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IBM

IBM Threatens To Leave ISO Over OOXML Brouhaha 200

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the brouhaha-is-a-funny-word dept.
barnackle writes "In addition to threatening to leave certain standards organizations over the OOXML shenanigans, IBM created new guidelines for its own participation in those organizations in an attempt to pressure the ISO and ECMA to be more fair in their approval procedures."
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IBM Threatens To Leave ISO Over OOXML Brouhaha

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  • ISO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:22PM (#25124503) Journal

    Hmm... didn't they used to be some important international standards body at one point, before they got into the marketing business and went under?

    I thought they were already gone...

    Why is this news?

    • Re:ISO? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ThePhilips (752041) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:27PM (#25125601) Homepage Journal

      For one simple reason. Gov't procurement procedures still require to purchase standard compliant ware. If there is a national (e.g. ANSI, depending on your nationality) standard, then it is must be ANSI standard compliant. If there is no national standard - then ISO standards must be checked.

      We all shouldn't forget why M$ got into the standards game at all. I'm sure it was discussed before here too: one US agency said it can not renew office suit licensing deal with M$ because there is not international standard (guess which *grin* *grin*) for document formats and M$Office isn't compatible with it. M$ partner was more than just surprised and reported to Redmond to pull some strings. IIRC scandal actually erupted when they singed deal anyway without even doing proper public tender, later making up excuses that they were not aware that there are other suppliers.

    • Re:ISO? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hobbit (5915) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:29PM (#25125653)

      Why was this modded "troll"? Would you mod IBM "troll" too?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kneo24 (688412)

      I can assure you, ISO is alive and well, and will be around for a many good years. Many different types of industries use ISO for some type of standards certification. Hell, there's an entire industry for registrars to do pre-auditing for ISO.

      • Re:ISO? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Wowsers (1151731) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @04:43PM (#25127861) Journal

        I can assure you, ISO is alive and well, and will be around for a many good years.

        What are standards needed for anyway anymore? The record companies already regularly break the "Red Book Standard" for audio CD's and sell those fake data CD's as real audio CD's.

        • Re:ISO? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kneo24 (688412) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @05:37PM (#25128631) Homepage

          A lot of companies conform to ISO standards for two reasons:

          The first being that it brings in more money. Once you're ISO certified, people take you a little more seriously.

          Secondly, it really helps companies that are disorganized with their documentation to be a whole lot more organized, which has a lot of huge benefits.

          • Re:ISO? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Skye16 (685048) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:19PM (#25130423)

            Only on the surface.

            In my experience, a company who is not organized attempting to become ISO certification just slathers a lot of lipstick on a pig, and it's also my experience that the ISO auditors fall for it every damned time.

            As an engineer who has to pay lip service to a few ISO standards, but is given no resources to actually fulfill the spirit of the processes, it's all a bunch of bullshit.

            (CMMI is even worse - that takes a ton more effort and I've yet to see a company really do it correctly. I'm sure some of them have to exist, but most either document every nanosecond of work (and can't use it in any meaningful way) or don't document anything but still try to get through their audit with a level 3 or 4 and then stop doing it again for another 2 years until they need recertified. Christ I need a new job.)

    • Re:ISO? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sgs-Cruz (526085) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @07:20PM (#25129635) Homepage Journal
      Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater here. ISO (and ANSI, BSI, etc.) standards are very important in basically every field of industry. Just because they fucked up bad on digital document formats doesn't mean that we don't need them to define, you know, the standard root radius of a bolt.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PinkyDead (862370)

        Absolutely correct on the industrial stuff like child safety or structural integrity...

        However, ISO has shown its weakness in the software field - and dare I say, also demonstrating their corruptibility.

        I would suggest that this is because of the subjective nature of software and that generally it's a "survival of the fittest" thing resulting in more than one suitable result (of which OOXML is not one - it is the terminally ill offspring of very wealthy parents). Imagine what would happen if I where to say

      • This isn't about specific software, hardware or other standards per se.

        This is about a corrupt process, which this debacle happened to reveal. The organisation is fundamentally corrupt, the procedures are fundamentally corruptible, and the appeals process has proven that there is no effective corrective mechanism for dealing with corruption.

        This makes every standard they stamp, be it the crappy and unimplementable software standard that proved their level of corruption and incapacity for correcting it, or

    • Re:ISO? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trogre (513942) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @07:53PM (#25129869) Homepage

      I still wonder if this is exactly what Microsoft wanted all along.

