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OOXML approved as international standard?

But voting process slammed

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Microsoft looks almost certain to have got its Office Open XML (OOXML) file format passed as an international standard but the ballot has been tarnished by accusations of voting irregularities.

There’s no official word as yet from the International Standards Organisation (ISO), the body responsible for overseeing the ballot, but according to many observers that have been closely following the process, Microsoft appears to have secured enough votes at its second time of trying.

However, a number of delegates from the 87 national standards groups have been loudly complaining about alleged heavy-handed tactics and misdeeds in the voting process.

Groklaw reports grumbles coming out of Norway and Poland where claims of irregularities have been voiced and there’s been talk of very close votes in Croatia and Germany.

Norway has reversed its vote, now coming out in favour of OOXML. Geir Isene wrote on his blog about the Norwegian Standards Institute’s meeting last week in which they agreed to make the U-turn.

"The meeting: 27 people in the room, four of which were administrative staff from Standard Norge. The outcome: Of the 24 members attending, 19 disapproved, five approved.

"The result: The administrative staff decided that Norway wants to approve OOXML as an ISO standard," he said.

Meanwhile, the British Standards Institute (BSI) is another high profile national standards body that has changed its position and agreed to approve OOXML, or DIS 29500 after voting against it in September last year.

Late last week Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh tabled a question in the House of Commons on the BSI's stance on OOXML.

Microsoft needs to bag two thirds of the votes to see OOXML recognised as a standard alongside competing file format Open Document Format (ODF) which was endorsed by the ISO last year.

The ballot closed at midnight on Saturday and followed a resolution meeting in February in which delegates were given the opportunity to review comments about adjusting their position on adopting the file format as a standard.

Last autumn OOXML, which was first rubber-stamped by Ecma International, failed to secure approval.

The ISO said it will make an official announcement either later today or early tomorrow morning. ®

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