BRM is done… time to sleep :-)

Well, the BRM is over and I can only describe the week as a lot of technical work and a lot of great people I was lucky enough to meet and exchange ideas with. The objective of the BRM was to work with all of the National Body delegations in the room and improve the specification on a technical level -- and that we did. There were many technical changes the delegates made to really get consensus on some of the more challenging issues, but all of these passed overwhelmingly once they were updated. The process really worked (it was very cool).

The meeting closed with clapping and cheering, folks were really happy about the improved proposals for the specification and it was a very positive experience for me personally.

As it is only about an hour since the meeting closed I still don't know what is being said in the blogosphere, I guess we'll be seeing that over the coming days and weeks.

I'm deeply impressed by the thoughtful consideration and strong commitment shown by the NB delegates to improve this specification and I want to thank them all. It is clear that the process worked.

This is short, I'm heading out to celebrate... more on Monday.


Comments (74)

  1. Wu MingShi says:

    Take a good rest first. You earned it!

  2. pcpartfinder says:

    A pivotal meeting of international delegates to decide the fate of Microsoft's Open XML finished

  3. jasonmatusow says:

    Congratulations Brian (and the rest of the team over in Geneva)! It sounds like it was a very fruitful week.


  4. marc says:

    "I’m deeply impressed by the thoughtful consideration and strong commitment shown by the NB delegates to improve this specification and I want to thank them all. It is clear that the process worked."

    mmm… 4 P-member approval over 32 votes… i don’t see it as a "working process"

    you should send a check to all the people all arond the world, in all the ISO national bodies of all the countries that have worked and continue the work free to try to put your proposed specification in a not-so-laughable form, making the homework that Microsoft should have done.

    Some suggestions:

    Careful, history is watching.

    Don’t play games with standardization [1]

    Don’t fool ( nor buy with incentives ) people and national bodies standards organizations to achieve market advantages

    Times have changed, the rules are not the same [2] [3]

    And finally, welcome to the open world and happy fast-tracking!





  5. Puneet says:

    I know my question is out of context, but i really  

    want to know is there any way to reduce the size of .xls file progrmatically (i.e removing all formatting etc. by using any tag in SpreadsheetML )

  6. Robert says:

    I hope the EU will now really start investigating the whole process, where the ISO doesn’t even follow its own rules (ONLY P countries are allowed to vote) Don’t fool us with your success stories when an overwhelming majority didn’t want to have anything to do with your ‘standard’.

  7. Chai says:

    Yay! Sounds like a win to the consumer to me.

  8. Stefan Gustavson says:

    I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry. Either you are in denial or your definition of "success" is a very loose one indeed. The BRM managed to discuss only a small fraction of all the technical comments and dispositions, most were left undecided and the ECMA dispositions were not even voted into the final draft – the final vote on the lump of all remaining ECMA dispositions was 4 to 4, with many abstentions. Thus, the spec sent out for the 30 day ballot has 200 minor editorial comments fixed but only 20 or so technical comments addressed, so it is only marginally improved. The spec is nowhere near finished, and it should have no chance of being accepted as a standard in its current state.

    The BRM failed miserably in addressing all comments and reach consensus on a final document for the 30 day ballot. In what way does this mean that the process "worked" for DIS29500?

  9. Mistro says:

    Brian, perhaps you were too sleep deprived to understand what happened.

    13% of the P-members approved of fast-tracking your OfficeOpenXML.  And that is after Microsoft’s bullying of the standard through the process.

    Are you sure the clapping and cheering you observed was not because people are happy that Microsoft’s abuse of the ISO process might be finally at an end?

  10. Dscho says:

    I cannot fail to see that what you describe, and what really happened, are opposites on a scale.

    So, why do you do it?  Are you paid to misrepresent the outcomes?

    I could understand that you _expected_ the outcome to be more favourable to Redmond, what with all the incentives (which some would describe as bribes, and I cannot really disagree here) that Microsoft spent.

    But the outcome is: many more people than you actually thought would think that OOXML is a bad "standard", that it would be wiser for Microsoft to _finally_ abide by the majority, and not try to whip it into submission.

    If OOXML were as good as you claim, wouldn’t it need to be more concise, complete, and actually implementable? In short, would it not _have_ to be more like ODF, a standard that _Microsoft_ helped to form?



  11. Francis says:

    When you’ve recovered Brian: is it true what Stefan G (above) says? I would hope that all your work on improving the spec wasn’t for naught! (And besides, I would like to see those changes integrated into Office–many of them really will benefit users.) Does the final, to-be-voted-on document not include all the dispositions?

