It’s too early to say for certain, but there are very encouraging signs that the world’s standards bodies will vote in favour of a single unified ISO (“International Standards Organisation”) document format standard. There is already one document format standard – ODF, and currently the ISO is considering a proposal to bless an alternative, Microsoft’s OpenXML, as another standard. In the latest developments, standards committees in South Africa and the United States have both said they will vote against a second standard and thereby issue a strong call for unity and a sensible, open, common standard for business documents in word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.

It’s very important that we build on those brave decisions and call on all of our national standards committees, to support the idea of a single common standard for these critical documents.

The way the ISO works is interesting. There are about 150 member countries who can vote on any particular proposal. Usually, about 40 countries actually vote. In order to pass, a proposal needs to get a 75% “yes” vote. Countries can vote yes, no, or “abstain”. So normally, 10 “no” or “abstain” votes would be sufficient to send the proposal back for further consideration. In this case, however, Microsoft has been working very hard, and spending a lot of money, to convince many countries that don’t normally vote to support their proposed format.

So there is something concrete you can do, right now, today, this week! Find out which body in your country is responsible for your national representation on ISO. In SA is the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and in the US I believe it is ANSI. Your country will likely have such a body. There is a list of some of them here but it may not be complete so don’t stop if your country isn’t listed there!

Call them, or email them, and ask them which committee will be voting in the OpenXML proposal. Then prepare a comment for that committee. It is really important that your comment be professional and courteous. You are dealing with strong technical people who have a huge responsibility and take it seriously – they will not take you seriously if your comment is not well thought out, politely phrased and logically sound.

If you have a strong technical opinion, focus on a single primary technical issue that you think is a good reason to decline the proposal from Microsoft. There are some good arguments outlined here. Don’t just resend an existing submission – find a particular technical point which means a lot to you and express that carefully and succinctly for your self. It can be brief – a single paragraph, or longer. There are some guidelines for “talking to standards bodies” here.

Here are the points I find particularly compelling, myself:

  1. This is not a vote “for or against Microsoft”.
    In fact, this is a vote for or against a unified standard. Microsoft is a member of the body that defines ODF (the existing ISO standard) but is hoping to avoid participating in that, in favor of getting their own work blessed as a standard. A vote of “no OpenXML” is vote against multiple incompatible standards, and hence a vote in favour of unity.If the ISO vote is “no”, then there is every reason to expect that Microsoft will adopt ODF, and help to make that a better standard for everybody including themselves. If we send a firm message to Microsoft that the world wants a single, unified standard, and that ODF is the appropriate place for that standard to be set, then we will get a unified global standard that includes Microsoft.The reason this point is important is because many government officials recognise the essential position Microsoft holds in their operations and countries, and they will be afraid to vote in a way that could cost their country money. If they perceive that a vote “no” might make it impossible for them to work with Microsoft, they will vote yes. Of course Microsoft is telling them this, but the reality is that Microsoft will embrace a unified standard if the global standards organisation clearly says that’s a requirement.
  2. Open, consensus based document standards really WORK WELL – consider HTML
    We already have an extraordinary success in defining a document format openly, in the form of HTML. The W3 Consortium, which includes Microsoft and many other companies, defines HTML and CSS. While Microsoft initially resisted the idea, preferring to push Internet Explorer’s proprietary web extensions, it was ultimately forced to participate in W3C discussions.The result is a wonderfully rich document format, with many different implementations. Much of the richness of the web today comes directly from the fact that there is an open standard for web documents and web interactions. Look at a classy web page, and then look at a classy Word document, and ask yourself which is the most impressive format! Clearly, Word would be better with an open standard, not one defined by a single company.
  3. A SINGLE standard with many implementations is MUCH more valuable than multiple standards
    Imagine what would happen if there were multiple incompatible web document standards? You couldn’t go to any web site and just expect it to work, you would need to know which format they used. The fact that there is one web document standard – HTML – is the key driver of the efficiency of the web as a repository of information. The web is a clear example of why ODF is the preferred structure for a public standard.ODF, the existing standard, is defined openly by multiple companies, and Microsoft can participate there along with everyone else. They know they can – and they participate in other standards discussions in the same organisation.Microsoft will say that “multiple standards give customers choice”. But we know that it is far more valuable to have a single standard which evolves efficiently and quickly, like HTML. The network effects of document exchange mean that one standard will in any event emerge as dominant, and it is important to governments, businesses and consumers that it be a standard which ITSELF offers great choice in implementation. People don’t buy a standard, and they don’t use a standard document, they use a software or hardware tool. If the “standard” only has one set of tools from one vendor, then that “choice of standards” has effectively resulted in zero choice of provider for customers. Consider the richness of the GSM cellular world, with hundreds of solution providers following a single global standard, compared to the inefficiency of countries which allowed proprietary networks to be installed on public frequencies.ODF is already implemented by many different companies. This means that there are many different tools which people can choose to do different things with their ODF documents. Some of those tools are optimised for the web, others for storage, others for data analysis, and others for editing. In the case of OpenXML, there is not even one single complete implementation – because even Microsoft Office12 does not exactly implement OpenXML. There is also no other company with any tool to edit or manage OpenXML documents. Microsoft is trying to make it look like there is broad participation, but dig beneath the surface and it is all funded by one company. The ODF standard is a much healthier place to safeguard all of our data.

