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Australia fails to take a position on OOXML

EPIC FAIL: Australia fails to take a position on OOXML, abstains on final OOXML vote.

It’s disappointing that while our Prime Minister travels the world with a stated intention to increase Australia’s influence and activism on the global stage, we at home have failed so miserably to come to a conclusion — positive or negative — about OOXML.

As a participant on the working group advising Standards Australia, it is surprising that I only know about this due to a report in the trade press. It is also concerning that (again) the news has been revealed so close to the wire that it is unlikely that any feedback could be provided to Standards Australia, or any action taken.

I am not so much surprised at the outcome as disappointed by the process.

Standards Australia has maintained its “abstain” vote on Microsoft’s attempt to attain international standard status for its Office Open XML file format.

[...]

“Unfortunately two clear groups have formed, in part along commercial lines, either supporting or opposing the adoption of OOXML as an International Standard, and despite the more than 1,000 technical issues addressed at the BRM and months of debate, neither side has moved,” he said.

According to Navaratnam this predicament left the standards organisation with no other choice than to maintain its abstain position.

What Navaratnam doesn’t say is that those industry lines were very clear throughout the process: Microsoft vs. a surprisingly broad representation of “everyone else” (including Open Source, proprietary, large multinational, Australian Government and small/medium participants).

Thus, I do not believe that the broader industry perspective on this matter is adequately expressed by the Australian “abstain” position.

Update: Standards Australia have published a media release about the decision, which includes some additional details not mentioned in the story linked above. If anything, it raises further questions about why their concerns did not warrant a “no” vote!

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  1. Not all that surprising given Standards Australia is a commercial entity, unlike what most people expect.

    It’s pretty amusing that the press releases on their web site are in… PDF format. Though that recently became a ratified ISO standard.

    And, of course, their web site’s HTML fails validation.

  2. It’s not surprising, but still most disappointing. The three bullets in the press release sound like they’re leading towards disapproval… but that would make sense. If the fast-tracking wasn’t appropriate, why not vote against the fast-tracking?

  3. Expecting the two sides to agree was naive of Standards Australia. When it was so clearly those who benefit from the Microsoft Office monopoly Vs. those want to escape the monopoly then of course there will be two sides.

    It made their job harder, but they should have formed an opinion themselves rather than blaming the participants.