My math-fu tells me OOXML has not passed JTC-1

by Sander Marechal

Updated om 2007-09-05@17:39. If my math-fu is anything to go by, it looks like Microsoft's Office Open XML will not become an ISO standard today. Various websites around the world are all busy tallying the votes as the news is dripping in. If their tally is correct then OOXML has been turned down by a very narrow margin. OOXML needed 2/3 of the P members to vote "yes", after subtracting abstains. With 5 abstains out of 41 P members, that means 24 "yes" votes. With 13 "no" votes already cast that means only 23 possible "yes" votes remain. Talk about a narrow margin.

Update: It's official! ISO has now officially stated that OOXML has failed.

A ballot on whether to publish the draft standard ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology Office Open XML file formats, as an International Standard by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has not achieved the required number of votes for approval.

Approval requires at least 2/3 (i.e. 66.66 %) of the votes cast by national bodies participating in ISO/IEC JTC 1 to be positive; and no more than 1/4 (i.e. 25 %) of the total number of national body votes cast negative. Neither of these criteria were achieved, with 53 % of votes cast by national bodies participating in ISO/IEC JTC 1 being positive and 26 % of national votes cast being negative.

Andy Updegrove already reported earlier that if there had not been an insurgence of new P members, that OOXML would already have failed at 10 "no" votes. But it looks like those 11 new P members cannot give OOXML the push that Microsoft wanted. One thing I also noticed is the "no" vote of Ecuador, one of the recently added P members who were expected to vote "yes" on this (un)standard. Had they voted "yes" then OOXML would still have a chance, albeit very slim. Two other new P members have voted "yes" so far—Malta and Uruguay—and we can safely guess that at least 7 more "yes" votes will come out of the remaining 8 new members who's votes are yet unknown.

Personally I expect the remainder of the 8 old P members to vote about 50/50 with a few abstains mixed in. Tallying it all up brings me to:

  • Yes: 19 votes
  • No: 16 votes
  • Abstain: 8 votes

But it really does not matter what I predict. With 13 "no" votes cast, even if OOXML gets all the remaining votes, they still come up one vote short. A different outcome is only possible if Microsoft has managed to add more yes-voting P members to JTC-1 that we do not yet know of (possible but unlikely), or if some JTC-1 members voted differently that they reported (very unlikely).

So, what does that mean for the standard? Andy Updegrove explained it pretty well in a recent blog post. All the votes and comments will be sent to the members and to ECMA for review and suggestions on resolution. Then, SC 34 will take those suggestions and make recommendations on how to resolve the comments. I don't know how this is done exactly but I guess by consensus. After that, it's sent back top JTC-1 for a re-vote to see if the recommendations can turn enough "no" votes into "yes" votes.

We lost the first round (Ecma) and the second round (Fast Track) but we have won the third round (JTC-1). Let's get ready for round 4 (SC 34) and 5 (JTC-1 re-vote).

This article was originally posted on LXer Linux News

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