04.26.08

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Microsoft’s Death Row of Standards and Why W3C Must Be Careful

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 11:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We’ve got to put a lot of money into changing behavior.”

Bill Gates

A presentation from an IBM employee in Europe has just been shared a little more publicly. It describes the serious problems ISO will be facing after the countless OOXML scandals that worked in Microsoft's favour.

Not all standards development organizations are the same. Looking forward, I believe that competition between standards organizations will increase and established de jure organizations will be further challenged. In this context, quality will become a differentiator between standards organizations and, just as it is true in the corporate world, standards organizations that do not strive to improve will become irrelevant over time.

[...]

Ultimately, reliance on traditional de jure standards will probably decrease. In the meanwhile, if they care to survive standards development organizations will need to start a serious introspection of their processes and look to adopt some of the principles set by exemplary organizations such as W3C.

While no organization is perfect and there always is room for improvement, W3C has indeed set itself apart from the pack by showing the way to much greater quality and openness for the benefit of all.

ISO standards for saleJust a couple of days ago we warned that Microsoft is once again poisoning W3C, at least on the face of it. Wilson is at it again, causing problems and upsetting Microsoft’s rivals from the insides of the W3C. This has a long history [1, 2, 3] and as stressed many times before, Microsoft hopes to render W3C obsolete by introducing XAML and making it widespread to the point where all Web pages are proprietary and by no means controlled or policed by W3C guidelines [1, 2, 3, 4]. This overrides (X)HTML, which is vendor-independent.

If there was anything to learn from ISO's sellout it is that having Microsoft near a standards committee is a recipe for trouble. ISO has yet to go under assault, potentially effective owing to the legal system. Microsoft’s OOXML is not an ISO standard before June, if ever.

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3 Comments

  1. Arnaud Le Hors said,

    April 27, 2008 at 6:20 am

    Gravatar

    FYI, I’m not “an IBM employee in Europe”, I’m European (French), but I’m a US IBM employee. I actually never worked at IBM in Europe.

    Regarding XAML I’m a bit more optimistic than you are. I don’t think Microsoft has any chance of succeeding to replace HTML with a proprietary format at a scale that really matters. Some people will use it internally just like they’ve been using Microsoft’s proprietary HTML extensions on intranets where IE is required. But I don’t see this spilling out onto the internet in a significant manner.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 27, 2008 at 6:26 am

    Gravatar

    I apologise for this hasty case of misrepresentation. I mistakenly assumed you were based in Europe, which you talk about regularly (I’m a regular reader). :-)

    As for XAML, there are several issues here and FOSS users are bound to be affected most badly for a variety of reasons. As for reach, Microsoft may have plans for Yahoo. It’s not as though it has been gentle with established standards… ever in the past.

  3. Chris Ward said,

    April 27, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Gravatar

    As a personal opinion, I think that if XAML isn’t openly and clearly specified, it will lead to to a rapid breakdown of the security of the ‘web’ when it is implemented.

    It’s likely that there will be many implementations … servers pushing out XAML, and web browsers or other client-side systems interpreting it. Some from Microsoft, some from universities, some from other corporations, some from hobbyists.

    And if they don’t agree on what something means, then they will do different things in response to the commands.

    That variation in behaviour will be exploitable. We have the ‘storm worm’ racing around public Internet at the moment, creating networks which can be used for sending junk mail and worse. Broken or part-functional XAML interpreters will do much more of that.

    What’s the resolution ? I’m not sure, but I think ‘open standards for interoperability’ ought to be part of it.

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