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ISO Takes Control Of OOXML 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the down-to-business dept.
mikkl666 writes "Alex Brown, head of the ISO work group responsible for OOXML, has posted a summary of their latest meeting, and he also comments on the resolutions discussed there. The basic message is that ISO now has 'full responsibility for the standard,' and that several workgroups will be established to work on OOXML. An interesting point here is that 'setting up a maintance[sic] procedure for ODF, and then working on cross-standard initiatives' is one of the explicit goals. On a side note, they also reacted to the very emotional discussion on OOXML by posting an open letter: 'We the undersigned participants ... wish to make it clear that we deplore the personal attacks that have been made ... in recent months. We believe standards debate should always be carried out with respect for all parties, even when they strongly disagree.' As Brown correctly points out, 'This content speaks for itself.' We discussed the approval of OOXML earlier this month."
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ISO Takes Control Of OOXML

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:21PM (#23054636)
    After all the backroom dealing that was involved in getting OOXML standardized, a lot of people are going to be bitter.
    • by FireAtWill (559444) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @01:23PM (#23055028)
      XAML will replace HTML (as well as Flash, PDF, Postscript, etc.)

      Under the guise of security, Microsoft has quietly been making Windows applications difficult to deploy within corporations, and have been luring corporate developers towards ASP DotNet. With the release of The latest DotNet development tools and Expression Blend, the strategy is nearing fulfillment.

      It has been a master stroke, I must admit. I've long thought that HTML was a poor foundation for what we're trying to do on the web these days. I spent all of yesterday putting the pieces together and am well impressed. And afraid.

      Microsoft's strategy appears to be to drive internal corporate developent, then B2B, along with governments (Library of Congress), etc. and by eventually it will surely gain ubiquity. It will raise the bar for internet applications. Anybody switching between Expression Blend and, say, Dreamweaver will quickly see the folly of stretching pixels to make boxes. Vector graphics makes much more sense for the web. Along with a rich set of controls.

      Why would you need OOXML, when you've got XPS (a subset of XAML)? It can replace ))XML, PDF and Postscript.

      Of course, this is all an open standard right? And Microsoft has released the specs and is working with Mono on Moonlight, right? Well, yes, just when they're launching all of their tools that utilize it.

      I imagine that's what will happen with each future version of the standard.
      • A pile of cr*p shaped like a brick and painted gold does not make it a gold brick - even if it has 'Microsoft' stamped on it.
      • Microsoft has quietly been making Windows applications difficult to deploy within corporations, and have been luring corporate developers towards ASP DotNet.
        They have? Anything to substantiate this? On client desktops, we're a mostly microsoft shop, and have no problem deploying our desktop applications to internal customers (over 10k for some of the apps).
      • by edalytical (671270) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @04:33PM (#23056040)

        It matters because Microsoft is not going to control the web...all those technologies you mention are pointless in light of:

        • HTML5/XHTML2
        • CSS 3
        • SVG
        • H.264
        • JavaScript
        • PDF

        Microsoft's track record for cross platform web support just plain sucks. Internet Explorer for the Mac is abandonware! Microsoft quit supporting WM Player for Mac, they now distribute a third-party application. Do you think well ever see IE for Linux or WM Player for Linux? No we won't. Microsoft may be working with Mono on Moonlight, but what will happen when they abandon the project like they did with IE on Mac?

        ODF/OOXML is about creating a desktop office suite interchange format to make sharing documents easier...that's all, that's what it's made for...that's not what XPS is made for. XPS is a pointless replacement for something that's not broken...PDF works just fine.

        I realize you were probably being sarcastic... :-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by EvilRyry (1025309)
          Have you noticed how Microsoft still has the majority share of web browsers and that they drag their feet on every standard that isn't theirs?

          As long as Microsoft doesn't fully implement those technologies, they don't exist. There's not too many people out there who will make a website that doesn't work with 70% of internet users no matter how much better it may make web development.

          Now, Microsoft comes out with XAML, rolls it out with Vista, waits a few years and suddenly 90% of the internet has XAML suppo
  • Personal Attacks? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mazarin5 (309432) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:22PM (#23054646) Journal
    So is evidence of bribery, corruption, and other underhanded tactics considered personal attacks? It looks like they've decided to go ahead and accept it as a de facto standard; I thought they hadn't finished voting yet.

