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ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
Sunday, March 11 2007 @ 04:31 PM EDT

Eric Lai has the news that ISO will fast track Open XML, despite filed objections:
The International Standards Organization (ISO) agreed Saturday to put Open XML, the document format created and championed by Microsoft Corp., on a fast-track approval process that could see Open XML ratified as an international standard by August....

According to an e-mail sent Saturday by Lisa Rachjel, the secretariat of ISO’s Joint Technical Committee (JTC-1) on Information Technology, the Open XML proposal, along with comments and criticism by nations that have already reviewed it, will be put on the ISO’s five-month balloting process....

Rachjel wrote that she decided to move Open XML forward after consulting with staff at the International Technology Task Force.

*She* decided? So the objections process is an elaborate waltz with no purpose? Why even have such a process if Microsoft can push its will forward anyway? Are there no standards for standards? Andrew Updegrove addressed that question recently, and his answer was, not so much. What is wrong with this picture?

Here's more on a conference of CIO's recently, some of whom spoke about Microsoft intimidation, as they described it:

The presentation was titled “Defining Moments in IT Leadership,” and it put a glaring spotlight on these four individuals — all Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders — and how they responded when confronted with extraordinarily difficult and controversial challenges.

First up was Dale Frantz, the CIO at Auto Warehousing Co. Last year, he defied a campaign of intimidation on the part of Microsoft by going public with the strong-arm tactics the vendor was using to pressure him to cooperate with a review of his software licenses. Frantz remains steadfast in his defiance, and when he was onstage, he revealed that the experience had prompted him to actively seek alternatives to Microsoft....

My next guest was Louis Gutierrez, who spent a turbulent nine months last year as CIO of the state of Massachusetts.... And, like Frantz, he spoke defiantly of his relationship with a relentless Microsoft — in this case, a lobbying apparatus that was determined to bend Massachusetts to its will on office document standards.

More from Gutierrez:

Q: What did you find most bothersome about what Microsoft did?
Gutierrez: This was the first time I had ever seen a vendor involved in efforts to re-charter the central IT agency, and I find that troubling.

Q: You mean they weren't just attacking a policy, they were attacking the agency that had developed the policy?
Gutierrez: It went to that next level.

Here's an interesting tidbit, from a March 6 story about Microsoft's Architechts Insight conference in the UK:

Oh, and Nick McGrath (director of platform strategy at Microsoft Ltd) wants us all to petition our local standards body (BSI) to support the ratification of Ecma Open XML as an ISO standard (a pleading letter was included in the conference pack). "The issue should be technical, not political," he says. Really? Since when was standards-making not political, in part at least? Why do you think that the (mostly excellent) OMG UML 2.0 standard has redundancies in it, if not to keep participating vendors happy?

How cynical. And the public interest? Most quaintly, a story just appeared on New Zealand's opposition to Open XML and its principal objection, "on the grounds that Open Document has already been approved". There will, of course, be another vote at the end of the fast track process, whatever that means. Not much, I gather. After that, assuming we are projecting the future correctly, we'll have some of the world driving on the ODF side of the road, so to speak, and the rest on the Open XML side, with inevitable traffic jams, which is exactly what a document standard is supposed to prevent. Wow.


ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged | 262 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off topic here
Authored by: jplatt39 on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 09:41 AM EDT
Read the Important Stuff at the bottom of the page. If possible, make clinks

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: jplatt39 on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 09:43 AM EDT
If there are any.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some questions
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 09:48 AM EDT
Can we ask Andy Updegrove to clarify why is this happening on Planet Earth ?
Is it normal ? Has it happened before ?
Does the person who approved it did it within the realms of her powers and due
diligency ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
Authored by: feldegast on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 09:49 AM EDT
What I (and probably many here) would like to know is, what reasoning there was
behind moving it to fast track? isn't it only meant to be fast tracked if there
aren't objections? Because from what i see here i could get anything i wanted
fast tracked, all i would need is the ear of one individual regardless of the
objections raised.

