ISO gives up on IT Standards: approves OOXML

So, as everyone thought would happen, the naive and sycophantic ISO and IEC bodies have decided to ignore the appeals, the scandalous bribery and corruption of their hitherto decent standing and approve ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (OOXML to you and me).

The two ISO and IEC technical boards have given the go-ahead to publish ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML formats, as an ISO/IEC International Standard after appeals by four national standards bodies against the approval of the document failed to garner sufficient support.

And toward the end of the rather short press release they come up with this real gem:

The adoption process of Office Open XML (OOXML) as an ISO/IEC Standard has generated significant debate related to both technical and procedural issues which have been addressed according to ISO and IEC procedures.

Understating the blindingly obvious or what? And just what has been addressed exactly? Nothing it seems to me. They have just bent over and let M$ shove their specification where the sun don’t shine.

But, as we near the end of this farce and fiasco, I think there are a couple of ironies which mark the approval of OOXML, and the process surrounding, ultimately as being little more that a damp squib.

  • The decision by Microshaft themselves to not bother with OOXML in their next Office release and to, even more amazingly, deliver native support for ODF.
  • The fiasco has shown that ISO/IEC is basically now an irrelevance when it comes to defining useful standards within the sphere of IT. They are too slow, too ponderous and too “up-their-own-arses” to be able to recognise when they have been shafted.

We have plenty of excellent standardisation bodies which have fundamentally driven the creation of the Internet and they have all used community-based, open processes. IETF, W3C and so on.

All I remember the ISO ever giving me in IT was the notorious OSI 7 Layer Model way back in the 80s. And what happened to it? It died almost before it was born because an open, easy to implement and flexible protocol stack called TCP/IP came along…

Bye Bye ISO.

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  • Luc Bollen says:

    It is maybe not yet the end: the 4 NBs can appeal the decision of the TMB/SMB, as stated in the press release and the JTC1 directives:

    “11.4 Appeal Against a Decision of the TMB/SMBs

    An appeal against a decision of the TMB/SMB shall be submitted to the Secretaries-General with full documentation on all stages of the case.

    The Secretaries-General shall refer the appeal together with their comments to the members of the Councils within one month after receipt of the appeal.

    The Councils shall make their decision within three months.”

  • Alan Lord says:

    Thanks Luc,

    You are right, however, I would assume that the same thing would happen again; the appeal(s) would simply be ignored. So all it does is prolong the farce. Making the ISO/IEC look worse than it already does.

  • “ISO has lost its credibility as a standards-setting organization. It has proven that technical merit plays no role in its decisions, which likely carries across all facets of its operation.”

    –Tony O’Bryan


  • […] is a really important development in the OOXML (DIS29500) fiasco and one that confirms what I have been saying for some time now; that ISO/IEC, in respect to ICT standards at least, are finished. […]

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