Microsoft had an odd press release this morning touting “Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process.” If you are trying to figure out from reading all the disjointed statistics how this weekend’s vote went on fast track approval of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) document format as an ISO/IEC standard, the only real clue is the quote from Tom Robertson, Microsoft’s general manager for Interoperability and Standards:
“This preliminary vote is a milestone for the widespread adoption of the Open XML formats around the world for the benefit of millions of customers. Given how encouraging today’s results were, we believe that the final tally in early 2008 will result in the ratification of Open XML as an ISO standard.”
Actually, Microsoft lost and lost despite the unprecedented influx of previously uninterested parties into the balloting.
Last night, I projected that the OOXML vote in ISO/IEC JTC1 would fail. I have now seen the official vote tally, and confirmed that the vote failed both tests for approval (details are included at the end of this blog entry).
Frankly, it was a close run thing, and per the press release, Microsoft may still eventually pull off final approval with the help of all the Microsoft business partners that developed a sudden interest in standards and joined various national standards bodies, sometimes with more Microsoft help than was permissible and odd last minute rule changes. Then there are the various national standards bodies in places like Malta and the Ivory Coast that suddenly developed a powerful hankering to participate in document standards determination. We’ll see how they voted, but the expectation is that they fully expressed a fondness for OOXML. One wonders how many of these new players even read Microsoft’s 6,000 page OOXML specification.
Microsoft, of course, is working overtime to preserve their extremely lucrative Office cash cow in the face of government bodies demanding open standards, but it certainly looks like an end to the arcane collegial nature that had prevailed in the open standards biz. And hold on to your hats, because the same group of voters are going to pass on Adobe’s new version of the PDF standard as well as Microsoft’s PDF rival, the XML Paper Specification (XPS).