Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Secret OOXML Meeting and How We Got Here in the First Place

Boiler room standards

ISO standardThere are not many articles about ODF and OOXML at the moment because the meeting in Geneva is one big secret. It's like Bilderberg Group meetings (the Gates family attends them by the way) with plenty of impact, yet no public access, let alone any knowledge about them. No media, no public -- setting a new class for transparency in open standards and a process that weighs them [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Why and what are they hiding?

While I'm still arguing with one of the meeting attendants over at USENET (he speaks while he's in Geneva), little contact remains between those attending this ECMA/Microsoft's setup and the 'outside world'. The impact of the decision they are bound to make is tremendous. To stress the importance of this, consider this very long new article from Andy Updegrove. Here's the punch:

In this way, standards can protect – or not – the rights of the individual to fully participate in the highly technical environment into which the world is now evolving. Among other rights, standards can guarantee:
  • That any citizen can use any product or service, proprietary or open, that she desires when interacting with her government.
  • That any citizen can use any product or service when interacting with any other citizen, and to exercise every civil right.
  • That any entrepreneur can have equal access to marketplace opportunities at the technical level, independent of the market power of existing incumbents.
  • That any person, advantaged or disadvantaged, and anywhere in the world, can have equal access to the Internet and the Web in the most available and inexpensive method possible.
  • That any owner of data can have the freedom to create, store, and move that data anywhere, any time, throughout her lifetime, without risk of capture, abandonment or loss due to dependence upon a single vendor.


Yesterday we mentioned suspicious activities which surrounded Lisa Rachjel's decision to toss OOXML into the Fast Track process. Mind this interesting retrospective observation from Bob Sutor:

The ECMA resolution proposals are just some possible ways of dealing with the comments. If there is not time to deal with all the comments then maybe, just maybe, people might realize that OOXML should not be in the Fast Track process. Of course, there has been evidence for that from the beginning.


There were several 'phases' involved in getting OOXML where it stands at the moment. We can look back and consider the personal attacks against CIOs, then look at what Lisa Rachjel did, then consider vote-stuffing and briberies. Finally, there is this BRM in Geneva, which is a farce at best. The European Commission is now investigating this, but its power may be limited. It responded rather late to the actions of a company which proudly proclaims itself above the law. Microsoft sets the standards for international standards bodies.

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