  12. The Ballot Resolution Meeting for DIS 29500 (Open XML) has concluded on a very positive note. I hear

  13. The Ballot Resolution Meeting for DIS 29500 (Open XML) has concluded on a very positive note. I hear

  14. Glenn says:

    I think you had a very nice dream.  It was not a resounding success in reality.  Much of the needed work was not accomplished and the vote clearly reflects that.  More P votes abstained than voted for or against *combined*.  Add to that the protest non-votes.  Sorry Brian, this was not a victory at all.  Fast-tracking is not the answer if you want this to really succeed.

  15. Argana Morlan says:

    Well, it is obvious. Most people only get to see the first post (a far fetched theory, but that’s probably what he thinks) Right now all what MS can do for survival is try to make this look like a huge victory. A victory for the consumers, indeed.

  16. Sakari says:

    Dear Brian

    After you wake up I can also ‘rest assured’ you’ll be more than refreshed having obviously slept for over a week now. Please tell me how your position has improved in terms of achieving the ultimate goal of fast-tracking ooxml to ISO standard recognition in comparison to where you were at on Sep. 5th 2007?

    Best regards


  17. says:

    I don’t know where folks are getting there information, but it’s completely innacurate. The whole point of this meeting wasn’t to vote on approval of the spec, just on approval of the changes. The only reason you should (in theory) vote against the changes is if you don’t believe they improve the spec.

    As a result of the BRM, around 99% of the changes were accepted. In addition, we made further changes to a number of the dispositions to improve the changes even further (multi-part; transitional vs. strict conformance classes; more strict date system in spreadsheets; flexible units of measurement; etc.). So while there are some people who were really hopping they could claim the BRM was a failure, and they are desperately grasping at straws to defend this claim… the opposite is in fact true. The spec has been improved significantly because of the process, and now the countries actually have to decide if they want to actually approve the spec or not.


  18. hAl says:

    I think the voting fud comes from Andy UpdeGroves blog who has a suggestive piece on the voting. Even if a country present at the BRM actually voted to approve ALL of the disposition to their own issues it would not still be seen as a positive vote by Andies way of measuring.

    If a country approved 99% of of the dispositions by individually voting approvals on all of them and not set a default approval vote on any remaining issues Andy still counts them as abstains or disapprovals.

    The result however of the BRM in the end can only be measured in how many edits for the draft were approved as that is the only product that a BRM delivers. And apparently more than 1000 edits were approved so we are likley to see a much improved specification fairly soon. (A lot of work for the ISO appointed editor)

  19. Andre says:

    "I’m deeply impressed by the thoughtful consideration and strong commitment shown by the NB delegates to improve this specification and I want to thank them all. It is clear that the process worked."

    Yes, by fast-tracking an immature specification you made it nearly impossible to get a decent result. The 5days BRM tried the best it can do to improve the spec, yet it turned out to be a complete failure as the final vote indicated.

    You guys will try to get approval anyway. So I wonder when people will say "enough is enough".

  20. Anonymous Coward says:

    It’s always a pleasure to hear both sides of a story. Below Tim Bray describes the whole process and BRM in particular and concludes:"Summary: A lot of good work was done, but the process is irretrievably broken."

  21. carlos says:

    brian said:

    "I don’t know where folks are getting there information, but it’s completely innacurate. The whole point of this meeting wasn’t to vote on approval of the spec, just on approval of the changes. The only reason you should (in theory) vote against the changes is if you don’t believe they improve the spec."


    Andy figures are true and i don’t want to admit it: only 4 P-members voted "approve" to 80% of DIS 29500

    Sad but true


  22. S says:

    According to Frank Farance, head of the US delegation at the ISO BRM, "Four countries, including the U.S. and Malaysia, according to Farance, voted not to approve those 900 changes".

    (link :

    That the US voted against OOXML is pretty damning MeThinks.

    Especially when you know that in last august, the US INCITS V1 voted almost UNANIMOUSLY in favor of OOXML. Sure, this was after a certain BillG made a phone call to the US secretary. But lest not small details like that obscure the big picture.


  23. Tim M. says:

    Brian, you’re such a tease! :^)

  24. lake says:


    Brian, as I understood it the BRM has significantly improved DIS 29500 by approving the editing instructions to be implemented by the DIS 29500 editor. Now National Bodies have 30 days time to study those changes approved by the BRM, if they want to change their earlier vote they may change so. So the process has not ended yet with this BRM, true?

