Portugal Votes Yes For Ecma Open XML

I always thought summer was a time for relaxing - not blogging all the time and working until all hours. It has been a busy few weeks.

As posted today by Rui Seabra on his blog (in Portuguese) and up on Groklaw in English - it looks like the vote in Portugal was yes with comments.

A few things about this:

1) I am glad to see that the comments will be part of the yes vote. There were issues raised with the spec and the TC-45 folks doing maintenance of the specification should have the benefit of those comments.

2) There apparently was a 30 minute discussion reviewing the process and all parties agreed that everything was done according to the rules and to the satisfaction of the TC members as well as the national body.

3) IBM did provide comments which were distributed to all voting members prior to the vote.

4) All voting members were given the opportunity to speak and express their opinions.

5) The vote was cast and counted with the intent of the vote results being public. (Although the TC decided that the votes should be anonymous - it would seem that Mr. Seabra was not interested in respecting that decision.)

Like everything with the whole process, this was just one step of many. The desire to claim victory or defeat at any step in the process other than after the ballot resolution meeting sometime early next year is premature.

Comments (11)

  1. Pedro Silva says:

    Anyway, what I’m glad is that you people at Microsoft know two things:

    1) The truth is not on your side

    2) which is why most people in the world will end up turning their backs on you

  2. RuiSeabra says:

    «5) The vote was cast and counted with the intent of the vote results being public. (Although the TC decided that the votes should be anonymous – it would seem that Mr. Seabra was not interested in respecting that decision.)»

    The presences are not anonymous, I merely mapped the number of votes to those I knew would vote in favour of open standards. The rest voted against open standards.

    It’s just as simple as that. If there was any abstention of invalid vote, I would not be able to make such a map.

    But maybe you won’t approve this comment, just as you didn’t the other one.

  3. Diogo says:

    Once again microsoft and its proxys actions, are etically shamefull. Showing that it is only nothing but a para-criminal organization.

  4. Robin Wilton says:

    "Yes with comments" sounds good – but perhaps you could explain what the full range of available votes is. Is there a "No" option, for instance?

  5. Simon Phipps says:


    I can’t help feeling you’re mixing up the voting practices of ISO. A "yes" vote indicates that the specification in question may be adopted without further correction, comments or not. I am thus surprised to see that you’re welcoming a vote that does not guarantee the quality of the standard. "Yes" may sound positive but with a flawed specification it is the wrong vote, even if you want to see it adopted.

    ODF Alliance has published a helpful voting guide[1] and in there it’s clear that any vote of "approval" (what you’re characterising as "yes") allows the adoption of the specification without any requirement for the faults identified in the comments to be addressed.

    Thus, if the quality of the future standard is a priority, any responsible NB would vote "disapprove, with comments" – as, indeed, we’ve opted at INCITS/V1 – so that the defects in OOXML are addressed before adoption.

    [1] http://www.odfalliance.org/resources/JTCI%20Voting%20Guide%20for%20National%20Bodies.pdf

  6. jasonmatusow says:

    Hi Robin – clearly there are other voting choices for countries. Yes, No, and Abstain would seem to be the big three. Comments can be attached to any of them.

    Simon –

    I don’t think I’m mixing up the voting prctices of ISO. A yes vote indicates support of the specification becoming a standard – comments or not. ISO standards are not by definition perfect documents. If they were – would there be an OASIS ODF 1.1? Were any of the improvements to that document editorial in nature, never mind fixing deficiencies and adding to the spec to improve it? In this case Portugal voted to support Ecma 376 becoming a JTC-1 standard. Adding comments provides feedback on that spec for the TC doing maitenance – that is a good thing.

    The Abstain and No with comments suggests that if those comments are addressed to the satisfaction of the NB in the ballot resolution process, they may choose to modify their vote. While I suppose this is possible from Yes to No – it is not common practice from what I understand.

    I guess Simon  – it seems there is a double standard being applied here. It was ok for ODF to sail through with no opposition but many missing elements etc. but not other document standards. At the end of the day those arguments all inexorably creep back into the realm of product/technology competition rather than the realities of implementations. That is fine – but we should probably all identify those arguments for what they are.



  7. Andrew Sayers says:


    Unlike Jason and Rui, I’m a long way from the action, so you should give more weight to their opinions than mine.  However, I’ve been watching this debate for a while, and an enduring theme is that all sides feel that the ISO’s rules and procedures are quite vague and poorly written.  Naturally, when presented with ambiguous guidelines, everyone comes away with an interpretation that suits them.  As such, even simple issues like which voting strategies are allowed have become deeply politicised and argued over.

    In my personal opinion, this is more a criticism of the ISO (who have basically written a standard for human behaviour that fails to take account of human nature), than a criticism of anyone that’s tried to make sense of the rules.  Nevertheless, it makes a simple, unambiguous statement of voting procedures sadly impossible.

    Jason tries harder than most to make sure that his blog differentiates between the evidence he has available and his take on that evidence, but for everything he says about procedure, you’ll find another blogger making reasonable arguments to the contrary.

    – Andrew

  8. Anonymous says:

    Interesting to see the ODF partisans trying to stuff the ballot in Brazil:


    They even provide a list of "technical comments" that "is very important that you present":



  9. Sam Hiser says:

    It’s a street-fight now.

  10. Paulo Vilela says:


    I am an employee of Sun Microsystems in Portugal. Can you please explain me why has Microsoft and their friends in the CT 173 in Portugal voted against including more members in the Technical Comitee – like Sun Microsystems ? Is your understanting of standards really  "My standard against your standard" ? My understanding of standards is the result of a  search for a number of common agreed rules. Do you object to that? Would you rather Microsoft publishing "their standard" without having to go through "all the fuss" of hearing what others have to say?

  11. Andre says:

    Yes, it is. It’s getting fun. Street-fighting sounds good.

    And the fact is that there is little to lose for supporters of http://www.noooxml.org

    You cannot beat a community and if you do so, you need to pay a prize. Astroturfing is damaging for a company’s reputation.

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