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ISO Releases OOXML FAQ

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the frequently-aggressive-queries dept.

Microsoft 185

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The ISO has put out a FAQ concerning OOXML, but it may raise more questions than it answers. For one, it promises to address problems if they arise in the future. PJ of Groklaw said that's akin to 'selling you a car with four different sizes of tires and assuring that that if you see it's a problem, you can always bring it in for maintenance.' It also handwaves the OSP discriminatory patent promise issues, when asked about contradictions states that some 'may still remain', and asserts that duplicate standards are 'something that need[s] to be decided by the market place.' Notably, the FAQ does not answer the question, 'what the hell were you thinking?'"

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The Fax is just a test run... (3, Funny)

brennanw (5761) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093930)

... for their NEW international standard, "how to act like a complete jackass when deciding to adopt an international standard."

FAQ. I meant FAQ. (1)

brennanw (5761) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093946)

*shakes fist at lack of edit button*

Re:FAQ. I meant FAQ. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094340)

brennanw (5761)

One would think you'd be used to it by now.

Re:FAQ. I meant FAQ. (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095528)

shaking the fist?

You'd think so! (1)

brennanw (5761) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095720)

... but it gets me every time. :)

Losers with opinions! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094612)

For one, it promises to address problems if they arise in the future. PJ of Groklaw said that's akin to 'selling you a car with four different sizes of tires and assuring that that if you see it's a problem, you can always bring it in for maintenance.


Yes! Someone else who understands that this is in complete opposition to the way other standards are worked on, such as IEE 802.11a. And b. And g. And n.

Oh wait... that's a bad example, isn't it [wikipedia.org] ?

Well, then how about Teh Lunix? That's only had one version. It was born prefect, and remains perfect. No revisions needed. [securitytracker.com]

Woohoo! We hate MS, and now we hate the ISO too!

Re:Losers with opinions! (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094696)

Cite an example where there was a question over the voting practices in on of the IEEE 802.11x standards.

Linux is not a standard, just like Windows NT is not a standard, it's software.

Re:The Fax is just a test run... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094892)

that has to spend time doing PR and not defining standards. That is the sign of a great standards organization. I think it is more telling of the pile of poop they have stepped into.

Q: what the hell were you thinking? (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093942)

A: Sorry, but we can't hear you over the sound of us thumbing through all these big stacks of cash.

Re:Q: what the hell were you thinking? (4, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093986)

You beat me to it, but I was going to distill it into a thought ballon:

ISO . o O ( $$$$$$$$$ )

I wonder... (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094376)

...if ISO was paid in euros or dollars. You'd probably want to fast-track to this degree if your bribe goes down in value the longer you take.

Re:I wonder... (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095564)

The value of the bribe plummets with the standard to which it is attached.
Which victory is more pyrrhic: submitting OOXML or shipping Vista?

Re:I wonder... (3, Informative)

droopycom (470921) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095770)

ISO is normally paid in CHF.

Look for ISO 4217 if you dont know what CHF is....

Slashdot define ISO as (5, Funny)

ady1 (873490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095600)

A bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes

Frequently Asked Questions indeed (4, Funny)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093962)

I cannot count the times people have asked me "What was the post-BRM voting on ISO/IEC 29500?"

Isn't the whole idea of a standard (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093968)

...to have a STANDARD?

Maybe they should rename themselves the "International Organization for Vague and Undefined Standardization, To Be Decided By The Market"

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094054)

How about M$ISO for short?

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094100)

How about M$ISO for short?

I$O Standard?

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094058)

"International Organization for Vague and Undefined Standardization, To Be Decided By whoever throws the most money at us or the market"

Fixed that for you

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094364)

If renaming is an option, I'm partial to:

ISOldout

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (5, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094566)

IOVUSTBSBTM? Doesn't work for me... How about:

International Standards Under Corporate Kontrol?

(If you use KDE, you probably didn't notice the inappropriate use of K, but if you use GNOME, it's probably tearing at your brain that I did that just so I could spell a word)

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23095698)

Perl ISO... "there's more than one way to do it"

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094634)

I think you and most people at Slashdot, most of whom seem fairly well informed on a good variety of subjects, are forgetting that there is more that one definition to the word "standard".

    You're talking about the concept of THE standard, which would mean that there's one way to do things and that's it. I'll not delve into the curious double standard of decrying a monopolistic company while at the same time wishing one single format enforced on the whole industry. Suffice it to say that ISO is not in the business of defining THE standard for anything.

