Today’s the day.

At midnight tonight1 the voting on the approval or not of Microsoft’s draft document specification DIS29500 will be closed. There has been more written about this process than any other standardisation in living memory.

With that in mind and irrespective of the outcome of this vote – be it pass or fail – I though I’d jot down some of my thoughts on what the repercussions may be.

  • The ISO has lost all credibility. The way this particular specification’s route through ISO has been scrutinised has shown up massive flaws in the process itself; and this is the body which, rather ironically, gives us the ISO9000 series of procedural standards don’t forget. Basically it has been shown that anyone with enough money can probably, if DIS29500 gets approved, simply buy a standard.
  • Microsoft have shown themselves to be more greedy, arrogant and devious than I and many others ever thought possible. However, the repercussions have only helped to make them a laughing stock and their badly written specification a laughing stock. And this whole fiasco has probably initiated their long decent into irrelevance. By attempting to force OOXML through in the way they have done, they have done yet more damage to their already tattered public perception.
  • Microsoft’s puppet and henchman ECMA will feel the heat from this fiasco more than they ever anticipated I expect. If the ISO are to come out of this whole charade with any credibility at all, they will have to distance themselves from ECMA by many light years.
  • The European Commission has already got it’s teeth into Microsoft’s ankles. If DIS29500 passes, then I expect they will increase their activities, aim a bit higher, and probably find many more skeletons in Microsoft’s cupboard. Which will no-doubt end in further fines, bad press and – hopefully – “encouragement” to all EU member states to avoid choosing Microsoft wherever possible.
  • In the commercial sector, nothing much will change whatever the outcome of today. The tremendous growth of Open Source in the Enterprise will certainly continue and I hope spread further down the food chain into the SME/B sector, increasingly eroding Microsoft’s significance.
  • On the downside, I expect Microsoft’s stuffed committees to use their position to stifle and stall development of ODF. By abstaining or voting against developments they will attempt to thwart ODF’s progress. There needs to be a concerted effort in the committees that are affected to either fill the “other-side” with friendly members or to remove Microsoft’s cronies.

That’s it. We’ll probably know the result in a day or two. I really hope that DIS29500 is rejected, but I suspect that it will pass, albeit with a small margin. If it does pass, I guess it will probably end up being worse for Microsoft in the long run. They will be chased even harder by the EU Commission, democratic governments will be scrutinised and tested at every turn to prove conformance of their IT choices with the specification – which even Microsoft can’t achieve – and the rise of free and open software will continue, probably at an enhanced pace due to the large numbers of people who have been “awoken” by this farce. Whatever the outcome just remember:

The Way Out Is Open!

1That’s assuming they don’t change the rules yet again.

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