OOXML: Feeling the heat

Things are really starting to warm up now the BRM is just a couple of weeks away and the deadline for the NBs to change their vote (any way they choose) approaches at the end of March.

Several rumours of more shenanigans have been floating around over the past week or so and one has solidified.

Rick Jelliffe, almost legendary in his dealings with Microsoft, and a staunch supporter of the proposed format (ECMA-376) with almost nae a criticism to emanate from his mouth or fingers, has confirmed that:

1. He is being paid by ECMA/Microsoft [Update: Istvan Sebestyen said in the first comment below that “Ecma International is in no way paying this gentleman”]
2. He is representing Standards Australia (SA) at the forthcoming BRM and is 50% of their delegation.

How did Australia vote in September you may wonder? They abstained… Rather strangely you might think. Most of the major developed economies, found hundreds of flaws with ECMA’s original proposal and all Australia could come up with by way of clarification was:

“Due to lack of support and stakeholder commitment to ongoing engagement in the International Standards development process in this area it was not viable to convene an appropriate technical committee.”

And 20 or so rather trivial comments.

And now they have a strongly biased supporter of Microsoft who is working for Microsoft, acting on their behalf at the BRM. I wonder what voting policy he will be recommending to SA on his return?

The other area of debate recently has been just how open Microsoft’s OSP really is… Many legal experts are concluding that it is just too obscure and opaque to be worth anything until it has been tested in court. Who would like to go first?

Here is a review of some the issues surrounding the OSP and what it means for developers and implementers of – what should be – a publicly open and internationally approved ISO/IEC standard.

And finally, and rather amusingly, Martin Bekkelund; has done some testing of Microsoft’s claims that OOXML works on several Apple products. Unfortunately it appears as thought they have been somewhat “economical with the truth” [Surely not! Microsoft?]…

He concludes:

“I do not own a license for Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, and I will not buy one either. It might be possible to open documents produced by Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac with iWork ‘08, iPhone or NeoOffice, but that is irrelevant. One of the major points with interoperability, is vendor independence. If I have to buy a license for Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, Microsoft has succeeded in creating a standard so difficult — not to say impossible — to implement, that users will have to buy Microsoft’s software.

As a final statement, I would like to point out that the allegations on OOXML beeing implemented in iWork ‘08, iPhone and NeoOffice are wrong.”

Do you really want OOXML as an international standard?

2 Comments

  • Istvan Sebestyen says:

    “Rick Jelliffe, almost legendary in his dealings with Microsoft, and a staunch supporter of the proposed format (ECMA-376) with almost nae a criticism to emanate from his mouth or fingers, has confirmed that:

    1. He is being paid by ECMA/Microsoft”

    I, as Secretary General of Ecma International can confirm that this statement is simply untrue. Ecma International is in no way paying this gentleman, for anything. I even would not pay for anybody who is part of the Ecma delegation, let alone for someone who is not, and I have never met in my life….Congratulations for your “objective” writing……

  • Alan Lord says:

    @Istvan

    Thanks for your input.

    Reading Rick’s blog was like swimming through treacle… After reading this comment from Rick on this post: http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2008/01/editors_disposition_of_comment.html I assumed that meant what it said…

    “(Full disclosure: I am due to be helping out Rex’s team in some way with editorial gruntwork this month. The above is my own opinion.)

    However, following on a later post – deep in the comments – (http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2008/02/significant_open_letter_from_p.html) he states thus:

    “Phil: No I am not an Ecma employee….”

    Although I must say that that is not *quite* the same thing as being “paid by” which he has not refuted at all.

    However, I’m sure you are correct so I will edit the above post.

    Once again thanks for your comments and interest in pursuing an open and transparent process for this important work of global standardisation.

    Alan

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