    ISO is in the business of ratifying standards for various technologies. Just like RCA cables have a standard, Component cables have a standard, and Coax and HDMI cables have a standard even though they're all intended to allow you to pipe video to your TV. OOXML and ODF are differing standards to accomplish the same end of storing the information for a document. OOXML becoming a standard isn't about it becoming THE standard. It's been the de facto standard for quite some time already, challenged recently by newcomers to the field. It's about standardizing the format used by Office for storing files from now on into the future.

    OOXML becoming a standard is a very good thing for anybody trying to make a program to edit documents with the intent of competing with Microsoft in the Office software space. Sure it's got stuff like "Format this like we did back in the Office '98 days" but that's just to cover the backwards compatability for old documents. I would imagine -- not having looked at the spec myself -- that there are very few complaints with the way current behavior is described. The standardizing of OOXML means that there will be a standard way to interpret the data. That makes it a whole lot easier to properly convert OOXML documents to ODF, should you so desire, without screwing up the document.

    Depending on how you look at it, OOXML becoming a standard is one big giant step towards competing products being able to edge in on Office. It removes the lock-in for all MS Office documents going forward, cause now everybody knows how they're supposed to be rendered. Imagine Open Office and all your favorite editors of choice being able to properly render the .docx filefrom this point forward. Suddenly everybody is comparing on merit alone instead of on some predetermined lock-in point.

    I personally like MS products and the level of ease-of-use versus nitty-gritty options available in them. Macs are way too user friendly for my taste and Linux distros a bit too hands-on for my preference, but I'm fine with accepting that other people may lean more towards one side or the other. I'd just ask that those of you interpreting this as Microsoft's big play to become THE standard stop selling yourselves short. In general you're all much smarter than to legitimately be up in arms over something that fosters the very thing that you want due to a misunderstanding in semantics.

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094752)

You're making one huge mistaken assumption after another.

Second: Microsoft undoubtedly has dozens of "patents" on the OOXML standard effectively preventing anyone from implementing the standard in the near future.

First: Microsoft hasn't implemented this "standard" in their own products. Their .DOCX is similar to OOXML, but doesn't match the standard not withstanding the vagueness and inaccuracies in the standard as defined.

Third: If someone were to somehow make a faithful implementation of OOXML that wasn't Microsoft, people would assume it's broken or non-standards compliant because it won't open and display properly under Microsoft word since Word doesn't presently implement OOXML properly as defined. (Other examples of this broken standards behavior can be seen in Internet Explorer where the perception is that if it works in MSIE but doesn't work with Firefox, Opera or Safari, then it's a problem with Firefox, Opera or Safari and not MSIE since it works there.) This mistaken perception will enable Microsoft to establish a standard that, even if faithfully implemented, will be perceived as broken.

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (1)

TheRealSlimShady (253441) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095200)

How was Microsoft supposed to implement this standard in their own products before it was a standard? Once it went into the standards committee a bunch of changes were made - how could those changes have been anticipated.

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (5, Informative)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095292)

How was Microsoft supposed to implement this standard in their own products before it was a standard? Once it went into the standards committee a bunch of changes were made - how could those changes have been anticipated.

The intial version they submitted already wasn't compatible with what office implements.

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095284)

OOXML isn't much of a de-facto standard, .doc is and OOXML is not .doc. OOXML is more like docx which isn't used much as nothing but Office 2007 can open it OOTB. Almost noone has Office 2007 and the people who do will use .doc files so other people can use them.

It's been pointed out quite often that OOXML does not match docx exactly and that the specification is incomplete so it will not allow you to open Office 2007 files without further reverse engineering.

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095518)

DocX is out in the wild now. My organization is receiving them at an ever-increasing frequency. Last year we might see one or two a month, but we're up to at least that many a week.

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (5, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094644)

...or how about:

"[I]nternational [S]tandards [W]ith [A]llegiance to [L]imited [L]iability [O]rganizations [W]hatever"

Cue Marly: (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095588)

"IShOt the standard, but I did not shoot A-N-S-I"

Re:Isn't the whole idea of a standard (1)

absurdist (758409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095780)

OOISO would seem apropos...

What the hell were they thinking? (-1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093988)

From the FAQ:

The ICT industry has a long history of developing multiple standards providing similar functionalities. After a period of co-existence, it is basically the market that decides which survives. A past example within ISO concerned the SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) and ODA (Office Document Architecture).

In this particular case, some claim that the Open Document Format (ODF), which is also an ISO/IEC standard (ISO/IEC 26300) and ISO/IEC 29500 are competing solutions to the same problem, while others claim that ISO/IEC 29500 provides additional functionalities, particularly with regard to legacy documents.

