(Update) ISO has alsways moved the goalposts in the middle of the match, not only at the BRM, but when it became clear MS didn’t have enough votes in first round of balloting, MS rented NBs who had never before participated in IT standardization, and even after that couldn’t get enough votes, read more (PDF)
There will be no Finalized Text from the BRM for National Bodies to vote on. The results of the BRM only emits editorial changes. The National Bodies’ final decision will be based on the BRM editors instructions (which contains complex and big structural changes), 2300 page ECMA proposed disposition (which may or may not have been approved by the paper vote) and the original 6000 page document. National Bodies are expected to approve’ a large body of text which doesn’t exist. This is irresponsible.
There will be a BRM (Ballot resolution meeting) in Geneva on 25-29 February 2008 to answer the comments by National Standard Boards on OOXML and to resolve issues.
Microsoft has set up a situation where many of the shortcomings and thousands of comments which need to be resolved at the BRN will not be addressed. They have closed this process as much as possible and have delayed National Boards from having adequate time to review proposed changes. They are setting themselves as heads of the National Boards in Portugal and Ireland. Many National Boards are still loaded and influenced by Microsoft Certified Partners and over a dozen counties have been lobbied by MS for the sole purpose of advancing Microsoft’s interests alone, as opposed to advancing the broader global community which ISO serves.
In the instances cited above, National Boards have become de facto agents of Microsoft’s interests. For example, the following would constitute a country that is acting effectively as a Microsoft agent rather than a member that acts in good faith:
- If a country that has never before participated in JTC1 activities joins JTC1 as a P-member just two days before the OOXML ballot concludes
- If that country then votes an unqualified YES without comments on a 6,000 page standard
- If that country is without an industry or public consult
- If that country then goes on to ignore every other ballot that comes before JTC1
When the above happens 20 times, then it is committee stuffing and the process is damaged.
Initially when Dis 29500 was put on fast track, many countries simply did not have the time or resources in place to adequately review the 6000 page document. It has not been tested, it will be an unfairly competing standard and has been rejected by many worldwide. OOXML as a standard will “kill the soul” of all those who have worked so hard to make ISO standards truly Open. The vitality and credibility of ISO itself would be compromised.
Martin Bryan, the out going Convener of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1 stated, “The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting ‘standardization by corporation,’ something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees.”
NB’s remember that comments from other NB’s which are resolved can have a significant effect on the Format and bring up other issues which may concern you. Check to make sure you know what these resolution are.
Please do not abstain — it is critical that you exercise your right and “Disapprove” DIS 29500 by voting NO. If you vote NO you are voting “yes” for true openness, choice and interoperability.
There is already an ISO-approved standard, OpenDocument Format (ISO/IEC 26300), covering the same use as DIS 29500. Having multiple competing products is a good thing; having competing standards adds cost to industry, government and citizens and increases confusion for users and the marketplace. This standard proposal was not created by bringing together the experience and expertise of all interested parties (such as the producers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators), but by Microsoft and a consortium of institutions that have a relatively narrow, common interest in advancing the specifications of one vendor’s products (Microsoft) as a standard.”
DIS 29500: DIS 29500 (OOXML) is too closely tied to proprietary products to allow full and complete implementation without raising at least the appearance of a risk of exposure for claims of liability for patent damages or, in the alternative, claims for patent licensing fees.
OOXML contains specific application configuration settings, most notably: autoSpaceLikeWord95, footnoteLayoutLikeWW8, lineWrapLikeWord6, mwSmallCaps, shapeLayoutLikeWW8, suppressTopSpacingWP, truncateFontHeightsLikeWP6, uiCompat97To2003, useWord2002TableStyleRules, useWord97LineBreakRules, wpJustification and wpSpaceWidth.
“To faithfully replicate this behavior, applications must imitate the behavior of that application, which involves many possible behaviors and cannot be faithfully placed into narrative for this Office Open XML Standard. If applications wish to match this behavior, they must utilize and duplicate the output of those applications.”
OOXML defines its own vector graphics XML-DrawingML. But the recognized standard for this, also recommended by W3C, is SVG. OOXML also includes Microsoft’s VML specification in contradiction to both SVG and DrawingML. VML was turned down as a W3C standard in 1999 in favor of SVG.
OOXML references Windows Metafiles and Enhanced Metafiles, both closed proprietary Microsoft formats. For OOXML to become a standard it is unacceptable to have OS Dependant binary formats.
OOXML is Patent incumbent, here is one: EP1376387 (A2) Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML.
National Boards must understand that OOXML is a different format. They must realize that using it implies getting new software and converting files to the new format. They must understand that basically only Microsoft is in a position to reliably perform this conversion because they are the only ones to really know what’s in their binary format, which they did not open
- DIS 29500 standard is inconsistent within itself with regards to percentages, as well as with recognized methods, of the representations of percentage values, which can be expressed as a decimal integer (Magnification Settings—184.108.40.206), as a code made up of an integer being the real percentage multiplied by 500 (Table Width Units—2.18.97) and a real percentage multiplied by 1000 (Generic Percentage Unit—220.127.116.11
- DIS 29500 is too long (6000+ pages) and even at that length is not fully published; it contains both undocumented and under-specified elements that prevent full implementation.
