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Promise of OOXML Oversight By ISO Falls Through 216

Posted by Zonk
from the so-it's-only-standard-for-them dept.
640 Comments Are Enough for Anyone writes "Microsoft is going back on one of their promises concerning OOXML. While they originally made assurances that the ISO would take control of the standard if it were approved, Microsoft is now reversing that position and keeping near-full control over OOXML with the ECMA. This is significant because the ECMA is the group that originally rubber-stamped OOXML. It seems unlikely that they will force changes to correct problems with the standard. In Microsoft's new plan, the ISO would only be allowed to publish lists of errata and would be unable to make OOXML compatible with existing ISO standards, while the ECMA would be the one to control any new versions of the standard."
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Promise of OOXML Oversight By ISO Falls Through

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  • Isn't it 'ECMA'? (Score:2, Informative)

    by !ramirez (106823)
    ...not EMCA?
  • by overshoot (39700) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:37PM (#21605641)
    ... please hold up your hands.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gideon Fubar (833343)
      I am. I thought they'd at least wait until they had the 'standard' approved (pushed/bribed through) ISO.. This is almost like them being honest..
    • Better Idea (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pete-classic (75983)
      Everyone surprised by this, please hold up your unicorn!

      -Peter
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by man_of_mr_e (217855)
      Nobody should be surprised by this, much less Rob Weir. He feigns surprise and acts like this is a shocking development.

      Here's news for you, and Rob, and everyone else. *NO FAST TRACK ISO STANDARD IS OWNED BY ISO*. Fast tracking, by it's very design, puts the onus on standards maintenance and evolution on the standards body that submits it.

      Rob knows this, but he's being deliberately disingenuous.

      By the way, the same is true for ODF. OASIS is the steward for current ODF maintenance and improvement.
      • by Xenographic (557057) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:20AM (#21608283) Homepage Journal
        > Nobody should be surprised by this, much less Rob Weir. He feigns surprise and acts like this is a shocking development.

        He does? I didn't see any "surprise" in there. I saw him saying that Microsoft promised that the ISO would get this control and then went back on its promise. You'll forgive me if I don't find that surprising.

        From what Rob Weir wrote, as quoted on Groklaw (which, BTW, is what the Slashdot submission actually links to, just so you know):

        So much for the promises. What makes this story worthy of a blog post is that we now know that, as these promises were be made to NB's, at that same time Ecma was planning something that contradicted their public assurances.

        > Here's news for you, and Rob, and everyone else. *NO FAST TRACK ISO STANDARD IS OWNED BY ISO*. Fast tracking, by it's very design, puts the onus on standards maintenance and evolution on the standards body that submits it.

        So... Microsoft promised something it knew it wouldn't deliver? Nope. Still not surprised. That doesn't make this any better, and I'm kinda disappointed in anyone who voted for OOXML because of that empty promise, but I'm definitely not surprised. How many people have been burned for trusting Microsoft? Or maybe I should ask, can anyone name a Microsoft "partner" that wasn't left out to dry when things became inconvenient or unprofitable for Microsoft? Yes, yes, even "partners" should expect that. I know that I sure as hell would. But that's why I try to avoid having anything to do with them if possible. I know they'll shaft me for a nickel.

        > Rob knows this, but he's being deliberately disingenuous.

        More or less disingenuous than someone with a track record of defending Microsoft claiming that Rob shouldn't be "surprised" by this when he's not, but merely calling on Microsoft to fulfill its promise? Disappointed, maybe, but I just don't see the "surprise" because this isn't the first time Microsoft has done something like this by any means.

        > By the way, the same is true for ODF. OASIS is the steward for current ODF maintenance and improvement.

        Can you point to anywhere where OASIS promised the ISO this control? No? Then then the two issues aren't really comparable, are then? I mean, OASIS can't break a promise they never made. I mean, even if Rob had been surprised by this, do you really think that complaining that someone was surprised that Microsoft lied because they should've somehow expected this is a good thing?