    Therefore I do not understand the message of the Andy UpdeGroves and Co. folks, what are they celebrating? A proposed input text went into the BRM and a modified proposed text came out, that NBs can now activate to change or not their earlier vote, if they wish. That is all what happened. Added with your view, as someone who has participated in the meeting, unlike UpdeGrove who has not (but has no moral problems spreading around his propaganda messages), that in your view the output BRM text is much better than the input was thanks to the the great work of the BRM. So your hope now is that some more NBs will change their vote from disapprove or abstain to approve. I think fair enough.

  25. marc says:

    Brian said

    "The process really worked (it was very cool)."

    Regarding the "working process", the following are the number of negative votes ( abstention, or no vote, or refusal to vote ). What a consensus !

    Judge by yourself , and if you don’t believe me, demand ISO to disclose this numbers and check yourself

    Country         abst+no+refusal   Percentage

    ———–     —————   ———–

    China                     1027    100.00%

    Ireland                   1027    100.00%

    Ecuador                   1027    100.00%

    Netherland                1027    100.00%

    Mexico                    1027    100.00%

    Malaysia                  1022     99.51%

    Korea (s)                 1021     99.42%

    New Zealand               1018     99.12%

    Australia                 1008     98.15%

    India                     1005     97.86%

    Italy                      995     96.88%

    Belgium                    986     96.01%

    Israel                     983     95.72%

    Kenya                      970     94.45%

    US                         966     94.06%

    France                     965     93.96%

    Greece                     963     93.77%

    Portugal                   935     91.04%

    Japan                      934     90.94%

    Denmark                    912     88.80%

    Canada                     886     86.27%

    South Africa               875     85.20%

    Denmark                    871     84.81%

    Brazil                     573     55.79%

    Switzerland                349     33.98%

    UK                         187     18.21%

    Czech                        7     0.68%

    Finland                      6     0.58%

    Poland (O member)            4     0.39%

    Chile (O member)             1     0.10%

    Ivory Coast (MS HOD)(*)      0     0.00%

    NO (MS HOD)                  0     0.00%


  26. Excuse me, marc … but are you out of your mind?

    > Denmark 871 84.81%

    You can not in any way what so ever conclude that any "abstain"-vote by any country is the same as a negative vote.

    > NO (MS HOD) 0 0.00%

    I wonder who this was – the HoD I talked to and the one registered by ISO is from the Norwegian National Body and not Microsoft.

    I suggest you check your facts a bit better the next time.

  27. Tom says:

    OK, something like 30 items were discussed, often (always?) modified, and then voted on, in a meeting that consumed a work week, with travel, etc.  

    900 to go?

    So in 30 more weeks of meetings, say not more then one a month, and more likely 1/qtr (or less)…does that mean that this proposal will be ready for voting AND as a spec for a reference implementation and validation test suite in not less then 30 months before a full and Validated reference implementation is available / started?  

    Oh, and be sure to include time to spec out the by-reference parts, detail the specific patents of interest, and allow for rules changes that preclude "just voting"

    Standards development is (was?) honorable work, following strong engineering principles.  The engineers are watching and so are Citizens.  Please decide what your honor is worth.

  28. munk says:

    How do you feel when you look in the mirror, Brian?

    Don’t you feel like looking at a shit? I would in your place.

  29. marc says:

    Saturday, March 01, 2008 10:31 AM by Jesper Lund Stocholm

    "Excuse me, marc … "

    i excuse you

    "but are you out of your mind?"

    no, but i’m not who should judge this 😉

    > Denmark 871 84.81%

    yes, this is the number

    >You can not in any way what so ever conclude

    >that any "abstain"-vote by any country is the same

    >as a negative vote.

    please, read my post, do you see the column heading "abst+no+refusal "?

    ok, now, to calm you down, please , substitute the following in my post

    "negative" -> "not positive"

    agree? or not agree?

    "> NO (MS HOD) 0 0.00%"

    yes, this is the number

    "I suggest you check your facts a bit better the next time."

    thank you, i will check Finland facts ( by the way in the table that i posted one "Denmark" must be read "Germany", sorry for the typo , this table was rushed and not enough reviewed , as DIS 29500, but the numbers are ok, trust me, as you trust anything Microsoft put on the table of ISO )

    i suggest you to work to give the world usable and quality standards and not to help bad reviewed, rushed and "franchestinized" [1] ones



  30. > "Excuse me, marc … "


    > i excuse you


    > ok, now, to calm you down, please , substitute the following in my post


    >"negative" -> "not positive"


    >agree? or not agree?