    This open letter assures me though - the $y$tem works.
    • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:32PM (#23054712) Homepage Journal
      "Personal attacks" has increasingly been the whine of people trying to cover up actions and speech that they personally did wrong, when the attacks are on those acts and speech, not the "person" themself. It's a perversion of invoking the "ad hominem" [wikipedia.org] fallacy accusation when all they're really entitled to claim is "don't look at me" (because they don't want to be accountable for their actions).
      • by hey! (33014) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @01:08PM (#23054932) Homepage Journal
        Well said.

        In matters of logic, it is critical to be clear about what questions are being addressed by which evidence.

        The first question is the worthiness of OOXML to be an international standard. The second question is the integrity of the process under which ISO approved OOXML.

        Nobody is arguing that OOXML is a bad standard because the process that approved it was corrupted. They are arguing that OOXML is a bad standard AND the process that approved it was corrupted. These questions are not unrelated; one could argue that assuming the badness of the OOXML process is evidence of the corruption of the process. However it isn't strictly necessary for one question to beg the other. There is sufficient independent evidence to consider each question separately.

        It is really proponents that are confusing the two issues, and have an interest in doing so.

        If the standard is bad, then the process that approved it must be questionable. Therefore, if the process that approved the proposal is above reproach, then the standard cannot be bad. We can't say, however, that because the process was bad, the proposal was bad, although it is not inconsistent to believe this.

        • by r7 (409657) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @01:16PM (#23054972)

          The first question is the worthiness of OOXML to be an international standard
          That would be my second question. The first would be regarding ISO itself. Clearly this brings down ISO's stature as a standards setting organization by several notches. I mean how seriously can you take a standard that was adopted not on its technical merit, not because it was better than competing proposals, but because the voting members could be bought?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by rabtech (223758)
          Except OOXML already is the standard, or at least the spiritual successor to it. Microsoft Word is how 90% of the world creates their documents.

          Here we have the company responsible for that 90% (if not more!) wanting to open up their file format and make it an ISO standard, giving the wider global community some sort of say in the process, for the first time ever. There is absolutely no reason to oppose OOXML's adoption as a standard. It already *IS* the standard and any attempts to block it are just idiots
          • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @01:56PM (#23055228)
            It's my understanding that OOXML isn't even a standard that microsoft uses or can implement and microsoft intends to replace it in the very near future. So what was the point of this exercize? To make sure that a true open standard has a harder time getting a foothold until microsoft brings out their "real" open standard.

            Now-- there is another issue... OOXML is not a true open standard-- it is patent encumbered for one thing, and can't be implemented for another.

            Openoffice does a better job of opening my older word files than Word does at this point (in fact, at least a couple times a year I use it to FIX MSword documents at work that get corrupted section headers and crash Word). The thing that started this entire mess is that some governments noticed this fact with regard to their documents (i.e. Microsoft making not just the word processor you are using obsolete but making your *data* obsolete-- and in under 10 years) and passed laws saying documents were required to be in an open format so they could be read 50 years from now.

            Microsoft word format is a standard-- its just not a very stable standard (changing substantially every few years) and it is not an OPEN standard. If ISO wanted to vote OOXML "the standard way one version of Word stores data" it might have been true. But they didn't-- they voted it an "Open" standard which has legal meaning to all those governments passing laws that their documents must be stored in an open format. It was a huge-- corrupt- scam job where Microsoft essentially got a standards body to label a white flour roll an apple so it would be immune to new laws saying kids had to have fruit instead of rolls with their school lunches.

            • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @02:31PM (#23055410)
              There is a way the governments can recover this...

              Instead of using a title "Open", they list the characteristics they require.

              * Not encumbered by patents in anyway (all involved patents must be released into the public domain immediately)
              * Completely specified (nothing defined in terms of how another program works-- specify the desired behavior)
              * I'm sure there are a few others but these two alone would kill OOXML from being relabeled an apple.
              • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @04:59PM (#23056208) Journal
                Or just one requirement:

                Two or more, complete, independent implementations from different suppliers are available. That should be a requirement if you want good value irrespective of how open the standard is - if your supplier doesn't have to compete, what incentive do they have not to fleece you?