      So many IT companies purporting to adhere to ISO standard this and that, against which MS, the king of proprietary, cannot compete. Much better to pull the rug out from under them by discrediting the standards body they are accredited against.

  • Please help (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:24PM (#25124547) Homepage Journal
    If Sun other large tech companies join them, it will do a lot more good. IRTFA (some kind soul bought me a /. subscription and you can't comment on stories that come "in the future") and part of the end of the article explains why IBM just can't leave the standards bodies. They have their own standards to push, for instance.
    • by davidwr (791652) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:44PM (#25124869) Homepage Journal

      Some countries are already making noises about not automatically adopting ISO standards. The more countries that adopt this "a la carte" approach to ISO, the more it will weaken ISO. The more countries that adopt the a la carte approach "until such time as ISO gets its act together" the more pressure there will be on ISO to get its act together.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hobbit (5915)

        Screw letting it get its act together. One of the smaller standards bodies will become the de facto, and ISO's head can be placed on a pole in the public square as a reminder.

        • by db32 (862117) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:45PM (#25125897) Journal
          I think that was the whole point. Microsoft poisoned the well so they can sell bottled water.
          • by thermian (1267986)

            I think that was the whole point. Microsoft poisoned the well so they can sell bottled water.

            Well I won't want tha.. Ooh! Fizzy! I'll take three.

          • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @04:38PM (#25127795) Journal

            I think that was the whole point. Microsoft poisoned the well so they can sell bottled water.

            A valid point, but once the well has been poisoned, it's folly to keep drinking it. And the analogy breaks down in an important aspect - the Well let itself be poisoned in return for cash. This should be a lesson to other wells everywhere.

            But I don't disagree with what you say.

            • by peragrin (659227)

              So it was a wishing well, and MSFT wished for the well to poison itself?

              MSFT is just that greedy. Granted so can be IBM. but IBM learned that if they adhere to standards they can not only be more profitable but are able to wiggle business away from others easier, as they aren't locked into a specific platform. It is a two way street, but that is a small price to pay for a greater chance at more business opportunities.

    • Not all as it seems (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Etrias (1121031) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:45PM (#25124889)
      A quick look over at Groklaw [groklaw.net] has a good article about the motivations here. I'd still be cautious, but it's optimistic when IBM stresses open standards as being important to them. I'm actually surprised this didn't happen sooner with the garbage of OOXML.
  • It seems to me this will have little meaning in the long run. It's been shown the ISO is deep in the pockets of M$. Do they really care what IBM thinks or does? I mean they already got their money right?
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:29PM (#25124655)

      Well IBM is big enough to Push their own standards with or without the ISO label. So what that IBM may be able to do is invaladate ISO as a leader in International Standards Organization. If ISO label has no meaning then they become useless.

      • IBM has hardly that kind of pull now a days. They are mostly a services and hardware reseller.
        • by Bryansix (761547)
          Do you know what reseller means? They don't resell anything. They make it! They make their hardware and they design and sell their own software. They also spend millions a year on research and development in many scientific fields.
      • by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:50PM (#25125995)
        Do you even have a friggin' clue!

        IBM and other raised serious objections to OOXML but OOXML was pushed forward, in violation of ISO's rules. IBM, with all it's clout, could not stop it.

        More importantly the procedure that ISO had in place failed everyone. ISO violated its' own rules!

        No discussions, no debates, no desents. People either approved OOXML or were forced to be silent.

        ISO has been rendered usless as several countries have stated that are withdrawing from ISO and setting up their own standards body.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kalirion (728907)

          ISO has been rendered usless as several countries have stated that are withdrawing from ISO and setting up their own standards body.

          Will it have hookers and blackjack ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Last year, Microsoft had $51bn in revenue and IBM had $98bn. So if it's about money, IBM is twice as important as Microsoft.
      • Last year, Microsoft had $51bn in revenue and IBM had $98bn. So if it's about money, IBM is twice as important as Microsoft.

        And who had more profit?

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:35PM (#25124761) Homepage

      It seems to me this will have little meaning in the long run. It's been shown the ISO is deep in the pockets of M$. Do they really care what IBM thinks or does? I mean they already got their money right?

      Well, the cynic in me agrees with you -- I doubt IBM will follow through, and if they did, I doubt it would make much difference.

      However, if people start viewing the ISO as irrelevant and just doing what a big company like Microsoft wants, then they run the risk of becoming irrelevant. That might be the kind of thing they take notice of.

      I would like to see some correction to the fact that it's a standard that really only MS can implement. Rubber stamping OOXML basically just legitimizes it for governments to buy it.