    Well – it’s not about the words. The phrase "not positive" or "negative" or the comparison between the votes really don’t make any sense without the context. The decisions at the BRM were done by consensus and in real-politics that simply means "not opposed by more than a few nations". According to the many nations I spoke to at the BRM their "abstain"-vote meant "We don’t have a qualified opinion on this subject, we will let other nations decide this". This is exactly what consensus is all about.

    Also – trying to read something out of the alledged "default approve vote" is inherently flawed. I know of at least one country that had a qualified opinion of each and single one of the responses from ECMA. They were quite happy with the responses from ECMA and would have likely ticked out the default "approve mark" and afterwords picked out the few they thought were worse than the original disposition of comment.

    > "> NO (MS HOD) 0 0.00%"


    > yes, this is the number

    I am not correcting the number – I am pointing out that the HoD for Norway was not a Microsoft employee.

    > trust me, as you trust anything Microsoft put on the table of ISO

    Well, I didn’t know I did that – but apparently you were also at the BRM and know this better than me.

  31. Ian Easson says:

    Here are the brief comments left at Andy’s blog by the BRM convenor.  That blog is the primary source of all the "negative" perspective.  The convenor, to those that have checked, has always shown a great deal of integrity.  In my personal opinion, he is the one to whom people should turn to for a neutral description of what happened:


    I’m won’t be composing a blog entry on the BRM for a bit, but I wil point out that your article contains surprising inaccuracies about what the subject of the vote was, how it worked, and what the governing rules were. A health warning is in order."

  32. Ian Easson says:

    Further to my quote from the BRM convenor, let me point out another point which may be quite significant.

    To those who have read Sherlock Holmes, you will remember that Holmes talks about the significance of "the dog in the night".  Dr. Watson replies "but the dog didn’t make any sound all night".  To which Holmes replied "Exactly!".

    The significant point is that the BRM convenor has (so far at least) made NO comment on Microsoft blogs about inaccuracies etc., in their version of events.

    Interpret this as you will.

  33. Ian,

    On the website the HoD of USA, Frank Faranc (whose technical capabilities procedural knowledge deeply impressed me during the week), is quoted saying:

    "Despite accusations that both Microsoft and IBM have been engaged in heavy-handed attempts at influence for and against OOXML’s passage, Farance said he didn’t observe any shenanigans this week.

    "People were doing the usual amount of lobbying," he said. "Was anybody doing anything egregious or out of process? No." "

    I second that.

  34. I wrote a little song especially for all those who wasted a week of their lives in Geneva.  Working process my ass.

  35. tlutz says:

    Great Work Brian! In comparison to ODF the OOXML specs are now app. 100times more rigorous investigated and patted off the dust, and even including formula specs and accessibility functions which had been simply forgotten in the ISO 1.0 specs of ODF – looks very like that the ISO process for ODF was not very comparable to that of OOXML…

  36. Anonymous Coward says:

    Some more insights from the other opposite:

    Needless to say, everyone and his dog has the right for their opinions but to me it seems that if so many feel that both the process and the BRM have completely failed then I think it should be a heads up for people to pause for a moment and listen to those people. They might be wrong, they might be mistaken, they might be mindlessly bashing the Borg, they might be unfamiliar with standards work but in the end they’re frustrated and people fully happy with the affairs should give them a moment and think why they feel so differently. If not for anything then at least for the specs to come. Open or not.


  37. Anonymous Coward,

    In fact JTC1 (the mother-committee of SC34) is already considering changes to both PAS and Fast Track processes. I think most will agree that the ODF (PAS) and OOXML (FT) procedings have shown, that they could both do with a bit of – ahem – improving.


  38. BigBert says:

    Brian, kindly change the title of your blog from "Open XML" to "Microsoft Office Open XML"

    Fudging phrases and words to deliberately confuse ordinary folk is simply underhanded. Day != night, up != down, no matter how many times you repeat it.

  39. Luc Bollen says:

    @Jesper "consensus […] simply means "not opposed by more than a few nations""

    According to Andy, out of 32 voters, 4 voted No and 4 refused to vote in sign of protest.  That means 8 nations, or 25% opposed.  This is obviously NOT a consensus. Please remember that in the end of March, OOXML will not pass if there are 25% of the voters that oppose the text.