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Jesus_666 (702802)
                I'd go with the following:

                1. Available for implementation by everyone: Everyone can acquire the standard (an optional fee might be collected by the standards body) and it's unencumbered by patents or similar constructs
                2. Completely specified within the standards framework: All behavior has to be defined either within the spec or within a different spec meeting these requirements already published by the same standards body
                3. As concise as possible: Unneccessary complexity is to be avoided - OOXML's nume
          • by Repossessed (1117929) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @02:04PM (#23055274)
            If Microsoft had opened up the specs for the docx and other new file formats for ISO approval, and documented them in an implementable fashion, then I (and I think, pretty much anybody who wants an office suite that can compete with Microsoft), would be thrilled. Hell, I *was* thrilled when I first heard about it.

            Microsoft did not do this though, Microsoft gave us 6000 pages of an unimplementable spec, which refers to information that is not publicly available. There are serious legal questions as to whether the 'patent promise' holds any water as well, meaning that implementing the spec could cause problems for open source products. On top of it all the flagship OOXML product, Microsoft Office, does not currently appear to be following the OOXML spec properly. This is only going to get worse as ISO working committees refine the spec to fix the implementation problems Microsoft put into it.

            The end result of this is that we are left with a ISO spec that has no real world implementation at all. The only thing I can really hope comes out of this is Microsoft gets hit with a fraud charge for claiming office is ISO compliant when is truth it is not.
            • It might not hold legal water, but I suspect MS don't want to shoot themselves in the foot.

              Any moves to sue, based on an open standard would prove how useless the "standard" is. And that there is no point trusting one of MS's standards in the future.

              They might like to sue, but they've pretty well painted themselves in to a corner.
            • Re:Personal Attacks? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by sjames (1099) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @08:28PM (#23057818) Homepage

              It's not surprising that MS can't follow the spec either. For years, a "word document" was little more than a memory dump From Word. As they developed new versions, they just piled more crap on top and let the stuff at the bottom go to compost. That's why it was possible to find fragments of unrelated documents in a Word document.

              Then, the "magic XML" non-solution popped up so they wrapped the whole stinking crap ball up in that. You can frost a dog turd and call it wedding cake....

              MS claims OOXML is some sort of specification or standard, but really it's an attempt to finally document the above crap ball. It's such a mess, they can't do it even with the complete source code revision history and the active coders that produced it.

              That's also why it takes 6000 pages and still makes references to things that aren't documented. MS may or may not know what they are!

              So, honestly it's not a spec at all and certainly isn't a standard, it's failed documentation.

          • by Lknight (125949) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @02:15PM (#23055332)

            Except OOXML already is the standard, or at least the spiritual successor to it. Microsoft Word is how 90% of the world creates their documents.
            And that's right where we want to be 20, 30 or even 50 years from now.

            Here we have the company responsible for that 90% (if not more!) wanting to open up their file format and make it an ISO standard, giving the wider global community some sort of say in the process, for the first time ever.
            Not quite. They didn't want to open their file format, but they wanted to make it an ISO standard. They also wanted to give the global community a pat on the head to let them think that they had some sort of say in the process.

            There is absolutely no reason to oppose OOXML's adoption as a standard. It already *IS* the standard and any attempts to block it are just idiots sticking their head in the sand.
            There is absolutely no reason to oppose ODF's adoption as a standard. It already *IS* the standard and any attempts to block it are just idiots sticking their head in the sand.

            Let me repeat that: the vast majority of human beings on this planet that need to create a document in a word processor do it with some version of Microsoft Word. Period. This is *FACT*. Any move toward putting that file format into an open standard is a good move.
            You seem to be confused. There is a difference between a de facto standard (in this case due to a monopoly) and a derived standard (usually created and documented from technical input from known experts).

            Complaining that the first version has technical flaws is just as useless. The ISO can address that with revisions.
            I would agree with you if it wasn't already a 'standard'. Think of other standards that you use which, if they were adopted before they addressed technical flaws, would have disastrous impacts. Want to play with the standard for electrical transmission? How about the standards that even let you use the Internet?

            Some of those "flaws" are directly related to preserving the ability of a word processor to open older documents and render them properly (think un-translatable languages. will archaeologists be able to open a 100-yr old Word document in the future? 500 year old? I hope so, because that will be a regular part of the job...).
            So our brand new standard has to cater for the current de facto format's ability to be backward compatible with a monopolist's software package?

