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And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:06 PM EDT

Now that OOXML has been shoved through, (and if you are new to the story, here's a very complete and succinct history of what happened by James Hogarth on Tideway), we find it cut and bleeding on the other side. What about appeals of the travesty? There is an appeal process, although you may have noticed that Standards Norge's decision was objected to elsewhere. Perhaps folks have gotten the idea that ISO is a bit tilted at the moment. But here's what ISO says about appeals:
"Subject to there being no formal appeals from ISO/IEC national bodies in the next two months," the text of the standard will be published as ISO/IEC 29500, ISO said Wednesday.

Here's what it means if there are any such appeals:

If any national standards organizations do make appeals to JTC1, the Joint Technical Committee of ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) that worked on the draft, then Microsoft may have to wait several months longer while the appeal is heard, according to Section 11 of the ISO/IEC JTC1 Directives.

That is if the appeals are unsuccessful. So Microsoft has to wait at least two more months for appeals to be filed and heard. So, that means to me that it will be more than two months, unless ISO just rubber stamps rejections of appeals as fast as they are filed. Which seems sadly possible.

Some Reactions

Here is a formal statement from IBM:

The need for truly open standards and processes is demonstrably more important than ever. IBM will continue to be an active supporter of ODF. We look forward to being part of the community that works to harmonize ODF and OOXML for the sake of consumers, companies and governments, when OOXML control and maintenance is fully transferred to JTC1 (ISO/IEC).

Well, at least they have a sense of humor. I don't believe, personally, that that day will ever dawn, when Microsoft will allow true harmonization.

Free Software Foundation Europe has a press release expressing concern for the standards process, and if you are not a tech person and are wondering what all the fuss is about and why so many are disturbed by OOXML, if you click on the links provided, you'll understand:

FSFE concerned about quality of standardisation process

Today the International Standards Organisation (ISO) approved Microsoft's Office OpenXML format as ISO/IEC standard 29500 despite severe technical and legal concerns with the specification that have been raised by various parties.

"FSFE published its 'Six questions to national standardisation bodies' before the September 2nd vote last year. Considering the statements about progress made on MS-OOXML, one would have hoped that at least one of these questions enjoyed a satisfactory response," states FSFE's German Deputy country coordinator Matthias Kirschner.

He continues: "Unfortunately that is not the case. Issues like the 'Converter Hoax' and the 'Questions on Open Formats' are still equally valid. As the 'Deprecated before use' and 'Interoperability woes with OOXML' documents demonstrate, MS-OOXML interoperability is severely limited in comparison to Open Standards. In addition to these issues, there are the legal concerns that were raised by various parties."

"Technologically speaking, the state of IS29500 is depressing," says Marko Milenovic of FSFE's Serbian Team and co-chair of the Serbian technical committee on DIS29500. "In large parts it is low quality technical prose that fails to use the normative terminology mandated by ISO/IEC's guidelines. We've been told to wait for the maintenance process for MS-OOXML to become usable. That ISO would knowingly approve a dysfunctional specification is disillusioning."

FSFE vice-president Jonas Öberg states: "Governments have to start asking themselves what the ISO seal of approval really means. As demonstrated by the MPEG standards, it never meant that something qualifies as a meaningful 'Open Standard.'"

Öberg continues: "Now it seems that ISO could be the wrong forum for standards development in information technology in general. It seems to work too slowly or too poorly to make the ISO brand meaningful in the IT world. We'll have to see whether ISO can repair its own processes enough to become a meaningful participant."

"Governments that seek to gain control over their own data and ensure long-term archival of public records independently from any specific vendor will need to establish other criteria in their public procurement," concludes Georg Greve, FSFE's president. "Programs like 'Certified Open' that seek to assess the actual interoperability and independence are likely to play a larger role in the future."

When folks flood the market with Brand X products, that is what happens next -- certification, so people know which is The Real Thing. Microsoft is busy trying to redefine Open in its own image, and make interoperability mean that Microsoft can use whatever it needs but you can't. Well, all right. Time to fix that. And it can be fixed. Just because ISO didn't bother doesn't mean it can't be done. And you know what the song says, There's Nothing Like the Real Thing.

Andrew Updegrove writes about fixing things too:

In order for the credibility of the traditional system to be restored, a thorough review of the just completed DIS 29500 Fast Track process should be immediately commissioned. That review should include recommendations for reform that would include, but not be limited to, suggesting revisions to the rules relating to Fast Track and PAS submissions, new National Body and ISO/IEC JTC1 rules relating to transparency and conflicts of interest, and providing for circuit breakers and corrective actions that could be invoked the next time such a process has clearly run off the rails."

