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Vote closes on draft ISO/IEC DIS 29500 standard

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A ballot on whether to publish the draft standard ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML file formats, as an International Standard by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has not achieved the required number of votes for approval.

The five-month ballot process ended on 2 September and was open to the IEC and ISO national member bodies from 104 countries, including 41 that are participating members of the joint ISO/IEC technical committee, JTC 1, Information technology.

Approval requires at least 2/3 (i.e. 66.66 %) of the votes cast by national bodies participating in ISO/IEC JTC 1 to be positive; and no more than 1/4 (i.e. 25 %) of the total number of national body votes cast negative. Neither of these criteria were achieved, with 53 % of votes cast by national bodies participating in ISO/IEC JTC 1 being positive and 26 % of national votes cast being negative.

Comments that accompanied the votes will be discussed at a ballot resolution meeting (BRM) to be organized by the relevant subcommittee of ISO/IEC JTC 1 (SC 34, Document description and processing languages) in February 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The objective of the meeting will be to review and seek consensus on possible modifications to the document in light of the comments received along with the votes. If the proposed modifications are such that national bodies then wish to withdraw their negative votes, and the above acceptance criteria are then met, the standard may proceed to publication.

Otherwise, the proposal will have failed and this fast-track procedure will be terminated. This would not preclude subsequent re-submission under the normal ISO/IEC standards development rules.

ISO/IEC DIS 29500 is a proposed standard for word-processing documents, presentations and spreadsheets that is intended to be implemented by multiple applications on multiple platforms. According to the submitters, one of its objectives is to ensure the long-term preservation of documents created over the last two decades using programmes that are becoming incompatible with continuing advances in the IT field.

ISO/IEC DIS 29500 was originally developed as the Office Open XML Specification by Microsoft Corporation which submitted it to Ecma International for transposing into an ECMA standard. Following a process in which other IT industry players participated, Ecma International subsequently published the document as ECMA standard 376.

Ecma International then submitted the standard in December 2006 to ISO/IEC JTC 1, with whom it has category A liaison status, for adoption as an International Standard under the JTC 1 "fast track" procedure. This allows a standard developed within the IT industry to be presented to JTC 1 as a Draft International Standard (DIS) that can be adopted after a process consisting of a one-month review by the national bodies of JTC 1 and then a five-month ballot open to all voting national bodies of ISO and IEC.

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ISO is a global network of national standards institutes from 157 countries. It has a current portfolio of more than 16 500 standards for business, government and society. ISO's standards make up a complete offering for all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, environmental and social. ISO standards provide solutions and achieve benefits for almost all sectors of activity, including agriculture, construction, mechanical engineering, manufacturing, distribution, transport, medical devices, information and communication technologies, the environment, energy, quality management, conformity assessment and services.
About IEC
The IEC, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is the world’s leading organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as “electrotechnology”. IEC standards cover a vast range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, semiconductors, fibre optics, batteries, flat panel displays and solar energy, to mention just a few. Wherever you find electricity and electronics, you find the IEC supporting safety and performance, the environment, electrical energy efficiency and renewable energies. The IEC also manages conformity assessment schemes that certify whether equipment, systems or components conform to its International Standards.