    @Ian Eason "the BRM convenor has (so far at least) made NO comment on Microsoft blogs about inaccuracies"

    Bad luck! Please read in Tim Bray’s blog comments.  Alex Brown wrote: "Congratulations on having written the only accurate, neutral and informative blog entry on the BRM in existence so far".  Quite telling… So much for the accuracy of Brian Jones and Jason Matusow blog entries!

  40. Luc Bollen says:

    In my understanding of how a BRM normally works, the purpose is to make sure that as many countries as possible are happy with the final text.  Even if there is a single NO vote out of several dozens of votes, there should be a BRM to try improving the text so that the NO voter change its vote.

    The mere fact that we are all busy counting votes (and reaching opposite conclusions) rather than discussing how the text has been improved (I saw no information written about this, except a brief comment by Brian here above) seems to me to be an indication that something went wrong.

    Brian, I’m sure that the new text will be better than the initial one.  But it was a strategic mistake by Microsoft to claim a "unqualified success by any measure" as Jason Matusow and Tom Robertson did.  This put the fire to the blogosphere, polarizing the debate even more than it was before.

    Microsoft would have been better inspired by taking a low profile and communicating about the text improvement themselves, rather than insisting on an "overwhelmingly positive consensus". Microsoft really screwed itself its communication here.

  41. Luc Bollen says:

    By the way, could you write a post about the text improvements ?  I think enough (or more correctly, a lot too much) was said about the votes.

  42. Bruno says:

    Luc Bollen,

    Microsoft taking a "low profile" is what caused them so many problems to begin with.  They foolishily allowed IBM to dominate the blogosphere discussion, so all anyone heard was one side.  You think they’re ever going to repeat that mistake?

    BTW, I agree that the ISO process is completely broken.  How else do you explain that a 0.7 spec was approved as ODF 1.0, but OOXML 1.0 is being judged against the criteria of a 1.5 spec?  Totally ridiculous.

  43. Alex Brown says:


    Way to quote me selectively – you ommitted my (all-important) qualification that I was not commenting on Tim’s evaluation of the process.

    In other words, while Tim Bray has written a nice description OF WHAT HAPPENED, I cannot comment on how he evaluates the Fast Track process in general.

    – Alex Brown.

  44. Luc,

    I am not saying that the final vote was a consensus. That wouldn’t make any sense at all. Consensus is not a vote – and vice versa.

  45. Jan says:

    It is a shame that MS has the ability to buy international standard organisations. OpenXML breaks with a lot of rules for a standard and it will althrough become a ISO standard. What a world !

    The only chance to free the people from the operating system monopol and office monopol is to force switch to Linux. I work for that aim – every day of my life !

  46. @Luc: You should’nt mess the quote. Alex wrote: "though on the bullshitty-ness of the Fast Track process, I can of course offer no comment"

    Cheers! Daniel

  47. Luc Bollen says:


    I think you missed the point of my comment to Ian.  I was not commenting about the fast track process, but about the accuracy of blog entries.  If Tim "[wrote] the only accurate […] blog entry on the BRM", I concluded that the other blog entries were not accurate.  Did I misunderstood this ?

    This being said, I should not have mentioned Brian’s entry, as his post was describing his mood rather than what happened at the BRM.  Sorry for this, Brian.

  48. Luc Bollen says:

    @Daniel: could you please explain how I messed the quote ? Ian posted about the (in)accuracy of Andy’s and Microsoft’s blogs.  I replied to this with a quote from Alex Brown about blogs (in)accuracy.  None of us spoke about the Fast Track process.

    Rather, as Alex said he don’t want to comment about the Fast Track process, I avoided discussing this myself and mixing both subjects.  But I added a link to the full post for completeness.

    Please read again carefully what Ian and I wrote above, and explain your post or desist.  Thanks.

  49. Alex Brown says:


    Ah okay, I didn’t pick up the nuance of what you were saying. I am worried I will see a blog headline "BRM convenor agrees process is bullshit" if we are not careful!!

    – Alex.

  50. Alex Brown says:


    On the topic of blog accuracy. I hadn’t been looking at the MS blogs (they are swamped rather). But in terms of actual facts about what happened in the meeting, there’s nothing I can see in either this blog or in Jason Matusow’s that is factually incorrect, except perhaps to note the following:

    – Agreement was not always achieved by consensus, but fell back to voting (both by shows of hands, on using voting papers), in line with usual practice

    – I am not sure that it is that "unprecendented" for this number of contries to attend an ISO or IEC meeting.

    As to wider opinions (of the type: "it’s a great spec now") – well, that is not for me to say one way or the other.

    Does anybody else think that all this commenting on comments at several removes is getting a bit silly?