My posts are ©2004-2007 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

One word.
Authored by: Ian Al on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 09:53 AM EDT

It's not the word I choose, but my word is prohibited by the Groklaw code of

Ian Al

[ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 10:03 AM EDT
    here is to hoping it will fail like a ton of bricks

    and to all those countries that are going to receive calls and money from
    redmond just tell them you are busy until the end of year - vote no and see what
    happens to the money and promises.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO's new definition
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 10:08 AM EDT
    I Sold Out

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why is there anybody surprised?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 10:08 AM EDT
    > *She* decided? So the objections process is an elaborate waltz with no

    It was repeat over and over again that ISO itself and NB (national bodies) are
    highly politicized. IOW, they can decide all what they want on their own - if
    needed by simply reshuffling feedback. The all technical problems raised for
    them are nothing. They are not techies - they are bureaucrats and they are

    And M$ is of course well know player with long track of successes - when it
    comes to politics and political lobbying.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
    Authored by: Sunny Penguin on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 10:16 AM EDT
    Google does not find this organization. If google does not see it, it does not exist.

    Google search for The International Technology Task Force

    Your search - "The International Technology Task Force" - did not match any documents.

    If you love your bike, let it go.
    If it comes back, you high sided.....

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Some thoughts.
    Authored by: Brian S. on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 10:44 AM EDT

    The most common objection to the proposed standard has been the overlap between Open XML and ODF, which the ISO ratified last May. Several countries suggested "harmonizing" ODF with Open XML to make them more interoperable. Other commonly-cited objections include patent violations by Open XML, the lengthiness of Ecma’s proposal, and specific issues related to how Open XML operates technically.

    Ecma submitted lengthy rebuttals in late February those criticisms, but did not change the Open XML proposal. A vote whether or not to approve Open XML will take place exactly five months from the date the ballot is officially issued, Leistner said. Countries, even those that have submitted official memos criticizing or praising the Open XML proposal, can change their positions.

    My emphasis.

    Reading this story in combination with Microsoft's reaction?

    Microsoft did not immediately return an e-mailed request for comment

    I don't think that ISO has necessarily buckled to M$.

    They received numerous objections from their members.

    They asked ECMA to respond and received rebuttals to their members complaints without ECMA making any changes to their standard.

    Why should ISO wait any longer than 5 months to vote and reject the OOXML standard?

    Brian S.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 11:07 AM EDT
    Sun also pursued Java standardisation through the JTC-1 fast track, and were
    similarly arrogant about their intention to control the standard, so I don't
    this is particularly new.

    What I can't really recall or find much about is how that worked out for them.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 11:09 AM EDT
    At last, the year 1900 will for ever be recorded as a leap year.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Please don't call it Open XML...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 11:27 AM EDT
    It's nothing of the sort... It's merely Microsoft desperately trying to get a
    tick in the box so they can carry on "winning" contracts that now
    specify that the software must support an internationally recognised

    This "Open XML" is impossible for other vendors to fully comply with
    being merely a dump (in XML) of the binary format of Microsoft's closed
    specifications with various parts being hidden away and impossible to emulate.

    Please refer to it by its proper name "Microsoft Office Open XML" to
    avoid confusion... the entire point of Microsoft calling it "Office Open
    XML" was to create confusion in the first place between it and the other
    truly open specification that already exists.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO vs Real World Adoption
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 11:30 AM EDT
    I take some solace in the fact that not all ISO approved standards are actually
    adopted by the market place. For instance, when doing configurations of
    ethernet interfaces on AIX, you can choose either "ISO 802.3" or
    "Standard" as the interface type. And for most networks, people use
    the de-facto standard, not the ISO one.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 01:00 PM EDT
    Amazing what money can buy!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    It sounds like "Put it up and let it fail"
    Authored by: kawabago on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 01:13 PM EDT
    There are just too many contradictions that won't be corrected for OOXML to be
    approved by the ISO. Is it possible that ISO knows it will fail and are just
    saying, "let's not waste more time on this, vote it down in 5 months and be
    done with it."

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    five countries have objected
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 01:26 PM EDT

    According to Computerworld five countries, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Kenya have objected to putting Open XML on a fast-track approval process. Surely Lisa Rachjel should give some explanation as to why she overrode the five objections.


    Steve Stites

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    So, this is how standard process works...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 02:14 PM EDT
    you want it, you will get it.

    the only question is how long. but fear not, just a few months is all it takes.

