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ISO Rejects OOXML Protest Appeals 258

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the money-can't-buy-happiness-but-it-can-rent-it dept.
snydeq writes "ISO and IEC gave OOXML the greenlight after organization leaders rejected appeals from four countries to protest the vote that approved OOXML as a standard. According to an ISO press statement, appeals by the national bodies of Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela did not garner support from two-thirds of the members of the ISO Technical Management Board and IEC Standardization Management Board, which is required by ISO/IEC rules to keep the appeals process alive."
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ISO Rejects OOXML Protest Appeals

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  • Better Articles (Score:4, Informative)

    by GNUChop (1310629) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:47PM (#24619399)

    See NoOOXML [noooxml.org], OpenDot [blogspot.com], NoOOXML [slashdot.org]">Boycott Novell and Groklaw [groklaw.net] for better analysis. People are very angry about this and they should be.

  • I don't get why MS really even *cares* about OOXML passing or failing. The .doc "standard" (and I use that term loosely) was still used even with it being very closed. If MS wants to use an open format then there is nothing wrong with using the more open (and vastly superior) Open Document Format. But I don't really see the motivation in trying to get OOXML to pass...
    • Re:MS (Score:5, Informative)

      by corsec67 (627446) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:53PM (#24619497) Homepage Journal

      Some governments are passing laws saying that documents must be stored in a format that is a documented standard.

      This is just MS's way of checking that box without actually making their format open.

      You are right in that they don't want to open their format, but they need to have the appearance of having one.

      • Re:MS (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Narpak (961733) on Friday August 15, 2008 @03:15PM (#24619817)
        Norway has decided that all official documents must be available through ODF, PDF or HTML; which ever is most suited to the information in question. Also schools and public offices must accept ODF as a valid format. This is because no policy should require citizens to purchase expensive software to use public services. Among other things.
      • Some governments are passing laws saying that documents must be stored in a format that is a documented standard.

        This is just MS's way of checking that box without actually making their format open.

        What I don't understand is this: how can they check that box without supporting the format? My understanding is that it's an unimplementable hodgepodge that's not fully supported by any version of MS Office to date.

        • by hellwig (1325869)
          The next office will support ODF (since so many people are already moving there) but not OOXML.

          The problem here is the fact that there exists an OOXML specification and that MS effectively owns that spec. Therefore, they can simply say that Office uses OOXML, but underneath it uses a hacked, unsupported version. The future of OOXML will simply be whatever features of OOXML MS has decided to implement, and HOW MS has implemented them. ISO isn't a governing body, they can't punish MS for not following t
      • Re:MS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday August 15, 2008 @04:58PM (#24621239)

        They don't even need the appearance.
        They just have to match the legal requirements.

        It is like the word games redefining torture as not being torture.

        It is like defining a rope with a hook as a "braking system".

        If the law says torture is illegal, just make sure your actions are legally not torture.
        If the law requires a braking system, just make sure a rope with a hook is defined as a braking system.

        If the law requires and open standard, just make sure some government or standards body calls it an "open standard". It does not have to actually be open.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by UnknowingFool (672806)
      See the problem is that ODF makes life easier on you especially if you change applications in the future. OOXML makes it harder on you. But MS is not concerned about you being able to read any format as they are concerned in keeping you tied to their products. If you use OOXML, you can't change applications easily. That might be a bit pessimistic. As of this writing no application, not even MS Office can read and write OOXML reliably so maybe OOXML may never make it to wide adoption.
      • See the problem is that ODF makes life easier on you especially if you change applications in the future. OOXML makes it harder on you.

        Nope [slashdot.org].

  • ISO is dead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ariastis (797888) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:50PM (#24619447)

    RIP ISO 2008

  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:53PM (#24619499)

    Nice to see that the price for ISO members was high enough to prevent appeals from going through.

    Standards for sale.
    Act now before the prices go up.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Nice to see that the price for ISO members was high enough to prevent appeals from going through.

      There wouldn't have been much point in accepting corruption if they allowed the appeal.

      Lots of /.'ers have predicted this as "the beginning of the end for ISO", but really, who outside of /. either knows or cares about the issues at stake?

  • So inertia is going to dump more crap on the world, so it seems. How a 'respected' body like ISO can let this slip through, particularly in the face of all the wheeling and dealing (corruption?) that's gone on during the voting process is depressing.
    The IE6 of office software is upon us.