Bob Sutor also writes that now the standards process needs fixing, so the best tech wins:

So is that it? Of course not. The process of international standards making has been laid bare for all to examine. People now have some sense that
  • Not all standards are created by a community of independent stakeholders, as some people may have previously assumed

  • The lack of transparency, the ability to see who voted and why, leads to less understanding and accountability

  • If intellectual property policies are not clear and comprehensive, significant questions exist over who can implement what in what way

  • There are no brakes on putting the wrong standards though some existing processes

  • Politics, and not just standards politics, has fully entered the process

  • Equilibrium, the need for having a balance of independent people considering a standard and not a majority of business partners, is out of control

  • In some countries with democratic governments, there is virtually no connection between “representation of the people” and votes on international standards

  • There is very little consistency from country to country in how voting decisions are made, which is their right, but some better common guidance might be appropriate

I believe that thousands of motivated yet pragmatic people will now move on to fix the systemic issues I’ve identified, with fresh evidence of why it is necessary. There are now, as there have always been, much bigger issues than OOXML itself. For that reason, we are still in the early phases of the worldwide movement to true open standards.

Openness means that the best technology for all wins. Openness means that the process is clean and visible and incorruptible. Openness means that personal accountability means something and is known and respected by all. Openness must be earned.

I think that’s worth fighting for. There has been tremendous progress and it’s happened far faster and wider than most people ever imagined possible. While fully cognizant of these current results, I’m energized to take the bigger fight for openness to the next level with the thousands of individuals who are now convinced that the standards system needs fixing, and soon. I hope you’ll take part.

That is a lot of words that say two important things: ISO failed to put the brakes on Microsoft's politicking, which included calling presidents of countries to overrule decisions and force a bad standard through, we've been reading in the media; and 2) there is work to do to set up a standards process with some brakes in it should bad actors try this in the future.

Of course, there is another choice, to become a cynic. If the system is so corrupt that it works like this, why bother? However, Groklaw has always been committed to giving things a whirl, and we've accomplished a great deal more than I ever expected, and anyway, it's no fun being a cynic. I think it gives you high blood pressure. Besides, you didn't think Microsoft would play fair, did you?

Ha! Caught some of you. Because some of you *did* think Microsoft was changing and getting more open and was wanting to build bridges to FOSS, etc. I know you did. I hoped for a while myself. Well, take a look at the evidence splayed out before us on the ISO table. It speaks. And what it says is, "There is no new Microsoft."

And so we need to get smarter. Make the division more clear. People will choose well, given a clear choice. Firefox and Ubuntu and Red Hat and others have demonstrated that. There is no need to compromise. And if you are tempted by the money, think about the rest of us, will you? Look at ISO. Do you want to be like that?

Anyone, then, from this day forward who is naive enough to believe a single word from Microsoft needs to see a doctor right away. That is the single most important positive result from this OOXML process, as far as I'm concerned. Now we know.

They shouldn't be invited to Open Source conferences to give keynotes, I don't think, or get to be on boards of directors of organizations, or let inside in any way that gives them the chance to pretend to be members of the community or even fair-dealers with FOSS. They will harm you any time they feel like it, and clearly from the OOXML story, we see they do indeed feel like destroying FOSS. They don't mind if a redefined, brand X version of "open" source limps along in its wake, paying tolls along the way to Microsoft, but they intend to kill off the real thing. That's why the OSP doesn't cover the GPL and the February "interoperability" statement opening up certain documentation is only for FOSS if it is noncommercial. Otherwise, all signs point to patent litigation, with all those presidents of countries that just got phone calls from Bill Gates lending a hand, one presumes. That is the plan, Stan, as best I can make it out, and anyone who enables that strategy by signing patent pledges, inviting them to speak as if they are now members of the community, etc. is helping to kill off FOSS. There is no middle ground now. Think before you buy an Asus eeePC, will you? There is more at stake here than just you as an individual.

Georg Greve of Free Software Foundation Europe has this to say:

Re-enacting the parrot sketch

Wednesday 02 April 2008

Calling the past months work-intensive would be something of an understatement. Fortunately my colleagues in FSFE did an excellent job of working on the same project in various countries while I was partially absent. They also managed to put out some interesting comments on the IS29500 approval. What I can say on the issue is unfortunately fairly limited by the various shrouds of secrecy over what in my personal opinion should be like any other public interest process that affects the lives of citizens.

Why are various national standardisation bodies not accountable to the public they represent in ISO? Why can the public not know what is going on? If I had a magic wand, non-accountability and intransparency would be my top two issues to fix in all of this. It could also be a good idea to get some procedural buffs from the United Nations to make things more predictable and reliable on a procedural level. Had you told me a year ago I'd be wishing for the procedural efficiency of the United Nations, disbelief would have been a likely reaction. Now the United Nations appear extremely well-functioning in comparison.