I’d like to thank the team at TSF for the work they put into briefing the South African standards committee. I hope that each of you – folks who have read this far, will pick up the phone and contact your own standards body to help them make a smart decision.

The USA, South Africa, China, and other countries will be voting “no”. Let’s not allow heavy lobbying to influence what should be a calm, rational, sensible and ultimately technical discussion. Standards are important, and best defined in transparent and open forums. Pick up the phone!

109 comments:

  1. Carlos do Carmo says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Unfortunately, my country, Portugal, has already voted in favor of adopting OOXML. The funny thing is that the council responsible for deciding this was presided by… Microsoft, and didn’t allow the participation of IBM nor Sun because “albeit we’re only 20, there isn’t room left in the conference room”.

    This is why it’s important to make our concerns heard. Microsoft is investing a LOT of money on this so that the can win without playing fair.

  2. Paul Harrison says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 11:47 am

    I rang the UK organisation, the BSI.

    After a great deal of shunting around the switchboard, I was told that the BSI will be making no comment until 2nd September.

    However, I have an email address: info@bsi-global.com. Quote the committee reference JCT/1 when making your comment.

  3. El fundador de Ubuntu… en contra del OpenXML de Microsoft : says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 11:47 am

    [...] Shuttleworth, fundador de Ubuntu, expresa hoy su optimismo en su blog sobre la adopción de un sólo estándar en el formato de los documentos, ya que los comités de la [...]

  4. anselmolinux says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    well thats really what we was waiting from your part mark i agree with you the USA, South Africa, China, and plus latin america will be voting “no”

  5. Pedro Martins says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Let’s use a better example to show people why we must have only one standard format: some countries use metric while some countries use imperial; some countries use Celsius while some countries use Fahrenheit. It’s very uncomfortable to convert kilometres to miles and vice-versa, as well it’s boring to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit and vice-versa.

    Only one standard doesn’t mean someone will make profit with it, but everyone will gain, because there will not be any more inconvenient and boring conversions.

  6. Why Not? says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    The cavalry arrive to rout the DIS29500 raiding party……

    Kinda the space cavalry, and he’s only one guy, but his influence is wide and strong… Mark Shuttleworth has made the call – get out there and make sure OOXML doesn’t make it through ISO.

    If for no other reason, do it for the love of standards!…

  7. FreeSoftNews » Blog Archive » Mark Shuttleworth: Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    [...] Read more at Mark Shuttleworth blog [...]

  8. Markc says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    “There is also no other company with any tool to edit or manage OpenXML documents” – Apple’s latest release of iWork adds support for OpenXML documents, spreadsheets and presentations, so this isn’t strictly true. To make matters worse I don’t believe that iWork supports ODF either, so the two most “prominent” OS companies (as far as most consumers are aware) both seem to be backing OpenXML.

  9. Christopher Parker says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    The Massachusetts ITD made a big mistake when drafting ETRM v4.0, however this decision is not concrete. As stated in the MA ITD’s Statement on ETRM v4.0 Public Review Comments, “the ETRM will continue its evolution, and we will continue to monitor developments as standards are revised and new standards are ratified.”

    Massachusetts citizens can still show their support for ODF in the Massachusetts state and local governments by voting at http://devalpatrick.com/issue/opendocument . To voice your concern about OOXML being included in the ETRM, please leave an appropriate comment with your vote.

