Is OOXML a Done Deal?

Some Microsoft opponents admit OOXML will probably become an ISO standard.

Despite a heated campaign to defeat International Organization for Standardization (ISO) status for Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML), over the weekend, even some staunch critics acknowledged that the company has likely garnered enough votes to win. However, that doesn't mean that they've given up the fight.

At least three Web pages set up to track the ISO vote's progress – by gathering information from press releases from nations involved in the balloting and from unidentified sources within some of the national delegations -- are predicting that OOXML will achieve standards status when all of the votes are tallied.

The predicted results are far from official and, as several observers pointed out, could easily turn out to be wrong. ISO plans to announce the final vote tallies early this week – likely Monday or Tuesday – as has been its habit in the past.

Still, some of OOXML's most vocal opponents seem to be resigned to ISO granting it standards certification.

"Unless thus-far unannounced votes that were formerly 'Approve' or 'Abstain' switch to 'Disapprove,' it appears that OOXML will be approved," said a posting by OOXML critic and attorney Andy Updegrove on his Standards Blog on Sunday.

Updegrove's calculations were supported by a second tracking site on the Open Malaysia Blog, which bills itself as "promoting ODF." (ODF or OpenDocument Format is already an ISO standard and is OOXML's main competition).

Both sites predict that OOXML will win. A third site –Command Line Warriors – does as well.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has been pushing for nearly two years to reach standards status for OOXML, which started out as the default file formats for Office 2007. European standards body Ecma International ratified OOXML as a standard in December 2006. It then took on the task of submitting OOXML – now also known as Ecma-376 – to ISO this time last year on a fast track basis that gave participating ISO nations five months to evaluate the submission.

When OOXML's status was put to a vote in early September 2007, however, the specification fell short of enough votes to pass. From that point, Microsoft and Ecma had six months to win over nations that had voted against OOXML's approval or had abstained from voting altogether. The re-evaluation period ended Saturday, March 29, at midnight Central European Time.

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