        I mean, honestly, what the hell kind of supporters does Microsoft have these days? :]
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by man_of_mr_e (217855)
          I'm sorry, but you're completely out in left field on this. Everyone involved in ISO knows how ISO works, and what Fast Track means. Nobody voted thinking ISO would control it. If they did, then they have no business voting in the first place.

          Whether or not MS made comments that could be interpreted as "promises" is irrelevant. Rob knew all along that ISO would not control a Fast Tracked standard, and if he had problems with MS statements, he should have called them on those statements at the time they
          • > Nobody voted thinking ISO would control it. If they did, then they have no business voting in the first place.

            I thought blaming victims went out of vogue a long time ago, but insofar as that can be read to say that trusting Microsoft is naive, I can agree.

            > Whether or not MS made comments that could be interpreted as "promises" is irrelevant. Rob knew all along that ISO would not control a Fast Tracked standard, and if he had problems with MS statements, he should have called them on those statement
          • I'm sorry, but you're completely out in left field on this. Everyone involved in ISO knows how ISO works, and what Fast Track means. Nobody voted thinking ISO would control it. If they did, then they have no business voting in the first place.

            Like probably in many other countries, here in Switzerland the OOXML vote attracted the attention of mostly people who did not have any previous in-depth involvement in ISO/IEC processes. In fact in the concerned standardization subcommittee, there were exactly two

    • by daem0n1x (748565)

      Guys, instead of holding up your hands, start calling your national standard bodies and bug them as most as you can with embarrassing questions. Lobby your congressmen. Lobby your EU Parliament representatives. Lobby your government, president, king, emperor, sultan, dictator, tsar, wharever. Talk to the media. Many of you should have academic connections. Lobby them too.

      This outrageous corruption won't stand if it's exposed in public. All this secrecy will only work on MS favor.

      Call your country's d

  • by GeneralEmergency (240687) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:43PM (#21605711) Journal
    ...I can read one of these stories and think,

      "Microsoft?? Are they *still* in business?"

    Oh well. One can dream.
  • by Eggplant62 (120514) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:44PM (#21605719)
    Microsoft was running circles around itself in an effort to get this monstrosity known as Office XML specification (note the absence of "Open," since it is my belief there is nothing "open" about it) just 4 months ago, loading standards panel with shills for the voting process, and now they're thumbing their noses at another standards body over the same specification?

    Way to go, Microsoft! Another shot to the foot. Keep shooting and maybe we can take out a knee next, eh?
    • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @08:04PM (#21605983)

      Office XML specification (note the absence of "Open,"

      I think the proper name that every knowledgeable should use for it is "Microsoft Office XML (MSOXML)", because this is exactly what it is.

      As for Microsoft shooting itself in the foot, I don't think it matters. I predict that MSOXML will be approved at the next ISO meeting because ISO is a fundamentally corrupt organization. It is fundamentally corrupt because it allows every country in the world to have the same voting weight, and the majority of countries in the world are fundamentally corrupt (and easily bribed by Microsoft). Voting must be weighted in some counter-bullshit-country way to avoid this problem. I think a good way to accomplish this is to weigh the votes by country GDP.

      • Yes, but how accepting is the development community going to be with it? We see that it's a proprietary product that is not going to be fully interoperable except on Monopoly-approved products. We do have a choice, and that choice may just be shunning it for our own personal and business use unless absolutely necessary. Y'know, hit 'em in the pocketbook.
        • by zippthorne (748122) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @08:30PM (#21606291) Journal
          They're putting it through so they can satisfy laws in places like Massachusetts which require (or are going to require, maybe?) open standards for government documents. If they sneak in a not-really-open standard as an open one, the letter of the law in such states would be satisfied by going with Microsoft, and other bidding laws then take over. "Fair" bidding laws which Microsoft can manipulate for favorable results.

          "It's not really an open standard" is going to be a pretty poor legal position if they've got the ISO stamp of approval.
      • I think the proper name that every knowledgeable should use for it is "Microsoft Office XML (MSOXML)", because this is exactly what it is.