            What would have been really great is if we had a whole bunch of other standards and incorporated them into a brand new standard! Too bad we didn't think of it before OOXML.

            If you've ever read Joel's article about the file formats, you'd understand that there are some behaviors that simply can't be described other than to say "here is the piece of code that produces that output".
            No, still don't understand. And by the way, can you show me where Microsoft said 'here is the piece of code that produces that output' for all the binary blobs they're spewing out? Thanks!

            Microsoft didn't care back then - I doubt you would have given a rat's ass in the 80s either under the same circumstances and with the same disk and memory limits. We know a lot more about software development now.
            Including not to tie ourselves to 80's file formats. Oops. Seems not.

            As far as I'm concerned, anyone who opposes the adoption of OOXML can go piss up a rope. As a developer I'm more than happy to have, for the first time ever, some readily available documentation on the file format and a standards body that will at least try to take care of the standard, whether they ever succeed or not.
            Well, I'm glad one of us is happy. Actually, no I'm not. If you think the OOXML file format documentation will actually help you, go read it and come back.
          • by Angostura (703910)
            There is a difference between de facto and de jure standards.

            The former would be how IE 6 rendered Web pages.
          • Except OOXML already is the standard, or at least the spiritual successor to it. Microsoft Word is how 90% of the world creates their documents.

            Here we have the company responsible for that 90% (if not more!) wanting to open up their file format and make it an ISO standard, giving the wider global community some sort of say in the process, for the first time ever. There is absolutely no reason to oppose OOXML's adoption as a standard. It already *IS* the standard and any attempts to block it are just idiots

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Also, how can a personal attack be made without knowing the attacked party personally ? Hell, most of them are not even named in the bribery accusations. They are usually designed by "faceless and numerous Microsoft drones".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg (306625)
      I doubt that the working group itself has been bribed. After all, they just held ISO down: it was Microsoft's paid catspaws who did the actual gang rape.
      • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:49PM (#23054818)
        This seems sadly true. It's easy for a group that believes in an ethical standard to be misled by people who pretend to it publicly: it's like a spouse with an abusive partner. They hope for the best, and want the partner to improve and hope that they will, but their support of the partner actually prolongs the abusive relationship.

        ISO needs to go to a family shelter, change their address, get a restraining order, and make sure that Microsoft's visitation rights with the children are supervised for safety.
    • >So is evidence of bribery, corruption, and other underhanded tactics considered personal attacks?

      ISO don't consider them personal attacks at all. But that's what they'll cry, to anyone who will listen, as part of the spinning process.

      Part of the problem is that those who want open, free and workable standards also tend to be nice people. Consequentially, they hold themselves to much higher standards than the bad guys, and refuse to use the underhanded (but winning) tactics of randomly spewing out FUD an
    • by Locutus (9039) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @01:03PM (#23054896)
      ISO is a worthless org now that it has become obvious they not only allow corruption and deception but they also have refused to do anything about it. They knew months ago that Microsoft was paying business partners to join ISO and instructing them on what to say at the MSOOXML voting meetins. They/ISO have known that these fraudulent new members were not acting as concerned ISO members and voting on other ISO projects as is required and they/ISO continued to let another vote go through on MSOOXML months later.

      ISO is worthless and should be disregarded until they fix what is wrong and repair the damage done in the exploitation of their poorly designed voting process by Microsoft.

      As far as MSOOXML and ODF goes, it is over and Microsoft destroyed ODF just as they have done to so many public use standards in the past. Destroyed may be too harsh but they have basically diminished its value by about 90% because of the perceived openness of MSOOXML will trump choices to use ODF. MSOOXML will be viewed as some kind of vague standard and Microsoft will continue using proprietary versions in their MS Office products with mostly poor implementations of the "official" MSOOXML standard. IMO

      LoB
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LordVader717 (888547)
        By far the most concise and thought provoking comment I've seen today, I wish I had Mod points.

        The Question is though, where does it go from here? Will other companies follow lead and attempt to get "ISO approval" by flooding standards organisations, or will this just be a one-off?
        It's not exactly as if we can just boycott ISO by ignoring all of the other standards they sell their documentations for. And hurting ISO would probably just make matters worse for interoperability and industrial cooperation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Baseless accusations of bribery, et al, might be considered personal attacks by those on the receiving end.

