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Brazil bitchslaps ratification of OOXML

Dissenting voices against Microsoft grow

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Brazil has fired off a formal objection to the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) against the approval of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) document format as an international standard.

Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT), which is the Brazilian national standards body, issued its appeal to the ISO yesterday. That complaint follows South Africa’s stiff opposition to Microsoft’s controversial specification late last week.

Delegates from national standards bodies who voted in the original ballot resolution meeting (BRM) in Geneva in February were given two months to lodge official appeals with the ISO following Microsoft’s narrow OOXML victory on 2 April.

Now Brazil has become the latest country to put the boot in by objecting to what it claimed was a flawed BRM that saw processes rushed through in favour of Microsoft gaining approval for its document format.

The ABNT disputed the BRM, claiming the voting outcome to be “inconclusive” and requested that the final text of the 6,000 page standard should be published “immediately”.

South Africa complained last week about the continued delay of the publication of DIS 29500 – which is the technical name for OOXML – despite the ISO's own guidelines that clearly state a final version must be published no more than one month after a decision has been reached.

Marcia Cristina de Oliveira, manager of the standardisation process at the ABNT claims in a letter to the ISO (a copy of which is provided by Andy Updegrove here) that “the Brazilian delegation was not allowed to present an important proposal regarding the legacy binary mapping.

“Brazil had tried to present this proposal, during the debates, on the first day of the meeting... On Friday, when USA ended their part of presentation and asked for Brazil to present its part of it, the convenor denied this opportunity to Brazilian delegation.”

According to Updegrove, that’s quite a serious allegation. “While this latest appeal overlaps the South African objections in part, it also raises new concerns, some of which are particular to the interests of Brazil, rather than applying to the process as a whole. "As a result, it raises not only additional issues, but also ones that present a categorically different basis for appeal as well,” he said.

Updegrove also claimed that the ISO can expect appeals from two other national bodies.

Dissenters of the process will hope that the mounting disquiet and unease among the national standards ranks will force the ISO to reconsider the ratification of Microsoft's document specification as an international standard.

But whether OOXML's final blessing will be delayed or even overturned remains to be seen. The ISO, for it's part, has so far remained tight-lipped on the matter. ®

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