        Other suggestions:

        * MOOXML (Microsoft Office Obnoxious XML - forgot where I found that one)
        * BOOXML (Ballmer Oriented Office XML)
        * POOXML (Prehistoric Objects Office XML)
        * SUCKXML (Steve's Universally Condemned, Killed XML)

        Cast your votes!
        • by jkrise (535370)
          * MOOXML (Microsoft Office Obnoxious XML - forgot where I found that one)
          * BOOXML (Ballmer Oriented Office XML)
          * POOXML (Prehistoric Objects Office XML)
          * SUCKXML (Steve's Universally Condemned, Killed XML)


          You forgot:
          * WTFXML (Windows' Treacherous Format as XML)

          That would get everybody's vote... because it conveys the beauty of this format in a way everyone understands!
      • by linebackn (131821) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:45PM (#21607077)
        I think the proper name that every knowledgeable should use for it is "Microsoft Office XML (MSOXML)".

        Ask anyone who is NOT knowledgeable and what do they call it? "Microsoft Office 2007 format". And what does it work with? "Microsoft Office 2007". THAT is what it is. Even the Blow Joe's of with world know it's Microsoft propitiatory Office 2007 format and nothing more.

        • by jkrise (535370) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:36AM (#21609199) Journal
          Ask anyone who is NOT knowledgeable and what do they call it? "Microsoft Office 2007 format". And what does it work with? "Microsoft Office 2007". THAT is what it is. Even the Blow Joe's of with world know it's Microsoft propitiatory Office 2007 format and nothing more.

          You are so correct. Which is why, Alan Bell's suggested name change in one of the 600-odd resolutions becomes very meaningful. He suggests renaming the standard as "Legacy Data Formats Represented in XML". I would add a 'partially' or 'confusingly' before Represented to make things even more clear to the Average Joe.

          ****
          "US - 270

          Naming DIS 29500: The current name of DIS 29500, Office Open XML is seriously misleading in several respects. First, it is not a document format based on XML but rather an XML representation of a legacy document format with particular processing semantics. Second, reference should not be made to commercial products and clearly "Office" in the title of this proposal is meant as a reference to Microsoft Office. Lastly, the proposal is no more or less open than any other ISO proposal and so "Open" is meaningless in this context.

          It is suggested that a new name be chosen for the proposal that reflects its goal of representing and continuing a legacy document format as represented in XML. Such a name should not carry an implied reference to a Microsoft product nor should it use the term "open." One possible name would be: Legacy Document Formats Represented in XML. The principles developed from this effort might well prove effective for other legacy document formats that should be represented in XML.

          DIS 29500"
          ****
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Frosty Piss (770223)

        I think the proper name that every knowledgeable should use for it is "Microsoft Office XML (MSOXML)", because this is exactly what it is.
        MSOXML [google.com]? Isn't that a male baldness [microsoft.com] pharmaceutical?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by thirdrock68 (538466)
        It is fundamentally corrupt because it allows every country in the world to have the same voting weight, and the majority of countries in the world are fundamentally corrupt (and easily bribed by Microsoft). Voting must be weighted in some counter-bullshit-country way to avoid this problem. I think a good way to accomplish this is to weigh the votes by country GDP.

        The only problem with your suggested solution is that the country with the highest GDP has one of the most corrupt governments in the developed w
        • one of the most corrupt governments in the developed world

          The most corrupt government in the first world is orders of magnitude less corrupt than the lest corrupt government in the third world. I realize that it's fashionable to poo-poo the US, but you're ignoring the source of the MSOXML problem—idiots pretending that bullshit third-world "countries" aren't bullshit. (Actually, this causes quite a lot of other problems, too.)

      • Mind, since the USA is fundamentally corrupt when it comes to legislation concerning businesses (cf. DMCA), in whose favor would you weight the ISO then? Sweden has been repeatedly certified as one of the least corrupt countries on Earth, but even their standards body was overrun by MS, as was Finland's, another top contender in normal accountability stakes.

