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ISO Says No To Microsoft's OOXML Standard 315

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-again-later dept.
qcomp writes "The votes are in and Microsoft has lost for now, reports the FFII's campaign website OOXML. The 2/3 majority needed to proceed with the fast-track standardization has not been achieved. Now the standard will head to the ballot resolution meeting to address the hundreds of technical comments submitted along with the votes." Here is yesterday's speculation as to how the vote would turn out.
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ISO Says No To Microsoft's OOXML Standard

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  • I wonder? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:19AM (#20464545) Journal
    Can they re-try the fast track again, or is this forever tabled? If forever tabled, than ISO will be useless to MS. They would need to explain ALL of their work and they do not even know it, let alone explain it to others. Basically, iso for MS would be dead.
  • Good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Toreo asesino (951231) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:24AM (#20464609) Journal
    Because, as a Microsoft dev myself I like to think the technology field I base myself in is popular based on technical merits rather than stupid market hacking. Tactics like the OOXML fiasco only distract people from the actual benefits of MS technology.

    Remember folks, for a company of several hundred thousand, unfortunately not all are going to be good guys - theres plenty more that are however.

    Flame away.
  • by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:25AM (#20464629) Homepage
    So can IBM and Sun. Votes at standard bodies are not that expensive. On top of that as the IEEE 802.11 work proves pulling a filibuster at a standard's setting meeting is absolutely trivial. By the time all comments are handled and by the time it is approved most of us will be retired anyway. Nothing to see here, move along.
  • Re:Some details... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clickety6 (141178) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:45AM (#20464919)
    It's interesting that Trinidad and Tobago are marked down as a possible paid-off Microsoft puppet and yet they still voted to Abstain rather than a Yes
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @11:52AM (#20465055)

    I fail to see the fuss, both formats suck and really have no place as a desktop publishing format. They are crappy WYSIWYG data dumps that are heavily tied to rendering algorithms of their respective editor and really are not archival safe.

    Indeed. You'll also find that hammers are poor at undoing screws and cars aren't so good at taking you overseas.

    What is it going to be like 50 years from now when you try to pull up an old manuscript? You know how Popular Science likes to pull up magazine issues from 40+ years ago, I wonder how they are going to manage that 40 years from now when the proprietary and open file formats are unsupported and "obsolete".

    They'll use a format that actually meant for that sort of thing like, say, PDF.

    The point of "WYSIWYG" is not - despite what a lot of people (including those that should know better) think - that a document looks the same on computer B as it does on computer A. It's that the document that comes out of the printer looks the same as it does on the screen.

    Word processing != desktop publishing.

  • Re:I wonder? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rucs_hack (784150) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:10PM (#20465289)
    This was their one chance to fast track. That's meant for excellent standards that have no dissenting views, and no discernible problems. Now they have to address the problems.

    I rather suspect that OOXML is in fact dead, even if they eventually manage to get an ISO certification. Its too late now. After all ODF is already an ISO, easier to implement then OOXML, patent free, with no issues of any type whatsoever. People will choose it simply because its the better format. OOXML will be what people use if they must interact with Microsoft office.
  • by jkrise (535370) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:13PM (#20465329) Journal
    Actually of the 26 latest P-members, 21 voted 'YES', 1 voted 'NO' and 4 abstained.

    You could have said that and people would have believed you, so why lie?


    After all the furore in Sweden, Norway and Hungary, would people still find it difficult to believe that a few 'coutries' like Cote' de Ivorie, Cyprus etc. were bribed to vote 'Yes'?
  • by elgaard (81259) <`kd.loga' `ta' `draagle'> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:40PM (#20465717) Homepage
    I think the people that talked Cuba and Syria into voting for MS OOXML should have some kind of award.

    "Please vote for our standard. BTW we make the only software can use it properly and we wont sell it to you".
    http://www.microsoft.com/exporting/faq.htm [microsoft.com]

  • Re:Good (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Basilius (184226) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:54PM (#20465911)
    I'm an ex-MSFT employee, and I know a lot of current and former MSFT employees. They're pretty much all good guys/gals.

    You cannot project the individual up the corporation, however. (And it's not several hundred thousand. Last I looked, they were still under seventy thousand employees.) I don't know any members of the executive staff or board, however, and THAT's where decisions like this OOXML fiasco come from.

    The culture within the company makes sure that the only people who can survive well enough to make it to the junior or senior executive level are cutthroat enough to think up plans like this. It's been that way since the 80s. It's taken until the last few years, though, for the company to grow enough that there's enough yes-men under the execs to insulate them from some levels of negative market reaction to their behavior. For a long time fines where just a cost of doing business at MSFT. I don't think they've realized until too late that the segment of the industry actively working against them is growing rapidly and is more effective than ever before.