    If enough people in Massachusetts rally around this issue and show their support by voting at http://devalpatrick.com/issue/opendocument , Governor Patrick will recognize the issue and respond. Being Governor of the state that’s home to MIT and the FSF, his acknowledgement of this issue has the potential to have a profound global impact.

    People who aren’t citizens of Massachusetts are encouraged to continue to discuss this issue, as it’s a global issue, and arguments against Microsoft’s OOXML are valid in Massachusetts regardless of their origin. So please, continue to discuss this issue in private blogs and public forums. Additionally, everyone reading this is invited to participate in the Independent Free Software Activists discussion list, hosted by the Boston chapter of Binary Freedom. For more information about this list, or to join it, please visit http://www.binaryfreedom.info/mailman/listinfo/independentfreesoftwareactivists . Information about Binary Freedom can be found at my Website link.

    Thank you, Mark, for your personal level of interaction with the free software community and for providing the public with the opportunity to respond to you–and eachother–via your blog.

    Christopher C. Parker
    Associate Member #795, Free Software Foundation
    Boston Member, Binary Freedom
    Ubuntu & gNewSense User

  10. Picando Código » Blog Archive » Mark Shuttleworth llama a defender el formato ODF says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    [...] Post original: Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? [...]

  11. SolidOffice » Blog Archive » Shuttleworth and Ars Question MSOOXML’s Chances says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    [...] In his personal blog, Mark Shuttleworth wonders if there is an Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? [...]

  12. Ian says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    I have already contacted the committee and urged them to vote *for* the standard. If something as bad and half finished as ODF can get through then OpenXML is only a good thing as it promotes competition.

  13. David Thomas says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    The contact for the USA is:

    Ms. Jennifer Garner
    InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards
    Email: jgarner@itic.org

    Thanks Mark for keeping this on the top of everyones mind.

  14. Jonathan Carter says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    The Malaysian government announced yesterday that they will adopt ODF:

    http://www.zdnetasia.com/news/software/0,39044164,62030781,00.htm

    I think this is likely to strongly influence the vote of the DSM, the standards body in Malaysia.

  15. Ben Hutchings says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    There’s no way to vote an unqualified “no”. The choice is “yes” or “no, unless you fix these issues”. Also, in some cases (certainly in the UK) it is now too late to present new technical information to the NB. Still, it looks like there will be too many issues to resolve via the Fast Track process.

  16. Picando Código says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Mark Shuttleworth llama a defender el formato ODF
    El conocido padre de Ubuntu, fundador de Cannonical, escribe en su blog personal sobre la guerra de los estándar. Describe que hay muchas señales de que se votará a favor de un único formato de documentos estándar en el cuerpo de la ISO. Como sabemos, ya existe uno, ODF – el ISO actual. Sin embargo Microsoft propone un estándar alternativo, su OpenXML…

  17. Philo says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I seriously have to wonder – if OpenXML had been adopted first and ODF was now being considered, would you honestly be lobbying as hard to vote against ODF? Would you sincerely post to your blog “OpenXML is the standard – we all need to embrace it”?

    Perhaps you would. We’ll never know, I guess.

  18. Mark Shuttleworth llama a defender el formato ODF says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    [...] fundador de Ubuntu reflexiona en su blog personal sobre la guerra de los estándares de formato de documento y la próxima sesión de la ISO donde se decidirá si se acepta o rechaza [...]

  19. lwn says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    interesting comments from here: http://lwn.net/Articles/245515/


    Shuttleworth: Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard?
    Posted Aug 14, 2007 16:39 UTC (Tue) by subscriber cpm [Link]

    “If the ISO vote is ‘no’, then there is every reason to expect that Microsoft will adopt ODF,”

    Not likely.

    I think the history of MS is pretty clear on such issues, if at first they
    don’t succeed in getting their way, they just manipulate the process
    until they do get their way. -Or- they retreat from the field and try
    again another day.


    Shuttleworth: Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard?
    Posted Aug 14, 2007 17:03 UTC (Tue) by guest mbottrell [Link]

    Microsoft adopt ODF… very unlikely.

    Microsoft is used to controlling their fleet, handing over ‘control’ of their filetype to a 3rd party just doesn’t suit their current business model.

    It also drops their biggest reason users remain with MS-Office… vendor lock-in.

    If you can write the same document (file spec wise) in MS-Office or OpenOffice/StarOffice… one would question why you would remain with MS-Office.
    I can’t see their is any benefit for Microsoft and it’s shareholders to go down that path.