The ability to have both as International Standards was something that needed to be decided by the market place. ISO and IEC and their national members provided the JTC 1 infrastructure that facilitated such a decision by the market players.


What they were thinking was that someone offered a specification for standard and they saw the necessity of having a standard specification and they went ahead and approved it. Whatever PJ thinks is hardly relevant here. What any individual thinks about the new standard is irrelevant except to the extent that he needs to use it. Since OOXML is not the only specification out there, it behoves anyone with contrary feelings to promote their favorite standard rather than try to bring down OOXML.

Just because the metric system exists, it does not mean that the Imperial system should cease to exist. The practical applications of the "inferior" standard still exist, so it makes no sense to bitch and moan about it.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (5, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094022)

If the Imperial system consisted of definitions like "Measure this like King George III would have", I'm sure people would argue against that being a standard also.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094036)

Until their heads were chopped off, in any case.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094288)

George III never had his head chopped off! He was the one that chatted to trees.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

zkiwi34 (974563) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094950)

That memory makes me wonder if these ISO buffoons have the same King George tendency for conversations with the flora, or perhaps if you're more cynical they were looking at trees wondering how many benjamins could be made out of them.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094232)

Please show where there is a similar clause in the OOXML standard.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095406)

I was referring to clauses in OOXML such as "FormatLikeWord95".

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23095532)

That stuff isn't in OOXML any more, it was removed during the standardization process (because people complained that it didn't belong in the spec).

Now it lives in a technical annex to the document that describes all the legacy behavior.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23095308)

Someone finally did see the idiocy of that system and got around to actually fixing it. Probably somewhere around 300 years ago.

I'm guessing here, but Imperial measurements have probably been in use for 1000 years.

So in 700 years, OOXML will be a real standard, but with lots of cruft and heavy penalties in maintaining anything that uses it, especially if you have to convert to ODF.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095400)

If the Imperial system consisted of definitions like "Measure this like King George III would have", I'm sure people would argue against that being a standard also.
The Imperial system did consist of such definitions. From the Wikipedia article about the foot:

Some believe that the original measurement of the English foot was from King Henry I, who had a foot 12 inches long; he wished to standardise the unit of measurement in England. However this is unlikely, because there are records of the word being used approximately 70 years before his birth (Laws Ãthelstan). This of course does not exclude the possibility that this old standard was redefined ("calibrated") according to the ruler's foot. In fact, there is evidence that this sort of process was common at least in earlier ages. In other words, a new important ruler could try to impose a new standard for an existent unit, but it is unlikely that any king's foot was ever as long as the modern unit of measurement. (emphasis mine)

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (4, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094064)

BadAnalogyGuy said: Just because the metric system exists, it does not mean that the Imperial system should cease to exist.

Living up to your name, I see.

Two absolutely key requirements for a standard are that it be well specified and possible to usefully implement. The OOXML processes wasn't even long enough for someone to *read* the standard, and all the criticisms that were submitted by standards bodies were ignored in bulk - hence there is *no way* that the ISO could have known that OOXML met those requirements.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094108)

So what you are saying is that ISO is a corrupt standards body. Does that negate the value of ISO standards?

Should the baby be thrown out with the bathwater? And if not, then why only in this one case are you so willing to claim fraud? Surely if fraud was acceptable in this one case, there are other standards which have been similarly fraudulently accepted. And if that is the case, how can any of ISO's standards be acceptable?

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094154)

Which is the baby and which is the bathwater?

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (5, Insightful)

jx100 (453615) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094308)

why only in this one case are you so willing to claim fraud


We've seen blatant, ample evidence that this was a bought vote. We've seen MS bribe normally uninterested countries into voting their way. We've seen them manage to fast-track a standard when it is obviously due more scrutiny (if nothing else, due to its larger size compared to the earlier ODF standard). And we've seen *blatant* vote tampering with Norway, which voted yes despite a majority of its technical advisors voting no.

The ISO's complicity in all this cheating is plain and obvious to anyone who cares to look. Their attitude of blaming the observers is, frankly, insulting to the morals and intelligence of anyone who is speaking the truth.

Yes, this does bring suspicion on the validity of the other standards. However, the other standards do not have the blatant, obvious process tampering that this one did, nor (to my knowledge) the enormous, unscrupulous corporation with an interest in seeing the standard passed.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (2, Insightful)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095364)

Yes, this does bring suspicion on the validity of the other standards.

I don't think ISO realizes how much damage they've done to themselves here. ISO certification is supposed to guarantee that no matter what, your process is sound. ISO's own process has failed here, and everybody knows it. If ISO themselves can't even adhere to an ISO process, what value is their certification? What value is any ISO standard?