    • by Shados (741919) on Friday August 15, 2008 @03:02PM (#24619607)

      This is only in the spotlight because it matters to anti-MS geeks. International standards have ALWAYS been such a freagin mess. It has always been a fight of power and money. "Fine, we will let you have your feature in the standard, if our technology is part of the standard too, then we'll vote for your proposition, and you vote for our proposition tomorrow".

      Its why many are so stupidly hard to implement, are political mess (XHTML2 anyone?), and why corporations eventually feel the need to make their own, to just bypass it all and be done with it.

      It was -always- this way. ISO has -always- been a freagin joke, and most people who implemeneted their crap already know this (ISO9001, lol). This is just a whole lot of same old same old.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Smivs (1197859)

        What you say is certainly true, but my point is not anti-MS specifically, but is a much more general one. We all have to live by standards (that's why we have law) and if some do not comply it inevitably causes chaos. While the transgressors often benefit, others suffer. Normally one 'standard' wins the battle of public aceptance, but it's often not the best one, it's the one that's promoted by people who are prepared to do whatever is necesary to win! What's best for the majority is a side issue, and this

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shados (741919)

          My point is that "respected" bodies like ISO aren't falling. They've hit the lowest ground years (and in some cases, decades) ago. This particular event is nothing new: its always how it has been, and why most of these standards suck ass, from ISO to the W3C and beyond. It didn't reach a new low or anything, it has done much, much worse.

          The whole idea of "independant standard bodies" is about as flawed as the idea behind software patents. It simply cannot work, and I'm not sure what the alternative is.

          • by NickFortune (613926) on Friday August 15, 2008 @03:57PM (#24620439) Homepage Journal

            My point is that "respected" bodies like ISO aren't falling. They've hit the lowest ground years (and in some cases, decades) ago.

            Then maybe it's time we started demanding standards that were truly fit for purpose. That could be the one true thing to come out of this mess. It it raises general in the technical community of how badly broken ISO is, then maybe we're seeing the first steps on the road to a workable standards process.

            In any event, there's nothing to be gained by accepting the status quo, and everything to gain from making a fuss. Good standards are important. If ISO can't deliver them we need a standards body that can.

            The whole idea of "independant standard bodies" is about as flawed as the idea behind software patents.

            I think you're conflating two ideas there. Firstly, there's the notion of a standard is a technical specification that (I expect and demand) everyone can implement and conform to. Secondly, there's the notion of a sort of government monopoly - in the sense that if YoYoDyne Inc control Standard X and the govt mandates that all frobnitz conform to Standard X, then only YoYoDyne can practically market frobnitz.

            The point I think you're missing is that if a standard is a standard in the first sense, then the abuse implicit in the second scenario is impossible. It's not that standards are inherently broken, it's that closed, proprietary standards are broken. And so the problem comes back to IP rather than standards, per se.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Shados (741919)

              In any event, there's nothing to be gained by accepting the status quo, and everything to gain from making a fuss. Good standards are important. If ISO can't deliver them we need a standards body that can.

              I totally agree with you. My posts were to point out that if we make a fuss about the WRONG THING, the eventual fixes won't fix anything. Too many people here seem to think that ISO fell because an overly powerful evil corporation pushed it around. But it fell because EVERYONE have ALWAYS been pushing it

        • by sm62704 (957197)

          We all have to live by standards (that's why we have law)

          perhaps, but that's not why I think we SHOULD have law. IMO we should have law to protect me from you and you from me, not to make us think and act alike. No law should endeavor to protect me from myself; I should have the right to ruin my life any way I see fit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dracos (107777)

        political mess (XHTML2 anyone?)

        XHTML2 may be a political mess, and while it flatlines, HTML5 (a technical mess) is being prepared to be forced down our throats... get ready to choke on a big mouthful of bloat, tag soup, and presentational tags.

        At least the ISO has some authority (rotten as it is), but the W3C is impotent, and has been for years.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          And it is largely microsoft that is responsible for making the w3c impotent.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Shados (741919)

            The W3C makes a lot more standards than just HTML/CSS, and its standards sucked long before Microsoft failed to implement them, and even those that are perfectly (or mostly so) implemented everywhere still also suck.

            All it does is spit out standard specifications that are more bloated than Vista on a bad day, and virtually everything that falls under its wings go that way. Its just the same as ISO: its multiple bodies pushing for their ideas and goals and instead of filtering the good from the bad, they imp

            • by porneL (674499)

              I agree that W3C's standards are often bent to appease their sponsors, but still you can't say that Microsoft didn't make things worse.

              Even if CSS3 isn't perfect, that's still much much better than buggy CSS1-and-a-half that IE6-7 supports (notably lacking display:table-cell that at least gives basic vertical control).