      The problem is that your accusations of bribery, et al, are so vague, that you're painting everyone that voted YES with the "corruption" brush. I wish you guys would man up and make a specific corruption charge against specific individuals.

      For example, the Czech Republic's expert, Jiri Kosek, explained in great detail why the Czech Republic switched from NO to YES:
      http://xmlguru.cz/2008/01/ecma-resp [xmlguru.cz]
      • Don't you think that those that voted YES have a right to be offended by your accusations that they took bribes?
        I have no desire to read the entire standard, but if the descriptions we've seen here on slashdot are representative, I submit that many here would suggest that they should be far more offended by the suggestion that they didn't.
      • Re:Personal Attacks? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Zombywuf (1064778) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @03:12PM (#23055600)
        That document explains no reason to adopt OOXML. Just a bunch of "We found their answer satisfactory but we're not going to tell you what it is." It does say one thing though, that OOXML DOES NOT SUPPORT ANYTHING BUT UCS-2 FOR UNICODE!

        It uses XML as a base. XML can use any encoding capable of representing the characters !"'? and =. Yet it remains limited to stone age character representations. In a document format.

        If that isn't evidence of a corrupt process, it's evidence of clueless incompetence.
      • by jo42 (227475)
        Given the prevalence and the amount of corruption going on in the Czech Republic these days, at all levels of society, the only reason from switching to YES from NO is bribery and/or chicanery of some sort.
      • Re:Personal Attacks? (Score:4, Informative)

        by temcat (873475) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @04:37PM (#23056058)
        http://xmlguru.cz/2008/01/ecma-response-to-czech-ooxml-comments

        It's lovely how this bullshit page is constantly brought up by OOXMLers. Now go read these proposed dispositions. No you can't. They are password protected. Even at this stage when OOXML is standardized. Now this is a truly open standard and process.

        And BTW, a full text of OOXML with all corrections made to date doesn't even seem to exist.
    • It is a sad day for the world and ISO, the formerly respected standards body. This is just Rambus II.

      Rambus got their patent ridden junk in a standard and then sued everyone. M$ has seen this and now expects to do the same.

      It is sad to see this level of corruption happen, knowing what is next.

      Sad day for all.
       
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Since the EU seems to be the only organization with a backbone willing to stand up to Microsoft, why don't they solve the "closed protocol" problem by open sourcing Windows?

    The EU has the windows source code already. They have the regulatory power to do what is necessary to force compliance with the law, which MS is not willing to do on its own.

    Think about it: this would open up the possibility for Windows competitors. MS would no longer be a monopoly, and could not abuse its position to ram non-"standard
  • ISO, it is already too late. OOXML is tainted with very bad attitude from Microsoft and not control, nor ownership change not gonna cut it. You blow your own reputation and you have to live with that.

    And hands off from ODF. Get lost.
    • by deniable (76198)
      Yeah, but if we can get the right people on the committee we can fix OOXML. Let's give Microsoft a moving target. :)

      As to cross standard efforts, I think ODF should embrace OOXML, then extend it.
    • by erroneus (253617)
      According to THIS [noooxml.org] interpretation of events, Microsoft basically owns how ISO will deal with ISO/IEC 29500. SC34 is under the control of ECMA... we know who is in control of ECMA.
  • by toby (759) * on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:27PM (#23054670) Homepage Journal
    To reflect the dreadful plague that is Microsoft and all their works.
  • The future (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:30PM (#23054694) Homepage Journal

    The real test is the future. If Microsoft works through ISO to improve the standard, and ODF and OOXML are gradually harmonized, then all our complaining is moot. If other companies and projects implement OOXML and have no trouble doing it, and Microsoft doesn't sue them for infringement of some obscure patent, that's fine. We get what we want.

    Consider this silver lining: without ODF, under what other circumstances would Microsoft have turned their new document file format over to a standards body? This whole scenario would have been an open source advocate's wet dream in the 1990s. Sure, what happened with the ISO vote was deplorable and calls the standards body's process and impartiality into question, but things are a lot better than they would have been without ODF.

