Bonum Certa Men Certa

Signs That Your 'Open Standard' is Actually Proprietary

OOXML is a monopoly Coining the term "monopolistic standards"



Bob Sutor has just posted a short piece. It includes examples where the whole standardisation effort behind OOXML is more like some sort of a personal arrangement by (and for) Microsoft Corporation. Have a quick look.

We’re starting to hear about how Microsoft (under ECMA’s name) is resolving the technical comments on OOXML. What do you need to know about this?
  • Where are they? If this is a transparent process, we need to see the comments as well as all the proposed resolutions. What is there to hide? Have all members of all national standards bodies seen these? Everyone needs to have open links to see all this information, and now.
[...]


This is all too familiar. There is nothing new under the sun. Secrecy and obscurity are often a sign of misconduct. Wouldn't companies take pride in the openness of a candidate standard if it were truly open and subjected to no scrutiny? Wouldn't the process be open for all to see and be convinced?

Meanwhile, just a couple of days after Holland, it's discouraging news for Microsoft in New Zealand. Watch their assessment regarding open source and standard. Here is the full document [PDF]:

Industry standards may not be open (e.g., Microsoft Word file formats) so there are reverse-engineering risks with any OSS dependent upon those standards. The MoJ preference for open standards (e.g., Open Document Format, which is now supported even by Microsoft) lessens this risk.


Mind the statement "industry standards may not be open". Jody Goldberg has confirmed and acknowledged that him and Michael Meeks have 'cracked' OOXML's proprietary (binary) extensions. Can Google do that too? How about Corel? And IBM? Just because one group has reverse-engineered portions of what Microsoft wants to be an international standard does not make it acceptable for the industry as a whole. Not to mention future extensions that will not be documented...

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