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ISO Won’t Throw OOXML Out. Time to Throw ISO Out?

Posted in Formats, Fraud, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 11:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


We previously mentioned several calls for ISO to be replaced or its role be surrogated. As we finally know for a fact that ISO is insensitive to abuse [1, 2] and that it tells huge developing countries which complain to just sod off, it’s becoming an urgent matter. Jomar Silva seems not only disappointed but also somewhat furious. And rightly so! Here again is what he wrote in response to ISO’s snobbery.



As a Brazilian and as a person who lost a year of life working seriously on it, I can only feel offended and attacked with this decision.

I believe that the time has come for developing countries unite to build an International Standardization Institution that is appropriate to our reality, that understands our problems and aspirations and that treat us with the minimum amount of respect and dignity. Enough to be being used to legitimize the desires of someone else. While we’re in developement, we have the unique opportunity to develop (and change) the world and, we cannot let it go away.

MicrISOftThere are no listening ears at ISO. The European Commission has not yet completed its investigation, either. Many of those involved in the opposition to the corruption can offer nothing but blog posts, but it seems suitable to make every effort available to depose and expose the pairing of Microsoft and ISO.

ISO allowed itself to be abused. The reaction from Mark Ballard shows just how ISO chose money or power over the people that it’s intended to serve.

There are now two incompatible, international document standards on which the world can conduct its discourse, manage its business, and record its archives: Odf, which was produced by the people, for the people; and OOXML, which was produced by Microsoft, the convicted monopolist.

Andre took a shot at Mr. Bryden, who clearly cares more about his job and reputation than about integrity and ethics [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. He chose denial as an escape route out of this huge scandal:

ISO’s Mr. Bryden said:

Some of the negative publicity is quite extreme and as ISO’s Secretary General it’s not exactly pleasant for me to see ISO vilified, particularly when much of the extreme criticism is based on false assumptions and a lack of understanding of what ISO is and how it works.

To my great surprise even NB were often not aware of how ISO works according to its procedures.

Procedural unclarity and the lack of raison d’etat in the ranks of ISO leadership contribute to the mess. It is not only that procedures are unclear. To a certain degree they always would be. Perfect rules are utopia.

What matters to me is how rules bias the members to go in a certain direction.

In a nutshell, ISO is dysfunctional. Rather than admit and acknowledge the known flaws, Mr. Bryden slams the opposition. If a person does not obey the rules — no matter how innocently — it does not make that person’s conduct acceptable and the procedure valid.

Given what was witnessed, a substitute is desperately needed if not a complete replacement. To quote the former convenor of OOXML, “ISO is becoming a laughing stock in the IT circles.” Who can ever rely on ISO for standards-setting anymore? To prevent the death or dishonouring of standards, ISO must go now.

More coverage of this came from IDG and from The Register.

The International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission have given the green light to publish the Microsoft-backed Office Open XML specification after organization leaders rejected appeals from four countries to protest the vote that approved OOXML as a standard.

The ISO’s decision comes as no surprise. A month ago, a leaked document, recommending that the appeals from national standard bodies from South Africa, Brazil, India and Venezuela “should not be processed further”, tipped up on Groklaw (PDF)

There’s a comment titled: “OOXML – a standard looking for an application.” Not even Microsoft will ever implement it. According to the following article, Microsoft lags behind also where its legacy formats are concerned, which gives a hint about Microsoft’s attitude towards preservation. It cannot be relied on.

The core WordPerfect Office applications support an impressive range of file formats, including Open Document Format (ODF), the very oldest WordPerfect versions, and a few ancient Microsoft Office formats (Word for DOS, anyone?) that even Microsoft doesn’t support anymore.

To Microsoft, preservation is a matter of business decisions. It’s about money on the face it. No profit, no retention [1, 2, 3]. Everyone suffers as a result.

OOXML data vacuum

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