Due procedure would allow for fair dialog based on substantial considerations. In this case it would have allowed discussing technical issues and answering the most fundamental question for any specification: Is it technically sound so it can be approved without further review or modifications?

This question can be answered on technical grounds. There is no need for attempts at authoritative arguments, assertions about the quality of future editorial work, or referrals to the maintenance process. Attempts at answering that question in any of these ways indeed translate into "No, it is not."

Of course there are also other questions that are relevant when it comes to standardisation - including the "Six questions to national standardisation bodies" that FSFE put out around July 2007. Answering some of these issues is a little less clear-cut than the technical side, but can be done in an environment where people are accountable for their actions and statements. The media could have helped a great deal at keeping that dialog honest.

As accountability and transparency are sadly lacking, the past months often seemed like a gigantic, world-wide re-enactment of Monty Python's parrot sketch with the involvement of several multinationals and billions of EUR spent. I am pretty sure the original was more cost effective -- and thanks to the wonders Gnash we all get to enjoy this classic here: YouTube

My only question is: Where is the standardisation store of ISO's brother so I can return IS29500?

I love Gnash. You don't need to enable Javascript to see that video. Hogarth, the first link in the article, talks about what he plans to do next:

For my part? I will be writing to Mr. Pughs, MP giving my support to his questions. If he is right about suspicious activity in BSI then the result can be changed for 2 more months as a lodged complaint. I shall also be writing to my local MP pointing out his parliamentary question and international opinion. Finally I shall be writing to my MEP. Poland is being investigated by the EU commission and hopefully support will be lent to that.


And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold | 175 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections, if needed.
Authored by: jesse on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:27 PM EDT
Corrections here please.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It reminds me some old jokes
Authored by: Yossarian on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:27 PM EDT
>ISO failed to put the brakes on Microsoft's politicking

E.g. those in

How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a lightbulb ?

- None. Bill Gates will just redefine Darkness (TM)
to be the new industry standard.


How many Microsoft vice presidents does it take to change a lightbulb ?

- Eight. One to change the bulb, and seven more to make
sure Microsoft gets $2 every time a lightbulb is changed
anywhere in the world.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks commentary here
Authored by: jesse on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:29 PM EDT
News Picks commentary here, please. It helps to place the title of the article
in the title of your comment, or make a link and change to HTML post mode.

[ Reply to This | # ]

'Deprecated before use' really strikes a chord
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:29 PM EDT

Look just a little way into the future.

  • Microsoft: OOXML was approved as a standard.
  • Third parties: But Office 2010 just saves out an XML header wrapped round a proprietary binary blob!
  • Microsoft: Yes, and that's perfectly valid OOXML, which as you remember was. Approved. As. A. standard.

Anyone who doesn't see it playing out that, well, your faith is just touching.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Parrots here
Authored by: webster on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:30 PM EDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic here
Authored by: jesse on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:30 PM EDT
Thank you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:31 PM EDT
FSFE in "use our Certified Open scheme instead" shocker. No mention
that they are board members of that company :D

[ Reply to This | # ]

And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:48 PM EDT
It would save everybody a lot of time and effort if ISO would just post its
graft rate schedule on its web site so everybody knows the current price of an
ISO standard.

Mark Twain commented that we (the US) have the "Best Government Money can
Buy". It appears ISO has the Best Standards Money can Buy, too

[ Reply to This | # ]

And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:48 PM EDT
"Now that OOXML has been shoved through, we find it cut and bleeding on the
other side. "

An example of one of the little things that for me make this site such a joy to
visit and read. I've been a regular visitor at Groklaw since 2003 when this all
began, and PJ's prose keeps improving with age. I wish more journalists were
like her.

[ Reply to This | # ]

50 ways to leave your lover
Authored by: mhoyes on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:51 PM EDT
I don't know if you meant this reference, but I would certainly not keep MS as a
lover. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Authored by: tknarr on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:01 PM EDT

I think what the ISO needs to do is make it clear that the fast-track process is for standards that are already well-developed and well-accepted and simply need rubber-stamped with only minor textual changes. Three changes to the rules would help this:

