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September 4, 2007

Microsoft OOXML ballot stuffing comes up short

Posted by David Hunter at 10:48 AM ET.

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.

 Andy Updegrove has the details:

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).

Update: Here’s the formal ISO statement of the results and Joe Wilcox flays the Microsoft press release.

Filed under Adobe, Coopetition, General Business, Microsoft, OOXML, Public Relations, Standards, Technologies, XPS

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4 Responses to “Microsoft OOXML ballot stuffing comes up short”

  1. The Whole World Knows Microsoft Lost the Open XML Vote - Except the New York Times | Zoli’s Blog Says:

    [...] Related posts: Ars Technica, Channel 9, Computerworld,, Microsoft News Tracker, The Open Road, [...]

  2. Blog do Márcio d’Ávila » OOXML não aprovado como padrão ISO Says:

    [...] Apesar de tudo, a Microsoft divulgou o esperançoso press release Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process (em inglês) ontem. O otimismo e súbito interesse em padrões da Microsoft foi comentado com espanto no artigo Microsoft OOXML ballot stuffing comes up short (em inglês), por David Hunter, 2007-09-04. [...]

  3. EU investigates Microsoft’s failed OOXML blitz | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] We mentioned some of the hanky panky at the time, but never imagined that it might be considered fodder for the antitrust watchdogs. However, it dovetails neatly with the latest EU Microsoft investigations (which include OOXML) and nothing is beyond the purview of a modern bureaucrat.   Filed under Legal, Standards, Governmental Relations, General Business, Antitrust, OOXML, Microsoft   [Permalink] [TrackBack] [...]

  4. Microsoft claims victory in OOXML standards battle | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] It’s not over until the fat lady sings, but a variety of leaks from the national standards bodies who got the results today indicate that the long nasty battle is over. Except for Neelie Kroes and the EU Competition Cops of course. [...]

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