OOXML: Cuba, India, Brazil vote no, as deadline looms (and meow)

Please ratify IT Blogwatch: in which the Open XML standardization process approaches a key milestone. Not to mention a new interpretation of a Douglas Adams joke...

Kelly Fiveash feverishly reports:

Cuba and India are the latest countries to vote against Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) file format being adopted by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Meanwhile Germany and the US confirmed that they won't be backing down on their call for the format to be ISO/IEC-approved. The decisions from national delegates from 33 countries who took part in the DIS29500 ballot resolution meeting in Geneva in late February have been trickling in ahead of this Saturday’s crucial deadline. Late last week India overwhelmingly rejected OOXML ... Cuba said it won’t be backing Microsoft’s file format this time around. more
IBM's Avi Alkalay adds, from Brazil:
It is now official. Brazilian vote was decided by consensus of the entire technical team, including Microsoft crew’s: OOXML does not deserve to be an international ISO standard. Our first vote, in august, was also NO, due to the same reasons: OOXML is an awful specification. That outcome was expected because we simply followed the process: technically analyze the OOXML specification, make comments, wait for responses, analyze them and see if all problems were fixed. Is there any single remaining unresolved problem? Vote NO. And in fact there were many many unresolved problems. If every country followed this simple process, OOXML would receive a NO from 100% of them. But in some countries, how is the process? Invite a few companies and simply count their votes. more
Meanwhile, Chris Kanaracus reports on an odd ODF development:
The editor of the Open Document Format (ODF) standard has written a letter that strongly supports recognizing Microsoft's Open Office XML (OOXML) file format as a standard, arguing that if it fails, ODF will suffer ... [Patrick Durusau's] letter's support of OOXML is more explicitly worded than a previous one Durusau wrote, calling for the two sides to work together. But Durusau argued in his open letter that nothing will be gained if the ISO shoots down OOXML. more
Patrick Durusau is the horse's mouth:
A checklist of who loses if OpenXML does ... National bodies lose an open and international forum for further work on DIS 29500 ... Microsoft based third-party vendors may be excluded from contracts because Microsoft has no ISO approved format ... ODF has no ISO-based formula definitions to insure compatibility ... ODF has no ISO-based definition of MS legacy features for an ODF extension ... ODF has no ISO-based definition of the current MS format for mapping purposes ... As the editor of OpenDocument, I want to promote OpenDocument, extol its features, urge the widest use of it as possible, none of which is accomplished by the anti-OpenXML position in ISO. Passage of OpenXML in ISO is going to benefit OpenDocument as much as anyone else ... OpenDocument, among others, will lose if OpenXML loses. more
Marechal Sander angrily retorts:
The only one who looses if DIS 29500 fails is Microsoft ... I find it shameful that you, Patrick, make these kind of statements without a proper disclaimer that this is your personal opinion and not the position of the ODF committee (for whom you edit the ODF specifications), the V1 or any other technical body that you represent. In fact you seem quite happy that the media is running with headlines like “The ODF editor says…” else you would have done something about it after your previous publications ... Office Open XML is already an Ecma standard: Ecma 376. So the community can already work with Ecma on future revisions of that standard. Approving DIS 29500 does not change the venue in any way ... ISO and it's national bodies do not owe any company a living ... What is needed here is a mapping between Ecma 376 and ODF 1.2 spreadsheet functions. DIS 29500 does not contain this mapping ... OASIS and ISO can use Ecma 376 to create possible extensions to ODF ... If Office Open XML is unclear and needs fixing then it should be disapproved now. That way Ecma can resubmit it through the normal (non fast-track) ISO process where enough time can be spent fixing it. Fast track is no place for a flawed standard. more
IBM's Rob Weir is more measured:
I have a lot of respect for Patrick Durusau. He has taught me much about how ISO standards work in practice, and I have benefited from his thoughts on that subject. I hope I can repay my debt to Patrick even in part, by teaching him something about how Microsoft works, in practice, a subject where I have expertise he lacks. From the start Patrick has remained publicly silent on the topic of OOXML. No blog posts, no press, nothing. If you asked, he would say that this was his policy. Privately, you would get an earful (all negative), but as befits the unbiased chair of the committee which is responsible for the technical recommendation for the US NB, he kept his personal opinions out of the public arena. This public orientation changed recently. As best I can figure it, on returning from a conference in Seattle in late January, Patrick was a changed man. Patrick is now an enthusiastic OOXML supporter and is eager to inform the world of his delight in OOXML at every opportunity. He posts his "open letters" on his web site, which are linked to, often within minutes, by the various Microsoft bloggers, and then sent around by Microsoft employees to the press and the various JTC1 NB's. more
But Microsoft's Oliver Bell makes the reverse accusation:
I have been travelling and meeting with various folks over the last few weeks, not surprisingly every meeting seems to have similar themes. The odd part is watching many unrelated organizations move from one talking point to another, almost in unison. On the upside, the encouraging part of this current step is that the groups that are apposed to the standardization of OpenXML seem to have run out of technical arguments since the successful ballot resolution meeting in Geneva and now seem to be doing whatever they can to discredit ISO rather than Ecma or Microsoft ... Standards frequently feed of other standards, as Patrick Durusau (ODF Editor) recently pointed out. more
Michael Desmond milks a There Will Be Blood reference:
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've almost certainly noticed Microsoft's shift toward a more open, interoperable and standards-savvy approach to development technologies. It's a trend that ... recently culminated in the Feb. 21 "Interoperability Pledge" announcement ... Faced with an established open source XML standard (OpenDocument Format) and the real possibility that government and regulatory bodies might mandate a move off the proprietary binary Office formats, Microsoft launched OOXML as an industry standard. More than that, it's moved aggressively to deploy an ecosystem of partners, on display at the recent Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Mass., to surround ODF's position. You can almost picture Daniel Day-Lewis describing his long straw as it reaches across the room and saying, "I drink your milkshake. I drink it up!". more
And finally...

Buffer overflow:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

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