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Assorted Web/Blog Reactions to OOXML BRM

Posted in Asia, Deception, ECMA, Europe, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Noooxml.org could not contain a bit of excitement about the outcome. Its headline was:

BRM in Geneva is over: big failure for OOXML

Only ten national delegations voted, and only 4 P-members were for approval. 4 P-members disapproved, a whopping 15 abstained, and 2 even refused to register a vote in protest.

If you count all voting delegates, including those who are not P members, the vote was 6 approvals, 4 disapprovals, 18 abstentions and 4 refusals to vote. Expect this to be announced by Microsoft as a “3 to 2 majority for OOXML approval” in the next few hours. The reality is of course that this is a huge setback for Microsoft. The tricks they have been trying have backfired, and it is now more clear than ever before that OOXML is an immature specification which was totally inappropriate for the fast track procedure.

Same headline echoed by Open Malaysia:

BRM in Geneva is over: big failure for OOXML

As noooxml.org points out, Microsoft will try to spin this. It is already trying to spin (it's a pattern), so here is the point to bear in mind and prepare for:

Microsoft’s New Meme: ‘Marketplace Relevance’

This seems to be preparing the ground for an eventual rejection of OOXML. The line would be well, being an official ISO standard isn’t *so* important: what matters is “marketplace relevance”. And we all know what that means: just keep that status quo rolling…

Here is the summary of an article from InfoWorld, which also appears in CIO.com.

About four-fifths of the proposed changes to a draft standard for the OOXML document format were waved through, undiscussed, at the conclusion of a weeklong meeting in Geneva.

This relates to the prophecy of Bob Sutor, which he posted in his blog several days ago.

Although a month remains for changes of heart (brace yourself for colossally heavy lobbying by Microsoft), the following post prematurely predicts failure.

The BRM meeting in Geneva is over. The plan was, from the Microsoft point of view, that OOXML should now be an ISO standard. It didn’t make it.

Noooxml.org later posted an update almost identical to ours and it’s focused on Tim Bray’s spilling of the beans.

The Canadian BRM delegate Tim Bray strongly criticised the ISO process while he doesn’t blame the BRM failure on ISO but on the vendor that used the ECMA proxy.

Tim Bray, redirecting his readers to this page, was not too happy with the headlines, possibly ours included.

The Open Malaysia blogger posts another last update which concurs with what we find in the press.

The final day was absolute mayhem. We had to submit decisions on over 500 items which we hadn’t have the time to review. All the important issues which have been worked on repeatedly happened to appear on this final day. So it was non-stop important matters. Unfortunately I was caught up in a change from Malaysia, so I must have missed deliberating on a few important matters.

Articles from the mainstream press agreed that the final day was somewhat of a mess. This BRM ought to be remembered as a disaster, as predciated all along [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It leaves ECMA, Microsoft and even ISO quite seriously wounded. In another Web forum, someone has begun asking if the European Commission can take action against ECMA, not just Microsoft, which is already under antitrust investigation for its abuse of ISO.

ISO standard

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  1. James Williams said,

    March 2, 2008 at 2:46 am


    Of course, what you’re failing to recognize here is that all of the blogs and the press that you mention are pretty much orchestrated through a select few, probably arranged during the side meetings that the OFE set up in Geneva. With IBM, part of the US delegation, and part of the Canadian delegation leading the charge.

    Starting with the US Head Of Delegation, who speaks for himself on this matter, not for the United States. Followed up by a startlingly incorrect blog post that Andy Updegrove put out – then picked up by a bunch of people who can only be described as breathing their own exhaust fumes.

    See a very brief comment from the BRM convenor, Alex Brown, posted below Andy’s terrible and inappropriate rantings.


    The rest we will know a couple of weeks from now I suspect.

    What is happening here is pretty representive of the sneeky, deceptive and underhand way that the pro-ODF crew have run things over the last few months.

    This time around thought they have gone way overboard and the deceptions can’t be hidden in the same way as they have over recent months.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 2, 2008 at 5:06 am


    Actually, the press concurs with these observations. I wouldn’t take Alex Brown’s word on this too seriously because he’s defensive. It’s his future career at stake.


    Yes, the BRM failed. If you can find articles that suggest otherwise, please share. For all I can tell, Microsoft is already spinning and changing its tune (just watch their blogs). Call it “damage control” or “fallback”.

    I remain unconvinced by your arguments, but as I wrote earlier, I expect a conferable amount of lobbying from Microsoft to come this March. Lobbying does not change a reality, but hand-overs of money, as we have recently seen, does indeed make a difference. I came to discover throughout my conversations with Stocholm, for example, that he works for a Microsoft partner.

    Microsoft can never earn ISO for OOXML. It can try to buy ISO, but trying may not be enough. Buying it is not legal (watch what Bryan said about Microsoft). Regardless of the outcome, people deserve to know this truth about this breathtaking fiasco.

    Mind you, I’ve received and come under endless personal attacks. This type of smear campaign consistently comes from pseudonymous or anonymous voices (it’s very libelous, but I cannot accuse unnamed individuals) and about 20-30 posts per day are now used against me. I can’t keep up with it, but I imagine something is behind this.

    Having raised this concern in a disucssion with a friend he told me:

    Again two tactics: name calling and amnesia

    The amnesia is interesting, because the articles and even whole magazines and web sites disappear. Microsoft astroturfers try it again and again. We saw just the other week with the developer tools question. They ignored the last 10 years and claimed that if there were any ‘alternative’ tools, why aren’t people talking about them or using them… Tricks like that often catch the unwary.

    I often wonder if Microsoft employs cranks to write from their jail cells.

    Their purpose is to drag you down to their level, if they can, and if nothing else burn up your time in name calling. They win if you write about them and their movement.

    That’s just why I rarely write about the abuse that’s directed against me (not here anyway). That helps them win.

    Whether these are the OS/2-days Munchkins, I don’t know, but their names have been the same for about 10 years and some of them were involved in smearing the names of OS/2 supporters. I’ve heard about death threats too and I get my fair share of death wishes (which I ignore).

    Have a look at the Tim Bray tale. It’s nothing new.

  3. James Williams said,

    March 7, 2008 at 2:41 am


    Of course it concurs, that is what orchastrated press is supposed to do.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 7, 2008 at 3:34 am


    Have a look at Alex Brown fighting to save his dignity amidst this latest update.

    Alex Brown has updated his blog post about the voting rules at the BRM. “This was the wrong clause” he says.


    Some questions for the audience:

    1. Which one is the “normal JTC1 procedures”?
    2. None of them mentions which majority should be taken. Simple majority of 50%, or 66% of P-members?
    3. Where is the “letter” in the letter ballot?

    Look at Alex getting grilled. He’s replying, but it’s not truly compelling. It’s like the powwow with Andy.

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