Wednesday, July 18, 2007

OOXML - The Votes are In!

On Friday, July 13th, INCITS V1 took a role-call vote on our recommended position regarding DIS-29500, Office-Open XML. In what I imagine as a strictly partisan vote, we were not able to arrive at any consensus (a 2/3 majority). This, in spite of extending the time limit and even a certain amount of bullying pressure (or so it seemed to me) from some of the voting members. And the partisan division pretty much seemed to be Microsoft and their business partners, and the rest of the membership.

The motions we entertained were a) a recommendation of "Yes, with comments", which means we recommend acceptance of DIS-20500, and have comments that should, but are not required, to be addressed; "No, with comments", which means we recommend acceptance of DIS-29500 only if the comments are all addressed, and "Abstain, with comments" -- and I never did clearly understand that one! We did not entertain a straight-up yes or no vote.

I'm a little surprised by the outcome. Not so much that we could not agree on either a yes or a no, but that we could not reach a compromise position on abstaining. It seemed to me that the members voting yes were completely unwilling to meet in this middle position, voting down the abstain position along the same party lines. This unwillingness to compromise reinforces (to me, anyway) the feeling of being bullied -- the pro-OOXML membership essentially saying "my way or the highway".

It is of interest that in the past few months, 19 new members have joined this committee. And of those 19, 14 voted "yes". Certainly from my viewpoint, this looks like ballot-box stuffing.