    • by Pecisk (688001)
      It is not worth for Microsoft to improve standard, if they won't make their Office releases _fully_ OOXML standard compliant. As standard for now is completely mess, I will guess it will take approximately 2 years to wait for it to be seriously completed.

      In two years ODF will have additional stuff to support flowchart apps, and other stuff.

      OOXML standardisation is simply NOT WORTH that. It is just Microsoft childish behaviour (they don't have serious strategy for that) that keeps OOXML floating around. And
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        It is not worth for Microsoft to improve standard, if they won't make their Office releases _fully_ OOXML standard compliant.

        They have already made an official commitment to do just that, both for their next Office release, and for the final version of the OOXML SDK.

        In two years ODF will have additional stuff to support flowchart apps, and other stuff.

        As you sure well know, the issue with ODF is the lack of support for it in the most widespread Office suite out there. This isn't going to get any better,

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Pecisk (688001)

          They have already made an official commitment to do just that, both for their next Office release, and for the final version of the OOXML SDK.

          Next Office release? When? According to pause between XP and Vista releases, it is about 3 - 4 years at least. It is VERY long time. Before that, talking about supporting of OOXML (which is not even cleaned up for now) is just laughing stock and no one will base serious business on that.

          As you sure well know, the issue with ODF is the lack of support for it in the mos

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by asifyoucare (302582)
          They have already made an official commitment to do just that, both for their next Office release

          How gullible you are. They don't intend to keep their word, and even if they do nobody can properly implement a complex, vague, six thousand page specification.

          They will nearly implement it, but have enough bugs to prevent interoperability. Interopability would destroy the lock-in that generates them billions of dollars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Samari711 (521187)
      Of course, that assumes that Microsoft actually implements any of the changes that ISO makes to the standard. I wouldn't put it past them to not follow their own standard if it stops suiting their need.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Well, considering M$ has explicitly said that they wouldn't follow any changes ISO makes to the standard...
        Or, for that matter, they haven't even implemented their own draft version of the standard in the latest Office.
    • Re:The future (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Danse (1026) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:46PM (#23054792)

      If Microsoft works through ISO to improve the standard, and ODF and OOXML are gradually harmonized, then all our complaining is moot
      Given Microsoft's past actions regarding ODF, what do you think the chances are that they will allow them to be harmonized?

      Consider this silver lining: without ODF, under what other circumstances would Microsoft have turned their new document file format over to a standards body?
      Turned it over? They rammed it through the process using every dirty tactic they could come up with. Somehow I'm thinking that Microsoft hasn't really lost control of anything. They seem to have plenty of control over the ISO.
      • Given Microsoft's past actions regarding ODF, what do you think the chances are that they will allow them to be harmonized?
        Pretty good, actually. It begins with "embrace and extend", remember? Though in this case, it is now more likely to be "assimilate".
      • If Microsoft wanted the Office 20xx standard to be an open standard, it could have joined the ODF forum, when everyone wanted it to, and pushed the DOC format into ODF. As OpenOffice, etc. currently read .doc files, etc. anyway, it would have been easier for everyone, rather than make a new standard. Along the way, problems with the Office (OOXML) standard would have been sorted out by all.

        Instead, MS didn't join OASIS / ODF. It pushed forward a standard that even it doesn't adhere to, why?

        Because MS only m
    • by HalAtWork (926717)
      If Microsoft implements OOXML as described by the ISO it would be great too.
  • by stox (131684) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:31PM (#23054702) Homepage
    ISO, the best standards money can buy.
    • by HalAtWork (926717)
      At least ODF is a standard. Won't people be more likely to use it if they see it works the same across the board? OOXML can't claim the same.
    • Yes, exactly. But it isn't like this is something new, it's just something people have become more aware of. The ISO has ALWAYS been around to serve corporate interests, mainly because for a long time corporations were the only ones who really cared/had a say. Now suddenly there is a new player in the group, the open source community, and it is changing the balance of power.

      People are here saying the ISO has lost credibility. No, that is not true: it is just a matter of people coming to terms with wha
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:35PM (#23054728) Journal
    This is going to get bad.

    The convenor of the committee is Alex Brown, an advisor to the British Library, which was a co-sponsor of Ecma putting OOXML on the fast track.

    They've basically given Microsoft control over ODF's future.

    Bye bye interoperability for another couple of decades.