  1. Remove "yes with comments" as an voting option. If you have comments or concerns, a negative vote is required. If you can't vote "yes" unconditionally and as-is, you can't vote "yes".
  2. If a BRM is required, all items to be considered must be voted on individually. If there isn't sufficient time to handle all of them individually, there's too many for the standard to be fast-tracked.
  3. Make a clear statement that all votes related to the standard are only on the technical merits of the standard. You are not voting on whether procedures were followed or not, you are voting on whether the result of those procedures is a technically acceptable standard. You are not voting on whether someone answered your concern, you are voting on whether that answer resolved your concern to your satisfaction. And your vote may never be restricted to only a subset of the available options. Any attempt to do so by anyone acting in an official capacity in the process is a violation of ISO rules and will result in that vote being invalidated and it's results discarded.
And last but not least, it needs to become a rule that the status of members is fixed when a standard's submitted, as far as voting on that standard is concerned. If you weren't interested enough to be a P-member, you don't get to jump in after a particular standard shows up. If you drop P-member status after a standard's begun it's progress, your vote is automatically recorded as "abstain" from that point on to avoid stalling the process.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hmm...maybe it's time to check in on the Linux ACTION! Show
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:05 PM EDT
Hey, everybody!

I only occassionally catch this podcast now (LUGRadio is still my favorite of
them out there, and the Your Shipment Of Chris bit was a riot). Last time I
listened, they were applauding M$ trying harder to get along with FOSS after the
EU ruling in Europe.

I noted that they complained about Google saying they support FOSS but have only
GoogleEarth as something truly crossplatform. They cut M$ a lot of slack on
things like Mono (show me one thing I can do with Mono that I can't do with
Python) and interoperability, but are harder to please with Google.

I don't mention this to take cheap shots at tlA!s. I mention this because M$'
strategy seems to be yeilding the results they wanted. It seems there are some
Linux fans who are confusing recognition with actual cooperation. As long as
the opposition behaves a certain way, it is seen as proof of victory.
Meanwhile, the allies can't do enough right.

Personal opinion, please bear with me: I understand how important the GPL is.
I recently finished a garage game that I released for sale. (I'm not mentioning
this to brag or anything.) I didn't GPL it, although I put in the license that
I grant the purchaser the right to make extra backup copies and to install it on
as many computers as he or she has. In other words, I try playing fair with
them. I mention this because I'm less inclined to see some groups as
destructive when they actually work with people instead of using an iron fist.
And what constitutes playing fair depends on what they do. I hold my computer
OS to a much stricter standard than a game like Unreal Tournament.

The problem as I see it is some people are mistaking simple announcements as a
sign that companies like M$ are trying to get along without reading the fine
print which states the exact opposite. And other people that willingly support
Linux in ways that they can are being told they aren't doing enough. I wonder
if this is a bigger threat to FOSS, this "What have you done for me
lately?", than anything patent threats and M$ can muster. After all, if
they redefine the terms and people applaud them for sticking to their new
definition, what progress is really being made? And don't forget -- bad
behavior rewarded == bad behavior repeated.

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

[ Reply to This | # ]

And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Authored by: stephenry on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:13 PM EDT
Over the long term, I think that this is a pyrrhic victory for Microsoft.
Fundamentally, the success of an open document standard will not be decided
based upon a rubber stamping by a standards organisation (and I use the term
loosely); if that was the case then it's unlikely many organisations would be
using DOC formats at the moment, as it, too, is unstandardised.

Instead, organisations and governments are more likely to migrate to a standard
with broader support in the industry. Only ODF will get broad industry support,
only ODF will have a large number of third-party application support, and only
ODF will be implementable by non-Microsoft organisations. It is the eco-system
around ODF that is the important thing, and this is not something Microsoft can
buy with it's ill-gotten gains.

I think PJ is correct is saying however that it shows the level that Microsoft
will stoop to secure it's monopoly. There is nothing new about this, however;
they've been doing it for years. What's different now is that their business
practices have been applied in public in front of everyone to see. The question
now is what the governments of the world (all eyes on the EU) are going to do
about it.

To be honest, if I was Bill Gates, I'd be far more worried about Apple, Google,
Vista and Linux. Their business is being eroded on all sides and the only thing
supporting it is a elderly house of cards (that is windows and office), that is
slowly falling down around them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Send complaints to ISO via e-mail
Authored by: clark_kent on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:19 PM EDT
E-mails and phone numbers listed on right side of Press release

http://www.iso.or g/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1123

Roger Frost Manager
Communication Services ISO

Jonathan Buck
Director of Communications

Even though they may not hear you or care what you say, at least you gave them a piece of your mind.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why can't ISO just pass a new policy that "What Microsoft wants Microsoft gets"?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:23 PM EDT
Seems it would save everyone many dollars and euros and man-hours of effort if ISO would just create a new "Microsoft fast track" that says:
Honestly we (ISO) need Microsoft more than Microsoft needs us.