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (5, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094466)

And if not, then why only in this one case are you so willing to claim fraud?

I don't know much about the ISO process or about previous ISO standards, but it's entirely possible that this is the first time that an ISO standards process has been gamed so thoroughly.

There is evidence that multiple new countries signed up as ISO members *specifically* to vote in OOXML. If so, that's an extremely large scale procedural attack. If this is the first time that a procedural attack on that scale has been attempted, then the whole situation only implies that the ISO wasn't prepared to withstand an attack of that magnitude (and now are trying to cover their asses in response).

Now, if that is what occurred and the ISO goes on refusing to admit to the problem rather than trying to fix it then the ISO name will no longer be worth trusting - but the ISO still has a month or so to make a procedural catch on this issue, fix the problem, and save their reputation.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094850)

Excellent analogy, Chandon.

Yes, ISO was essentially owned by a 0-day. That's bad enough. But much worse is the part where they pretend nothing happened, no damage was done, everything is alright - instead of fixing the hole and undoing the damage.

I know what I'd think about a sysadmin who acts that way with his system. I tend to think the same about ISO now: Incompetence, corruption and stupidity.

They won't fix it (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095124)

The FAQ is all about not fixing it. They're rationalizing about how they have great process and how they have to accept the result of that process. The fix is in.

And Microsoft? Now that they've built this grand machine for subverting ISO do you expect them to use it once and then throw it away? Not likely. Their duty to their shareholders and all that...

You can stick a fork in the ISO. They're done.

Re:They won't fix it (3, Funny)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095404)

That sounds like Microsoft error handling is an ISO standard now, too!

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (2, Interesting)

TheRealSlimShady (253441) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095246)

There's also evidence that multiple new people signed up *specifically* to vote against OOXML - it cuts both ways.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095692)

If that's true, it just makes the credibility of the voting results even worse.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094122)

Just because the metric system exists, it does not mean that the Imperial system should cease to exist. The practical applications of the "inferior" standard still exist, so it makes no sense to bitch and moan about it.
I realize that the Imperial system of units is so entrenched that it's not going away any time soon. What I don't get is why mass is quantified in pounds and not slugs [wikipedia.org] . And why don't metric-using folks quantify their weight in newtons?

For a real head-spin, check out the wikipedia article on pound mass [wikipedia.org] . Here's a quote: "Historically, in different parts of the world, at different points in time, and for different applications, the pound (or its translation) has referred to broadly similar but not identical standards of mass or weight."

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094200)

What I don't get is why mass is quantified in pounds and not slugs [wikipedia.org].


Pounds-mass predates slugs. Of course it helps that the concept of "pounds" also predates the concept of a distinction between weight and mass.

And why don't metric-using folks quantify their weight in newtons?


Because people don't measure their weight. They measure their mass. How much that mass happens to weigh at sea level or somesuch is unimportant, since it's the total quantity of matter that composes you that is the health concern.

But what is curious is that metric-users do use the idea of "kgs force" for things that are force measurements, when a perfectly acceptable newton already exists.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094282)

it is also quite a health concern what force is acting on my quantity of matter. That's why I use the scale every morning to check if the earth's gravitation is still within healthy limits

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (2, Informative)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095802)

you're doing it wrong. first you need to compare your mass to a reference using a balance scale, THEN you use a spring scale to measure the weight force (in newtons) your body produces. with the two values at hand, you divide your weight by your mass, and the result should be 9.8

using only a spring scale in your bathroom simply won't tell you anything, unless you calibrate it everyday with copy of the international prototype kilogram (IPK).

man, this is the second time in less than a week that i post something absolutelly pedantic... should i start to worry ?

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094220)

And why don't metric-using folks quantify their weight in newtons?
Because a fat chick in space is still a fat chick!

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (2, Informative)

Akita24 (1080779) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095066)

As is a bigoted, insensitive, shallow asshole.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23095342)

It was a joke. Why are you on Slashdot? Don't you have some fem-nazi rally to attend or shouldn't you be bragging to your hippie friends how you have a negative carbon foot print?

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (4, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094246)

HUH?

What they were thinking was that someone offered a specification for standard and they saw the necessity of having a standard specification and they went ahead and approved it.
I believe they are supposed to evaluate that 'standard' to ensure that it meets the specific and general requirements of such a standard before accepting it as a standard. Paying off the mortgage on the summer house is not one of the requirements, BTW.

Whatever PJ thinks is hardly relevant here. What any individual thinks about the new standard is irrelevant except to the extent that he needs to use it.
Did you ever take any of those logic tests? Do well, did you?

