Nations question ISO's merit following dropped OOXML appeals

Countries whose appeals against OOXML standards approval were dropped are questioning the relevance of the ISO/IEC.

Countries whose appeals were dismissed regarding the ISO/IEC's approval of Microsoft's OOXML as an international standard are questioning the judgment and relevance of the ISO/IEC and the standards they approve.

In a statement made at the Congresso Internacional Sociedade e Governo Electronico (CONSEGI) 2008 conference, representatives from three of the four countries that appealed against an April 1 vote to approve OOXML as a standard -- Brazil, South Africa and Venezuela -- said they are "no longer confident" in the ability of both the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to be vendor-neutral and open when it comes to setting technology standards.

"What is now clear is that we will have to, albeit reluctantly, re-evaluate our assessment of ISO/IEC, particularly in its relevance to our various national government interoperability frameworks," according to the statement by the countries, which also included Ecuador, Cuba and Paraguay. "Whereas in the past it has been assumed that an ISO/IEC standard should automatically be considered for use within government, clearly this position no longer stands."

The statement was posted on the blog of Aslam Raffee, the chairperson of the South African government's Open Source Software Working Group. CONSEGI is a South and Latin American government open-source conference; it was held this year in Brasilia, Brazil.

Despite their concerns, however, the countries will not pursue their appeals against the decision by the organizations to move forward with the publication of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 -- the name for the current OOXML specification -- as an international standard.

Earlier this month, the ISO/IEC gave the green light to publish the current OOXML specification after organization leaders rejected appeals from Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela to protest the vote that approved OOXML as a standard.

The specification is expected to be published within the next few weeks after the standards bodies complete the final processing of the document, provided there are no further appeals against the decision.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service

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