    Why bother? We might as well disband the so called ISO.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Wow - the best embrace and extend ever ..
    Authored by: Peter Baker on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 02:20 PM EDT
    I find it quite impressive that Microsoft has now managed to show the ISO
    processes as sufficiently flawed to adjust it to their wishes.

    We have NATIONS objecting - people that represent whole countries - and still
    they manage to steamroller them to the point of at least keeping the fast track

    However, there are two major league problems in the offing here for MS:

    (1) it gives them less chance to creatively sponsor those who are getting in the
    way of approval
    (2) it may just point at a faster dismissal of Non-Open Office XML as a
    (3) ISO committee could get their own back - they will require MS actually
    proves full compliance with its spec before it can call any product ISO
    compliant. At 600+ pages that may just prove a little bit of a challenge :-)

    = P =

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    My take: they BOTH suck
    Authored by: chuck on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 02:32 PM EDT
    ODF sucks a little less only because the product is more open, but both XML
    formats are essentially an XML recoding of the binary format of the application.
    Both are specified as "the application shall behave like Word/OpenOffice
    Writer" and both are laden with kludged-in tags that do nothing more than
    specify "bend it like [product version]" (and at least OXML has a
    predictable naming convention for those tags).

    I would like both repulsive bloated "standards" to be binned
    post-haste, and would rather see something like an extension of DocBook, or an
    XML-ification of TeX ... or something new, with reasonable orthogonality and
    extensibility. As it is, ISO is nothing more than a playground for vendors, and
    regardless of which format "wins", ISO loses by becoming irrelevant.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Can it survive the vote?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 03:59 PM EDT
    I thought that, even if they manage this, there were enough votes against it
    that it'd flat-out fail if voted on right now?

    Or has Microsoft been lobbying internationally again? I seem to remember that
    they got a few rejects changed to abstains by joining the relevant organizations
    in a few countries where the vote had to be unanimous... or something like that,
    if I understood it.

    Of course, conversely, this illustrates just how important it is to Microsoft
    that they get it recognized. If the governments of the world standardize on a
    non-Microsoft format, that might finally break their control over the word
    processing market. People might actually be able to choose to use whichever
    program(s) they wanted, rather than being stuck with the latest version of
    Office, because anything else would be unable to open the documents people sent

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    This is actually the right thing to do...
    Authored by: mtew on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 04:26 PM EDT
    1) There are sufficient objections that it would not pass as it stands.

    2) It is not going to be changed to meet those objections.

    Conclusion 1: It will not become an ISO standard.

    Conclusion 2: Taking it off the fast track would waste a lot of time and

    Conclusion 3: It is better to get this over with than to wait.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • I quite agree - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 04:58 PM EDT
    • Dream on - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 13 2007 @ 09:52 AM EDT
    ISO integrity
    Authored by: PM on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 04:43 PM EDT
    This is starting to raise the issue of ISO overall intergrity. I see the
    present process as a challenge to ISO integrity. If the IT committee is
    becoming 'suspect', then the committees who consider widgets, light switches,
    etc may start to express serious concern that ISO's integrity is starting to be
    compromised. In this regard ISO oversees many standards that are not in use in
    North America (but adopted by most European, Asian and Pacific countries), this
    particularly applies to electrical equipment from power station equipment to
    home appliances.

    This is probably the background to the NZ Standards Association's concern.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Don't blame her - this is proper process.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 04:45 PM EDT
    This is merely a decision on how to proceed. This number of objections to a fast
    track process is unprecedented, and the ISO is entering new territory here. In
    the absence of precedent someone needed to decide on the process to be followed.
    As indicated in the article about New Zealand's response, the ISO really had
    only two options.

    1. Stop the fast track process: Open the proposed standard to review and permit
    2. Continue the fast track process: Submit it to either pass or fail as it

    My guess would be that the first option was determined to be practically
    impossible so they are going with the second.
    Fear not. Unless ISO is totally corrupt (which I suspecd judgement on), I'd
    expect a fast track rejection to follow in due course.

    It is easy to see why the proposed standard cannot be subjected to a review
    process permitting modification. ECMA has already confirmed it as one of their
    standards which would mean if ISO amended it there would be two conflicting
    versions. This is no doubt the precise reason why a fast track process for ECMA
    proposals exists at all.

