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ISO Releases OOXML FAQ 185

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The ISO has put out a FAQ concerning OOXML, but it may raise more questions than it answers. For one, it promises to address problems if they arise in the future. PJ of Groklaw said that's akin to 'selling you a car with four different sizes of tires and assuring that that if you see it's a problem, you can always bring it in for maintenance.' It also handwaves the OSP discriminatory patent promise issues, when asked about contradictions states that some 'may still remain', and asserts that duplicate standards are 'something that need[s] to be decided by the market place.' Notably, the FAQ does not answer the question, 'what the hell were you thinking?'"
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  • by brennanw ( 5761 ) * on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:33PM (#23093930) Homepage Journal
    ... for their NEW international standard, "how to act like a complete jackass when deciding to adopt an international standard."
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:34PM (#23093942) Homepage
    A: Sorry, but we can't hear you over the sound of us thumbing through all these big stacks of cash.
  • by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:35PM (#23093962)
    I cannot count the times people have asked me "What was the post-BRM voting on ISO/IEC 29500?"
    • Neither can I. Imaginary numbers and fingers don't go well together. :(
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bh_doc ( 930270 )
        It's not too difficult, really, you just have to recognize that the imaginary numbers are orthogonal to real numbers.

        The tricky part is making a clean break, and stopping any bleeding...
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:35PM (#23093968) have a STANDARD?

    Maybe they should rename themselves the "International Organization for Vague and Undefined Standardization, To Be Decided By The Market"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by corsec67 ( 627446 )
      How about M$ISO for short?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:15PM (#23094364)
      If renaming is an option, I'm partial to:

    • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:31PM (#23094566) Homepage
      IOVUSTBSBTM? Doesn't work for me... How about:

      International Standards Under Corporate Kontrol?

      (If you use KDE, you probably didn't notice the inappropriate use of K, but if you use GNOME, it's probably tearing at your brain that I did that just so I could spell a word)
    • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:37PM (#23094644) Homepage
      ...or how about:

      "[I]nternational [S]tandards [W]ith [A]llegiance to [L]imited [L]iability [O]rganizations [W]hatever"
    • "IShOt the standard, but I did not shoot A-N-S-I"
    • OOISO would seem apropos...
  • This one's good. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:37PM (#23093992) Homepage
    About investigating charges of corruption of the voting process:

    We reviewed the process before it started, all the while during its course and afterwards as well. While the voting on ISO/IEC 29500 has attracted exceptional publicity, it needs to be put in context. ISO and IEC have collections of more than 17 000 and 7 000 successful standards respectively, these being revised and added to every month. This suggests that the standards development process is credible, works well and is delivering the standards needed, and widely implemented, by the market. Because continual improvement is an underlying aim of standardization, ISO and IEC will certainly be continuing to review and improve its standards development procedures.

    So they're basically saying: "Since we've done a lot of successful standards before, there can't possibly be anything wrong with how this one was carried out."
    • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:52PM (#23094148)

      So they're basically saying: "Since we've done a lot of successful standards before, there can't possibly be anything wrong with how this one was carried out."

      No, no, no. They're saying: "This was approved with the same process as all our other standards. So imagine how many other ISO standards are complete BS!"

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:58PM (#23094198)
      Since we've done a lot of successful standards before, there can't possibly be anything wrong with how this one was carried out.

      Yeah, it is a nice misdirection they pulled. I have always considered the study of logic to be akin to studying mental self-defense (or, perhaps "brain-fu").

      I would classify their fallacy as "ignoratio elenchi," [] or "ignorance of refutation." Their evidence did demonstrate something, but not what they set out to demonstrate. Stating "ISO and IEC have collections of more than 17 000 and 7 000 successful standards" could be used to defend statements like "we have produced standards," "we produce standards," "we have produced LOTS of standards," etc. This statement, however, does NOT suggest that "the standards development process is credible."

      Credibility must be established by evidence other than volume. And we already have plenty of evidence suggestive of a lack of credibility.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bryansix ( 761547 )
        Great Post. I love it when people point out logical fallacies. Now if only I didn't use up all my mod points on that comcast article.

        It's funny. I think we can put their argument into perspective by comparing them to the Patent office of the US. The Patent office grants thousands of patents. That makes their credibility go down; not up.
    • Agreed. Their defense doesn't support their assertion. That said, I've read lots of mentions of corruption, but does anyone have some links to stories with specific cases of corruption, etc.

