09.07.07

ISO Reform Demanded, OpenISO Formed by Norbert Bollow (Updated)

Posted in Asia, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML at 8:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Having witnessed a great deal of corruption, some people decided that it was time to give the ISO a lesson. Microsoft had people lose trust in their authorities, which were often ‘bought’, and the OSI’s reputation took a dive as the impact of the complaints grew. Norbert Bollow seems to have given up on (a reform in) the ISO. He started his own project, which he calls OpenISO.

What do engineers do when they observe a problem? They start a project to fix it. A Swiss standard expert who got annoyed by the “Open XML bug” of ISO procedures launched OpenISO.org.

[sarcasm]Since we already have an OpenSUSE, how about an OpenNovell? [/sarcasm] Meanwhile, an open letter to ISO was dispatched as well. From the letter:

Norway – originally a process decided by unanimity but altered on the fly
Sweden – voting seats bought and the result thus hijacked
Switzerland – process rigged in favor of the vendor, the chairman excluded the option of voting “reject” or “reject, with comments”
Portugal – process skewed by blaming on lack of available chairs
Malaysia – two committees voted unanimously “rejection with comments” and mysteriously overturned by the government to “abstain”

OOXML in Malaysia, India, and Large Nations

With so much going on around the world simultaneously, we have not covered this last story about Malaysia (cited in the open letter above). The only time that we mentioned Malaysia, we pointed out Malaysia’s selection and embrace of ODF.

“3.2 billion people voted ‘No’ on OOXML”One other country whose decision remained curious is India. We had to carefully check and see what India did at the end. Days after it’s “No” decision (and just before the final vote), Microsoft unloaded a lot of ‘charity’ money onto the government. This triggered an orange light. India, being a large country, was an important voter to Microsoft. China and Brazil also. Remember that at the end, despite Microsoft’s attempt to hijack votes (sometimes resorting to bribery), 3.2 billion people voted ‘No’ on OOXML as a fast-tracked ISO standard. Fast-tracked or not, even our favourite Microsoft apologist believes that OOXML will continues to fail its approval attempts.

“I don’t believe the votes are later going to go in the other direction,” said Zemlin in an interview. Zemlin is sometimes criticized within Linux ranks for his repeated admonition that Microsoft must be respected as a competitor. But he was unsparing in his assessment of the ISO fast track outcome.

Spillover

Another article of interest uses this somewhat political analogy to talk about OOXML.

Making just as many headlines as George Bush’s travelling circus has been Microsoft’s failed attempt to fast-track its OOXML document format to the status of an ISO standard.

Both these events have been annoying and pointless. Neither has done anything but generate a huge amount of FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt).

In case you wish to point out the technical flaws of OOXML (never mind ‘politics’ and corruption) , be aware that Stephane has finally tidied up his long essay.

Update: here is another new article about the failures in the ISO.

If the ISO ignores the need for a reform, it will be rendered irrelevant. A single company was able to corrupt it using some criminal minds. Microsoft craves ISO certification and ISO’s blessing because more and more governments adopt policies that require open standard for successful procurement. The same goes for OSI, which explains Microsoft’s motives in that other department.

These malicious plans had the ISO impose no penalty or resort to any intervention. This resulted in no litigation and severe punishment, despite antitrust laws. There is evidence to suggest that the ISO was biased in favour of Microsoft. Microsoft says it was all within the rules, but bribery (as in Sweden) is NOT within the rules. There are many other examples where rules (even laws) were broken. Enough solid evidence is also available to back this.

To summarise, there appear to be at least two vectors of response at the moment:

  1. The ‘replace’ solution. One is OpenISO, established by one who was betrayed in Switzerland.
  2. The ‘fix’ solution. The second is the Open Letter, which points out incidents of corruption.

The ISO would be hard to tame. Just like nations that accepted Microsoft bribery (in one form or another, or contrariwise — extortion), the ISO appears to be moved by Microsoft’s manipulative hand. In other words, there is direct impact as well.

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