.

Despite some concerns surrounding the objectivity of Jeliffe, Standards Australia insists that its delegates are not participating as an agent of any personal or organisational viewpoint.

Australia's position on the comments submitted with the abstain vote in September were developed by Standards Australia along with representatives from Microsoft Australia, IBM Australia, National Archives of Australia, Google Australia, Open Source Industry Australia, GNOME, government departments and XML experts.

The delegation will take with them a brief developed in conjunction with the above working group, consisting of particular advice on Australian issues that have been responded to by ECMA and either have or have not been resolved to Australia's satisfaction.

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