      Cheers

    • It COULD Matter (Score:5, Interesting)

      by maz2331 (1104901) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:45PM (#25124891)

      If a really major player leaves the organization it is a major "no confidence" vote in the organization itself.

      While the official standards are a great idea, a really big player or a consortium of them can easily just create defacto standards that will have a great chance in the real-world marketplace. This is doubly true if they actually make their standards truly open, as IBM seems to advocate.

      I'd say that if companies that manufacture about 10% of the market leave ISO, then it is wounded. If it hits a number like 25%, then it's basically useless.

      Also, large companies pay an obscene amount in yearly dues to be part of the standards bodies. Losing that cash will sting badly.

  • Influence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:29PM (#25124651) Homepage Journal

    Surely IBM will have more influence over future ISO decisions if it remains a member. This is particularly true of a 'Big Player' like IBM who will carry a lot of clout.
    'Outsiders' can be discounted far more easily as they are simply not part of the process, and could therefore be said to be irrelevant.
    IBM should collaborate with other large firms (but presumably not Microsoft) to enforce due diligence in future decisions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk (75490)

      I don't know much about the ISO process other than what I read here on Slashdot. But from what I gathered, big companies don't "carry a lot of clout" with ISO unless they bribe other smaller companies to join and vote with them.

      It seems like a case where the most disreputable company with the most money wins. IBM's only choice then is to either play the game the way Microsoft did, or to leave.

    • Turn that around (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:47PM (#25124911) Homepage

      Surely IBM will have more influence over future ISO decisions if it remains a member.

      And surely ISO will be able to stay more relevant if it can retain IBM as a member. Standards bodies can be discounted for more easily if "Big Players" are simply not part of the process.

      If IBM were pulling out simply because they weren't getting what they wanted, then the whole thing would seem childish. But when a standards body is approving bad standards because it's being manipulated/corrupted, and attempts to clean up the corruption are not being successful, then the appropriate thing for other "big players" to do is drop support for that standards body.

      • standards body is approving bad standards because it's being manipulated/corrupted, and attempts to clean up the corruption are not being successful

        Cleaning up the corruption is almost impossible because of the enormous amounts of money that are ultimately at stake in the outcome of standards board decisions. Whenever large amounts of money are concentrated around a decision making process the powers that be will attempt to capture a share of that prize for themselves by whatever means necessary (laws are of no concern to multinational corporations because laws and justice can be bought just like everything else these days). I don't presume to offer a

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537)

          I don't know about de-emphasizing formal standards. Formal standards serve some pretty important purposes, which is exactly why so much money is at stake. I think it's one of those situations where something has to be done, but because it *is* so important, there are lots of people who will want to game the system. Therefore it's important to root out corruption, and keep the system clean and transparent. If you do somehow get to the point where the system is so corrupt that it can't be fixed, and the s

    • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:50PM (#25124971)
      I don't think IBM feels like much of a 'Big Player', considering how much the ISO listened to them in regards to the OOXML stuff. If the ISO is going to act so stupid here, ignoring IBM, why should IBM expect their remarks to be considered by the ISO in the future? While it's true that MS isn't going to... influence the ISO's decisions quite so strongly on every tech-related issue as it did here (and so IBM will still have some voice) it is still a better idea to act now. If this happens again (and again and again), IBM won't have as much ground for fighting it. They'd have to justify why they didn't fight quite so hard before, and even if they make a perfectly reasonable argument (ie, your argument) the very fact they're put in that position weakens them.

      IBM - and anyone else who cares to (and is in the position to) make a stance against the ISO's actions - must do it immediately and make it clear.
    • Re:Influence (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:07PM (#25125241)

      Surely IBM will have more influence over future ISO decisions if it remains a member.

      I don't believe that's true. IBM was a part of this OOXML process and yet it was, along with Sun, barred from the portuguese technical committee [boycottnovell.com]. This level of corruption doesn't leave fond memories of the whole process.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Surely IBM will have more influence over future ISO decisions if it remains a member.

      Like the influence they were able to exert over OOXML?

  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:34PM (#25124757) Homepage Journal
    today, dont you think ? it is to me at least.
    • if you are unable to see the underlying deep meaning in a veiled statement such as the parent post, dont waste your mod points !.

      this post is offtopic. not parent.

      though since you have modded faultily, this post has somewhat become on-topic.

      now work on this paradox you just created and prepare a paper on it until monday, 09.45 sharp. i want pie charts in appendix.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by steelfood (895457)

      I know ever since Google came along, we have a tendency to attribute personalities and other human characteristics to companies. However, this is a very dangerous fallacy. Companies, in fact, are amoral. They are neither good nor evil. The nature of a company is to make money and to survive. Survival requires growth, so it isn't wrong to say that companies exist to make more and more money. So for them, to do right is to bring in revenue, and to do wrong is to lose revenue. That is all, no more, no less.