        Standards bodies have been set up by businesses for businesses, with no democratic ideals involved, except where it doesn't matter. There is a tiny wi

        • Mind, since the USA is fundamentally corrupt

          I realize it's fashionable to poo-poo the US, but this is not the sense in which I meant "fundamentally". No first-world democracy is fundamentally corrupt. You could make a strong argument that India, a democracy on paper, is fundamentally corrupt.

          but even their standards body was overrun by MS

          The first-world democracies need to get their shit together to prevent this kind of fraud from happening again. In the third world, there is no hope that this can happ

    • No, they're thumbing their nose at the same standards body over the same specification. Which is stupid for a company trying to garner votes for said standards body.

      Speaking of which, does anyone know if the shills have been booted from the committee yet? I seem to recall seeing a bylaw that lets the committee chair remove inactive members, such as those who gained P status to vote for Microsoft, then never voted again.
    • by WK2 (1072560) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @11:06PM (#21607755) Homepage

      Office XML specification (note the absence of "Open")

      It isn't XML either.

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:48PM (#21605805)
    Anyone who expects Microsoft to keep its word on a matter like this is possessed of a level of ingenuousness approached only by two-year-olds, puppies and sociology professors.
  • FFS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Brian Lewis (1011579)
    This is bullshit.

    I'm tired of this Microsoft monopoly crap. Why the hell doesn't anyone stop this crap from happening.
    • Re:FFS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @08:48PM (#21606467)
      Why the hell doesn't anyone stop this crap from happening.

            They do, but Microsoft either a) ignores the ruling and throws money and lawyers at the courts to get an appeal and/or b) doesn't pay the fines/make the required changes. So until someone gets the balls to arrest the board of directors and throw them in jail for contempt, it's business as usual.
      • by davidsyes (765062)
        Goddammit, WHEN can we have a "Highlander" who would slash and slay mshaft ONCE AND FOR ALL?
  • Standard? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MeNeXT (200840) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:50PM (#21605833)
    OOXML is not standard anything. It's a proprietary format owned by Microsoft. Why do people refer to this as standard?
  • Zonk, you moron (Score:2, Informative)

    by jjohnson (62583)
    It's ECMA, not EMCA. Christ, do you even read the summaries before you hit 'approve'?
    • For those of us with dyslexia, proof erading doest'n always hepl.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by terraformer (617565)
      It is actually Ecma. Ecma no longer stands for European Computer Manufacturers Association. It is just plain ol' Ecma International now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ameline (771895)
        No, it stands for Exceptionally Corrupt Microsoft Apologists. Didn't you get the memo?

    • No, it's Emca International [wikipedia.org].

      Falcon
  • by ktappe (747125)
    The next time anyone defends anything Microsoft at all and calls me a "fanboi" for using Apple products instead.......
  • RIAA,MPAA,CIA, NSA, USA. NBA...

    Well that last one's allright if you're drunk enough.
  • by terraformer (617565) <tpb@pervici.com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @08:07PM (#21606015) Journal
    ...but unfortunately not a voting member this kills me. There is a good deal of excellent work done there but this will be a blight that will be a long time in removing.
  • Ecma == MS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by recharged95 (782975)
    isn't Ecma the steward of all the current Microsoft open standards? So far the only Ecma standard that isn't Microsoft referenced is Universal3D (which is more Adobe related). The again, U3D should have given way to X3D and VRML...This Going with Ecma make sense, they need something to battle ANSI and ISO.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @08:27PM (#21606263)
    I wonder whether any informed person is surprised by Microsoft's move. On a more serious note I get really pissed of by respectable members of the Open Source community who these days, trust Microsoft.

    Guys, let's wait for Microsoft's SilverLight platform. I can guarantee that there will be more controversy on that front, and again, some members of the OSS community will quickly join the band wagon.

  • A dry, irritating condition . . .

    so I wasn't that far off-base!

  • Expecting more? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:05PM (#21606637) Journal
    File formats and developer platforms are part of the information revolution. To this degree, I have no clue why they'd prefer to play in-n-out with this standards concept. For the most part, if they offer a better product they get more customers. From their point of view, one could assume that by locking anything they do into any standards body is "limiting their innovative potential". Yes, this is a fallacy in most situations. Then again, only only has to look at past concepts to see antiquation: VSAM, EDI, etc.