- DIS 29500’s complexity, extraordinary length, technical omissions and single-vendor dependencies combine to make alternative implementation legally and practically impossible. While DIS 29500/OOXML works extremely well with Microsoft products, its length, incomplete documentation and IPR restrictions violate the core principle of an international standard – being implementable by multiple vendors. If you want harmonization, interoperability and competition, “Disapprove” DIS 29500/OOXML.
- DIS 29500 conflicts with existing ISO standards, such as ISO 8601 (Representation of dates and times), ISO 639 (Codes for the Representation of Names and Languages) or ISO/IEC 10118-3 (cryptographic hash)
- DIS 29500 has a bug in the spreadsheet file format which forbids any date before the year 1900: such bugs affect the OOXML specification as well as software applications like Microsoft Excel 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007.
- DIS 29500 is the evolution of a proprietary product .doc to .docx and was formatted only for that purpose. Microsoft has tried to “Open” is up only because of Commercial interests. Hence, there can never be interoperability with it. Converters/translators do not work other than converting very simple text. Approving DIS 29500 will be the beginning of a true interoperability nightmare between office suites.
- DIS 29500 does not have any specifications to ensure interoperability From the overall document contents, it is acutely clear that no effort has been made in OOXML to start from the existing ISO standard for the representation of documents in XML, that is ODF 1.0, ISO/IEC 26300:2006. We can see no reason for that deliberate departure and contend that unneeded differences are harmful. We therefore request that the OOXML proposal be rewritten starting from the existing standard.
VOTE NO for Dis 29500 because none of the questions on policy and “contradiction” will be discussed at the BRM
VOTE NO for Dis 29500 lacks supports for other platforms and browsers. It restricts the use of Linux platform and browsers such as FireFox, Opera and Safari
VOTE NO for Dis 29500 for the reason that the time given by the fast-track processing is not enough for consideration of this important draft and many countries did not have time to adequately study. It is a very complex technology which needs further more time to establish testing environment for thoroughly and deeply evaluation. The fast-track procedure is not suitable for this DIS29500
VOTE NO for Dis 29500 because of the overwhelming scope of the overlap between the proposed standard and the existing ISO/IEC 26300 standard. Further proposal for OOXML will increase the overlap even more significantly
VOTE NO for DIS 29500 as it creates a un-level playing field, it reinforces “anti-competition”, suppresses the ability of the Third world to communicate and be innovative. Office 2007 can save files in: web page, rich text format, plain text, text with layout, several types of Word and Wordperfect file types and others. In order to create a even playing field, fair competition and a Universal File Format for ALL, we see no reason why Office 2007 cannot implement ISO/IEC 26300 (ODF) as a native format with the option as default
VOTE NO for DIS 29500 as IPR issues in this process have not been resolved. NBs seeking reassurance in such matters must pursue them through other avenues than the BRM which is vague.
VOTE NO for DIS 29500 as there are accessibility issues according to University of Toronto, such as form fields not being associated with their labels, absence of a tabbing order for forms, and limitations in the use of alternative text descriptions of objects
VOTE NO for DIS 29500 because locale conventions (such as decimal points, date formats, and character settings) are inconsistent. SpreadsheetML documents are internally represented in the US English locale, but font types such as “bold” can be specified in any language (e.g. “gras” in French), even though the specification does not provide a list of equivalents in different languages
VOTE NO for DIS 29500 does not meet any ISO policies and goals. It does not meet the basis for an open standard. It was not created with open collaboration, the attempt to standardization was in a closed environment, it has not been widely tested, developed, adopted and is rejected by many worldwide.
IMPORTANT: And above all DO NOT RELY ON PROMISES, DIS 29500 (OFFICE 2007) will need to go threw a major change to resolve all the comments. It is doubtful this can be done or for that matter if MS would even do it. So this is critical: in no situation should it be an allowable resolution for Microsoft or ECMA to say “we’ll fix that in a future version of the specification.” Either it gets resolved at the BRM or it doesn’t. Future promises mean nothing and are no guarantee of change. If it is not resolved and you care about it, it constitutes failure if only a promise of correction is offered. Vote NO and there will be no regrets.
Once a proprietary standard is approved by the ISO, and made a standard, its eventual replacement by a truly open standard like ODF becomes impossible. Once a proprietary format becomes a standard, the era of truly open standards is over, and the way becomes clear to making anything proprietary.
Let us not step back into the past, make the future OPEN TO ALL!
UPDATE: New York State resident Russell Ossendryver is updating this article in light of an story that appeared first on Slashdot.org on 18 December 2007, in which it was announced that the New York State legislature is inviting public comment as to whether the residents of New York State would be better served by the State’s adoption of ODF or OOXML as a standard for electronic documents.
As a resident of the great State of New York, Ossendryver has a direct interest in seeing that his home State adopts truly open standards for data exchange, and so he wanted to submit this open letter to New York State CIO Melodie Mayberry-Stewart. Ms. Mayberry-Stewart should be aware that many of the issues facing the National Boards voting on Microsoft OOXML as a standard are identical to the issues facing New York State. Both New York State and the National Boards would be best served by adopting the current ISO standard, ODF, rather than the problematic Microsoft OOXML, for reasons discussed in that previous post. The timing of the due date for the release of the report, 15 January 2008, places New York State in a position to have an impact on the international vote in late February, a mere 40 days or so later. The eyes of the world will be watching you, New York!