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OOXML's Fast Track to ISO Standardization a Minefield

INCITS' executive board is going to have to sort through the stack of V1's technical comments

V1, the subcommittee advising the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) on formats, has failed by a tantalizing two votes to endorse Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) format, already standardized by ECMA, as fit for ISO standardardization even though Microsoft reportedly packed V1 with its friends in anticipation of the vote last week.

Despite the fact that V1 had only seven voting members a few months ago and 26 last Friday, the 13th, as it happens, no two-thirds consensus was reached and now INCITS' executive board is going to have to sort through the stack of V1's technical comments and come up with an American position through a 30-day letter ballot. There could also be a reconsideration ballot after that.

After the short and perhaps hurried three-hour V1 teleconference, V1 member and IBMer Rob Weir claimed on his blog that "An important factor in the V1 vote was the large number of members who joined very late in the process….There was a clear pattern in the voting where the long-time V1 members voted for the 'Disapproval, with comments' position, while the newer members voted overwhelmingly 'Yes, with comments.' This is not surprising since the new members were largely Microsoft business partners."

Of course the rival OpenDocument Format (ODF) is already an ISO standard and so its supporters like IBM, Sun and the open source community argue that one ISO standard is enough, a position that has Microsoft of all people preaching choice.

Microsoft, which can warm itself by the light of the V1 majority, needs the ISO mantle to maintain its Office franchise especially with governments demanding open standards.

Microsoft has accused IBM, which knows its way around standards, of being behind the effort to popularize ODF through government procurements.

The ISO vote is set for September 2 and the in-fighting between now and then is expected to be fierce.

More Stories By XML News Desk

The XML-Journal News Desk monitors the world of XML and SOA /Web services to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances and business trends, as well as new products and standards.

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