      Answering my own question somewhat: I understand that for the large contracts, MS's products need to be transparent and open to some level. However, if they simply offered an ability to :
    • store workflow information in open formats or native formats (chosen by default, every time, and enforceable by domain)
    • interop with other formats, implementing the capabilities they'd like to capture from that market's users.
    ...they wouldn't need to mess around with all this crap. This seems like common sense to me.

    In total, why fight a file format war when lock-in is based on features, not format? MS wins the office because it crams 80% of bloat into its Office products (along with the 20% of true usability), not because people "cant get away from doc,xls and ppt".

    • by edwdig (47888)
      In total, why fight a file format war when lock-in is based on features, not format? MS wins the office because it crams 80% of bloat into its Office products (along with the 20% of true usability), not because people "cant get away from doc,xls and ppt".

      MS got into this position by file format lock-in. Office 97 got really pushed onto the market and practically just appeared everywhere. From there, the file format lock-in kept it going. Everything else faded away quickly while Office kept going tacking on
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by seandiggity (992657)
      Locking people into the file format is important, even if you only consider what's called "branding" these days ("Could you e-mail me that DOC?", "Now class, I want you to create a PowerPoint", "Is that an Acrobat file?").

      Also, how many people do you know that would use OpenOffice even if it couldn't open .doc, .xls, and .ppt? Most of the .docs I get look the same in OpenOffice as MS Office because they haven't been altered by these "features" you mention (they just have some bold, italics, might contain a
  • Screw you. It's my board. I'll make the rules about how we play. Screw the rules committee. If you won't adopt my rules you can't play with my board. Waaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!
  • If OOXML doesn't become an ISO standard, why would ISO bother publishing errata for an ECMA standard?
  • it never fails to stab from the back !! - no pal, this aint no troll, since THAT consistent score of stunts pulled out over whomever they dealed with in any manner, deserves a 45% crit rating bonus to ambush and 30% crit rating bonus to backstab !!!
  • The more articles I read about FOSS vs. MS, the more I start to realise what MS's war tactics: to redirect the enemy's effort so that MS wins time.

    I mean, that's the only possible explanation for:

    1. The MOOXML standards effort and all the nastiness that happened involving bribes, etc.
    2. The Classmate project with Intel, and now trying to run Windows on the OLPC itself.
    3. The supposed patents that Linux infringes, and the Novell deal.
    4. Silverlight & .NET, and having MS shills in Novell develop Moonlight
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JoeCommodore (567479)
      I believe all of those were honest (for MS) efforts to be competitive, all of them represented a lot of work, investment na d marketing, but are either a tad too late, just the same ol stuff against a competing more popular format.

      It was a lot easier for them when a lot of these deals were fought in the back rooms (old boy politics), but with open standards as well as community efforts improving quality and open communication they really can't be considered as much of 'the standard' as they were thought to
  • by dominux (731134) on Friday December 07, 2007 @05:06AM (#21609933) Homepage
    well to be fair, it was the end of his three year term, but his departing report is stinging. via http://www.theopensourcerer.com/2007/12/06/commiserations-to-my-successor-ooxml-strikes-again/ [theopensourcerer.com]

    The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting "standardization by corporation", something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.
  • Although you can handle stuff to ISO, that does not mean there is a staff that can just work on it, which is why ECMA has approached ISO to work out a way in which ECMA can continue to contribute to the effort.

    Brian Jones blogged a response to this which puts things in perspective here: http://blogs.msdn.com/brian_jones/ [msdn.com]

    I saw this blog from one of the current chairs of the ODF committee in OASIS: http://www.robweir.com/blog/2007/12/bait-and-switch.html [robweir.com]

    So, ODF was adopted as an ISO standard about a year ago

  • Wait. Microsoft reneged on an agreement? Microsoft said they'd do one thing to gain approval and support for their version of reality, then did something else? That's unpossible!

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