US INCITS Executive Board Votes "Yes With Comments" for Open XML

Today the results of the United States vote for Open XML were made public. The INCITS Executive Board approved a “Yes with comments” position in a 12-3-1 (yes, no, abstain) outcome. There is still a resolution meeting scheduled for the 29th. This is a positive step for Open XML, as was the “Yes with comments” vote from Germany earlier in the week. As with all things associated with the process for having a specification become a ISO/IEC JTC 1 international standard, these are just steps, not the final outcome. National bodies around the world are taking this into consideration and many are still working on their final positions this week and next. September 2 is the close of the balloting period, and then things move into 5-6 months of work by the voting National Bodies and Ecma to review the list of technical comments that will then lead to the ballot resolution meeting sometime in early 2008.  

Some important elements to the US vote – the United States Dept. of Defense, The National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Dept. of Homeland Security were among the 12 yes votes. The three no votes were IBM, Farance, Inc., and Oracle. Farance and IBM made clear statements regarding their concerns about the specification in their comments submitted with their vote last night. As to the second ballot – “If no other position is approved, Abstain with comments” – that was also approved on a 16-0-0. However, that ballot was specifically designed to make sure the US had a valid voting position in the event that the first ballot failed. The “Yes with comments” received a super-majority and was approved, thus the abstain ballot position is not needed.

For those of us interested in seeing Open XML become an international standard, the US and German votes are positive steps. I am encouraged by the depth of comments coming in and the commitment of all voters to improve the submitted specification