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ISO Approves OOXML, Offers Two Months to Appeal

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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) announced that its members have approved adoption of a draft standard based on Microsoft's Office Open XML document format, a day after the company itself declared victory.

But Microsoft will have to wait at least until June before it can lay its hands on a copy of a formal ISO standard for the format, as it waits for ISO's formal appeals process to run its course.

"Subject to there being no formal appeals from ISO/IEC national bodies in the next two months," the text of the standard will be published as ISO/IEC 29500, ISO said Wednesday.

If any national standards organizations do make appeals to JTC1, the Joint Technical Committee of ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) that worked on the draft, then Microsoft may have to wait several months longer while the appeal is heard, according to Section 11 of the ISO/IEC JTC1 Directives.

Only so-called P-members of JTC1 -- in this case, the 41 countries who participated in development of the standard -- can appeal against the committee's actions. They must show that an action is either not in accordance with the JTC1 directives, or not in the best interests of international trade and commerce, or such public factors as safety, health or environment.

Decisions on a draft international standard, such as that for OOXML, "are only eligible for consideration if questions of principle are involved; the contents of a draft may be detrimental to the reputation of IEC or ISO, or the point giving rise to objection was not known to JTC1 ... during earlier discussions," according to the directives.

The prospect of an appeal can't be ruled out.

"There are a few countries in which process issues are being raised," said Jason Matusow, a Microsoft employee who blogs about interoperability and standards.

Count Norway among them: Members of a standards committee there have asked the country's Ministry of Trade and Industry to investigate the voting process. They want to know how the country came to register a vote approving adoption of the draft standard when a majority of committee members were against.

In PC World, 02 de Abril de 2008


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EC probes OOXML standards-setting process

European anti-trust regulators are examining the voting process behind the passing of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) file format as an international standard earlier this week.

The contentious specification secured official approval on Wednesday, having picked up two-thirds of the vote from delegates representing 87 national standards bodies across the world.

But the voting process has been marred by allegations that Microsoft elbowed its way in by abusing its dominant role within the software market.

A spokesman for the European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, told The Register that regulators were continuing to scrutinise interoperability issues related to Microsoft’s products following complaints from the Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) group.

As part of that process, the EC formally contacted a number of national standards bodies, including the Norwegian Standards Institute (NSI), requesting more details about possible irregularities in the OOXML standardisation process.

On Monday NSI committee chairman Steve Pepper issued a formal protest to the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO), which is the body responsible for overseeing the OOXML, or DIS 29500 ballot, against Norway’s apparent U-turn on the file format. It had voted to against the specification last September when Microsoft failed in its first attempt to get OOXML, which is used in its Office 2007 suite, adopted by the ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission.

However, the EC spokesman was unable to tell us the outcome of those enquiries as the anti-trust investigation is ongoing.

“It must be stressed that it is not the Commission's intention to influence the outcome of this process, but the Commission considers it essential to ensure that European competition law is not violated in the course of the standard setting process,” he said in an email to El Reg.

In January the EC began formal anti-trust probes against Microsoft in two cases where it was alleged that the multinational firm had abused its strong market position. As part of the investigation into the first case, the Commission said that it would scrutinise OOXML on the grounds that the specification doesn't work with those of competitors.

Meanwhile, the ISO has also come under harsh criticism with many calling for an overhaul of the standard-setting system. ODF advocates such as the Free Software Foundation Europe and the Open Source Consortium have loudly berated the ISO’s standard-setting process following Microsoft's crucial victory on Wednesday.

Respected standards lawyer Andrew Updegrove called for an immediate review of the whole system. He said: "In order for the credibility of the traditional system to be restored, a thorough review of the just-completed DIS 29500 Fast Track process should be immediately commissioned."

Microsoft rival and tech giant IBM, which uses ODF in its office apps, unsurprisingly agrees. It’s offered a somewhat more restrained overview on the standards process, though, which perhaps derives from the fact that it now has to play nice with Microsoft.

“We will continue to be an active supporter of ODF and will be part of the community which works around the harmonisation of ODF and OOXML, when OOXML control and maintenance is fully transferred to JTC1 (ISO/IEC),” said Big Blue in a statement.

However, IBM’s open source and standards veep Bob Sutor was a little less reticent. He said on his blog: “In spite of having significant problems and intellectual property gaps, enough countries have 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.”

in: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/04/ooxml_ec_investigation_iso/


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The Norway Vote - What really happened

The process which led to Norway’s Yes vote on OOXML was so surrealistic that it deserves to be recorded for posterity. Here’s my version of the story.