    Of course Microsoft isn't going to want it amended either because it was written
    to conform to the behavior of their software; but whether or not Microsoft has
    any official say in the matter is problematical. In theoretical terms it is
    between ECMA and ISO. In practical terms of course Microsoft is the hand behind
    the ECMA glove.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Dick Dastardly & Pearl Pureheart
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 05:02 PM EDT
    Let's hope it's that kind of "putting on the fast track".

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Maybe it won't matter
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 05:56 PM EDT

    I keep seeing more governments moving away from Microsoft. Since ODF is already
    a standard, Microsoft may be starting to lose so many customers that Word will
    eventually become irrelevant.

    There's not only Linux and the BSDs, but platform-independent Google apps.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A question about the accountability of ISO
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 06:04 PM EDT
    I have a question about the accountability of international organisations like
    ISO, WIPO, WTO etc. Are these organisations held accountable, and how. If they
    or their members are found to be acting corruptly or in conflict with their
    mandate, who and how can they be challenged and held to account?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 08:38 PM EDT
    I'm sorry, I find it hard to take you seriously, when you refer to New Zealand
    as "quaint". I do agree that the standard is a bizarre mess of ...
    how was it termed ... "memory dumps enclosed in angle brackets" but
    saying an entire country's opinion is quainty is just a load of hogwash. No
    credibility for you!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 08:53 PM EDT
    If it can't be fixed than it needs to be put down. The national standard bodies
    have put voted proposals down before. "She" is really saying;
    "this can't be fixed".

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 09:38 PM EDT
    If this gets passed then there can only be one interpretation. No ISO standards
    may be relied upon.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Feedback to USA Gov -> ANSI -> INCITS? r: NO comments from "US" reps.
    Authored by: tce on Monday, March 12 2007 @ 11:45 PM EDT
    The USA representation on this matter by INCITS creates a concern with regard to
    business "practicalities" possibly having weight over government,
    national, and international citizen benefit, and, in general, the shared
    responsibility for well crafted, PROFESSIONAL standards.

    Any notions on how the USA National leadership's attention is directed toward
    ANSIto then direct their wise and thoughtful attention (which includes a rep
    from Microsoft) to the INCITS Exec Board (which includes Microsoft)?

    INCITS and ANSI Board website and info follows:

    ------ INCITS ----------
    NOTE: INCITS Board Members are Organizations, not people...?!?

    InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards Executive Board

    AIM Global Inc
    American National Standards Institute
    Apple Inc
    Electronic Industries Alliance
    EMC Corporation
    Farance Inc
    GS1 US
    Hewlett-Packard Company
    IBM Corporation
    Intel Corporation
    Lexmark International
    Microsoft Corporation
    Oracle Corporation
    Sony Electronics Inc
    The Open Group
    United States Dept of Defense
    United States Dept of Homeland Security


    Consumer Interest Forum (CIF)
    The Consumer Interest Forum (CIF) works to facilitate the representation of
    consumer interests in voluntary standards and conformity assessment activities.
    It thereby enhances the effectiveness and credibility of the ANSI Federation as
    representative of all materially affected interests.

    Consumers are defined as those individuals who use goods or services to satisfy
    their individual needs and desires, rather than to resell them or to produce
    other goods or services with them ("Consumers"). ...

    --- ANSI Board ------

    <RANT I note that this table has the column "Representing"...ANSI
    should represent the interests of US Citizens. Might better be labeled
    "Affiliation", or perhaps "potential conflict of interest"?

    2007 ANSI Board of Directors
    Director Representing Term Expires Dec 31

    Dr. Norris E. Alderson
    Food and Drug Administration Directors-at-Large 2007

    Dr. George W. Arnold
    National Institute of Standards and Technology Past Chairman of the Board
    (ex-officio) 2007

    Mr. Dan Bart
    Telecommunications Industry Association Chairman, Intellectual Property
    Rights Policy Committee (ex-officio) 2007

    Mr. Marc R. Bussan
    Whirlpool Corporation Directors-at-Large 2007

    Ms. Joan Walsh Cassedy
    American Council of Independent Laboratories Chair, Conformity Assessment
    Policy Committee (ex-officio) 2007

    Mr. Colin B. Church
    Consumer Product Safety Commission Directors-at-Large 2007