    Sad .. but true.


    Shuttleworth: Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard?
    Posted Aug 14, 2007 17:42 UTC (Tue) by subscriber rgmoore [Link]

    I think the history of MS is pretty clear on such issues, if at first they don’t succeed in getting their way, they just manipulate the process until they do get their way. -Or- they retreat from the field and try again another day.

    Or the may do something similar to what happened with HTML. They’ll claim that they’re adopting ODF, but they’ll add a ton of undocumented proprietary extensions without going through the normal process for updating the standard. When challenged, they’ll claim the extensions are needed to add features from Office that the standard doesn’t support, and argue that they had to add them that way because the official change process can’t keep up with the pace of development.

  20. tzs says: (permalink)
    August 14th, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    Many of your arguments apply equally well to package format standards. So, when can we expect Ubuntu to switch to the LSB standard package format, RPM?

  21. Hauke Plambeck says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Germany will go for the ODF, too. The government in Berlin is surrounded by a very OS active community and state infrastructure runs more and more OS. The Open Source virus is just starting to spread and this building wave will give Bill a red card.

    Greetings from Bad Camberg!

  22. Boycott Novell » Mark Shuttleworth in Support of OpenDocument Format, More OOXML Weaknesses Exposed says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 12:49 am

    [...] accept this impossible task (they have to). In his latest blog item, Mark Shuttleworth talks about standardisation of OOXML. He appears to be aware of Microsoft’s behind-the-scenes manipulation, as echoed in the [...]

  23. Maxo says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 2:46 am

    Thanks Mark. I just sent an e-mail to info@ansi.org expressing my hopes they will vote against OpenXML.

  24. Jack Ripoff says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 3:06 am

    Microsoft has absolutely no respect for the customers.

    http://www.vanwensveen.nl/rants/microsoft/IhateMS_3.html

  25. evanc says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 3:09 am

    Yes, standards are important, but ONLY to the degree that serves efficiency and at he same time not preventing diversity AND HENCE PROGRESS. Its a two sided thing… we need standards to build on and progress yet not too rigid ones to prevent progress. Do you think you have been able to mark whee that line lies in this case? So yes for standards but also yes to FLEXIBILITY.

    Mark Shuttleworth says: Yes, that’s why I prefer the open, engineering-driven standards groups like IETF and W3C to the more traditional ones like ECMA and ISO. ODF is governed by OASIS which is more like W3C than ISO, it allows for quite quick discussion, proving and signoff on new versions and updates to the existing standards. Consider HTML, which has moved quite quickly and become a rich, coherent and widely implemented standard. By contrast something like X.400 or X.500, which is set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has stagnated. The worst standards, by and large, are the ones that are designed behind closed doors, and the worst POSSIBLE standards come from single-company closed-door teams.

  26. David Mackey says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 3:46 am

    Is HTML a really good example? While HTML may form a basis, it is augmented by many technologies from various companies/individuals – such as ASP, PHP, ColdFusion, ASP.NET, Ruby, etc. I’m not particularly for the new Microsoft standard, but neither am I against it. Is a single standard always better than multiple standards? Do we really want only one standard or will this allow a lack of innovation? Feeds are driven by the competing RSS and Atom formats. Is this a bad thing?

    Mark Shuttleworth says: This is a great example. It shows that multiple implementations give you diversity of tools, management frameworks, delivery vehicles etc without compromising the core of interoperability. Imagine if you had PHP to generate Word documents? Or could process Excel documents easily in Ruby? I think that would be phenomenal – we would see much less division between the web and the office document. That more flexible future is where we will go if ODF becomes the single global standard. ODF will of course evolve and get richer and more interesting. The key things are the nature of the standard setting process and the diversity of implementations. As for RSS and Atom, both have large number of implementations (and both are tiny, trivial standards).

  27. HR says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 4:58 am

    Quick word about previous comment: ASP, PHP, etc… do not “augment” HTML, they merely generate it (they also can generate XML, PDF, WAV, etc…). Also, feeds are not “driven” by the competition. Feeds have been a huge pain for years because RSS 0.91 was incompatible with RSS 0.92 which was incompatible with RSS 2.0 which was incompatible with Atom. I might get the version numbers wrong because frankly, there were so many incompatible versions. So, is a single standard better? Most definitely.