What people think of the 'standard' is totally relevant. Simply blindly accepting something as the golden rule is ignorant, and this will (probably) lower the esteem of this standards body for a very long time. That is damaging to the purpose of standards, and part of the reason that there are not 47 international standards bodies.

Since OOXML is not the only specification out there, it behoves anyone with contrary feelings to promote their favorite standard rather than try to bring down OOXML.
Okay, back to your logic problems. How do you promote your own favorite standard without verbally bashing this one that is trying to supplant the good value of your favorite standard?

Yes, I know that sounds like being negative, but you must remember that using OOXML as a design example of what standards SHOULD NOT BE is a valid method to promote the standard of your choice.

Re:What the hell were they thinking? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094926)

I believe they are supposed to evaluate that 'standard' to ensure that it meets the specific and general requirements of such a standard before accepting it as a standard. Paying off the mortgage on the summer house is not one of the requirements, BTW.
Precisely, that sort of thinking is what made web development such a nightmare. Compared to the relatively straightforward task that it should have been, there's a bunch of proprietary gunk that various browsers use and even relatively trivial tasks often times require far more hackery than is fair to expect. Even then it may or may not work. I see no reason why ISO needs to encourage that sort of MS v., Netscape misbehavior. In the long run everybody lost as a result of that selfish behavior.

Yes, I know that sounds like being negative, but you must remember that using OOXML as a design example of what standards SHOULD NOT BE is a valid method to promote the standard of your choice.
Ideally the standard should be as simple as possible, while still clearing up all of the important issues. The length of the OOXML spec along with the large number of issues which were never addressed is a good reason to be concerned about the standard being co-opted.

At present it doesn't seem that the end users, developers or really anybody other than MS is going to benefit from having an additional standard to use. Especially one that's as complicated as the OOXML spec apparently is. In some respects it's somewhat unfortunate that this isn't Apple, because iSO would be such a good tag.

I'm just waiting to hear what happens with the Norwegian complaints. I don't think that the deadline for them challenging their vote has expired yet.

This one's good. (5, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093992)

About investigating charges of corruption of the voting process:

We reviewed the process before it started, all the while during its course and afterwards as well. While the voting on ISO/IEC 29500 has attracted exceptional publicity, it needs to be put in context. ISO and IEC have collections of more than 17 000 and 7 000 successful standards respectively, these being revised and added to every month. This suggests that the standards development process is credible, works well and is delivering the standards needed, and widely implemented, by the market. Because continual improvement is an underlying aim of standardization, ISO and IEC will certainly be continuing to review and improve its standards development procedures.


So they're basically saying: "Since we've done a lot of successful standards before, there can't possibly be anything wrong with how this one was carried out."

Re:This one's good. (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094148)

So they're basically saying: "Since we've done a lot of successful standards before, there can't possibly be anything wrong with how this one was carried out."

No, no, no. They're saying: "This was approved with the same process as all our other standards. So imagine how many other ISO standards are complete BS!"

Re:This one's good. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094198)

Since we've done a lot of successful standards before, there can't possibly be anything wrong with how this one was carried out.

Yeah, it is a nice misdirection they pulled. I have always considered the study of logic to be akin to studying mental self-defense (or, perhaps "brain-fu").

I would classify their fallacy as "ignoratio elenchi," [wikipedia.org] or "ignorance of refutation." Their evidence did demonstrate something, but not what they set out to demonstrate. Stating "ISO and IEC have collections of more than 17 000 and 7 000 successful standards" could be used to defend statements like "we have produced standards," "we produce standards," "we have produced LOTS of standards," etc. This statement, however, does NOT suggest that "the standards development process is credible."

Credibility must be established by evidence other than volume. And we already have plenty of evidence suggestive of a lack of credibility.

Re:This one's good. (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095706)

Agreed. Their defense doesn't support their assertion. That said, I've read lots of mentions of corruption, but does anyone have some links to stories with specific cases of corruption, etc.

Oh, and for the love of all things, please stop confusing standard with free to implement. There are plenty of standards that aren't freely available for anyoen to implement. I understand that Microsoft intentionally confused the issue by calling it 'open'. But standards don't obligate anyone to allow others free access to implement the idea.

So clear to me now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094024)

So Basically OOXML has been fast tracked as a standard because a P-member of the JTC1 proposed to fast-track ISO/IEC 2950 to be adopted as an ISO/IEC standard by the joint technical committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, and this all moved very fast.

Got it.