    Mr. Steven J. Cole
    Council of Better Business Bureaus Directors-at-Large 2007

    Dr. Belinda L. Collins
    National Institute of Standards and Technology Chair, ANSI ISO Council (AIC)
    (ex-officio) 2007

    Mr. Arthur E. Cote,
    P.E. Vice Chairman, Chair, Finance Committee, Chair 2007 Nominating
    Committee (ex-officio) 2007

    Dr. Donald R. Deutsch
    Oracle Directors-at-Large 2007

    Dr. Lester F. Eastwood, Jr.
    Motorola Corporate Offices Directors-at-Large 2007

    Dr. Richard J. Forselius
    Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. a United Technology Co. Directors-at-Large

    Dr. David Foster
    Caveon, LLC Directors-at-Large 2007

    Mr. Evan R. Gaddis
    National Electrical Manufacturers Association Directors-at-Large 2007

    Ms. Linda F. Golodner
    National Consumers League Chairman, Consumer Interest Forum (CIF)
    (ex-officio) 2007

    Ms. Judith Gorman
    IEEE Standards Activities Directors-at-Large 2007

    Ms. Laura Hitchcock
    Boeing Company Directors-at-Large 2007

    Mr. Daryl R. Hunt
    Eastman Kodak Company Directors-at-Large 2007

    Mr. Kevan P. Lawlor
    NSF International Directors-at-Large 2007

    Ms. June Ling
    ASME International Directors-at-Large 2008

    Ms. Amy A. Marasco
    Microsoft Corporation Directors-at-Large 2009

    Mr. James E. Matthews, III
    Corning Incorporated President, United States National Committee (USNC)
    (ex-officio) 2008

    Mr. Donald Mays
    Consumers Union/Consumer Reports Directors-at-Large 2009

    Dr. Nina I. McClelland
    Nina I. McClelland, LLC Directors-at-Large 2007

    Dr. Mary C. McKiel
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Vice Chairman and Chairman, National
    Policy Committee (ex-officio) 2007/08

    Mr. Alexander (Alec) McMillan
    Rockwell Automation Directors-at-Large 2009

    Dr. Celia Merzbacher
    Executive Office of the President of the US Directors-at-Large 2008

    Ms. Susan M. Miller
    Alliance for Telecommunications IndustrySolutions Directors-at-Large

    Ms. Mary J. Mitchell
    General Services Administration Chairman, Government Member Forum
    (ex-officio) 2007

    Dr. Barbara L. Nichols
    Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools Directors-at-Large

    Mr. Robert W. Noth
    Deere & Company Chairman of the Board (ex-officio) 2007

    Mr. Stephen P. Oksala
    Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Vice Chairman 2007

    Mr. James T. (Jim) Pauley
    Square D Company Vice Chairman 2008
    Dr. R. David Pittle
    Consumer Representative Directors-at-Large 2008

    Mr. William Primosch
    National Association of Manufacturers Directors-at-Large 2007

    Mr. Gregory E. Saunders
    U.S. Department of Defense Directors-at-Large 2008

    Ms. Mary H. Saunders
    National Institute of Standards and Technology Chair, International Policy
    Committee (IPC) (ex-officio) 2007

    Mr. August W. Schaefer
    Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. Directors-at-Large 2009

    Mr. Ronald F. Silletti
    IBM Corporation Directors-at-Large 2008

    Ms. Sharon K. Stanford
    American Dental Association Chairman, Organizational Member Forum (OMF)
    (ex-officio) 2007

    Ms. Joan E. Sterling
    Intertek Testing Services Directors-at-Large 2008

    Mr. William G. Sutton
    Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute Directors-at-Large 2009

    Mr. Michael Taubitz
    General Motors Corp. Chairman, Company Member Forum (CMF) (ex-officio)

    Mr. James A. Thomas
    ASTM International Directors-at-Large 2007

    Ms. Kathleen A. Thuner
    (For NACAA—National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators)
    Directors-at-Large 2008

    Mr. Andrew Updegrove
    Gesmer Updegrove LLP Directors-at-Large 2007

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    By the time the submitted version is fully approved
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 13 2007 @ 04:25 AM EDT
    How far do you think Microsoft will have extended the de facto version?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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