Microsoft Succeeds: ISO and IEC Dismiss OOXML Appeals

Aug 18, 2008

The technical boards of ISO and IEC have dismissed appeals by four of its members against adopting Microsoft's Office Open XML formats as an ISO/IEC International Standard.

"None of the appeals from Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela received the support for further processing of two-thirds of the members of the ISO Technical Management Board and IEC Standardization Management Board,” the organization stated in a short press release.
The four national bodies used their right to protest against the controversial certification process, a unique occurrence in the history of the ISO. The formal protest was caused in part by the so-called Fast Track procedure, which dictated the format. Although the ISO vote was fiercely opposed and generated discussions echoed in the media, according to ISO guidelines, only the formal proceedings were allowed to be investigated. After a first look at the appeals, both the General Secretaries of ISO and IEC were reaching the unsurprising conclusion that proceedings had been carried out correctly and recommended the technical committees quash the appeals.
However, the response did not go completely unnoticed by the Standards Bodies, which described the protests as “important debate regarding technical and procedural issues” in a press release. “Experiences from the ISO/IEC 29500 process will provide important input to ISO and IEC and their respective national bodies and national committees in their efforts to continually improve standards development policies and procedures,” they said.
For some of the disgruntled member states, this vague statement will not go far enough. On his blog, Jomar Silva, a member of the Brazilian committee, said, “As a Brazilian and as a person who lost a year of life working seriously on it, I can only feel offended and attacked with this decision.” His suspicions are that the opposing countries have been treated second in line and he calls for action, saying, “I believe that the time has come for developing countries unite to build an International Standardization Institution that is appropriate to our reality, that understands our problems and aspirations and that treat us with the minimum amount of respect and dignity.”
Four months after the decision, the ISO Certification – number ISO/IEC DIS 29500 – will be launched in the next few weeks, according to the ISO. Meanwhile, Microsoft has pledged support for the free Open Document Format (ODF), which has been certified as Standard since 2006.
(Britta Wülfing)

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