No reason to read anything. (1)

david@ecsd.com (45841) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094140)

The car analogy's already been done for me.

loophole (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094254)

If, after publication of the standard, it is determined that licenses to all required patents are not so available, one option would be to withdraw the International Standard.
Hopefully Microsoft will be stupid enough to do this, like maybe going after Sun or IBM for using it in OpenOffice ...

Well I can dream can't I ?!?

" ISO Releases OOXML FAQ" is equivalent to (0, Offtopic)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094276)

"We are incompetent, irrelevant and corrupted, and we have a deep attachment to all that."

summary (1, Flamebait)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094342)

Microsoft wanted an ISO standard so they could still sell to governments who now require open standards (and the many who will do so in the future).

They used money and pressure on companies to get them to vote, and tied up the obviously inadequate procedures of ISO organisation until it agreed to do what they wanted.

So, they win, we lose, this decision will never be reversed, because to do so would destroy ISO's credibility in the wider world (not just this one issue, which many ISO using organisations still likely don't know about).

Now, ISO are trying to save face. This will work, because too many people have a vested interest in ISO not being discredited for it to fail. If failure is announced by the techie press, they will simply ignore it and carry on.

Re:summary (0, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095044)

Well, let's hope the EU makes Microsoft pay dearly for this stunt.

Re:summary (2)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095530)

to do so would destroy ISO's credibility in the wider world

And to not do so would destroy ISO's credibility in the wider world, as well.

Many ISO standards have had flaws before; now adding corruption and outright blatant incompetence at their primary purpose to the list of sins will impact ISO relevance. Perhaps that was partially Microsofts intention; the end result is more likely to be a migration to a standards building process with more integrity.

This will work

No it wont. This isn't 1990 where people communicate through mass media or read books and encyclopedias to get information. Anyone using the internet to look up ISO will come across references to the corruption in question.

Re:summary (1)

xOneca (1271886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095760)

You said: governments now require open standards.

OOXML seems to be open, but it isn't.

Incompetence (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094360)

Will ISO and IEC review how ISO/IEC 29500 was adopted?

We reviewed the process before it started, all the while during its course and afterwards as well.
In other words:
"Our review process sucks so much that we can't even spot the most blatant and obvious abuse in our entire history right while it's going on under our noses."

Thanks, ISO. That removes my final doubts regarding your reliability and competence. Only leaves me to wonder how you're getting anything done right at all.

Re:Incompetence (2, Funny)

g4b (956118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094700)

You created me, Microsoft
So I guess you're to blame
For the "love" that I feel
Just from hearing your name
You're as open as future
And warm as pastell

*windows dings*

I wuv my OOXML

Re:Incompetence (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094840)

In other words: "Our review process sucks so much that we can't even spot the most blatant and obvious abuse in our entire history right while it's going on under our noses." Thanks, ISO. That removes my final doubts regarding your reliability and competence. Only leaves me to wonder how you're getting anything done right at all.
Are you saying that ISO is not ISO-9001 certified?

Re:Incompetence (2, Funny)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095418)

Only leaves me to wonder how you're getting anything done right at all.
Are you saying that ISO is not ISO-9001 certified?
No, he's saying that because ISO is 9001 certified, the only way for them to get anything done is to ignore the process.

Just a small detail (2, Interesting)

uffe_nordholm (1187961) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094470)

The FAQ addresses the issue of contradictions with other ISO and IEC Standards. Part of the answer given is as follows:

"A number of such claimed contradictions were identified...//...It is possible that others may still remain, but these can be taken care of during the maintenance of the standard."

Am I to interpret this as meaning that when they find problems with the standrad, they will change the standard to 'fix' it?

If my interpretation is correct, I wonder where this leads us. I could end up having bought a number of licences for some software that conforms to the standard, only to find, a month or two later, that they have altered the standard.

Since there is a great deal of movement in the EU to accept only standardised file formats, where would this leave me and my umpteen licences? When I bought the software it followed the standard, but does not later. Can I expect the manufacturer to provide me a free upgrade/patch, or is my software to be considered still standards-compliant, or will I simply have to fork out more money for the latest, currently compliant, version?

And the situation gets more interesting when you reverse it: suppose I get the absolutely latest version of some compliant software, and save a file that I send to someone with an older, now not compliant, version of the same software. How should this older version handle my file? should it spit out an error message: "I cannot open this standards compliant file, because the standard has been updated too much"? Or should it open the file and do the best it can? Or should it notify the user that this particular file is newer than the software and might not render correctly?

I can't help but think that a lot of potential problems would have been avoided if the work around this particular standard had been allowed to take it's time, so that a technically sound standard was accepted.

Re:Just a small detail (3, Interesting)

clodney (778910) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094828)

Lots of standards have revisions. I presume that before we had 802.11 a/b/g/n we simply had 802.11.