    • MS can't own ODF. They may gain control over a body that approves of ODF as a standard. They may be able to tell that body to change what it claims to the standard. But the all the authors of ODF have to do is publicly announce that they no longer consider the ISO accreditation of ODF to be valid. The OOo team sure as hell won't write anything into the OOo ODF filter if it serves MS (and only MS).
  • by Lknight (125949) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:47PM (#23054794)
    There were a number of defects in the OOXML 'standard' and there is yet another working group charged with rationalizing the issues who (because of the vagueness of the 'standard') need to get the ECMA people in to 'advise' them if they could change something or not. That does not sound like they're in control.

    One has to wonder who they think they're fooling. Microsoft has no obligation to implement any changes the ISO group may advise, but through the ECMA, the ISO would have no real choice.

    To add further insult to injury, they're setting up yet another group to work on 'cross standard initiatives' - i.e. let's try to make ODF as useless as OOXML as a standard.

    The ISO didn't have control of OOXML from the beginning. If they believe anything they do will give them control, they are sadly mistaken.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What changed is an admission by ISO that OOXML needs some work, i.e. that they made it a standard before it is ready.
  • by krazytekn0 (1069802) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:49PM (#23054820) Homepage Journal
    are only uncalled for when there is no clear evidence of personal misconduct.
  • by marbux (761605) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @12:53PM (#23054830) Journal

    Private deal to approve OOXML? More evidence surfaces [universal-...ouncil.org] --- Universal Interoperability Council).

    Circumstantial evidence is mounting of one or more private deals having been struck to approve DIS-29500 Office Open XML ("OOXML") as an international standard, a deal that may have played a role in several key national standardization bodies changing their voting position to approve OOXML.

    [more]

  • ... where some evil doctor was recreated in the holodeck to help find a cure for a disease one of them had. Even though the one being cured would have rather died than have this evil doctors cure.

    the moral point came at the end. To save the evil doctors program and cure, or to delete it because of the immoral way in which he did his research.

    The choice was to delete it.

    In other words, ooxml could be the best document format there is, but given the evil company who created it (evil proven so in so many ways,
  • by caseih (160668) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @01:29PM (#23055070)
    Now that OOXML has been made an ISO standard (called now OXML I think), we can differentiate between MS's bastardized implementation of this format and the ISO standard. If anyone thinks that now third parties can freely implement OXML and be able to read and write with 100% accuracy formats created in MS Office, they are sadly mistaken. Sure OXML file should be able to be read and written by any applications that implement the ISO format just fine (provided they can implement every detail of the hundreds of pages of specifications), but MS Office will always be able to produce files that don't quite look right everywhere else because of the way MS interprets/wrote the specification, or deliberately left out some important little detail. This will create a second-class landscape of OXML users, which will always be minor plays and insignificant next to the continuing Office hegemony. This is a fantastic move on MS's part. They've managed to totally play the part and even go through the motions without giving up a single thing! The ultimate deception. In the meantime a bunch of us rag-tag Linux hippies will continue to promote a standard that's truly open in the ways that count (ODF), and hopefully have some success in certain circles. The rest of the clueless masses seem preoccupied with other things to care, sadly. Anyway, it will be interesting to see exactly how this situation plays out. The EU, at least, has the guts to stand up to MS (sort of anyway), so hopefully they will slap MS hard if things do go the way I predict they will.
    • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @02:53PM (#23055512)
      Sadly, much of what you say applies to OO.o and ODF. OO.o's files aren't in full compliance with ISO ODF (and therefore OO.o's ODF can be differentiated from ISO ODF), and different apps exhibit different behaviors when reading ODF documents. Indeed, many ODF apps are "second-class" ODF apps.

      Here's a rating of various application's ODF support, from one star to five stars (five stars means "perfect"):
      http://opendocumentfellowship.com/applications [opendocume...owship.com]

      You'll note that NO app achieves 5 stars. There are a number of 4-star apps, but most are three stars and lower. (And I'd bet you a twinkie that nearly all (and possibly ALL) of the 4-star apps aren't independently developed from the spec, but are using rebranded versiond of OO.o's code. (It's known that many ODF apps are simply using OO.o code (the ODF spec is too vague in many places to create code simply based on the spec.)

