Bonum Certa Men Certa

ISO Fallout, ODF Uprise

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When we last looked at the demise of ISO, as expressed by blogs and evidenced through the mainstream press, there was not sufficient feedback from ISO itself. None of this has truly changed and the near-silence is deafening.



The word about ISO is being spread very quickly at the moment, mainly thanks to diplomacy at Norway, which tolerated the corruption less than anybody else (or any other country for that matter). There is a good roundup of the situation over at ComputerWorld (Boycott Novell is referenced as well) and in InformationWeek's Microsoft blog, which is understandably apologetic about it.

Last week, 13 of 23 members of Norway's International Standards Organization (ISO) committee resigned. They were resigning in protest to Norway's official decision to favor Microsoft's OOXML document format as an ISO standard, despite a "no" vote by 21 of 23 committee members. (Microsoft and Statoil were the Norway committee's only two "yes" votes.)

A week earlier, IBM voiced dissatisfaction with the OOXML approval process, and threatened to leave ISO if the organization didn't protect its decisions from "undue influence." Now there is some concern that Microsoft is trying to take over the Open Document Format (ODF) process in an attempt to control or destroy its document-format competitor.


As always, the bad news for ISO and for OOXML is coupled by further progress for ODF. OpenOffice.org 3 is set to be released next week (October 14th) and tomorrow Sun will release the fourth release candidate. In addition, SoftMaker supports ODF now.

Not only does it happily read or write Microsoft Office documents in all formats up to Office 2003/ XP (even password-protected Word files), but the suite also reads OpenOffice SXW and OpenDocument ODT files for maximum compatibility with other suites.


ODF awards will be coming soon. ODF is mostly in the hands of OASIS at the moment, so ISO's (and ECMA's) gutter-level reputation should have little or no influence -- for now.

"This was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen. Their reputation, in my eyes, is in tatters. My opinion of ECMA was already very negative; this hasn’t improved it, and if ISO doesn’t figure out away to detach this toxic leech, this kind of abuse is going to happen again and again."

--Tim Bray

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