Just hours ago I was reading the TWAIN 1.9a specification. 1.9a being a big tip-off that the spec has changed over time.

My TV and DVD player are connected with HDMI 1.3 compliant cables.

So yes, if there are problems with the standard they will change the standard. That is standard behavior if you will.

Re:Just a small detail (1)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095024)

Since there is a great deal of movement in the EU to accept only standardised file formats, where would this leave me and my umpteen licences? When I bought the software it followed the standard, but does not later. Can I expect the manufacturer to provide me a free upgrade/patch, or is my software to be considered still standards-compliant, or will I simply have to fork out more money for the latest, currently compliant, version?

That is irrelevant to Microsoft. They will stick an "ISO compliant" label on Office, and they will be able to sell it to governments. That is all that matters to them.

The FAQ is missing questions (2, Insightful)

Ben Justice (1241194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094510)

Standards should be allowing open markets to flourish and they can't do this if the depend solely on a given operating system, environment or application. They can't do this when they allow proprietary extensions willy nilly. Where's this mentioned in the FAQ? The "market place" didn't decide diddley squat. ISO had a opportunity to give the âoemarket placeâ a chance but instead decided to assist a proven abusive and monopolistic company in it's bid to remain to moving target when it comes to being interoperable and compatible. How the hell does ISO get it's funding anyway? I sure hope it ain't public. The funding should be cut off. Anyways, I'm sure Microsoft will be more than willing to take up the slack.

Re:The FAQ is missing questions (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094778)

ISO had a opportunity to give the Ãoemarket placeà a chance but instead decided to assist a proven abusive and monopolistic company in it's bid to remain to moving target when it comes to being interoperable and compatible.

You *may* be putting too much value in ISO standards and its ability to stop a moving target and promoting interoperability. There is a difference between having a standard and having that standard enforced.

Just look at ISO-15445 for example...

The ISO's "patent policy" (1)

skymt (968075) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094636)

It's among the vaguest documents I've ever read. All it ensures [iso.org] is "licences with other parties on a non-discriminatory basis on reasonable terms and conditions." IANAL, but it seems like the word "reasonable" leaves far too much room for interpretation.

They're not idiots (1)

mathimus1863 (1120437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094716)

Let's end the whole those-ISO-guys-are-idiots. Every person who is impartial and technical has completely denounced the OOXML-trainwreck as a standard, and unfortunately, these are not the people who are in control to release documents like this. Clearly MS has more of a foot-in-the-door than we'd like (after all, OOXML passed), and it's these same threads they're pulling to get news releases like the BS "ISO OOXML FAQ", and "ISO Calls for Ceasefire of Personal Attacks."

MS has ISO exactly where they want it. They have the right people in their pocket, and the people who aren't in their pocket get fed up and leave, thus making the overall MS-influenced-members-to-impartial-members ratio just that much higher. But the point is, the people releasing the documents like this FAQ are not idiots. They know exactly what's going on (there's no way they couldn't know) and everything is carefully planned out. (yes, I'm a conspiracy theorist, but it's tough not to be in this case)

The real question is how to bring ethics and order back to an organization which is flooded with bad members. A lot of rules or exceptions that could be used to help the impartial minority take back over, will also help the bad guys trigger false alarms and disrupt the process when they are in the minority. Honestly, I haven't come up with a solution to this conflict, yet. At least not without a higher-level government intervention which forces a reorganization, or a law is passed somewhere to ban members who have a conflict-of-interest.

Re:They're not idiots (-1, Troll)

prockcore (543967) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094868)

yes, I'm a conspiracy theorist, but it's tough not to be in this case


You're looking at the wrong conspiracy then. Look at how much FUD IBM has been responsible for. Look at the total nonsense that IBM has ordered PJ to spout out.

IBM is waging a war against OOXML and winning with outright lies because everyone on slashdot already hates microsoft.

Re:They're not idiots (2, Informative)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095462)

I've seen many articles that discredit OOXML that have raised specific verifiable issues. What verifiable evidence of your claims do you offer?

Re:They're not idiots (1)

Bigon (881193) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095298)

Right, they are not idiots, they're corrupted...

I know what they were thinking.. (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094766)

They were thinking they could buy off the ISO. Were they wrong?

OH, how standards fly (0)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094808)

Lets face it, standard or not the OOXML purpose of going through all this was to win contracts otherwise off-limits to MS. If Office can support OOXML, agreed with some slight "interpretations", they are now able to sell more. I believe other vendors better wake up to this and leverage this standard as fast as possible to keep up.