        • by porneL (674499)
          HTML5 is not presentational.

          The "messy" tags and features are non-conforming (AKA deprecated). They are in the spec only because they have to be documented somewhere for browser creators. If you wrote browser that doesn't support <font> & co., even google.com wouldn't render properly (try gaining market share with such browser).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          Care to name any of those presentational tags in HTML 5? All of the ones I saw were semantic apart from the audio and video tags. Whether tag soup is allowed depends on whether you use the SGML or XML bindings (and even then you aren't allowed overlapping tags, just ones that aren't closed). As for bloat, they're not allowing anything into the spec that doesn't have two independent implementations, so at least two browser writers have to think it's a good idea - I've spent the last month running in to re
    • by hedwards (940851)

      I'm not really surprised at this point. When they said that multiple competing standards were a good thing, I'd have thought any credibility would have been gone at that point.

      Standards are only useful if they're used widely and claimed compliance is enforced. Having a history of multiple competing standards just undermines any credibility that ISO had.

  • Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Renderer of Evil (604742) on Friday August 15, 2008 @03:13PM (#24619787) Homepage

    The damage to the standard has been done. There has been so much negative press swirling around OOXML that ISO approval at this point is largely symbolic and meaningless.

    Microsoft shot itself in the foot by trying to bribe national ISO members instead of keeping it on the downlow and improving OOXML to appease those obsessive standard-freaks. But then again, this is Microsoft we're talking about.

    I'm not a luddite and would gladly try new things (including Microsoft things), but my perception of OOXML is so low based on all the news stories I've read that I'd rather switch to papyrus than save a document in .docx

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dgatwood (11270) on Friday August 15, 2008 @03:46PM (#24620261) Journal

      The damage to the standard has been done, but by outright rejecting the protests, ISO is also irreparably damaging its reputation. That damage could have been mitigated. Instead, they covered their ears and screamed "LA, LA, LA, LA, LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" like a petulant five-year-old child.

      Today, they might as well have released a press release that said, "We are a standards body that represents the desires of the highest bidder. Screw you all." That's certainly the way the entire open source community is going to interpret this. The result can be nothing less than a large percentage of people who should care about ISO standards replying, "Screw you, too." No other outcome is possible at this point; they have effectively marginalized themselves in the eyes of the technical community---probably irrevocably so. In the eyes of the community, the ISO simply no longer matters, or more accurately, must be completely ignored for the good of standardization.

      Or, in government terms, "One wrong turn deserves another."

      • by jimicus (737525)

        ITYM "ISO have lost any respect they may have had within IT".

        Seriously, the implications are being blown beyond any sense of proportion. Yes, they're a standards body which can be bribed by the highest bidder to approve a document but unless the whole world knows this and holds them in contempt as a result, it means nothing.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          If the people who would otherwise submit standards to ISO and follow standards set by ISO generally think they are irrelevant, they become de facto irrelevant. At least in this field, IMHO, they are remarkably close.

  • The net result of this mess looks like no program can claim to be standards compliant. No one other than M$ will be able to support OOXML due to the incomplete specification and M$ has shown no interest in supporting ODF.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      The net result of this mess looks like no program can claim to be standards compliant.

      Wouldn't it be funny if Word was rejected by government programs because it is not compliant?!

  • Good to see that technical merit is no match for dogged mediocrity. Or in this case Microsofts pocket book. Once they buy something it stays bought!
  • Most people don't care enough about learning how to use a computer and I think in general most people don't like learning anything. They know Windows and will stick by anything Microsoft does because Microsoft is familiar.
  • Seriously. ISO has no power of any kind over anyone. ISO only has any power or value as long as people belive ISO is worth listening to. If we all simply ignore ISO in every way we can, then they will dry up and blow away. Problem solved.

  • software that is. the only people who decide what goes as standards are developers of software. if individual developers and software houses do not like OOXML and make their software accommodate it, it doesnt have a snowball's chance in hell, REGARDLESS of what you chant around. REGARDLESS of who microsoft or any other company bribes, regardless of which country mandates which standard, whichever standard wins the most support from programmers, developers, whomever creates software, will be the winner.
  • Why now? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by codemachine (245871) on Friday August 15, 2008 @06:55PM (#24622335)

    did not garner support from two-thirds of the members of the ISO Technical Management Board and IEC Standardization Management Board, which is required by ISO/IEC rules to keep the appeals process alive.

    Oh sure, now they start following the rules!

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