a 'mooh' point

clearly an IBM drone

We shall gather at the riiiiiiiveeeer!

Today it happened ... the world lost its perspective.


Comments (16) -

Indeed, it is a pity that such things happen.  Microsoft & Ecma lost their perspective in December 2006, when they introduced an immature 6000 pages document  for an ISO Fast Track procedure.


Well ... talk about reading something the opposite way that it was intended.


Still, seriously ... it's just a document format, for Christ's sake.

From the film-clip:

Forget about document formats for a moment - let's talk about hair-dryers.

Jesper,  I'm sorry, this is NOT just a document format affair. If it was the case, people would be much cooler about this, including Microsoft.

I understand that Microsoft wants to downplay the importance of this, but what is really at stake is a lot of money for Microsoft and partners, and what Andy Updegrove call "ICT civil rights" for everybody else.

Either Microsoft has not yet understood this, and a wake-up call like this demonstration is welcome, or it has, and it should understand that many many people are really really upset by their behaviour.

And please note that the demonstration was not against Microsoft or OOXML or ISO, it was about Microsoft pushing OOXML through ISO via Fast-Track  
(see blogs.freecode.no/.../):

"We are not here today in order to bash Microsoft.
–We are here because we believe in open standards.
We are not even here today because we are opposed to OOXML.
–We are here because we are opposed to OOXML as an ISO standard.
We are not here because we want to discredit the ISO.
We are here because we want to defend ISO’s integrity."

Luc Bollen says "We are here because we believe in open standards."

There is no such thing as a closed standard.  All standards are open, by definition.

Ian, never heard about "de-facto standards" ?  Just document yourself before trolling.


Seriously - the demonstration is absolutely nuts and as I read the speach from Steve I cannot stop smiling a bit. When talking about document formats and comparing two document formats with electrical sockets (or rail roads, for that matter) you put yourself in a leage of very vague argumentation. I don't use this wording a lot, but it is really stupid to compare document formats with almost anything in the physical world, and I cannot help but wonder, that if arguments like these were the only ones Steve presented in the Norwegian committee, I do not blame Standard Norge for voting the other way.

They say they want to defend ISO's integrity? Well, they should have thought about this when allowing a clearly immature document to pass through ISO with no real review by the national bodies.

I don't think you can blame anyone for the "OOXML-mess" but yourselves (in general terms). You snuck ODF through ISO in the utmost low-key way, and then you had the audacity to afterwards argue that a standard was not really a standard unless it had the ISO-stamp and that a ISO-stamp implied integrity, great engineering skills and supreme quality. These words were used describing a document format without formula specification in spreadsheets, without any documentation on document protection and with alledged standards-reuse that was shown to be a facade to cover not real reuse but case-by-case cherry-picking (and semantic redefinition) of elements and attributes.

And add to that the mockery that OASIS made of the ISO-approval. Immediately after ODF-approval OASIS approved ODF 1.1 outside ISO and they have made 1.2 completely detached from SC34. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think SC34 has heard anything from OASIS from ODF was approved and until now when OASIS applied for renewal of their PAS-submitter status. Talk about just using ISO-approval to push your products down the pipeline.

Please remember, that you guys were the reason Microsoft felt compelled to submit OOXML to ISO. I really think Microsoft would have been quite happy with having OOXML in ECMA, but you left them no choice when you made ISO-approval the prime concern. The good side of this is, that as a result we now have a standard that is remarkably better than the one submitted, and we all really owe you great credit for this - especially IBM. Note, there is no "tongue-in-cheek" here - I really mean it.

With respect to preventing OOXML-approval, I think you guys lost on three terms:

1. You tried to tear down OOXML with technical arguments that were in large proven to be false
2. The various NBs around the world saw through the pseudo-technical arguments by IBM et al as merely tools to preserve and enlarge the, by all measurements, small commercial dent in the Microsoft Office defacto monopoly on desktop productivity suites.
3. By constantly accusing NB-delegates of being either stupid, ingorant or paid by Microsoft, you ended up pushing away the people that could actually help your case. By stepping in from nowhere, telling people that have made a living doing standards work through decades that "What are you, a moron? - you're doing it all wrong" ... do you think you were benefitting your case or the opposite?

In the end I think too the actions by IBM and their comrades were so obviously commercial that the NBs read them like an open book.

(sorry about the long post)


Jesper, not surprisingly, I disagree with most of (well, in fact with all) your comments.  I'm sure I will not convince you, and you will not convince me, so I will not respond specifically.

Note however that
- "you left [Microsoft] no choice when you made ISO-approval the prime concern." : this is not true.  MS had the choice to support ODF in the same way as they support WordPerfect formats or RTF.
- by constantly twisting and spinning facts, Microsoft and its partners are discrediting themselves and are making more harm to their own reputation than "the other camp" can ever achieve,
- IBM is surely defending its commercial interests, but many people, like me, are simple users of the file formats, in addition to be Microsoft customers. We have no commercial interest to defend, but by bashing us, Microsoft is bashing and loosing its own customers,
- the view of a neutral party like the Financial Times is much closer to my view of the situation than to the description you make above.  Have a look at www.ft.com/.../...0077b07658,Authorised=false.html
A (free) registration is required, so here is a significant extract:
"The ISO needs to reconsider the "fast-track" procedures supposed to speed standards-setting but which led to the debacle. Pushing a technical 6,000-page proposal through the system in a rush left many issues unresolved. Some of the national standards bodies whose votes determined the outcome have been shown in a bad light. More transparency is needed on who casts the votes and how decisions are made.  Microsoft has again shown it is ready to play rough to get its way - so much so that European Union antitrust regulators have started an investigation into the saga."

