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Tight vote on global OOXML standard

Balloting ends for close OOXML ratification vote

Balloting on whether Office Open XML (OOXML) should become an international document standard closed at midnight Saturday in Geneva, in an apparently tight vote. The results have not yet been officially announced.

In order for the measure to pass, two-thirds of participating countries needed to vote in favour of the issue and less than one-quarter of observer countries in opposition to it. A total of 87 nations' standards bodies will cast votes. Neither the ISO nor Microsoft have issued a statement regarding the balloting results.

A few key vote changes ahead of the final tally could push the measure towards approval. In Europe, representatives from Finland, Denmark, and the Czech Republic all indicated they were changing their earlier votes from opposing the standard to supporting it. Others remain in opposition.

"Standards New Zealand has confirmed its negative vote for the adoption of the OOXML specification as an ISO/IEC international standard," said Debbie Chin, Standards New Zealand Chief Executive, in a statement Sunday on the group's website. A Standards NZ spokesperson said today that it had no further news or statement from Geneva. A Microsoft representative in New Zealand declined comment.

A representative from Standards Malaysia, the national standards body, declined also comment, while Microsoft representatives in Singapore could not be reached for comment.

The US delegation intended to vote for the measure after the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) agreed to support the standard after several rounds of balloting.

Kenya, a participating member, abstained from the vote. The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) called on African delegations to abstain due to insufficient African representation in the process.

Several blogs covering OOXML predicted ratification, including the pro-Open Document Format (ODF) ConsortiumInfo.org, based on publicly-stated support or opposition statements made by the standards bodies.

OOXML failed to gain ratification at an earlier vote in September 2007. But since opposition to a standard must be made on technical grounds, after the September vote a new draft of the OOXML standard's specifications was written. An initial vote on the new draft was conducted in February, and the March 29 deadline was the last possible date that the participating and observing bodies could change their vote if desired.

The ISO already recognises the ODF as a standard. ODF editor Patrick Durusau expressed support (download PDF) for OOXML's ratification as a standard also, stating that ODF would suffer if Microsoft's format were rejected.

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