Without Microsoft lobbyists no government or large an organization would bother considering standards from as flaky an organization as ours - so we're creating a new 'Microsoft Fast Track' to approve their standards without wasting everyone else's time.

While some may argue that this would reduce ISO's credibility, I claim it would enhance it significantly, since that's what everyone already thinks and at least this way they'd get come respect for being honest.

[ Reply to This | # ]

One thing. People matter more than processes.
Authored by: billyskank on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:24 PM EDT
We can institute all the processes and rules and procedures we like, but someone
like Microsoft will still be able to do something like this, if the people in
charge let them.

We saw that Microsoft made this happen by getting ITS people in the key
positions: chairs of meetings, mostly. I think the rules already should have
stopped this thing as they were, but people bent, changed and broke the rules to
make it happen anyway.

What needs to happen is some way of making sure that Microsoft (or anybody else)
cannot infiltrate a process with its people like this again.

It's not the software that's free; it's you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why should I trust *any* ISO standard now?
Authored by: Tinstaafl on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:26 PM EDT

Office non-Open XML's approval as an ISO standard (indeed even being fast-tracked in the first place whether or not it would subsequently be approved) has given me grave concerns about the integrity of all ISO standards. How many other standards may have been adversely influenced by one party or another to the detriment of the final standard?

How would we know, having seen the rather secretive process(es) & off-the-cuff re-interpretations of the rules that have just occurred around Onon-O XML? Perhaps ISO hadn't heard of its own ISO9001...

Maybe what we need is an alternative open standards organisation and just forget about ISO? ISO clearly hasn't been able to maintain a trustworthy standards setting process.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:28 PM EDT
PJ, as one of the Gnash developers I think I can safely say that Gnash loves you

[ Reply to This | # ]

A P-country must appeal - which one?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:52 PM EDT
I find it very significant that the ISO has gone somewhat out of its way to
mention appeals and the grounds and procedures for mounting them in its
announcement. A judge making this kind of statement would be effectively hitting
the lawyers of one side over the head with a cluebat. It suggests that an appeal
along those grounds might find a good reception.

So ... at least one P-country needs to appeal. There are ample grounds for such
an appeal. Which P-county will it be?
I think we need to look at the P-countries who voted No and where the process
appeared not to be corrupted, and lobby one of them to mount an appeal.

New Zealand could be a good candidate.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I don't think so, PJ
Authored by: overshoot on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:55 PM EDT
The rules state that the only parties with standing to object are the NBs
themselves. None of them have objected that we know of.

Yes, you could argue that the mirror committee chairs could, and in at least one
case have, objected. The ISO Secretariat, however, may well simply ignore them
on the grounds that they're not the NB itself. No standing, as it were.

If the Secretariat does that (and I rather expect exactly that response), it's
all over.

[ Reply to This | # ]

As this is some sort of post mortem.......
Authored by: Stevieboy on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:58 PM EDT
perhaps we should take a hard look at why M$ was able to do this so easily (-
that is apart from the graft, ballot/committee stuffing and other failures of
the ISO organisation to prevent M$ from so undermining what must be the ethos of
the predominant world wide standards body).

Those of us that support the idea of a level software playing field have to do
this and do it objectively - this is one battle lost in a war that the world
cannot afford M$ to win (does that sound a bit grandiose?).

Remember almost everybody involved knew that OOXML in normal circumstances was
95% wrong as an open standard and that even normal ISO process should have meant
that it should probably never pass. And that included those that eventually
voted to fast track it.

Surely they can't all have been bribed, blackmailed, etc? We need to identify
those that weren't and ask them why. Perhaps they are seeing something we don't
- perhaps it is possible (if ISO are able to take control of the implementation)
for them to 'refine' OOXML so that all issues are eventually addressed
(including the proprietary tie-ups)- wishful thinking?

ODF - having said OOXML is 95% wrong, this standard seems to be mostly right but
if I asked the normal computer user has he heard of PDF files, his most likely
answer is yes - I think I would get a lot of puzzled frowns if I asked the same
about ODF. If ODF had been as well recognised as PDF, more people would have
considered the issue to be of importance to them (ie. not a 'geeks' only

As I said before, we need to be objective about this. Take lessons from the
Suits of Beelzebub themselves - they were able to turn defeat in September into
victory in March against the prevailing opinion. Without considering the rights
and wrongs of this 'victory', how were they able to do this? What tactics? - it
can't all have been about money in brown paper envelopes, surely? I'm not
suggesting the various open source alliances should adopt all of these tactics -
many of them are either immoral and require very deep pockets - but there must
have been more to it than mere corruption.