But now, the Financial Times is maybe as stupid as we are.

Oops, it seems that the system has trouble with the FT address.
It should be better doing a cut and paste of the *full* address between quotes below, rather than clicking on the link (which send you to an article about Pfizer!):

Damn it! It was OK in the preview, but no longer work in the comments feed.

So, just go to www.ft.com, enter "ISO" in the search box, and then select the article "LEADER: Software wars" from April 4th.  Sorry for the messy link.


Let me take a moment to answer you anyways (sorry for the thingy with the link - my blogengine has some problems with the more complex URIs).

About Microsoft not joining OASIS:
Well, please remember that the software world was a completely different one in terms of openness and OSS even only a few years back. Given the realities of that combined with OASIS ODF TC being populated by major Microsoft competitors designing a new document format with one goal, to stop the Microsoft monopoly and discarding backwards compatibility, you could naturally argue that Microsoft could have joined. I would argue that there was no way in hell that they in reality would be even near joining. There was also the issue with the investments Microsoft had already made in their own XML formats. In short, I think the idea you present is nice and sympathetic, but I also think it was not a "software-political" reality that it could happen.

Simple users
Well, please note that there are also non-Microsoft users on "the other side". I simply want a document format that also adheres to my more complex needs - and our customers want a document that will enable them to have their existing documents represented in the best possible way. ODF presently does neither of these things.

Financial times
Please note that the parent committee of SC34, JTC1 is already investigating the quick ways to enter existing standards into ISO, here PAS and FT. I agree with you, that the ODF/OOXML-saga has shown that they both could do with a bit of improving.

Oh - and please, I am not calling you stupid (not by a long shot). I am saying that comparing OOXML/ODF with hair dryers is stupid.


Flemming Kristensen

"... we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender".

And now to something completely different ... the larch!

Jesper, in my comment, I was not talking about MS joining OASIS.  I was simply talking about a "Save as ODF" option in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as the possibility to open ODF files.  If Microsoft can do it for WordPerfect, they can do it for ODF.  And if they need help, there is plenty of open source code available, from OpenOffice, KOffice or Gnumerics for example.  They claim they want to offer choice, but obviously only the choice to use their products.  OpenOffice 3 will offer the choice to save as OOXML...  

About the Financial Time: they are not so much talking about the need to improve the Fast Track process.  Maybe you missed the words "debacle", "pushing 6000 pages through the system in a rush", "many issues unresolved", "[NB] shown in a bad light", "Microsoft [...] ready to play rough to get its way".

Will you pretend that the FT is spinning the facts, or are you ready to admit that the ODF process was based on both the letter and spirit of the rules, while the OOXML process was based on the letter of the rules only, stretching them as far as possible to reach their goal ?


I was talking about official standards, not de-facto standards.  That was the context of the discussion, so I didn't feel the need to say it explicitly.

So, I repeat.  There are no closed official standards.

P.S.  I don't troll.


are you ready to admit that the ODF process was based on both the letter and spirit of the rules, while the OOXML process was based on the letter of the rules only, stretching them as far as possible to reach their goal ?
No - I do not agree with that.

But I have a question for you: What do you think was the reason for submitting ODF 1.0 to ISO - a document format that was underspecified and lacked important features like formulas in spreadsheets?

(I do not know the reason for this, so I am really interested in the discussion about it and not trying to blame you for anything).



ODF was a format specified by 5-7 people from an OOo and generally Open Source background.  Compared to the hundreds of programmers that contributed a bit of work to the original Office file formats and the tens of people who participated in Ecma TC45 on the documentation, I think the formats are simply not of the same scale.  Far more effort went into OpenXML.  

Those people on the street want to overcome that effort with chanting and claims that the format 'smells.'  I don't think that's going to work.  It might have been sensible, back in the day, if the OASIS ODF TC had invited Microsoft to offer a specification that would meet their needs (since much more work and effort has been invested in the current status quo of document formats than in any new format).  It would have also worked if the ODF TC had produced something that is unequivocally cleaner than OpenXML or at least expressive enough to specify all the features that people use in their documents today.  Instead, the common mantra seems to be "we don't like what you're doing, but we don't have anything better, so please stop what you're doing and re-do it in our framework."

The problem is that too many in the ODF movement see it as a way to kill Microsoft.  Killing Microsoft isn't a cause that engenders much support from anyone other than the community of Microsoft competitors and Penguinists.  If the ODF folks cared about serving their customers, they would have saved the time they spent improving the OpenXML spec while trying to kill it and instead applied it to their own spec and software.  

Actually ODF was developed not by the OASIS ODF TC (as it is called now) but by the
OASIS Open Office XML TC.
Its goal was te create an interoperable XML based format for improving OpenOffice format interoperability.

The TC was proposed by Sun with a suggested TC member composition of OpenOffice interested people/organisations and by Sun donating their StarOffice/OpenOffice format as a basis for the work.

Why would MS even remotly consider joining an Open Office TC ?

Especially as their own XML format was already being released in beta's of MS Office 2002/2003.

Only years later when this Open Office XML format was virtually completed on the suggestion of the of the EU the OASIS TC considered putting the format to ISO and they renamed it to OpenDocument (taken from an EU rapport). at no time it was considered asking MS to join then and the EU actually proposed to Microsoft to standardize their Office XML format as well.

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