    – Alex.

  51. Alex,

    "Does anybody else think that all this commenting on comments at several removes is getting a bit silly?"

    I agree with you – but you really can’t blame people of being, ahem, frantic to get information about what happened. The delegates are in the position that we really can’t talk about anything concrete and it must be frustrating to stand next to the playing-field an not being able to see anything.

    I have posted some of my own thoughts on it on my blog.


  52. Luc Bollen says:

    Alex, as I said above, I agree with you that there is too much out of topic discussions (and I accept being responsible for a  part of it).

    I think this is a result, as Jesper said, from frustration of not having first hand information available (due to ISO confidentiality rules), combined with the claim of overwhelming success by Microsoft bloggers, which triggered a reaction of all those which have a different understanding.

    If ISO had published a factual declaration just at the end of the BRM meeting, a lot of posts would have been avoided, and discussion would have been, I hope, centred about the real subject of the BRM : the text of DIS 29500 itself.

  53. Alex Brown says:

    @Luc, Jesper,

    But of course everything has to be checked (and also Friday evening is not a great time to mobilise ISO and IEC staff to start preparing documents – remember for them this is just another day in the office!)

    Imagine the outcry from the blogosphere if something was published which contained a (gasp!) inaccuracy "Vote count wrong: OOXML must fail" anyone?

    Rick Jelliffe has blogged recently – take a look at that …

    – Alex.

  54. funnybroad says:

    I’m just curious… Why isn’t Microsoft pouring million$ they must be spending on getting their "100% compatible" and "Open" OOXML ratified, when they really should be spending it on getting their own Office 2007 software to be "100% Compatible" with previous Office versions, not to mention the billions and billions of files still in the 97-2003 formats?

    My company hasn’t even been discouraged by the productivity hits our users might experience because of the new ribbon. We even bought into the inflated SharePoint 2007 & Office SharePoint Services  promises.     Unfortunately, that was before we discovered SO MANY compatibility tool BUGS and content compatibility PROBLEMS between Office versions that we can’t even begin to THINK about migrating to Office 2007!  

    See details on Office 2007 compatibility issues here:

    It seems to me, that if Microsoft would simply focus on getting their Office 2007 product working the way it should (and the way they’ve advertised that it should), and make it a lot less painful to migrate to it, that OOXML would simply become the de-facto standard… just like the old 97-2003 formats.  

  55. an says:

    To quote Alex Brown:

    3. Following the ballot, there is a ballot resolution process which ultimately approves the standard, most probably with alterations in line with comments received in the ballot.

    4. Following the ballot, there is a ballot resolution process which fails to agree a text, and the project is abandoned.

    It is clear that we have no ‘text’ as result of the BRM, right? I heard some delegations wanted to axe Alex Brown for the en bloc vote because their work was rendered useless through the ecma approval vote.

    It is time for the neutral parties in the process to stop the madness. ISO should have killed the standard in September!

    2. OOXML receives such a negative response in the letter ballot that ISO decides it is not worth the process continuing, and terminates it.

    Who will terminate it now? Clean cut or dirty and bloody? You decide as its in the hands of your company and its ISO drones.

  56. Doug Mahugh says:

    Like many of the delegates who attended the BRM, I’ve found my return travel plans this weekend stymied

  57. Like many of the delegates who attended the BRM, I've found my return travel plans this weekend stymied

  58. Outlander says:

    I just don’t get what’s up with those few posts in actual support of OOXML (not to be confused with Open XML) (BTW, what’s up with the misleading naming?) If you had reasons not to like ODF you should have battled its approval before or helped it get better specs.

    Right now we have 2 file formats, one is ODF – already a standard . Which is blamed by a minority for being "incomplete" (In my opinion minimalism is the ideal when we talk about standards for interoperability) and a 6000 pages long, patent mined , vendor dependent format which is not a standard yet, and has tried to become one even though we already have one.

    It is fun to see that MS used the freedom of choice motto to defend the decision to flood us with yet another standard. For some reason it is quite bizare to see MS saying "we want freedom of choice" .

    You could point out the obvious issues on the political side, I mean 6000 pages of specs, the most a standard ever took yet it had one of the fastest ISO processes, and now a BRM that was a total failure, which means so many countries don’t want to touch this stuff anymore.

    So, let’s think what will happen when ISO approves OOXML:

    – Every corporation should try making up their own standard replacement, apparently "freedom of choice"  is the new cool thing for standards. That whole stuff about actual standards is out of fashion. Every one should make up his own industry standard, should be a good way for industries to boost their egos.

    – I as a developer will be screwed, with 6000 pages of specification and the fact that MS has only promised not to sue for patent infringement on the parts  that are necessary to implement OOXML. Only big companies with a lawyer firm or MS’ friendlies will be able to actually implement it correctly and without legal problems.

    – Citizens all over the world will have to pay a MS tax in order to actually read government files (not like that doesn’t happen now, but after the approval such non-sense will be a permanent reality.)

    So, congratulations MS, good work!

  59. Alex,

    "But of course everything has to be checked (and also Friday evening is not a great time to mobilise ISO and IEC staff to start preparing documents – remember for them this is just another day in the office!)

    Imagine the outcry from the blogosphere if something was published which contained a (gasp!) inaccuracy "Vote count wrong: OOXML must fail" anyone?"

    To be clear – I do not as much critizise the procedures at the BRM and IEC. I am simply saying that I understand the frustration of the people not being there. But I don’t agree with them in their claims. To some people an "open process" means being able to follow it live on CNN. I simply don’t agree with this notion.


  60. hAl says:

    Why are those unofficial figures marc is publishing have two danmark voting percentages in them.

    Did Jesper vote extra for Denmark 😉

  61. hAl,

    "Why are those unofficial figures marc is publishing have two danmark voting percentages in them. Did Jesper vote extra for Denmark 😉


    Well no – not to my knowledge. The Danish vote was cast by our HoD anyways.


    But I think it shows a real interop-nightmare … copying a list bewteen blogs apparently shifts a few bits each time … thereby rendering the list more and more incorrect (not to speak of the following interpretation of them).

  62. hAl,

    I just double-checked the original BRM vote-spreadsheet, and Denmark does not appear twice in this list.

    Pheew ;o)

  63. nksingh says:


    Does that spreadsheet use any formulas?  Perhaps that’s where the error comes from.  🙂

  64. nksingh,

    LOL – good post-BRM humour!


    The spreadsheet is an .XLS-file … I suppose everyone can conclude just about everything about that.

  65. Anonymous Coward says:

    One of the two Greek delegates paints a completely different picture than Brian does:

    "Brian Jones and Jason Matusow of Microsoft have said that the BRM was a success because it fulfilled its purpose, which was to make changes to the text. Although this is technically correct, if the original text got 1 out of 10 and the BRM managed to improve it to 1.1, it is somewhat misleading to call it a success."

    There you have it.

  66. juk says:

    Overwhelming approval? I’m sorry, but 4 out of 25 P countries is not overwhelming approval. Neither is 6 out of 32.

    @ the link

  67. hAl says:

    From the preliminary onofficial publications it seems that on the voting on the remeining issue about:

    26 countries have voted mostly approval votes on changes.

    6 countries voted either mostly against approval of changes or did not vote on any changes.

  68. John G says:

    "The whole point of this meeting wasn’t to vote on approval of the spec, just on approval of the changes. The only reason you should (in theory) vote against the changes is if you don’t believe they improve the spec."

    Brian, I think the not so subtle message you are picking up from others is that many wished there had been a ‘delete’ vote option.  That does not mean they are against Microsoft, just against MOOXML becoming an ISO standard.  Most people would be completely satisfied if Microsoft Office used ODF as its default file format, and worked to improve that with the community.

    As you know the main resistance to what happened last week in the BRM is due to two factors:

    1) It would be self-defeating for ISO to have two international standards for the same purpose.  We’ve tried having multiple standards for the same things already:  power plugs, which side of the road to drive on, how to spell center, etc.  It never makes things better.

    It seems to me that Microsoft believes there will be more profit in owning it’s own ‘standard’ (a checkbox item for marketing and supplier reasons) so it is pushing something that does not make sense from a standards perspective (MOOXML) rather than simply doing what does and contributing to ODF.

    The MS FUD machine is in over-drive trying to get the whole world excited about MOOXML.  But apparently they’re not having any of it.

    The fact is, open standard formats are not supposed to be used as a competitive advantage.  They are supposed to make things work together.  That is why there are processes set up to allow for sufficient review and debate in specifying them.  And that is why you are kicking up so much dust in your effort to short cut the process.

    2) Even if there was not already an ISO standard for document format yet, the right way to get an ISO standard would not be to lift one company’s legacy-loaded, internally developed, error-ridden format and stuff it down the ECMA  to ISO fast track and down consumers throats (at the same time).  It would be to get the specification right by going through a standardization process appropriate to the job.  A 6000 page spec with 1000+ changes for 100 people to review in a week?  Good grief Charley Brown!

    The OLE references and other Microsoft hooks that remain in the document leave it clear that implementing to this spec on any other platform (without a big pile of Microsoft libraries, documentation, and technical support available) will be in reality impossible.  This is not an industry neutral, well thought out for the purpose of cross-platform, cross-vender, cross-application data sharing, specification.

    Computing is not a zero-sum gain.  The better things are, the more opportunities develop.  That is what open standards enable.  They are there to simplify things so things work not just across proprietary products, but across an industry.  The efficiencies that get injected into the system yield pay backs to the industry.

    Doing the right thing in this case would mean supporting and helping improve the existing standard interfaces and formats for computing and networking, and submitting new ones where there are gaps.  

    It’s not too late for that here.  A leap of faith to show Microsoft really does get it is for you use the delete option on MOOXML and join the rest of the world in supporting, improving, and using ODF as the international standard document format.  If there is anything missing in ODF that is in MOOXML it can be added through the appropriate process.  I feel that backward compatibility hooks, tools and filters for older Microsoft formats do not belong in this spec, but could be handled in a way that makes sense to everyone.

  69. Caleb says:

    Hmmm… just a few comments from other delegates:

    “Delegates were rushed to vote on hundreds of comments in bulk , were told new rules had to be applied, and when many of them tried to propose solutions to technical or legal issues they were simply dismissed….but as it stands today, the BRM has failed -failed to work, failed to impress, failed to create consensus and failed to succeed.” AFNOR (France) TC Member  Charles-H. Shultz

    “This was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen. Their reputation, in my eyes, is in tatters. My opinion of ECMA was already very negative; this hasn’t improved it, and if ISO doesn’t figure out away to detach this toxic leech, this kind of abuse is going to happen again and again” – Canadian delegate Tim Bray

    “The final day was absolute mayhem. We had to submit decisions on over 500 items which we hadn’t have the time to review. All the important issues which have been worked on repeatedly happened to appear on this final day. So it was non-stop important matters….Due to the quirks in the voting mechanisms, a reported 98.4% of Ecma resolutions were approved. This on the surface projects an impression that the BRM is a resounding success. Unfortunately this is not the sentiment of the majority of participants.This is not in criticism of the Convener Mr Alex Brown….It was not the failure of the National Bodies which attended. It was merely a failure of the process. And it may not be the failure of ISO as a process for creating standards, but mainly because a client chose the wrong method in forcefeeding a large draft standard in the conservative process of the ISO.It was a failure of the Fast Track process, and Ecma for choosing it”. .- Malaysian delegate Yoon Kit

    “I’ve never seen anything like this, and I’ve been doing this for 25 years….There are likely to be hundreds of defects.Virtually every comment we processed did not survive unedited…I see no particular rationale for why we were limited in time. I don’t know how you can deal with 6,000 pages with 3,500 comments in a week. It’s like trying to run a two-minute mile.”  US Head of Delegation Frank Farance

    “Most delegations gave a default abstain position, or registered no position. The net is that, although the discussions on Monday and Tuesday demonstrated that the quality of the Ecma responses was such that almost every one required substantial off-line work to make it acceptable, we gradually lowered our standards, so that by week’s end, we approved 800+ comments without any discussion, even in the presence of clear objections”  US Delegate Rob Weir,

    “In fact, even the 80 responses that Greece studied, we did not study at the level of scrutiny that is required when you inspect a standard. There was no time for that. What we did was glance through, and make fast decisions based on what seems right at a quick glance.

    The conclusion is that the BRM did the best under the circumstances. OOXML is six thousand badly written pages, and the idea that it could go through fast track is laughable. What happened at the BRM was therefore expected.”  Greek Delegate Antonis Christofides

  70. wtm says:

    Stop bullshitting people Brian. Stick your XML where the Sun don’t shine.

  71. Citizen in an information age says:

    Please post each and every name of the US predatory monopoly conviction oversight offices (States Attorneys General, ClubBushFed, etc) so that we may forward information of your companies continued predatory behavior?

    Thank you.

  72. Mathias says:

    4 of 25 people said yes to "O"XML format and that means done? Nobody else then MS needs "O"XML

  73. Ian Easson says:

    For those of you who haven’t seen the announcement, Patrick Durusau (of anti-OOXML fame) has now changed his position as a result of what happened at the BRM, and now supports the passage of DIS29500 by the ISO.  His statement on this is at

    (Thanks to Jesper for the news.)

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