OOXML: Flogging a Dead Horse

I am continually amazed by the amount of time, energy and expense that the ISO are going to to support the standard that nobody really wants or believes (in except for one corporation and it’s paid lackeys of course). Yes, it’s IS29500 (OOXML to you and me).

In the last few weeks we have had coverage with some lovely photos of the events taking place in Korea from that bastion of fair play and honesty Alex Brown. How the poor live eh? All sponsored by our friends and yours: Microshaft. Well actually, if you buy their software, you have probably been paying for the luxury hotels, drinks and food.

We have also heard how the Norwegian NB (National Body), that actually voted against OOXML becoming a standard but were ignored, has resigned en-masse:

We end our work with Standard Norway because:

  • The administration of Standard Norway trust 37 identical letters from Microsoft partners more than their own technical committee.
  • The process within Standard Norway has been unpredictable and the administration has changed the rules along the way.
  • Standard Norway and ISO have committed a series of violations of their own rules and other irregularities in the OOXML process.

“Standard Norway has overruled hundreds of thousands of users in the public and private sectors”, says Martin Bekkelund.

The mass-copied Microsoft-letter did not contain a single professional argument. Standard Norway first said that these kinds of statements would not be given any weight. However, at the end of the process they changed their mind and emphasized the Microsoft letters. Thereby, Standard Norway misled the committee members.

And we have also seen IBM – a conservative corporation by any measure – making a public statement about the standards process needing reform. Bob Sutor expands on the announcement:

I’ve asked before in this blog if we don’t need some sort of full disclosure from standards participants. In the wiki IBM facilitated last summer, there was a good discussion of the notions of open government and how these might apply to standards making. Over time various votes on standards will be won or lost. I think an open, transparent organization should help users and other stakeholders understand who voted how and why. This is especially true for organizations that represent countries. We must have and understand accountability.

Not very clouded words for “ISO: Sort out your house or become an irrelevance”.

And we also had, back in September, the signed declaration by 6 countries – Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, South Africa and Venezuela – deploring the refusal of ISO and IEC to further review the appeals submitted by the National Bodies of four nations.

And in support of ODF we have – almost daily it seems – countries, public bodies & departments and corporations requiring/mandating [PDF] the use of the open and royalty-free ODF to store their documents. Here some of the countries that have (or are) adopted ODF: Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, France, Japan, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland and Uruguay. Many others are close on their heels.

Which countries have formally adopted OOXML? Which countries have said they are thinking about adopting OOXML? I have yet to see any. Perhaps Côte d’Ivoire might eh?

But OOXML is not quite dead yet. There is a danger. And one we must all be vigilant toward: There is a possibility of Microshaft and it’s Lackeys trying to gain control of the maintenance of the ODF standard. Currently this is handled by the very open and transparent OASIS organisation. This process might end up being transferred to ISO under the guise of a group known as SC34. This committee is loaded full of Microsoft puppets – several of whom are British and have shown a total disregard for due process to this date.

Perhaps the title shouldn’t be “flogging a dead horse” but more of a “dead cat bounce“.