In summary:





Hey, I could make a good technological evangelist - I wonder if there are any
jobs going at Microsoft? Give me a suit, the obligatory copy of 'The Prince' by
Niccolo Machiavelli and a dictionary of required M$ buzzwords and phrases. I
could fit right in - just have to practice looking bland in the mirror!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Phase II Conformance testing
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 03:39 PM EDT
Now that Microsoft has(conditionally) gotten OOXML passed as a ISO standard we
need to look forward to their next step.

Conformance is Microsoft's weakest point. As Microsoft approaches customers
with their shinny new ISO Approval, competing vendors can reply with the
question. Yes, ISO has approved OOXML as a standard. Yes, Microsoft has a
product. But, is the product Microsoft selling you compliant with the ISO

The easiest method to become compliant is through CASCO, ISO's Committee on
conformity assessment.[1]

The Committee seems to set up like other ISO committees. There are national
bodies that have either a P or an O membership status. At first glance it
appears that a by passing through the CASCO a determined company could manage to
have standard complacence defined very loosely.

The defense against stacking this panel can be threefold.

a. Monitor the activities and membership of our National Bodies.

b. Ensure that any stacked panels are correctly dealt with.

c. Ensure that all aspects of DIS 29500 that can only be implemented by
Microsoft are tested. Then, these tests can be forwarded to the WTO or EU as


[ Reply to This | # ]

Would appeals stack?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 04:14 PM EDT
In other words if country a appeals and extends things for 2 months and gets
rejected, can country b also appeal just before then end of the 2 months and
extend things for another 2 months?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Great article, PJ
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 04:19 PM EDT

It's just possible that some good may come out of this disaster. I think there may be more awareness, now, of the nature of Microsoft as a company: its complete lack of moral restraint, its contempt for the public interest, its obsessive compulsion to destroy anything that might possibly threaten its monopoly profits.

There may also be more awareness of how dangerously capable it is of corrupting almost-honest people. If you offer someone a bribe of $200, most people will turn you down and some will report you. But if you tell someone that you'll spend $20 million in some way that will help them, a lot of people will let themselves be corrupted.

Microsoft at the end of its last financial year had $23.41 billion in "cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments" according to their balance sheet filed with the SEC. Now, not all of that would be in US dollars - it is diversified among US dollars, Euros, UK pounds, Swiss francs, and other currencies. And the short-term investments probably include equities, bonds, etc. The prices of all of these fluctuate daily; a day when the total value changed by less than 0.1% just as a consequence of random market fluctuations would be unusual. So Microsoft's "$23.41 billion" changes randomly from day to day by at least $0.02 billion.

That's $20 million.

In other words, $20 million to Microsoft is really nothing, it's within the statistical "noise".

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Ah, but... - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 07:35 PM EDT
No fun being a cynic.
Authored by: luvr on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 04:33 PM EDT
[I]t's no fun being a cynic. [...] Besides, you didn't think Microsoft would play fair, did you?

What a cynical remark! ;-)

Oops... Sorry, that was the cynic in me speaking...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Now, lets pause a bit and think a little about what's next
Authored by: lukep on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 05:09 PM EDT
Since this mess happened, I see here and elsewhere people reacting in anger,
but few calm analysis of the complete situation. Let us try to do exactly that.

First, for all those who think ISO is wasted and must go down or could be
replaced, you are probably not aware of the importance of ISO. Any
manufacturing industry use routinely and rely on thousands of standards,
from nuts and bolts to engeneering practice code and things like that. Sure,
in IT and CS, ISO is just another standard body like many others, but in every
other area, ISO (and IEC but they work hand in hand) is the one and only
standard body worldwide. Industry simply cannot do without it. They lost a
lot in **one** area, but the rest of the thing is still there, and it will last.

And replacing its expertise is simply not possible.

Now, can ISO correct situation ?
Problem here, is that the consensus based organisation is really the sole
manner to get the best standard possible, and it works unless someone
stacked the deck. And M$ is really the sole company who would have both
the political influence and the treasury to do it the way we just witnessed.

The current organisation of ISO is not exempt of political games, because
each NB will naturally try to favor its own industries, but never until now on
this scale. When a private company can phone to government heads to bully
them, we are in a situation which is unheard of. ISO can tighten the rules,
but I fear it would not change much. M$ is simply too monopolistic for that.

So the only solution is to rein M$. EC is trying to do exactly that, but
unless USA DOJ dont step really in the arena too, M$ will simply continue
to laugh at that.