      Oh, and for the love of all things, please stop confusing standard with free to implement. There are plenty of standards that aren't freely available for anyoen to implement. I understand that Microsoft intentionally confused the issue by calling it 'open'. But standards don't obligate anyone to allow others free acce
    • More akin to "Since this bank has been transferring billions of dollars a year for many years now, there is no reason to accuse us with financial mismanagement or malicie of any sort just because this one single account somehow became short by a couple of measly millions and in the same time, completely accidentally and coincidentally, the private accounts of our head accountant, a cashier and the CEO has received donations from and undisclosed source in the vicinity of a couple of millions."
    • by seebs ( 15766 )
      These accusations of murder are ridiculous. I can point to THOUSANDS of people who are clearly still alive, proving that my client has virtually never murdered anyone!
    • Since I pulled the trigger five times and didn't get shot in the head, then I should be safe when I pull the trigger for the sixth time...
  • If, after publication of the standard, it is determined that licenses to all required patents are not so available, one option would be to withdraw the International Standard.
    Hopefully Microsoft will be stupid enough to do this, like maybe going after Sun or IBM for using it in OpenOffice ...

    Well I can dream can't I ?!?
  • Incompetence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:15PM (#23094360) Homepage Journal

    Will ISO and IEC review how ISO/IEC 29500 was adopted?

    We reviewed the process before it started, all the while during its course and afterwards as well.
    In other words:
    "Our review process sucks so much that we can't even spot the most blatant and obvious abuse in our entire history right while it's going on under our noses."

    Thanks, ISO. That removes my final doubts regarding your reliability and competence. Only leaves me to wonder how you're getting anything done right at all.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by g4b ( 956118 )
      You created me, Microsoft
      So I guess you're to blame
      For the "love" that I feel
      Just from hearing your name
      You're as open as future
      And warm as pastell

      *windows dings*

      I wuv my OOXML
  • The FAQ addresses the issue of contradictions with other ISO and IEC Standards. Part of the answer given is as follows:

    "A number of such claimed contradictions were identified...//...It is possible that others may still remain, but these can be taken care of during the maintenance of the standard."

    Am I to interpret this as meaning that when they find problems with the standrad, they will change the standard to 'fix' it?

    If my interpretation is correct, I wonder where this leads us. I could end up havin

    • by clodney ( 778910 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:51PM (#23094828)
      Lots of standards have revisions. I presume that before we had 802.11 a/b/g/n we simply had 802.11.

      Just hours ago I was reading the TWAIN 1.9a specification. 1.9a being a big tip-off that the spec has changed over time.

      My TV and DVD player are connected with HDMI 1.3 compliant cables.

      So yes, if there are problems with the standard they will change the standard. That is standard behavior if you will.
    • Since there is a great deal of movement in the EU to accept only standardised file formats, where would this leave me and my umpteen licences? When I bought the software it followed the standard, but does not later. Can I expect the manufacturer to provide me a free upgrade/patch, or is my software to be considered still standards-compliant, or will I simply have to fork out more money for the latest, currently compliant, version?

      That is irrelevant to Microsoft. They will stick an "ISO compliant" label on

    • Those are all interesting questions. And they would have just as interesting months ago, when ODF was being standardized, as EXACTLY THE SAME THING happened there. A large number of technical issues raised about ODF were "resolved" by "OASIS will fix that in a later revision of the standard".

      A very large number of the criticism of OOXML is about things where OOXML was treated exactly the same as most prior standards, including ODF. For God's sake, ODF got away with pushing spreadsheet formulas off to a

      • by bersl2 ( 689221 )

        For God's sake, ODF got away with pushing spreadsheet formulas off to a later version
        IIRC, this didn't come out at least until MS announced OOXML. It wasn't realized that a formula API needed to be standardized. Sure, that was an oversight, but we are engaging in hindsight.

        The kind of errors that are in OOXML are not omissions but commissions.
  • Standards should be allowing open markets to flourish and they can't do this if the depend solely on a given operating system, environment or application. They can't do this when they allow proprietary extensions willy nilly. Where's this mentioned in the FAQ? The "market place" didn't decide diddley squat. ISO had a opportunity to give the âoemarket placeâ a chance but instead decided to assist a proven abusive and monopolistic company in it's bid to remain to moving target when it comes to be
    • ISO had a opportunity to give the Ãoemarket placeà a chance but instead decided to assist a proven abusive and monopolistic company in it's bid to remain to moving target when it comes to being interoperable and compatible.