  28. tecosystems » links for 2007-08-15 says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 5:28 am

    [...] Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format stand… Mark Shuttleworth urges users to vote for a single ISO document format: as someone who believes that multiple formats are in the best interests of vendors but not users, i agree. (tags: microsoft linux odf office ooxml openoffice standards markshuttleworth) [...]

  29. Brandon says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 7:10 am

    @evanc:
    The reason that this matters is because standards provide a standard ground upon which companies can build. Standards can only truly hamper progress when they are poorly designed, or the sort of de facto thing that microsoft likes to encourage. No standard can prevent a company from doing its own thing, all it can hope to do is to provide a common way for programs to talk to each other. In an ideal world standards bodies would build consensus around what the best way to do that is.

    @David:
    The fact that HTML is such a widely implemented and /understood/ standard is what allows for all these other languages to work so well with it. HTML is one of the greatest success stories of standardization, it’s practically a fantasy novel. (You know: plucky, idyllic youth, sudden and unexpected attack by a giant ogre/dragon/empire, years of dominance by said evil force, and then a surprise victory by a small band of warriors.) Competition between open standards is nonsensical: they’re not operating within the normal scarcity-based capitalism framework. The only reason for standards to “compete” is if two different /companies/ have two different implementations and refuse to talk to each other and standardize around the advantages of both. Sometimes different standards are better for different things, and in that case they’re not competing so much as they are complementing each other. The whole point of standards (and open formats) is to make it as easy as possible for different programs to implement various combinations of standards to create exactly the system that they need.

  30. Universe_JDJ’s Blog » Things you can do to support single unified ISO document format standard says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 7:16 am

    [...] read more | digg story [...]

  31. chomps says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 7:24 am

    Microsoft sucks! hate it, sad story man

  32. Famous last words of Marius » RSS update - 15 August 2007 says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 7:39 am

    [...] Great insightful reads – Mark Shuttleworth: Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? [...]

  33. Jeff Greco says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 7:44 am

    Come, now, I hate to see a generally good post sullied with something like this: “Look at a classy web page, and then look at a classy Word document, and ask yourself which is the most impressive format! Clearly, Word would be better with an open standard, not one defined by a single company.”

    That’s apples and oranges. More to the point would be, what’s the difference between a ‘classy’ Word doc and a ‘classy’ ODF doc?

    Mark Shuttleworth says: You’re right, my methodology there is handwavy. Let me be more precise, and explain why this is important. Microsoft has publicly said they cannot support ODF because it’s “not rich enough”. In other words, it doesn’t allow for as much control of the page layout as their own format (actually, it doesn’t have knobs for all the quirks in previous Word versions). I’m pointing out that a public process has driven HTML and CSS to the point where we have extremely rich static and even dynamic documents on the web, and I believe that ODF will evolve in a similarly rich and comprehensive fashion. In fact, what would accelerate that more than anything else, is Microsoft’s participation.

  34. Mikko Tapionlinna says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 8:18 am

    I called the Finnish representatives. They responded kindly, and I got directed to the person who’s in charge of this here in our country. Apparently he’s been getting quite a lot of calls this week, from many directions. He told me that he collects all the feedback from the public and gives this “peoples opinion” to the panel who’ll be deciding this on Monday 19.8. I got his email and I’ll surely send him mail to do my share.

    So, if you’re a finn and looking for a way to do your share in Finland, contact Lassi Nirhamo from sfs.fi and remember to be polite.

    All in all, the whole organization was very polite and I feel like I made a difference. So thanks for this blogpost!

  35. Max Rabkin says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 8:38 am

    Good to know SABS is seeing sense!

  36. Miriam Ruiz says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 9:43 am

    [...] Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? (Mark Shuttleworth) [...]

  37. Agostino Russo says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Activism does make a difference in such circumstances, here in Europe for instance a software patent bill was dropped, also because people picked up the phone and sent informative comments to their representatives. Then MS was also heavily lobbying to have the bill approved (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4655955.stm ).

  38. Lukas Klingsbo says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 11:10 am

    I just mailed info@sis.se and I hope I get their answer soon…

  39. Dennis Byron says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Let the market decide, Mark, not governmental entities.

    Mark Shuttleworth says: Actually, I’m a big believer that the market does a poor job of regulating itself. That’s why we have the SEC, and why in Europe we have GSM rather than a collection of competing but proprietary networks. What is needed is a focus from government on competent regulation to ensure competition on a level playing field. In the technology era, you don’t get a better level playing field than a common standard. