Finland vote is now “yes” for Open XML

Here's the official statement, although it's in Finnish:

Finland had initially voted "abstain" back in September, but they have now decided to change their vote to "yes" in support of DIS 29500 (Open XML) as an ISO standard.


Comments (31)

  1. Luc Bollen says:

    Brian, it seems that your title is not correct: there was not vote in Finland, but a decision taken by the chairman without a vote.

    See the first comment at

    "Greetings from Finland!

    It would be fair to mention some details: last year, there was a vote and it ended more or less even so Finland said "Abstain". Afterwards the chairman who had said negative comments about OOXML got fired.

    Now, there was no vote and decision was made the basis of consensus, just ignoring that one third of the participants were opposed to the proposal. Also, this time the chairman was not from SFS but from Ministry of Finance (which was the loudest supporter last year). No idea why.

    In general, the meeting was very tense and there surely will be a lot of discussions in Finland in coming weeks about it."

  2. says:

    Sorry, so it sounds like while they didn’t have an official vote, 2/3 of the folks wanted to approve the format so their submission is now approve rather than abstain.


  3. Mike Brown says:

    That’s okay then.  If we just "know" that "2/3 of the folks wanted to appprove".

    Like maybe you just "know" that most of the people in the US want Barack Obama to be President.  So why not just appoint him in November, and save all the time, trouble and money that an election would bring?


    – Mike

  4. Stephen says:

    My understanding is that there was a vote. I think that Matti’s comment on my blog is incorrect.

  5. Please Be Quiet Already says:


    Your remarks have really gotten tired. Your analogies even more ridiculous and unintelligent. I will be so happy when this process is over so we don’t have to hear your mundane, no substance bashing anymore.

    Double Cheers!

  6. Mike Brown says:


    Attack me all you want, mate!  As I’ve said before, attacking somebody personally is the first recourse for those that have no arguments of their own.

    Why is my analogy "ridiculous and unitellgent"?

    Here, I’ll start you off:

    "Mike Brown, your analogy is ridulous and untelligent because …"


    – Mike

  7. Matti says:

    Hi all,

    I’ll say it also here what I wrote to Stephen’s blog: no vote. If you claim otherwise, please provide something to back it up. Official SFS bulletin is quiet about the vote and Finland’s most read IT news site ( clearly states that there was no vote. Actually I haven’t still seen any Finnish article or comment to claim that there was a vote.

  8. Please Be Quite Already says:

    The only thing you do on this blog, Mike, is bash the spec, bash Microsoft, etc. You are disingenious. If this spec wasn’t from Microsoft, you know as well as I know that you would consider it a good specification, better than ODF. Don’t lie. Be honest. That is the truth. But you slap Microsoft on it, and all of sudden the spec is a horrible thing that is going to ruin the world. I have no respect for disingenious people who pretend to stand for a cause.

    I would respect you more if you would just admit that.

  9. Matti says:

    I think I have to clarify after reading my own comment:

    A: Finland’s NB will vote yes in ISO.

    B: Finland’s NB (SFS) decided this yesterday without voting.

    It is an awkward situation for, e.g., Finland’s Ministry of Justice that already made the decision to use ODF and deployed it everywhere. What if other ministries choose OOXML? Are we soon having two ministries using ODF and four using OOXML? For me, a Finnish tax payer and a citizen who needs to deal with those ministries this situation doesn’t look cost-effective at all. I would prefer that all our ministries would the same format, it would make my life easier, too.

  10. Mike Brown says:


    >> The only thing you do on this blog,

    >> Mike, is bash the spec, bash Microsoft

    Ermmm…it’s kind of what this blog is for, isn’t it?  To comment on the spec, whether your comments are favourable or not.

    Yes, I’ve also commented on the Microsoft’s actions in trying to get the spec passed.  I don’t see anything wrong with that either.  But nowhere will you find any "Microsoft are evil" or "I hate Microsoft" comments from me anywhere.  Neither to do I insult anybody or call them names; not even you!!


    – Mike

  11. Luc Bollen says:

    @Brian: "2/3 of the folks wanted to approve the format so their submission is now approve rather than abstain."

    Using this logic: in The Netherlands, everybody wanted to disapprove the format, except Microsoft.  So it should be Disapprove rather than Abstain ?

    The rule says in Finland that there must be a consensus.  One third of the people disagreeing means *no* consensus.

    As too often, Microsoft cherry picks the rules they want to be applied: "NL rule is in our favour, so it must be applied.  Finland rule is not in our favour, so it is OK if it is not applied."

    When will MS learn that having a monopoly does not give them the right to abuse it ?

  12. Bill Gates says:

    "Finland had initially voted "abstain" back in September, but they have now decided to change their vote to "yes" in support of DIS 29500 (Open XML) as an ISO standard."

    With the dollar so low against the Euro, that might have cost quite a lot.

  13. says:

    It’s my understanding that while there was no official “vote”, there was a tally taken of everyone in the room. Everyone expressed whether they were in support or not, and based on the number of people in support it was decided that “yes” was the appropriate position.

    You guys should really be careful about throwing out random accusations around bribery or any other sorts of shenanigans. I guess that’s the flaw in the whole system here with blogging though is that as you have anonymity you feel free to let the accusations fly, especially when things aren’t going your way.


  14. KimmoB says:

    Having been at the Finnish meeting yesterday maybe I can try to bring some clarity to this – When SFS sent the invite to the meeting, they stated that the decision will be made based on consensus, and that there will be no formal voting during the meeting. What happened at the meeting was that each organization participating was allowed to state what was their position, whether they approved or disapproved DIS 29500, or wanted to abstain, and then based on this the chair of the meeting concluded whether there was sufficient consensus one way or the other.

    So while it is true that there was no formal vote, and no tally of the positions was announced, this was a) what was announced prior to the meeting as to how the meeting was to reach a decision, and b) exactly the same process that was used back in August of last year. Last August the chair of the meeting determined that there wasn’t sufficient consensus either way, and therefore SFS cast the Finnish vote as ABSTAIN. This time around the chair determined that there was a sufficient number of organisations approving DIS 29500 that Finland has reach consensus for approval and therefore could change its vote.

  15. Stefan says:

    Sorry Brian, but as an independent spectator, and considering all pro and contra blogs, information and arguments so far, there is at least strong reason to be concerned and to request further investigation on various issues, and processes related to this BRM and the voting procedures.

    There are many reports of possible flaws, many of them based on strong evidence and argumentation held by non-anonymous, respectable individuals. These reports can not just be swept away by your stating: "the flaw in the whole system here with blogging", anonymity, and things that "don’t go your way".

    I strongly disagree. Blogging, anonymity, and having another opinion is NOT what’s wrong here.


  16. says:

    What are the specific issues you’d like to see investigated?


  17. Ian Easson says:

    It is up to the chairperson to decide if a concensus has been achieved.  Thus, comments above that "2/3 is not a consensus" are far off the mark.  There is no specific % guideline.

    To quote the Wikipedia article about consensus and standards-making in its entirety:

    Rough consensus is a term used in consensus decision-making to indicate the "sense of the group" concerning a particular matter under consideration. It has been defined as the "dominant view" of a group as determined by its chairperson. The term was first used by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in describing its procedures for working groups [WG]. Rough consensus is consistent with other models of consensus, such as Quaker-based consensus.

    The means to establish rough consensus was described by the IETF (1998) as follows:

    Working groups make decisions through a "rough consensus" process. IETF consensus does not require that all participants agree although this is, of course, preferred. In general, the dominant view of the working group shall prevail. (However, it must be noted that "dominance" is not to be determined on the basis of volume or persistence, but rather a more general sense of agreement). Consensus can be determined by a show of hands, humming, or any other means on which the WG agrees (by rough consensus, of course). Note that 51% of the working group does not qualify as "rough consensus" and 99% is better than rough. It is up to the Chair to determine if rough consensus has been reached (IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures).

    The phrase is often extended into the saying "rough consensus and running code"[1], to make it clear that the IETF is interested in practical, working systems that can be quickly implemented. There is some debate as to whether running code leads to rough consensus or vice versa’

  18. Stefan says:

    I’d like to see investigated every issue that stands in stark contrast to rules, and laws that apply. It’s not up to me, as a completely independent individual with no relations neither to Microsoft, nor to any other party involved, except that I am a an interested, paying customer of software that supports open formats, to decide which of all the issues should be taken into closer investigation, and by whom.

    I just read and try to understand, yet am strongly wondering.

    By the way, I have spent already more money for .docx supporting software than on .odt-software, and this might also be a reason to be concerned about what’s going on..

    Stefan, Switzerland

  19. Ian Easson says:


    Nice cop-out.

    You are in favour of "investigating every issue that stands in contrast to rules", but can’t name one such issue when asked.

  20. Matti says:

    @KimmoB: what was the participant count last year? Now it was around 40, last year how much less than that? Can you guess why was that?

  21. Stefan says:

    Ian, of course this had to come…

    Do you really want me to do the job again that others are doing as well? You know exactly what the points are, and this is the good things about this blogging thing, that also we small people hear about the dirty little tricks.

    Of course I don’t know one issue, because I already forgot what I’ve read from Rob Weir, Tim Bray, Pamela Jones, Andy Updegrove, and others… because the nice words here make me dream again of OOXML heaven.

  22. Ian Easson says:


    You describe yourself as "independent spectator, and considering all pro and contra blogs".  

    Yet your list of so-called reliable, independent blogs with concerns about the BRM process is no more than the usual rabid anti-OOXML ones, who have in my personal opinion a well-deserved reputation for exaggeration, intellectual dishonesty, and a disrespect for the truth.

    So, I doubt your characterization of yourself as a neutral independent, based on this.

  23. OOXML: prove tecniche di standardizzazione

  24. Anon says:

    So let’s all believe Stefan is a independent developer who gets his information from independent source "Pamela Jones" who we all know really exists and is a real person and has no relation with IBM which pays a lot of people just to improve the Open XML standard.

  25. Stefan says:

    Ian, Anon:

    As for the incdependence: I also regularly read this very blog, then the one from Jason Matusow, Alex Brown, Rick Jelliffe, and others. So I would say I got quite a sample of different opinions from pro to contra.

    Anon, no, I’m not a developer, but also not working or being paid by one or the other side. I’m a small fish, a self employed supporter. No affiliations. One man show. Mac, Windows. Use and have recommended MS Office, Open Office, iWork depending on the customer.

    As this person, I have exactly the same means to check the reliabilty of Groklaw, IBM, or Microsoft, of Jones, Durusau, and Updegrove, which is the information that’s available on the web. But I think it’s a good thing that all those various sources are available these days.

    As for the office file format to use and recommend for the coming years–and I think this is the main reason for the debate–I would HOPE that we’d have at least a good solution soon, but I have my doubts.

    IMO, we’re just not there yet. If OOXML, or whatever format, lives up to the promises of a really open format that can be broadly and fully implemented by various apps, is reliable, future proof, and opens with the same fidelity as PDF, then I start believing all the nice words.

    I’m all for choice, but then again, in iWork, in MS Office for Mac or Windows, ODF for example is not implemented, even if it shouldn’t be that much of a technical issue. This I really do not understand!

    So one can’t just accuse the "pro-ODF" crowd of being biased. The "pro-OOXML" crowd shows it’s bias as well, just differently.

  26. KimmoB says:

    Matti – don’t have the confirmed number of participants in the meeting, but I think that about 35 organisations were participating in both the meeting last August and the one last Thursday. There were more than one representative from organisations, but each organisation could only state their position once, irrespective of how many participants they had in the meeting.

  27. Brian: "What are the specific issues you’d like to see investigated?"

    I guess I’ll just name one:

    Thanks for your time.

  28. Matti says:

    @KimmoB: I just now realized that you’re probably a colleague of Brian, right? Then could you please share any information about this:

    Finland’s National Archive (Kansallisarkisto) opposed the proposal last year. However, in the Microsoft Finland’s "Circle Magazine" earlier this year an employee of National Archive was photographed and commenting "Open XML" in a positive manner. How come that National Archive changed their mind before the BRM and they were even in the Microsoft magazine’s "Open XML" story? Any ideas at all why they changed their mind?

  29. KimmoB says:

    Matti – yes, you are correct, I work for Microsoft here in Finland. As to why the National Archives supported DIS 29500 in the meeting last Thursday, I think it would probably be best to ask them. Generally in standardization, however, you oppose something on technical grounds, and when those technical issues are solved, you remove your opposition. All of the 15 comments that Finland submitted (of which 13 were technical) were answered, and a majority of them were further discussed and the responses changed during the BRM, so I suppose that went a long way towards addressing the concerns initially raised by the Finnish organisations.  

  30. Bruno says:

    "It is an awkward situation for, e.g., Finland’s Ministry of Justice that already made the decision to use ODF and deployed it everywhere. What if other ministries choose OOXML? Are we soon having two ministries using ODF and four using OOXML? For me, a Finnish tax payer and a citizen who needs to deal with those ministries this situation doesn’t look cost-effective at all. I would prefer that all our ministries would the same format, it would make my life easier, too."

    OOXML becoming an ISO standard has no bearing on what Finland’s government uses.  This is what ODF-folk fail to understand.  Just because an entity wants to use a particular format, does not mean that that same entity should be opposed to other formats receiving ISO approval.  The opposite point of view is selfish in the extreme.  What comes to mind is a two year old stamping his feet, bawling, "ONLY MY FORMAT SHOULD BE ISO!!!!!"  

    If someone wants to use a particular format under the ISO umbrella (e.g. OOXML), that should be no concern to those using different ISO formats (ODF).

    Microsoft made no effort to block ODF ratification by ISO or ANSI (indeed, voting YES to both), because even though they don’t want to use the format, they see no need to block others from using it under the ISO umbrella.  Too bad most ODF advocates don’t show the same maturity regarding OOXML.

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