10.03.08

Another Feather Falls off ISO’s Cap Due to Microsoft OOXML

Posted in Africa, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And “Boycott ISO” goes on-line, courtesy of Benjamin

T

he exodus in Standard Norway was noted at least twice yesterday [1, 2] and now comes an article which connects this to the state of ISO as a whole. This is justified also by hundreds of other irregularities that were properly documented.

Opera CTO Håkon Wium Lie is among the technical committee members who are resigning over the OOXML decision. In the letter, he stresses the importance of open standards and the need for formats that are universally accessible to everyone.

“Standardization of formats for content on the Web is more important than ever. A large part of mankind’s communication is done digitally, and all—ALL—must have the ability to read and write these formats,” he wrote.

Fallout from the OOXML controversy continues to be felt around the world. ISO is facing a revolt from dissatisfied participants who feel that their technical input was ignored, and national standards bodies from various countries are suffering internal friction over alleged misconduct. The implosion of the Standards Norway technical committee reflects the ongoing turmoil created by the ambiguity surrounding ISO’s approval of OOXML.

It’s looking very grim for ISO. Last week we argued that ISO, whose reputation is the only thing it must rely on, was dying. Several countries may already bypass ISO recommendations and a new site has just been born. It’s called “Boycott ISO” and it’s not related to us at all. It’s related to <No>OOXML.

ISO standards for saleFollowing ISO’s fallout, the whole world was left with stacked committees that sought to control everything (including ODF [1, 2]) and use this position of authority to promote Microsoft’s business agenda. As such, these committees must now be shunned.

According to the following article from The Inquirer, the exodus in Norway is not necessarily good news. It sure makes a very strong statement that harms ISO, but here’s the outcome that’s also a side-effect.

Norway ISO members walk out over OOXML

[...]

In all, 13 of the committee’s 23 members have resigned, a majority of the membership.

That leaves vacancies for more Microsoft ‘puppets’ to take over, i.e. even more stacking. It’s those who are most angry who leave first and thereby leave empty seats for greater Microsoft obedience. It was the same inside ISO’s very core, at least in the past. Remember Bryan, for example.

“This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.

The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”

Martin Bryan, ISO ‘Escapee’
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1

People are not happy with Microsoft's capture of ISO. Khan Md Ashraf wrote:

The damage that has been done to the ISO itself. Most other companies only whimper and complain in passing but have no scruples in partaking of the benefits of associating with this ‘behemoth’.
But no one has the courage to stand up to this ‘company’ that has done such immense damage to the digital landscape. By the mostly horrible trash they have been purveying over so many decades now. This ‘company’ personifies all that is bad about a monopoly. This is the first time in the history of humankind that a ‘company’ has got away with being the ‘classical’ monopoly. The tactics employed by this ‘company’ to dominate the digital landscape is in my opinion is a danger to society if not humankind itself.

Seeing how ODF is adopted by countries like Sweden, Tony OBryan remarks:

This is why Microsoft’s ISO surrogates are trying to usurp control of ODF from OASIS within ISO. With entire countries switching to ODF, Microsoft’s file formats are on the way out. If people can seamlessly share their work files with Free software, then Microsoft will have to compete on features rather than lock-in. That would eliminate half of Microsoft’s annual revenues.

The ‘talking heads’ of Microsoft have already mocked OASIS. This includes Microsoft consultant and paid Wikipedia participant Rick Jelliffe.

flickr:2400443777

Benjamin Huot remarked on the outrageous posts from Alex Brown, a Microsoft-faithful convenor [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21].

I am sure not adopting OOXML for any file formats I’ll be using. If OpenOffice.org “standardizes” on this format, I will just migrate to another word processor that doesn’t. RTF is bad enough, but I am not using any new MS formats as I will have to pay them ransom money in the future to use my files and they will sue me if I don’t pay them off. The only one that should be bowing out is Microsoft.

The good news is that ODF continues growing.

As South Africa prepares to host the second annual ODF conference next week, momentum behind the Open Document Format appears to be growing stronger.

This harms Microsoft's biggest and fattest cow cash. Since Microsoft perceives high income as a privilege or a right, as opposed to merely an opportunity, it is willing to just stomp and destroy whatever stands in its way, including once-respected standards bodies. Everybody loses, Patrick. Everybody loses.

“That particular meeting was followed by an anonymous smear campaign against one of the TC members. A letter was faxed to the organization of the TC member in question, accusing the TC member in question of helping politicize the issue (which is, of course, untrue). I too had the dubious pleasure of hearing first hand how Microsoft attempted to remove me from the TC (they did not succeed, thanks to integrity and cojones of the organization I am affiliated with).”

“If this unethical behaviour by Microsoft was not sufficiently despicable, they did the unthinkable by involving politics in what should have been a technical evaluation of the standard by writing to the head of the Malaysian standards organization and getting its business partners to engage in a negative letter writing campaign to indicate lack of support of ODF in the Malaysian market. Every single negative letter on ODF received by the Malaysian standards organization was written either by Microsoft, or a Microsoft business partner or a Microsoft affiliated organization (Initiative for Software Choice and IASA).

A Memo to Patrick Durusau

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