I’ve generally been ignoring all the fuss & bother about OOXML’s well-greased path to ISO anointment. I’d assumed that after ECMA had applied rigorous and impartial scrutiny to all six thousand pages, ensuring that this was straightforwardly implementable by all interested parties, then the ISO rubber stamp wouldn’t be long in following, giving us an International Standard no less, plus fresh insight into the level of respect such things deserve; and we could all get on with life. Now, the ISO process seems to be turning into the most entertaining kind of standards mosh-pit, with loud accusations of corruption and malpractice. Canadians in the crowd will be reminded of the flavor of a Liberal Party nomination meeting. Groklaw’s coverage is predictably overamped, but still fun; here’s news from France, Sweden, and Norway. That’s just one day’s worth. [Update: Hey, Denmark too!]

The morning after... here’s the official story. New York Times got a jump on the news, and, uh, oops! Andy Updegrove had it nailed eighteen hours ahead of the call, though. Tip o’ the hat to Andy.

I want to say that I’m shocked, shocked, by the appalling cynicism in Mary Jo Foley’s Why Microsoft deserved to lose the OOXML standards vote: “This battle’s not about interoperability, motherhood and apple pie: It’s about Microsoft wanting to keep its desktop-suite monopoly and its competitors seeking ways to break Redmond’s stranglehold on this part of Microsoft’s business.”

Microsoft’s official take is really a top-notch piece of spin, but they do have a point, you know; the story is not over.

If I understand the ISO process correctly, had OOXML made it over both of the vote thresholds that it missed, its supporters could have adopted what’s come to be known as the WS-Fed Gambit in dealing with all the comments and objections. Near as I can tell, either the spec will have to get enough changes and patches to convince a bunch of P-Members to change their “No” to “Yes”, or someone (not naming names) will need to find a bunch more instant P-Members to join Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Ecuador, Jamaica, Lebanon, Malta, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela, in adding enough “Yes” votes to enable the WS-Fed Gambit.

So stand by for lots more rock-’em, sock-’em smash-mouth ISO fun!


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Gordon Haff (Aug 30 2007, at 16:40)

Sarcasm as a fine art. Nice :-)


From: Josh Peters (Aug 30 2007, at 16:51)

Is there a sponge of some sort that can absorb all of the sarcasm dripping off of this post?


From: Janne (Aug 30 2007, at 18:21)

Just in from SIS in Sweden: one participant turns out to have voted twice, which of course is against the rules, so the vote has been invalidated. And as there isn't time for a new vote, the Swedish delegate with abstain from voting, rather than voting in favour of OOXML.


From: Bruno Rodrigues (Aug 31 2007, at 01:54)

It's the same crap in Portugal. The chairman of the group is a guy from Microsoft (conflict of interest anyone?), and most of the voters are from small Portuguese companies that idolaterate Microsoft and make a living from their technologies.

Then the group had to invite more people for the table, but when Sun, IBM and the Portuguese free-software association Ansol tried to join the group, the guy rejected them with an dumb argument that there were not enough chairs on the room.

It's gonna be sad to see OOXML approved not because of its potential merits, but due to plain-in-sight corruption of public government officials by Microsoft and their blind partners.


From: len (Aug 31 2007, at 10:01)


Check your facts. It was not about chairs in the room. That is one of the misinformations making the rounds. Be careful with the slander because the aftermath of this may be worse than the event.

However this goes, there are no clear winners. The losers are clear enough: customers.


From: Răzvan Sandu (Sep 02 2007, at 07:37)

For all interested people, here are details (technical and non-techical):




and, for any Romanian reader around:



From: Tony Fisk (Sep 04 2007, at 06:37)

It's a no, although a lot of the last minute participant countries voted yes (is this ISO or the International Whaling Commission?)

Stay tuned for round 2...


From: Mark (Sep 05 2007, at 04:01)

However much you dislike Microsoft or its products, why would it be a bad thing for this to become a standard? It would nail Microsoft down to a format that they could no longer unilaterally change or obfuscate. Filter and export writers would have an easier life. Other companies could even begin to exert some control over the development of the standard if they had a mind to do so, via the ISO process.


From: len (Sep 05 2007, at 12:29)

It isn't a bad thing for it to become a standard. It is a bad thing for it to become a bad standard. The comments even with duplicates are not insubstantial. It will take some intense effort to document the references to the behaviors that would require knowledge of MS product code to implement. That will get done.

The craziness is a different issue and best left to settle. As I said on XML-Dev, using attack dogs is dangerous for predator and prey because they tend to circle back. I note on the blogs of some personally involved that 'even the standards veterans are learning from this event'. One hopes the lessons reduce the craziness. Most of us understand Wyle E. Coyote and the Sheepdog rules and why it is futile to pursue a Road Runner even with Acme products.


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