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ISO’s Self Abuse: The Morning After

Posted in GPL, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz



esterday we wrote rather quickly — if not prematurely — about ISO's preparation for dismissal of complaints. It is in ISO’s interests — however selfish they may seem — to carry on pretending that nothing wrong has happened.

Following the early leaks (among other less flattering ones), there is some press coverage that presents the situation.

The leaders of the ISO and the IEC have recommended the rejection of appeals from four countries that protested a vote approving OOXML, an XML-based document format submitted by Microsoft as an international standard.

This means that DIS 29500, or Office Open XML (OOXML), likely will remain an uncontested international standard. The national bodies of Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela wanted the International Organization of Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission to re-examine the vote for various reasons, including violations associated with a ballot resolution meeting in February that eventually led to the final vote.

Charles-H. Schulz. has already responded to this. He calls it “the month of the zombie standards”, but it’s not clear if by “zombie” he also refers to ISO, which virtually got captured by Microsoft last year. He writes:

Ah, here we are back in 2007, in the good old summer 2007 where everything for the ISO was fine. Everything works just fine, there’s nothing to see, so mind your own business folks. Worldwide fraud, four appeals for a standard that has “been conducted in conformity with the ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives” pressures on governments standards bodies, one investigation on OOXML led by the European Commission… and appeals “should not be processed further”?

Somehow I think we have missed one thing or two with the ISO. I don’t exactly know what it is we missed. Perhaps it was a better understanding of how they work. Perhaps it was money. Perhaps it was just all about taking them out for a walk and show them the world before they all got brainwashed.

As expected, there’s a reasonable side that complains about the well-documented abuses of the process, but on the other side, there are those who are Microsoft-sympathetic or Microsoft partners (i.e. they make profit from this abuse). To them, absolute Microsoft lock-in and GPL exclusion as ‘standard’ actually means money.

Even Alex Brown, who was metaphorically wearing a cardboard crown at that abysmal BRM [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13] has no respect for these legitimate appeals. Could it be because they slam his BRM? He publicly challenges and downplays the complaints. He’s rebutted in the comments:

Either way, this seems like the type of situation where it makes perfect sense for different NBs that are aware that they share common concerns to talk to each other, and even share drafts. Why not? Wouldn’t that make things easier for all concerned in the process, if they can reach consensus on their concerns before they request action? I’m not sure why you would see anything inappropriate here, and your take seems inconsistent with prior statements you’ve made.


After reading the pdf document, my feeling is the system is in a mess.

Alex Brown continues to shelter Microsoft OOXML [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21], which he is promoting for the British Library [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] under his professional identity. Hello??? Conflict of interests? A fiasco greater than this is hard to come by.

“37 letters with exactly the same words. Some of the senders didn’t even care to remove the ‘Type company name here’ text.

Simular letters has been circulating in Denmark as an e-mail from the Danish MD Jørgen Bardenfleth to customers and business partners.

I call it fraud, cheating and disgusting. If I wasn’t anti-Microsoft before, I am now. Disgusting !”

Leif Lodahl

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

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  1. Lol said,

    July 10, 2008 at 4:35 am


    ISO is destroyed forever.

    We dont need them anymore….bye bye ISO.

  2. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    July 10, 2008 at 9:54 am


    “fast-track” was the weak link of the entire affair. To fix this, governments should refuse fast-tracked standards, unless there is a consensus. OOXML remains extremly controversial even now.

    OOXML is to open standards what Israel is to peace in the middle east.

    Beating a dead horse : more funny stuff on the subject on my blog over at OOXML is defective by design

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 10, 2008 at 9:57 am


    Thanks, I agree wholeheartedly and I took note of your latest post which I’ll mention later.

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