      IBM

  • Settle down now.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:37PM (#25124783)

    I have some friends and an ex-wife that work for IBM. While I would go as far to say that, by and large, my dealings with them have been fair an ethical, I would resist any sort of "white knight" metaphors, it is still a publicly traded company and stock holders mean more than standards.

    It is only that IBM is a technically competent competitor that it *can* compete and win on a level playing field that they promote good standards.

    That being said, having dealt with double dealing scum of Microsoft many times in the past, I'll take IBM any day.

    • by Da_Biz (267075)

      Kudos to those at IBM who championed this response to ISO!

    • by ClosedSource (238333) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:23PM (#25125535)

      "It is only that IBM is a technically competent competitor that it *can* compete and win on a level playing field that they promote good standards."

      Sure, that's why they were investigated by the DOJ for a decade.

      The difference between IBM and MS is that IBM knew how to play the game with politicians before the investigation started. MS made the mistake of thinking they didn't need to grease any palms. They know better now.

    • I think IBM should simply leave ISO. Its not like they're a trustworthy standards organization anymore. I also agree with the parent post...IBM is a very technically competent and much better any day than MS.

      Chalk up another one for the history books : MS has the Midas touch...NOT!

  • I think it would be best for everyone if IBM put millions of dollars for Blackwater to be their 'independent delegate' in discussing the situation with Microsoft.

    Sometimes the only way to get a very level playing field is with a very big, heavy, unaccountable object.

    I didn't actually hear this anywhere, I'm just trying to find some comfortable way to justify the complete and total annihilation of our good friends at Redmond. You know, besides the obvious reasons.

  • by lucabrasi999 (585141) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:54PM (#25125031) Journal

    "..OOXML...IBM...ISO....ECMA"

    Danger! Acronym overload!!!

    Must....keep.....head.....from......exploding. (MKHFE).

  • by slashdotlurker (1113853) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:58PM (#25125089)
    If IBM joins up with major countries that are on record against this infamy (like Brazil and India) and convinces other big players like Sun to join to form a rival to ISO, this could be a good move. I daresay, smaller players like Linux vendors (except Novell) will gladly join the new organization. They should then set up rules that an improperly documented and vendor-tied standard cannot even be brought up for a vote in that new organization, let alone bribed through like this OOXML bullshit.
    • Sounds stupid to me.
      First, such an organization would clearly be in the pockets of IBM, Sun, and the Linux vendors you talk of. How would that organization have any credibility? What, anything that helps IBM, Sun and Linux and/or hurts Microsoft and Novell is automatically approved by this organization, and anything that does the opposite is rejected? That's supposed to be credible? Please...

      Slashdotters seem to forget that the overwhelming majority of countries approved OOXML, and don't feel there was

  • by CrkHead (27176)
    PJ has, as usual, her own thoughtful analysis [groklaw.net] on the announcemnt at Groklaw [groklaw.net].
  • by Osrin (599427) *
    A facinating slashdot headline. IBM isn't a "member" of ISO today, so can't exactally leave. ISO is made up of national standards bodies, there is no concept of corporate membership.
    • by Shadowlore (10860) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @03:38PM (#25126929) Journal

      And another "fascinating" comment by someone who did not RTFA and has no knowledge of the subject.

      The /. title changed it to "ISO" instead of "Standards Bodies". That said the TFA did only reference ISO and ECMA, of which IBM is in fact a member.

      And ECMA is a member of ISO. So is ANSI, of which you might think IBM is part of? And you'd actually be right.

      You said yourself, ISO is comprised of various national standards bodies. Who do you think comprises these bodies? Fairies? ISO is comprised of groups that IBM is a member of. Therefore is it reasonable to state that IBM as a member of several of the bodies that comprise ISO is thus a member of ISO. As such, they can actually leave the ISO by leaving the standards bodies that comprise ISO.

      Furthermore nearly every national standards body is in fact incorporated or whatever their country equivalent is. As such, your assertion that "there is no concept of corporate membership" is demonstrably false. ANSI is a not-for-profit U.S. corporation, and is a member of ISO.

      QED.

  • by grizdog (1224414) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:21PM (#25125503) Homepage
    maybe Microsoft will threaten to leave. Now that would be entertaining.

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