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Is Alex Brown Trying to Save His Job by Criticising Microsoft’s ‘Own’ OOXML?

Posted in ECMA, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 3:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ISO Sold Out to ECMA

It has been no secret that Microsoft will never support OOXML. It was all just a hugely expensive routine done for marketing purposes, as Tim Bray rightly put it. In fact, many people knew this all along and ISO was warned. ISO was also warned about patent issues in OOXML. Did it listen, or did it ignore?

ISO in moneyISO’s damage control is becoming a little embarrassing if not totally shameful because they begin to admit their own mistakes and then try to justify these.

You can now find a saving-face blog entry from Alex Brown, who is already in big trouble with people calling for him to be sacked for conflicting interests at the very least. This can’t just be swept under the rug anymore. Here is a ZDNet article about the latest round of face-saving.

Word documents generated by today’s version of Microsoft Office 2007 do not conform to the Office Open XML standard under development by the International Organization for Standardization, according to tests run by a document standards specialist.


Commentators, including Tim Bray, the inventor of XML, have suggested that Microsoft is unlikely to bother to keep conformant with the OOXML standard as it develops within ISO, but Brown was more optimistic: “Given Microsoft’s proven ability to tinker with the Office XML file format between service packs, I am hoping that Microsoft Office will shortly be brought into line with the [ISO/IEC] 29500 specification, and will stay that way,” he said. “Indeed, a strong motivation for approving 29500 as an ISO/IEC standard was to discourage Microsoft from this kind of file-format rug-pulling stunt in future.”

Here is what Groklaw said:

Microsoft Office 2007 Fails OOXML Conformance Tests, Alex Brown Admits, Hopes For the Best


Color me surprised. Say, France, you might want to slow down adding this “standard” to your list until it actually works. All you folks who voted for it need to tell us why you accepted it before it was done. Because what this means is that OOXML was just approved as an ISO standard, on the allegation that it was necessary for interoperability with Microsoft documents, and it turns out it doesn’t even do that. It also means no one can interoperate successfully with Microsoft Office 2007 except Microsoft. Neato. Back to Go. Do not collect $200. Isn’t the Fast Track supposed to be for already *implemented* standards?

I know. After ISO was captured by Microsoft, nobody cares about rules any more. Brown hopes Microsoft will be a good doobie and fix this.

For the curious, or for those researching these questions, Alex Brown was also mentioned previously in:

To be fair, there are others at ISO whose credibility was lost. Roger Frost is one example. If ISO was captured by a vendor, which it was, according to Martin Bryan, then ISO should come clean rather than become Microsoft’s accomplice. What is ISO so afraid of?

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  1. Tomas de Torquemada said,

    April 21, 2008 at 6:11 pm


    The only flaw in your supposition is that Alex’s only paying job involves working for the company that he owns and leads. He would have to be very angry at himself to push himself out of his current role.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 21, 2008 at 6:15 pm


    From what I’ve been told, his company has interests that align with those of the Microsoft ecosystem.

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