The question of course is what M$ really acheived ?
- They demonstrated they have absolutly no ethic, but we knew that
- They got very bad PR among the techies, but i doubt more than 0.001%
of the PHB are even vaguely aware of the situation
- They tried to secure a lock-in, by being in measure to say, "we have a
standard too", before ODF was widely adopted. Norway has already shown
a possible answer.
- What was adopted is not really a standard, nor the exact format of M$ word
2007. So its usefullness is simply 0.
- They angered probably the EC. bad move in my mind ;)

So, what we can do ?
- the M$ spin doctors will be on the run now, so we should be ready to
refute them, whith facts, not ODF or OpenSource advocacy
- Check that the various appeals are followed, and make sure main stream
medias report on it
- document, document (Well PJ earned our respect just doing that, no fear
- point people to ODF and OO.

Now, in the long run, i bet it wont change much. M$ ship may take a bit
longer to sink, but it has already several hits under the floating line. Those
acts were those of a thug starting to lose control. When such type fall, they
fall fast as they start to make errors.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Have we learned nothing from SCO?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 05:11 PM EDT
Now is the time to stretch out the two month appeals process.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What's the matter with an Asus eee?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 05:22 PM EDT
> Think before you buy an Asus eeePC, will you?

What's the matter with an Asus eee? I remember that there was some problem when
they first came out, but I thought they published the code for the offending
drivers and were in full compliance with the GPL.


[ Reply to This | # ]

And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 05:42 PM EDT
"They shouldn't be invited to Open Source conferences to give keynotes, I
don't think, or get to be on boards of directors of organizations, or let inside
in any way that gives them the chance to pretend to be members of the community
or even fair-dealers with FOSS. They will harm you any time they feel like it,
and clearly from the OOXML story, we see they do indeed feel like destroying
FOSS. They don't mind if a redefined, brand X version of "open" source
limps along in its wake, paying tolls along the way to Microsoft, but they
intend to kill off the real thing. That's why the OSP doesn't cover the GPL and
the February "interoperability" statement opening up certain
documentation is only for FOSS if it is noncommercial. Otherwise, all signs
point to patent litigation, with all those presidents of countries that just got
phone calls from Bill Gates lending a hand, one presumes. That is the plan,
Stan, as best I can make it out, and anyone who enables that strategy by signing
patent pledges, inviting them to speak as if they are now members of the
community, etc. is helping to kill off FOSS. There is no middle ground now.
Think before you buy an Asus eeePC, will you? There is more at stake here than
just you as an individual."

well said and thank goodness for sites like these that actually just show the
facts and speak the truth.

well got to go back and start saving my documents in openxml
oh wait. I can't cause there no implementation in the products I use. guess I
have to stick with odf and hold my breath for all those open source
implementations that microsoft is going to implement.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Real World" effect: Zero
Authored by: kutulu on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 05:59 PM EDT
I doubt you will find a single sensible, right-minded technical person who will
argue (without lying) that OOXML deserves to be an international standard. From
that perspective, it's disturbing that it hasn't been laughed out of ISO yet.

But from a real world perspective, the ISO vote changes very little, for several
reasons. First of all, an ISO stamp of approval on a standard, particularly a
stupid one, is meaningless from the start. Many people are commenting how this
fiasco will damage the "significance of the ISO stamp of approval".
Those people must not have been paying attention for the past 20 years:

* With the very exceptional exception of the C and C++ standards (really the
work of ANSI anyway), being an ISO standard has no useful technical
significance. They are not "open" in any meaningful way (you can't
even READ them without paying $$) and rarely "standard" per actual
industry behavior.

* Frequently, their process takes so long that the standard is obsolete before
it even gets published. (Thus the whole point of the fast track mess in the
first place.)

* The "real" standards are defined by other organizations. This
includes true "standards bodies" like IETF/IEEE, "standards
consortia" like W3C, or ad-hoc groups like JPEG. (Besides C/C++, about the
only ISO/IEC standards you see regularly are the character sets. whoohoo.)

Beyond that, however, the technology industry doesn't really give a rat's behind
about standards, except when it's convenient. The only real standard that
matters is "what everyone is actually doing"; XHTML and CSS only
recently started becoming real standards because people started paying attention
to them and making their web sites compliant -- because it was becoming too
inconvenient to deal with non-standard HTML code, now, nearly 10 years after
HTML 4 was published. And non-technical users, the vast vast vast majority of
them, don't know or care what a standard is as long as their stuff works.

The only place that official standard status really matters is government work,
because governments can use that as a legitimate way to narrow down their
options without being accused of favoritism. But OOXML is already a standard:
ECMA is a recognized standards body -- granted, they're basically a
clearinghouse for Microsoft formats, but there are a few legitimate standards
there too. So being or not being an ISO standard isn't going to cost them any
government contracts. And private sector businesses are going to use Word
because they already use Word, so they will use OOXML by default. And
non-Windows applications will continue to reverse engineer Word's document
formats, because frankly, it's easier than reading the standard anyway.

