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You may have read our background article about ODF and OOXML and why Red Hat believes OOXML should not be approved as an ISO standard. This time, we focus on how the standardization process has been compromised at ISO.
Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) document format, which was technically approved in April as an international standard (ISO/IEC 29500), may be on its way toward surviving an appeals process -- the last challenge to its legitimacy as a standard.
There has been much rejoicing recently at the process whereby, apparently, an ISO committee takes full control of OOXML. But you know, that story is entirely irrelevant. It will have no effect on what implementors of OOXML, including Microsoft, should or will actually do. The story’s ending will I think be mostly tawdry.
"...I am aware that I’m making a very long story short here. But I’m doing this on purpose: the conspiracy that Bruce refers could be summarized as Novell engineers hijacking Gnome to serve their own corporate needs, and the problem is, these needs are aligned with the ones of Microsoft. [...] The most important lesson of this is that what matters is the format, not the application. The format creates the network effect and captures users, unless it is open and standard. [...] Apparently some would still like us to believe OOXML is an open standard. Make no mistake, OOXML is not an open standard, just like Christmas is not Easter."
One of the arguments adduced in favour of making OOXML an ISO standard was that it would place control of the former in the hands of an independent ISO group, which was a much better situation than the present one. Anyone who believes this has clearly learned nothing from Microsoft's history of unremitting subversion of practically every independent standard it has been involved with.
Microsoft plays to win. As a result, it seems to regard any legal means as justified, and sometimes even strays outside the law, as the US anti-trust case demonstrated. In the context of marketplace rough-and-tumble, such aggressiveness is perhaps acceptable, but in other realms, there may be serious collateral damage.