Microsoft has failed in its attempt to have its Office Open XML document format fast-tracked straight to the status of an international standard by the International Organization for Standardisation.
The proposal must now be revised to take into account the negative comments made during the voting process.
Microsoft expects that a second vote early next year will result in approval, it said today.
A proposal must pass two voting hurdles in order to be approved as an ISO standard: it must win the support of two-thirds of voting national standards bodies that participated in work on the proposal, known as P-members, and also of three-quarters of all voting members.
OOXML failed on both counts, according to figures provided by Microsoft, and by other sources with knowledge of the voting process. ISO has not yet officially announced the results.
Microsoft could miss out on revenue from the lucrative government market if OOXML is also rejected next year. Some governments, worried that the need for access to electronic archives held in proprietary formats leaves them hostage to their software vendor, have mandated the use of document formats that comply with open international standards.
Others are considering such a move, which could put Microsoft at a double disadvantage to open source products such as OpenOffice.org, which not only store files natively in the standardised Open Document Format but are free.