Any of the ISO and IEC national bodies can lodge a formal appeal over the next two months, before the Office Open XML standard is published.
Criticism and calls for an investigation have come close on the heels of the
formal announcement that Microsoft's Office Open XML file formats had
received the necessary number of votes for approval as an ISO/IEC
In a statement
released April 2, the ISO
(International Standards Organization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical
Commission) said 75 percent of the participating Joint Technical Committee
members cast positive votes, with just 14 percent of the total national member
body votes being negative.
Approval required at least 66.66 percent of the votes cast by national
bodies to be positive, and no more than 25 percent of the total number of ISO/IEC
national body votes cast to be negative. "These criteria have now been
met," the statement said.
This followed the confirmation April 1 by standards organization Ecma
International that the ISO and IEC had
approved the Office Open XML File Format as an international standard.
Bob Sutor, vice president of open source and standards for IBM
and one of the harshest critics of the Open XML format, conceded that enough
countries had changed their votes from the September ballot
to allow the
specification to move forward into the publication preparation phase.
"So is that it? Of course not. The process of international
standards-making has been laid bare for all to examine. People now have some
sense that not all standards are created by a community of independent
stakeholders, as some people may have previously assumed," Sutor said in
Furthermore, "The lack of transparency, the ability to see who
voted and why, leads to less understanding and accountability," Sutor
Publication of the standard is still two months away, and any of the ISO/IEC
national bodies can lodge a formal appeal during this time.
Norway appears the most likely member to lodge an appeal, given that the
chairman of the Norwegian standards committee responsible for evaluating Office
Open XML has sent ISO a letter
asking for its "yes" vote to be
suspended pending a Norwegian governmental investigation into why the country's
vote was changed.
In his blog, Sutor wrote that the process had also shown that there is
no way to put the brakes on pushing the wrong standards though
the existing processes; that politics, and not just standards politics,
has fully entered the process. There is also a lack of balance that comes
from having a body of independent people considering a standard
rather than just a majority of business partners, he wrote.
"I believe that thousands of motivated yet pragmatic people will now
move on to fix the systemic issues I've identified, with fresh evidence of why
it is necessary. There are now, as there have always been, much bigger issues
than Office Open XML itself. For that reason, we are still in the early
phases of the worldwide movement to true open standards," he said.
True openness would mean that the best technology for all wins, and that the
process was clean,
visible and incorruptible, he wrote.
"Openness must be earned. I think that's worth fighting for. There has
been tremendous progress and it's happened far faster and wider than most
people ever imagined possible," Sutor wrote. "While fully cognizant
of these current results, I'm energized to take the bigger fight for openness
to the next level with the thousands of individuals who are now convinced that
the standards system needs fixing, and soon."