Or at least that’s what ISO’s Secretary General says. [I had hoped to stop writing about this subject, sigh]. There are multiple appeals against OOXML; let’s try to read the tea-leaves without too many guttural snickers.
The Story Thus Far · When Microsoft decided to ram OOXML through the ISO “fast-track” process, a number of voices spoke up saying that would be inappropriate given the scale of the spec, and that doing this would be bad for the ISO and for the industry.
ISO thought it over (well, one assumes they must have) and decided that no, fast-track would be OK and they’d proceed, making up ad-hoc process as necessary. Predictably, and as predicted, the process was rife with corruption and bullying; at the end of the day, the pretence of carefully evaluating standards-ware had mostly worn away and it became a straightforwardly-nasty political dogfight between Microsoft and its allies on one side, and anti-Microsoft partisans on the other.
After Microsoft won, there were appeals from four countries saying, mostly, that the process was inappropriate given the scale of the spec, and had damaged ISO’s image.
Next? · ISO will examine the appeals. Let’s bear in mind that a favorable outcome for the appeals would mean, in effect, ISO acknowledging that they’d made a big high-level mistake. And then let’s not hold our breath waiting for transparency or neutrality.
Especially when ISO’s head honcho Alan Bryden goes on the record to say (quoting from Reuters) that “criticisms that a fast-track process was abused to rush through the Microsoft standard were unfounded” (note Reuters doesn’t use quotation marks, so presumably they’re summarizing Bryden).
Um, excuse me, doesn’t it seem wildly inappropriate for the chief executive of an allegedly-neutral international agency to comment dismissively on an in-progress appeal? If I were on ISO’s Board of Directors or equivalent, I’d be hauling Mr. Bryden in right now for a short unpleasant interview.
Whatever; the damage is done. I really hope my personal impression, based on the OOXML experience, that ISO alternates between bumbling and whorishness, is wrong. The world needs a reasonably competent and transparent standards organization whose integrity is not a standing joke.