    The fact that they actually believed Vista was worth releasing was one clue. Another is that they've lost this initial push at OOXML. The third might not come until they try to EOL XP. (Or if IBM decides to chase the money from the SCO/IBM lawsuits.)
  • Re:How bad is this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wylfing (144940) <`brian' `at' `wylfing.net'> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:01PM (#20466037) Homepage Journal

    Anecdote time.

    About a year ago, a client of mine gave me a PDF and some source files and said "We can't edit this. Please fix the problem." The document itself was in Word 2.0. The graphics were WMFs. This thing had been originally created in Windows 3.1 and updated (with the WMFs) in Windows 95. The client couldn't open up any of it.

    The Word file was basically a non-starter. I just ignored it and stripped the text out of the PDF instead. The graphics, though...The PDF refused to be opened properly in Illustrator, so I couldn't recover them that way. I also could not open the WMFs directly -- it was something about how they were tied to the original platform. What I ended up doing was digging up an ancient copy of Windows and and ancient copy of Illustrator, building a custom machine just for this operation, and recovering the files that way. The client paid about $3,000 for the privilege of being able to update one of their own files. Just one file, mind, and it had yet to be actually updated -- this was simply establishing the ability to update. All because they were couldn't see what a bad idea it was to invest their data in lock-in formats.

    When I explained to the client how they had gotten into this mess, and how they could avoid it in the future, they stared blankly back. We use up-to-date versions of Word now, they said.

    Oh, well, I thought, here comes another few grand in my pocket. But then again, in another few years, maybe nobody has these old copies of Windows and old copies of Illustrator anymore, and then they are SOL.

  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:01PM (#20466041) Homepage Journal
    Fair point, but then what place does word processing have? Why bother even standardizing it, because I fail to see what purpose it serves.
  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:42PM (#20466731) Journal

    Have you seen the actual break down of which way countries voted? Scroll down a little way in the FTA comments and it's laid out in a table. It's amazing in that with the exception of the US, the voting is almost consistently "No" from rich, developed countries, and "Yes" from poorer Eastern European and African countries that are stereotypically more corrupt. The jokes people are making about Microsoft buying the votes of Banana Republics are not without a basis. Worth looking through the list.
  • by JustJim0183 (747076) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:45PM (#20466773)
    ISO has been around for a long long time and I'm sure that this isn't the first time that one particular vendor has tried to influence a vote on a standard to reflect it's own parochial position.

    It seems to me that, by and large, standards organizations like ISO have done a pretty good job of keeping their communities free from this kind of bias. What usually happens is that some other large gorilla in the community opposes the position and throws his weight onto the opposite side of the issue.

    Let's not generate our own version of FUD here (Oh, M$ is trying to steal the election so ISO is not doing its job, lets replace/modify ISO). Simply point out what tis going on and let the community respond.
  • Why any Yes Votes? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:34PM (#20467589)
    I can't figure out why there are any Yes votes. It is obvious that their specification is full of proprietary crap that will harm the open standards overall. They don't meet the minimum requirements so why did any of them vote yes? They knew the specif was not in compliance with the votes and even a yes with comments is still a yes vote. There should have been all no votes (some with and some without comments).

    At least it worked out for now. Pretty sad though that Microsoft tried to stack the deck. If some serious revisions in their policy toward joining and voting isn't changed we'll see more abuse by Microsoft until they finally get it passed.
  • by AJWM (19027) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @03:03PM (#20468023) Homepage
    It was expected to be "No" from the US too, up until a couple of weeks ago when Gates/Ballmer made a few calls to people in high places (Secretary of Commerce, if I remember right). Several of the other US govt groups (DOD, Homeland Security) had agreed to go along with however NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) voted. Guess who NIST reports to. Yep, it's part of the Dept. of Commerce.

    I hope folks at NIST are suitably embarrassed about approving such a shoddy spec as a standard, regardless of who it came from.
  • by fritsd (924429) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @04:14PM (#20469025) Journal
    IANAMOANB, but maybe this really is the first time that one particular vendor tries to push through a bad standard, as opposed to just their own standard with their own idiosyncrasies and technology head-start.

    Can anyone in the know comment?

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOSPAM.beau.org> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @04:22PM (#20469133)
    > What is particularly interesting about the result is the "new" members of the voting body
    > (you know the ones that don't normally voted but suspiciously wanted to this time) all voted for YES

    You can't stop it, Microsoft is leveraging the inherent weakness all "international instituitions" suffer from. The fantasy that every soverign nation is somehow equal. It is the same one that made the UN into a parliment of tyrants.

