OOXML Documentation: ISO Concerned

Oct 08, 2008

The International Standards Organization (ISO) is up in arms over the fact that documentation for Microsoft's OOXML data format is now publicly available on the Internet. Meanwhile, ISO members are nervously watching IBM's behavior in the standardization process.

Activists in the Boycott Novell forum have exposed the more than 5,500 page document in PDF, HTML, Microsoft spreadsheet, and various other formats on their website. Even though OOXML was certified as an ISO standard under turbulent and unsteady circumstances, ISO has been keeping the comprehensive documentation under wraps. The Boycott Novell activists describe the documentation exposure as a reaction to the "systematic abuse and the demise of ISO." Alex Brown, who was partly responsible for the OOXML process at ISO, describes the exposure in his weblog as a "brazen act of copyright violation."

Brown goes on to say that "the boobies have even been so good as to boast about the bandwidth requirements their crimes have occasioned" and ends with the words, "Even now, I can hear those Geneva lawyers licking their lips over this one..." Boycott Novell webmaster Roy Schestovitz is not fazed by the possible legalities. He adds, "Feel free to pass around (or even ridicule) those ~60 megabytes of lock-in, which Microsoft won't let you see." He is not alone in this opinion: the numerous ongoing updates are tagged with the authors’ names.

The website contributors also point to IBM's recent "provocative call" for ISO "to do better," with IBM challenging their participation in the process (reported here). Brown, in another blog, considers IBM's call a threat and questions whether they purposely pulled their staff from the SC 34 committee meetings on Jeju Island in Korea. Quote: the "IBM people are certainly conspicuous here by their total absence." In response, IBM's Bob Weir indicates in his own blog that that their attendance record shouldn't be a surprise in that it was always based on availability due to meeting location. Rather as proof of their growing commitment he adds, "to put it in perspective, the US SC 34 shadow committee currently has around 20 members. Before Microsoft stuffed it we had around 7."

During the meeting in Korea the ISO committee also declared further support for the ODF format. The Groklaw legal forum, which also documented the ISO proceedings, considers the SC 34 committee decision "a takeover attempt of ODF." Rob Weir considers IBM's collaboration in OASIS, the initiative behind ODF, as substantial. He writes, "Despite Microsoft's successful attempt to stuff SC34, as they did NB's around the world, participation from IBM remains in the range of 0 to 2 participants. I'd be hard pressed to justify the expense of any greater attendance. The real work on ODF goes on in OASIS. That's where we put our people...."

The unrest surrounding the OOXML certification by the standards body in Switzerlandhas still not reached an end. IBM's reaction to the standards comes just days after some national delegates declared establishing their own standards. The Norwegian delegationpulled more than half its members, and the EU Commission's investigation into Microsoft's comportment is still inconclusive.

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  • Th supposed MSOOXML standard

    What puzzles me is the apparent absence of anyone in ISO who is proud of what ISO has achieved in the past and ashamed of how MSOOXML was fast tracked. Surely there must be some people higher up the ladder than Brown who are alarmed about what has been going on and the way so many of their own rules have been broken . So why don't they speak out ???
  • Well talk about not so open open ISO standard.

    Well it seems that if you are not allowed to see the code that makes up OOXML then it is not an open source standard. If you buy it and get to see the code, that is still not open source as you need to buy a license to preview the code. I bet within a few months ISO will not be so credible and OOXML will be in limbo as Microsoft still tries to push it as open and for profit. Kinda sad the EU needs to get in into action and pound on the front of Microsoft's house and lay down the law as needs be.

    I do not know about you but the ISO group needs to transparent as clear glass, and everything that happens behind closed dorrs needs to be known to the public. Really I think that ISO needs to be radically changed to a more credible open viewing and voting standard. Voted on by the public and by businesses. That there then will be truly open to everyone and everything for the betterment of the people and businesses.
  • it is sad

    the sad thing is even though it is leaked no one can still inter-operate with it.

    might as well leak toilet tissue. that's all it is good for anyway.
  • ISO should be sued for fraud with respect to OOXML

    In approving OOXML as an ISO standard, ISO has broken its own mandate - the thing that allows it to present itself as ISO. People buying copies of the ISO 29500 standard will be purchasing it under the fradulent misrepresentation that it is prepared and overseen in accordance with the rules that make up ISO's mandate. People should sue ISO for fraud for selling a product under the ISO label which is not prepared and overseen according to the ISO mandate.

    I also wonder if breaching of ISO's rules about publishing OOXML is a move by ISO Microsoft stooges to block other vendors getting information that may allow then to make a start at implementing OOXML and thereby give Microsoft an additional head start on top of the head start that OOXML's undocumented behaviours (known only to Microsoft) and patent lock-ins to allow Microsoft monopoly control (which ISO is not supposed to allow). Another anti-trust violation by both Microsoft and ISO (ISO itself is a standards monopoly and must therefore come under anti-trust regulation) for the EU to investigate.
  • ooxml

    So how come what is suppose to be an open standard 'ooxml' is not allowed to be openly viewed?
    I may be stupid, but is this insane!!!

    ooxml... pah!!
    odf wins hands down.

  • Links not allowed?

    Following all three links in my above comment lead to not found messages for all three. Copy and paste works, though, if you are careful to remove any parentheses that may have been included in the links.
  • It's an All-Out War

    Alex Brown increasingly looks like a Microsoft puppet posing as an impartial ISO official, and IBM looks more likely than ever to lead an effort to start a separate standards organization (http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/25186.wss). Meanwhile, OOXML remains unimplemented while ODF continues to swell in use around the world, despite Microsoft's mouthpieces claiming that it is a de facto standard (http://www.interopnews.com/...rds-and-double-standards.html) even when Microsoft, itself, has stated they will implement ODF before they implement OOXML (http://www.microsoft.com/pr...8/05-21ExpandedFormatsPR.mspx).
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