  This is also a way to limit IBM's influx of ODF usage in the same circles. MS recognizes that IBM's services on Linux/Websphere is slowly making inroads for some SOA platforms. Either OOXML or ODF could be the standard for human-generated content throughout that platform. ODF itself has issues of interpretation, but of course nowhere near as high as OOXML - at the moment. Simply put, its just a bit further along on the process of hammering out the bumps. In the end though, I expect platforms to need support for either format.

  Remember kids, this is just one a series of salvos that land on a marketeer's bullet point slide. There are many more, like support, pools for technical resources, openness, etc. If a government office decides that OOXML is fine as a format for document exchange, then they should still be able to pick and choose the components that run the services. Short version: One has to support both of these formats, and a whole lot of other technology "standards" to really be an enterprise-ready product.

  Don't confuse the battles for the war.

The market speaks! (4, Informative)

toriver (11308) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094938)

ODF: 5+ applications can write the format.
OOXML: Zero applications can write the format.

ODF Wins!

Re:The market speaks! (1)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095482)

Yes, but that's a bit like how no browser in the world correctly implement HTML and CSS, but most claim to.

MS will claim office implements OOXML, and that this makes it the most widespread standard, and enough people will buy into it to make the lie turn true.

Re:The market speaks! (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095620)

As far as I have seen they have been "refreshingly" open about Office 2007 supporting "MSOOXML" which is not the same as the ECMA/ISO spec.

Re:The market speaks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23095748)

Uh, by that logic (that an app such as Office that doesn't fully implement the standard doesn't count) there are zero applications that can write ODF as well (so far, everything has an "almost" rating - nothing has it 100%)

Old news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094962)

So the ISO have FAQed up the issue of OOXML. This is old news, surely.

ISO is not like IETF (3, Interesting)

grandpa-geek (981017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095174)

IETF requires demonstrated interoperability using prototype reference implementations before they will adopt a standard.

ISO generally first adopts standards, then waits for people to prototype implementations and discover the bugs in the standard (unless someone walks in with existing technology and asks for it to be standardized). When people start reporting that aspects of the standard can't be implemented, ISO works on fixing it.

After ISO adopted the Open System Interconnection (OSI) standards, they had to set up "implementers' workshops" to figure out how to make their newly adopted standards workable. (The OSI standards are the 7-layer reference model and related protocol suite that were pushed aside by the Internet protocol suite, a.k.a TCP/IP. Many OSI protocols were never fully implemented or never made to work.)

The workshops met (one was sponsored by NIST) and produced a lot of documents on things that needed to be done to make OSI work. When the Clinton/Gore administration came into office, they killed US government support for the OSI protocols and told its agencies to use the Internet protocols.

I don't trust ISO anymore... (2, Insightful)

walter_f (889353) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095306)

... and anybody else shouldn't, either.

Unless they cancel the Standardization of OOXML immediately and furthermore establish a reasonable code of conduct for itself and for all the national bodies that are entitled to vote.

Does no one understand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23095434)

Do any of the mouth breathers here complaining understand what standards are? So it is a standard, so what. You aren't required to follow it simply because it is a standard. It just means that the thing is documented and agreed upon. IF you claim to use it, you have a clearly documented standard. Good, bad, or otherwise it is documented. Like Betamax and VHS or HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. All are "standards" (granted these may have patent components). This is really a non-issue. MS applied for a standard, follow procedure and got their standard. People seem to think it somehow invalidates all other document formats and forces them to comply solely with ooxml.

Not a criterion (1)

Dan Posluns (794424) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095562)

FTFA:

How could a 6 000-page document be fast-tracked? ... As stipulated in the ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives under the section relating to the fast-track process, the criteria for proposing an existing industry standard for the fast-track procedure are a matter for each proposer to decide. In the case of ISO/IEC 29500, Ecma International considered that the fast-track procedure was appropriate. The number of pages of a document is not a criterion cited in the JTC 1 Directives for refusal. It should be noted that it is not unusual for IT standards to run to several hundred, or even several thousand pages.
So basically, it was fast-tracked because we considered it "appropriate", and page length is not a criterion.

I would be interested to know how many pages the next-longest standard ran that was approved for fast-tracking.

Dan.

Compliance (2, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095632)

Part of the reason for ISO standards is so a product can be deemed standards compliant. Is it ISO itself that determines whether an individual product complies to the standard?

I'm curious, because I've heard that no product, including Microsoft's, currently follows the OOXML standard... and I wonder if there's a chance they never will? I suspect it may not be possible.

Or are Microsoft products going to be rubberstamped for the approval process as well, even if their implementation is buggy?
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