01.26.08

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ECMA and Microsoft Ignore (‘Dust Off’) Italy’s OOXML Concerns

Posted in ECMA, Europe, Formats, IBM, Microsoft at 12:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When “comments becoming just unwanted details”…

It has been a long time since we last heard about OOXML’s impact on the Italians. Remember "votes for hire" in Italy? Either way, here is an update that is fairly comprehensive in the sense that it sheds light on the important issues raised by Italy. Here is just a portion:

The comment has been grouped with similar — so to say — comments on the lack of conformance testing, or of test suites (which is something different from a reference implementation where I can see the actual source code of an implementation and even sometimes cut snippets to real life application). This is already something quite annoying. But nothing compared with the answer: “Although no reference implementation or interoperability test suite is available at this time, a growing number of implementations of ECMA-376 are becoming available [...] If the requirement for an interoperability test suite or reference implementation is established and shared by National Bodies, SC 34 might initiate appropriate activities as suggested by this comment”. What the heck is this supposed to mean? A test suite is not a reference implementation. A shipping implementation is not a test suite, it is how the implementor thinks the standard should be implemented. As we have seen, not even the main sponsor of the standard implements it in a truly compliant way. There is no way to make sure that an implementation is truly compliant with the standard, because the conformity test provided by the standard is simply too slack. This is an elegant way to say “thanks, but nay, this is not anything we can commit to right now, maybe after the standard is approved”. So Italian comment has been altogether disregarded, we duly take note of it. ¶

Remember how Microsoft snubbed the Muslim world? It was said at the time that Microsoft generally disregards non-English-speaking countries. This type of behaviour should only be expected given some of the more severe cases of bribery. It’s a case where ethical aspects intersect with the technical.

You might also wish to see this new cryptic post from Rob Wier. It contains an analogy.

Of course, from an quality control perspective, this is seriously flawed. The checks and balances between those who build, those who test and those who sell have been eliminated. Although it would not be unusual for some MegaCorp inspectors to be involved in the inspection process, the late arrival of so many unqualified, newly-minted inspectors, and the shift of balance to MegaCorp’s hand-picked inspectors, calls into question the independence and technical sufficiency of the entire inspection process.

MegaCorp is Microsoft and the bridges are formats. Rob ought to just write bluntly enough for clarify and address the issues directly — along with names that leave less room for imagination. This one is akin to his chef analogy that we mentioned before.

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A Single Comment

  1. Rob Weir said,

    January 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm

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    I not trying intentionally to be cryptic,Roy. But I think sometimes it is useful to take the names away from the players, make the situation generic, and look at the overall pattern,divorced from the specifics of the present case.

    When you do that, it can bring a level of clarity, and shows how much this process has been corrupted. If this really happened to a bridge project, the FBI would be trucking filing cabinets out of MegaCorp, and their principals, with their jackets over their heads, would be heading out the front door in handcuffs. But because the ISO process is spread out over dozens of countries, there is no jurisdiction that can effectively police this. This is one of the last bastions of the robber barons.

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