When is a Standard Not a Standard?

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| What this means in practice is that Microsoft will be able to get away with
| blue murder, by deftly moving between all the different kinds of standards –
| ECMA standards, putative ISO standards, de facto standards etc. - until
| people charged with procuring office software will simply throw their hands
| up and sign on the dotted line for another ten years of Microsoft Office
| bondage.
| Now, you might argue that the ODF side can play the same games, and I agree
| that some of the more, er, commercially-minded outfits might well be tempted.
| But there's a big difference from the OOXML world in that ODF is today a key
| part of the free software world. As such, there are crates of nitpickers and
| argumentative technical pub bores who really care about ODF and its inner
| wonders, and will delight in pouncing on such inaccuracies – not least
| because there is no love lost between them and the commercial side of things.
| If Sun or IBM or anyone else misbehaves, somebody will spot it, and blog
| about it.
| OOXML, on the other hand, is essentially a product of one company, with
| practically no open source community around it (Novell hardly counts).


Marbux mailed me yesterday to say that Patrick Durusau quietly pulled links to
his pro-OOXML letters. It only arouses even more suspicion. How many people
had Microsoft 'influenced'? It's believed that the pulling has something to do
with the ongoing antitrust investigation (Microsoft to get slapped pretty


ISO puts out a face-saving (it hopes) FAQ

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| Dear ISO, damage control doesn't work, if you let the damage remain. That's
| like putting out a statement that if an oil spill you caused does any damage
| in the future, you'll clean it up right away, but for now, you'll leave the
| spill in place and wait to see what happens going forward. Oil spills need to
| be cleaned up before they do more damage. * *
| [...]
| I am sure you are relieved to hear it. Anyway, now you know. If Microsoft
| plays dirty with patents, ISO might withdraw OOXML as a standard. And as
| we've seen watching the OOXML standards process play out, when ISO says
| something, they reeeeeally, reeealy mean it. *


Martin Bryan: we are getting “standardization by corporation”

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| A November informative report of Martin Bryan, Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34
| WG1 highlights the fallout of the ECMA-376 fast-track process for ISO. He
| says he is 'glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible'
| [...]
| In what is an astonishingly outspoken report, Martin Bryan, Convenor, ISO/IEC
| JTC1/SC34 WG1 has given us insight into the total mess that Microsoft/ECMA
| have caused during their scandalous, underhand and unremitting attempts to
| get - what is a very poorly written specification {i.e. DIS 29500 aka OOXML,
| AR} - approved as an ISO standard. …


Dysfunctional ISO - Courtesy of Microsoft


EC probes OOXML standards-setting process

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| A spokesman for the European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, told
| The Register that regulators were continuing to scrutinise interoperability
| issues related to Microsoft’s products following complaints from the
| Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) group. *
| As part of that process, the EC formally contacted a number of national
| standards bodies, including the Norwegian Standards Institute (NSI),
| requesting more details about possible irregularities in the OOXML
| standardisation process. *
| [...]
| “It must be stressed that it is not the Commission's intention to influence
| the outcome of this process, but the Commission considers it essential to
| ensure that European competition law is not violated in the course of the
| standard setting process,” he said in an email to El Reg. *
| In January the EC began formal anti-trust probes against Microsoft in two
| cases where it was alleged that the multinational firm had abused its strong
| market position. As part of the investigation into the first case, the
| Commission said that it would scrutinise OOXML on the grounds that the
| specification doesn't work with those of competitors. * *


Could an Appeal Derail OOXML?

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| Meanwhile, the normal ISO process means that OOXML will not become an
| official standard until at least the two-month waiting period runs out.


Microsoft accused of stacking ISO committee

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| In a memo sent following his last meeting as head of the working group on
| WG1, which is handling Microsoft’s application to make the Word format an ISO
| standard as ECMA 376, outgoing Governor Martin Bryan (above), an expert on
| SGML and XML, accused the company of stacking his group.


Corrupt countries were more likely to support the OOXML document format

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| Is this just a random coincidence? The median of the CPI index of the above
| mentioned 70 countries is 3.95. Of the most corrupted half (CPI index less
| than 3.95) 23 or 77% voted for approval (approval or approval with comments)
| and 7 or 23% for disapproval; 5 abstained. Of the least corrupted half (CPI
| index more than 3.95) 13 or 54% voted for approval and 11 or 46% voted for
| disapproval; 11 abstained - see the table below. * * *


Microsoft accused of more OOXML standards fiddling

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| However the 11 new countries are refusing to say how they will vote. These
| include Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Ecuador, Jamaica, Lebanon, Malta, Pakistan,
| Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela. Most people seem to think
| that these have been put there by Vole to make sure the standard gets pushed
| through. * *