It is not impartial. I was the Chairman of the Norwegian mirror committee for SC34 (K185) for 13 years until resigning a couple of weeks ago in protest against Standard Norway’s decision to vote Yes. On the other hand, I was present throughout the whole process and have more first-hand knowledge of what went on than anyone (excepting two employees of Standard Norway). Here I describe the fateful meeting on Friday March 28. More background will follow.

The meeting started at 10 and we spent an hour on other business before proceeding to the main agenda item: reviewing Ecma’s responses to the comments that accompanied our No vote in the August DIS ballot. I led the first part of the meeting and then handed over to the VP of Standard Norway for the last part, as I had done on previous occasions when OOXML was under discussion.

K185 meeting, Friday March 28 2008There were nearly 30 people present: three employees of Standard Norway (the VP, the committee secretary, and the JTC1 representative); the rest were technical experts. The VP opened by declaring that our only purpose was to discuss the comment responses and decide whether they had been addressed to our satisfaction. If so, Norway’s vote would change from No to Yes. I suggested that we should also take account of changes made at the BRM and base our decision on a total assessment. The VP did not disagree, but insisted that the discussion should focus on the comments. He also made it clear that the goal was to achieve consensus and that there would not be any voting.

The next four hours were spent going through the 12 comments submitted by Norway. My tally of the final result was as follows:

    Consensus that the comment had been satisfactorily resolved: 2 comments.

    Consensus that the comment had not been satisfactorily resolved: 2 comments.

    No consensus that the comment had been satisfactorily resolved: 8 comments.

Regarding those last 8 comments, there was a roughly 80/20 split between those who were dissatisfied and those who were satisfied. (Since there was no voting, this is just an estimate, but it’s pretty accurate.) There was not even a shadow of consensus that the comments as a whole had been satisfactorily addressed and I naturally assumed the No vote would stand.

But lo… at this point, the “rules” were changed. The VP asserted that “Ecma has clearly made steps in the right direction.” The most important thing now was to ensure that OOXML came under ISO’s control so that it could be “further improved”. However, the committee was not allowed to discuss this.

    The VP thereupon declared that there was no consensus, so the decision would be taken by Standard Norway.

Halfway through the proceedings, a committee member had asked for (and received) assurance that the Chairman would take part in the final decision, as he had for the DIS vote back in August. It now transpired that the BRM participants had also been invited to stay behind. 23 people were therefore dismissed and we were down to seven. In addition to Standard Norway’s three, there were four “experts”: Microsoft Norway’s chief lobbyist, a guy from StatoilHydro (national oil company; big MS Office user), a K185 old-timer, and me. In one fell swoop the balance of forces had changed from 80/20 to 50/50 and the remaining experts discussed back and forth for 20 minutes or so without reaching any agreement.

    The VP thereupon declared that there was still no consensus, so the decision would be taken by Standard Norway.

The experts were dismissed and the VP asked the opinion of the Secretary (who said “Yes”) and the JTC1 rep (who said “No”).

    The VP thereupon declared that there was still no consensus, so the decision would be taken by him.

And his decision was to vote Yes.

So this one bureaucrat, a man who by his own admission had no understanding of the technical issues, had chosen to ignore the advice of his Chairman, of 80% of his technical experts, and of 100% of the K185 old-timers. For the Chairman, only one course of action was possible.

That’s the story. Here’s the management summary, based on the song we used to sing as kids when going on long trips in the car:

    There were 30 in the bed and the little one said, “Roll over, roll over.”

    So they all rolled over and 23 fell out.

    There were 7 in the bed and the little one said, “Roll over, roll over.”

    So they all rolled over and 4 fell out.

    There were 3 in the bed and the little one said, “Roll over, roll over.”

    So they all rolled over and 2 fell out…

    There was 1 in the bed and the little one said, “Norway votes Yes!”

The meeting was a farce and the result was a scandal. But it’s not over yet, and one thing is clear: the “little one” is unfit to represent the interests of Norwegian users. It’s time he was told, “Roll over, roll over…”

in: http://topicmaps.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/the-norway-vote-what-really-happened/ via Slashdot http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/04/20/2112208&from=rss

Ver o link original para links no meio do texto.


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