I'm glad there are people taking a moral and technical stand against this
quagmire of technical incompetance, but lets face it, it's not really going to
affect our lives one way or the other.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lots of things we can still try
Authored by: DarkWalker on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 06:05 PM EDT
There are still lots of things that can be done to have a better overall

- As was said, an appeal can either buy time or, with much luck, reverse the
result. But I would not bet on it.

- Have ISO keep control of the maintenance process. Lots of NBs that voted Yes
used as a reason the chance to steer the future evolution of the standard, so
they should be called to stand to their commitment. This would reduce the
opportunity for MS to impede convergence between ODF and MS OOXML, and could
level a bit the playing field for third parties trying to implement MS OOXML.

- Try to steer MS OOXML to converge with ODF, implementing in the MS OOXML
specification the lacking elements for full roundtrip fidelity.

- Try to make national governments aware of the potential patent woes of MS
OOXML, and try to make them demand a patent pledge that can explicitly work with
all licenses in common use in the government (since almost all of them use Linux
(GPL2) and Samba (GPL3)) and multiple reasonabily complete implementations
(possibily with different codebases counting as one implementation, i.e.,
StarOffice and OpenOffice counting as one implementation, as well as all
software from the same vendor counting only once), as well as a promise to keep
the future development of the standard as open as possible, before contemplating
using the standard.

- Build a good conformance test for the specification, taking special care to
mark every usage of deprecated elements, and convince governments that software
writing MS OOXML files should pass the conformance test without using deprecated
features before being accepted.

There should be more things to do, this is just what came to my mind at the

[ Reply to This | # ]

ooxml declared technically sound by ISO
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 06:51 PM EDT
"Is it technically sound so it can be approved without further review or

So either thought ooxml was 'technically sound', or don't think it is. Either
way, they made it an international standard that they claim is 'techically sound
'by their rules(whatever those might be today).

Isn't this like making counterfeit money? It looks real until someone looks at
it closely.

So, ISO appears to be a counterfeiter of standards now. All the groups/people
that voted yes, are involved. No wonder they want to hide their names.

I don't plan to use standards produced by a counterfeiter.

This ISO event also gives us a clue on Microsoft's quality of products. I'm sure
some of us already knew.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The sad part, few care.
Authored by: fuego451 on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 07:38 PM EDT
A quick check of msnbc, cnn, bbc, reuters and nyt tech sections reveals that
only the New York Times has an article up on their main tech page about MS's big

Speak to your friends and family about this travesty and experience the blank
stares, silence and rapid change of subject without batting an eye.

I will never administer or fix a windows computer again.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO & EU Commission & M$
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 08:45 PM EDT
I just hope the EU Commission has been closely watching this whole fiasco,
especially M$' heavy hand in the whole thing. After all, aren't they closely
watching M$ at the moment, anyway, relative to monopolistic practices? After
all, this behavior is the epitome of such behavior!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Money Talks and Lives High [was] And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 11:49 PM EDT
Like I said earlier.

Stevie B. and Billie G. gamed with the Jeffersons (100 $US notes) and bought
their new "standard."

No level of inquiry will track this! Why? Cash! Cash is not tracable --
US $, gold brickets, or what ever currency you use, save electronic transfers.

They won! Not that I'm happy ... I'm not. But to the winner ... So let them
have [eat] their spoils [entrails].


[ Reply to This | # ]

Looking for OOXML documents that cannot be rendered in MS Office 2007
Authored by: htoug on Thursday, April 03 2008 @ 12:26 AM EDT
Now that Microsoft has succeeded in getting OOXML voted as an ISO
standard I feel that the time has come to turn to more creative uses of
this abomination of a standard.

It must be possible to create an OOXML document that complies with the
standard (whatever that is exactly), but which cannot be rendered in
MicroSoft Office 2007, or preferably causes MS Office to crash.

This could be used as a template in all letters sent to Microsoft, ISO,
and authorities in places where they have decreed that OOXML is an
acceptable format for documents (like they have in Denmark).

And it could form the base for a test suite for OOXML compliance.

I have tried and failed because my Office-foo is much too weak. My hope
is that someone amoung Groklaw's readers is more able than I am.

[ Reply to This | # ]

And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 03 2008 @ 03:00 PM EDT
I think on the contrary that there is a new Microsoft, but it lives side by side
(and off of) the old Microsoft. And anything that has to do with Microsoft
Orifice (by The Cult of the Cash Cow) is most emphatically old-Microsoft in

[ Reply to This | # ]

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