Microsoft’s position is hardening as the ISO vote on OOXML (DIS 29500) in Geneva approaches at the end of this month. We know more clearly now how Microsoft and its proxy group, ECMA, will position Microsoft’s OOXML specification in advance of the vote. In short, Microsoft is betting that its influence with National Bodies will allow it to push through a specification which elevates its own interests over that of truly competitive, open international standards. In the end, it will be Microsoft’s own inflexibility that will be its undoing, and that undoing means knocking the OOXML out of approval for ISO status.
ECMA, a RIAA-like industry group dedicated to advancing its members’ interests, published its responses to comments of the ISO National Bodies in response to Microsoft’s Office Open XML application for ISO standardization. The ECMA proposals will be discussed at a Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) in Geneva after which the National Bodies may reconsider their original vote.
Download the PDF
(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.
What you can do and say No to OOXML: Contact your national body. Here is a list of National Bodies by Countries
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.