      (There's another web page on an ODF support site somewhere that lists details of problems when using particular apps to load ODF files created by other particlar apps (like using K-Office to load ODF files created by OO.o), but I can't find it at the moment.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by caseih (160668)

        And I'd bet you a twinkie that nearly all (and possibly ALL) of the 4-star apps aren't independently developed from the spec, but are using rebranded versiond of OO.o's code.


        At least it's possible and legal to do this, though. OO.org as a reference implementation with source code can at least make it possible to get 100% compatibility. That's the main difference here.
  • About incompetence (Score:5, Informative)

    by firefly4f4 (1233902) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @01:36PM (#23055114)

    Meanwhile some on-looking SC 34 people felt insulted. One neutral XML expert, who I know for a fact took a very close technical look at DIS 29500 asked "what are they saying? that we are incompetent? that we do not have the right to decide for ourselves?".

    No, the general public is not calling them incompetent. Other technical [alkalay.net] committees [www.scc.ca] are calling them incompetent.

    They're just being polite about it.

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @01:40PM (#23055146) Homepage
    The chances of Microsoft implementing any changes ISO makes is slim to none. And no business or government agency is going to (collectively) believe that Microsoft doesn't follow its own "international standard". Which means that OO.org, Koffice, Abiword, etc all need to follow the Microsoft way, as some have already begun to do.
  • by RailGunSally (946944) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @01:43PM (#23055162)
    The ISO sold its intrinsic value, in the form of its integrity and credibility, to Microsoft Corporation. Now the utterances of ISO functionaries are of no importance whatsoever, just as the standards maintained by the ISO are of no value at all. We will interpret the actions of M$ and the ISO as the damage that they truly are and simply route around them. The lesson here is that, in the brave new interconnected world, centralized authorities are single points of failure. They are utterly vulnerable to the enemies of freedom, and must be eliminated. We will therefore evolve distributed standards authorities of some fundamentally new nature. Soviet-era centralized control systems are as obsolete as proprietary operating systems. These things will chaotically destabilize and vanish to be replaced by an equilibrium of resilient, distributed algorithms.
  • Embrace, Extend

    ISO embraces

    MS Extends
  • spacelikeword95 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey (83763) on Sunday April 13, 2008 @02:59PM (#23055536) Journal
    For starters this new committee can specify what spacelikeword95 means. Its kinda funny that its does not say spaceExactlyTheSameAsWord95 but just "like".
  • by hey (83763)
    The committee should also alter the name (perhaps by inserting "Microsoft") so it isn't so similar to ODF. Its only fair. ODF=OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications. It has the name of the source organization. Renaming OOXML to MSOOXML would make thing clearer.
  • It's lame that this article got to the main page. It is disinformation at its best and tries to promote a new name "OXML" as an attempt to cover the bad adverts for OOXML. This said, infecting ODF with this garbage is lame.

    Call things by its name, it is MSOOXML, ISO has not taken any control of it.

  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Sunday April 13, 2008 @03:50PM (#23055770) Homepage Journal
    Alex Brown may complain all he wants, but after the way he managed the ballot resolution meeting, either he doesn't know or understand the rules all that well, or he ignored them on purpose. I HOPE he just didn't know what he was doing, and I can see why he wants people to stop focusing on how he did his job, but that doesn't make it any less appalling.
  • I have no intention of making personal attacks.

    Neither Microsoft, which has shown determination to trash anything useful in its quest to make more money, nor its bitch ISO, are persons.

  • Open Letter to ISO (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    After calming down I looked at the following letter and decided it was inappropriate. Instead of sending it I'm posting it so everyone can get a laugh.

    Dear ISO,

    We, here at Slashdot, received your letter and felt it necessary to respond in kind.

    It is amazing how quickly 'personal attacks' arise. However, what we interpret as the 'personal attacks' you refer to (convenient how that's ambiguous) were not personal attacks at all: they were facts and we have evidence to back it up.

    The fact of the matter is, it c
  • M$XML was accepted sight unseen. Although only a fraction of NB issues were addressed, there were a flurry of changes at the last meeting. The final result was required to be published within 30 days. As of the expiration of the vote changing period, it still hadn't been published, and is still unpublished the last I checked.

    Wouldn't it be funny if when the OOXML standard finally gets actually published - it looks like ODF with M$ compatibility extensions?

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