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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 ISOs 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 ISOs 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.

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