[SATLUG] Reversing Loss, Microsoft Wins Open-Format Designation

Borries Demeler demeler at biochem.uthscsa.edu
Wed Apr 2 09:01:44 CDT 2008

In today's New York Times...what is this, let's vote until we get the
result we want? This doesn't look good for OpenOffice being accepted as
the standard.

Reversing Loss, Microsoft Wins Open-Format Designation 

Published: April 2, 2008

Microsoft has won an international standards designation for its
open-document format, according to voting results obtained Tuesday,
apparently ending a divisive yearlong battle with software rivals before
a global standards-setting organization.

Microsoft's Office Open XML, a format for interchangeable Web documents,
was approved by 24 of 32 countries in a core group in a ballot by
the International Organization for Standardization. Approval by the
standards-setting body, a nongovernmental network of 157 countries based
in Geneva, is considered almost certain to influence software spending
by governments and large companies.

The tally reversed a loss by Microsoft in first-round voting before an
87-nation panel in September, a process that involved blunt lobbying by
both sides toward members of national standards committees - typically
made up of technicians, engineers and bureaucrats.

In the final round of voting, which ended Saturday, three-quarters of the
core group members - including Britain, Japan, Germany and Switzerland -
supported Microsoft's standard, according to the results document. Of
the 87 votes, 10 opposed the standard: Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba,
Ecuador, India, Iran, New Zealand, South Africa and Venezuela.

Under organization rules, at least 66 percent of core group members must
accept a standard for it to be approved, and no more than 25 percent of
all voting nations can be opposed.

Roger Frost, a spokesman in Geneva for the standardization group,
would not confirm that Microsoft's format had been designated, saying
the organization would disclose the vote Wednesday after informing its
members. The International Herald Tribune obtained the results from one
of the delegations contacted by the standardization group.

Microsoft's request for rapid approval of its standard in early 2007
produced an intense lobbying campaign by I.B.M. and Sun Microsystems,
which had helped develop a rival interchangeable document format called
Open Document Format.

This rival was the first interchangeable document format to receive
approval by the standardization group in 2006, and its backers used that
in selling the technology to governments and large companies. The format
is now being considered for use by 70 nations.

Microsoft's push for speedy approval led to objections from many members
of the standards group. They felt pressure from the company, whose Office
application suite is the standard on more than 90 percent of computers and
archives worldwide, according to International Data in Framingham, Mass.

There were tart remarks even from countries that abstained from the
vote, like the Netherlands. "This is like someone with six shopping
carts of food trying to go through the express lane at a supermarket,"
said Michiel Leenaars, a member of the Dutch delegation. "The end result
of this will be confusion. The standard is simply too big. There are
still a lot of questions out there."

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