Rules altered in OOXML standardization process

Rules changed on the fly to meet five-day deadline to discuss concerns with specification; final vote due in 30 days

"It is more accurate to say this dialogue has been taking place, it is incorrect to say the discussion during the BRM is the only time these issues have been considered. They have been considering them for weeks, for months," said Robertson.

"I think that the national bodies should feel very good about the process that took place here. The process meaning the entire ballot resolution process."

OOXML critic and Linux Foundation member Andy Updegrove, who was in Geneva, said by his unofficial polling of national body members that only six of the 32 delegations in attendance voted to "approve" the resolution of the dispositions while four delegations voted to disapprove. The others either refused to cast any vote or abstained.

The ISO has not officially made any announcement addressing its Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) voting.

In Geneva, the 32 national bodies at the BRM, which represented less than half the 87 that voted September 2 on OOXML, decided early that they could not discuss all of the dispositions during the weeklong BRM and elected to lump nearly 900 together into one vote. The other 200, many of which involved editing corrections for the OOXML specification, were approved en masse.

On Wednesday, the delegates approved a proposal to vote on all the proposed resolutions in a single vote. Thursday, a ballot containing all 900 proposed dispositions was issued, according to Updegrove.

The forms were due on Friday. Members could vote "approved," "disapproved," or "abstain" for each proposal, or lump any number or all the dispositions together under one vote and then vote individually on any remaining dispositions.

ECMA already has standardized OOXML and was the organization that recommended the document format for ISO fast-track standardization.

The industry has been hotly debating OOXML and the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

The ISO has already approved ODF as a standard, giving it credibility among organizations that prefer standards-based technology and Microsoft is gunning to land the same designation for its specification.

"Many, many, people around the world have tried very hard to make the OOXML adoption process work," Updegrove said. "It is very unfortunate that they were put to this predictably unsuccessful result through the self-interest of a single vendor taking advantage of a permissive process that was never intended to be abused in this fashion. Hopefully, the National Bodies will not compound this error by approving a clearly unfinished specification during the voting period ahead."

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John Fontana

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