    And no, I don't really have a solution to the problem. But I could offer a few suggestions to improve this situation.

    1) You have to be a dues paying member for three years before you get a vote. That stops countries from being induced to jump in for one vote.

    2) You have to be in the top half (two thirds, whatever) of nations in the general industry you want to vote in standards for. That means Cyprus, etc., not being known for their software industry probably wouldn't have been allowed a vote on OOXML. Unfair? Yes, but life isn't fair and giving them a vote is more unfair to everyone else. Perhaps give all the small fry a subcommittee that gets a couple of votes if they are mostly in consensus on an issue.

    3) Punish entites who openly game the system like Microsoft is doing. Say toss all MIcrosoft reps from ISO sponsored groups for five years and publicly rebuke national bodies who allowed their votes to be openly rigged.
  • by azrider (918631) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @05:29PM (#20470187)

    And no, I don't really have a solution to the problem. But I could offer a few suggestions to improve this situation. 1) You have to be a dues paying member for three years before you get a vote. That stops countries from being induced to jump in for one vote. 2) You have to be in the top half (two thirds, whatever) of nations in the general industry you want to vote in standards for. That means Cyprus, etc., not being known for their software industry probably wouldn't have been allowed a vote on OOXML. Unfair? Yes, but life isn't fair and giving them a vote is more unfair to everyone else. Perhaps give all the small fry a subcommittee that gets a couple of votes if they are mostly in consensus on an issue. 3) Punish entites who openly game the system like Microsoft is doing. Say toss all MIcrosoft reps from ISO sponsored groups for five years and publicly rebuke national bodies who allowed their votes to be openly rigged.
    I would change that to:

    1) You have to be a dues paying member prior to the submission for consideration in order to vote on that submission. That stops countries from being induced to jump in simply to influence the voting on that one issue.

    2) You have to participate in a majority of the discussions (say 75 percent) in order to vote (no last minute O->P upgrades of NBs which had not been involved in any of the discussions).

    3) Representatives of the organization requesting the submission are disqualified from voting in any National Body (ECMA in this case).

    4) Representatives of any company or organization involved in creating the specification of the proposed standard are disqualified from voting in any National Body (ECMA and Microsoft in this case).

    5) Any National Body which is found to have irregularities in their process would be disqualified from participation in all votes for a period of time (say 1 year for the first offense, 5 years for the second). There are two many instances to list.

  • by fsmunoz (267297) <fsmunoz@member.f ... g minus math_god> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @05:52PM (#20470567) Homepage

    Have you seen the actual break down of which way countries voted? Scroll down a little way in the FTA comments and it's laid out in a table. It's amazing in that with the exception of the US, the voting is almost consistently "No" from rich, developed countries, and "Yes" from poorer Eastern European and African countries that are stereotypically more corrupt. The jokes people are making about Microsoft buying the votes of Banana Republics are not without a basis. Worth looking through the list.
    Well, here in Portugal the "comission" was chaired by Microsoft, more than half the other "representatives" were MS affiliates and, get this, Sun and IBM were not allowed because "there weren't enough chairs". No ammount of protesting by companies or organisations like ANSOL (FSF Europe affiliate in Portugal) had great effect as you can imagine.

    After reading your comment I initially though "well, we were part of the almost, an exception to the rule", but to be blunt the truth is that *this is* a Bananas' Republic: only in one would the above happen.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 05, 2007 @12:27AM (#20474679)
    As far as I understand it (me being dutch) we voted "no, without comments" because we were forced to. Let me explain.

    Our group investigated the standard and made a huge list of what was wrong with it (certain things were being skipped over, while over things were listed twice in the standard's documents). These comments were then submitted with the first vote (we voted "No, with comments" the first time).

    This vote, the second time, our group looked and saw that hardly any of our concerns were taken care off, so they wanted to submit a "No, with comments" again, with the SAME comments as the previous time. This however is NOT allowed by the ISO, hence the vote got changed to a "No, without comments"
  • Re:How bad is this? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Clovert Agent (87154) on Wednesday September 05, 2007 @03:45AM (#20475975)
    I had to recover data from Word 2.0 files once upon a time. Of course Office XP couldn't open them, but OpenOffice can. Give that a try.

    That experience of mine, IMHO, demonstrates exactly why properly open formats are essential. Microsoft's own poor support for its proprietary format would have caused me to lose data.

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