      You *may* be putting too much value in ISO standards and its ability to stop a moving target and promoting interoperability. There is a difference between having a standard and having that standard enforced.

      Just look at ISO-15445 for example...

  • They were thinking they could buy off the ISO. Were they wrong?
  • The market speaks! (Score:5, Informative)

    by toriver ( 11308 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:59PM (#23094938)
    ODF: 5+ applications can write the format.
    OOXML: Zero applications can write the format.

    ODF Wins!
    • Yes, but that's a bit like how no browser in the world correctly implement HTML and CSS, but most claim to.

      MS will claim office implements OOXML, and that this makes it the most widespread standard, and enough people will buy into it to make the lie turn true.
      • by toriver ( 11308 )
        As far as I have seen they have been "refreshingly" open about Office 2007 supporting "MSOOXML" which is not the same as the ECMA/ISO spec.
    • ODF will win in my eyes when MS Office will read and write it (correctly) without requiring a third party plugin. If it's a standard that 95% of users are unable to use (without conscious effort) then it's of limited usefulness.

      That aside, I use ODF for my own things and I'd like it a lot if I could actually give my ODF docs to lots of other people and expect them to be able to open them.

  • ISO is not like IETF (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grandpa-geek ( 981017 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @04:19PM (#23095174)
    IETF requires demonstrated interoperability using prototype reference implementations before they will adopt a standard.

    ISO generally first adopts standards, then waits for people to prototype implementations and discover the bugs in the standard (unless someone walks in with existing technology and asks for it to be standardized). When people start reporting that aspects of the standard can't be implemented, ISO works on fixing it.

    After ISO adopted the Open System Interconnection (OSI) standards, they had to set up "implementers' workshops" to figure out how to make their newly adopted standards workable. (The OSI standards are the 7-layer reference model and related protocol suite that were pushed aside by the Internet protocol suite, a.k.a TCP/IP. Many OSI protocols were never fully implemented or never made to work.)

    The workshops met (one was sponsored by NIST) and produced a lot of documents on things that needed to be done to make OSI work. When the Clinton/Gore administration came into office, they killed US government support for the OSI protocols and told its agencies to use the Internet protocols.
    • by rhizome ( 115711 )
      So what do you think, should (or could) ODF submit to become an IETF standard? It would seem to raise the bar on quality to some degree that OOXML would not be able to match. Does IETF even /do/ file formats?
  • ... and anybody else shouldn't, either.

    Unless they cancel the Standardization of OOXML immediately and furthermore establish a reasonable code of conduct for itself and for all the national bodies that are entitled to vote.

  • Compliance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @04:59PM (#23095632)
    Part of the reason for ISO standards is so a product can be deemed standards compliant. Is it ISO itself that determines whether an individual product complies to the standard?

    I'm curious, because I've heard that no product, including Microsoft's, currently follows the OOXML standard... and I wonder if there's a chance they never will? I suspect it may not be possible.

    Or are Microsoft products going to be rubberstamped for the approval process as well, even if their implementation is buggy?
    • Compliance is a matter of implementation. It's immediately obvious when an implementation of a standard isn't complete, because it's not 100% compatible with existing examples of the spec. In my understanding, no one person or group stamps a product as compliant to a standard.

      Re: Microsoft's own implementation.. If a clear distinction is made between .docx and OOXML, those groups which require open, standard formats will not be able to use .docx/Office due to lack of standards compliance.

      How that actuall
  • What about ISO safety standards ? Should I be concerned that some of the safety standards may be purely motivated by company profits rather than actual safety ? Is my ISO certified bicycle helmet actually safe or is it "safe" for some companies profit ? Maybe we need a new standards org for safety standards as it seems ISO can no longer be trusted.
  • by brandonY ( 575282 ) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @02:41AM (#23100986)
    If competing standard need to be decided by the marketplace, then what the hell do we have an ISO for?!
  • That's: "Questions We Wish People Were Frequently Asking".
  • I hadn't thought shooting oneself in the foot was fatal. In the case of the ISO and its manifestly dishonest dealings with respect to OOXML, I may be mistaken.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.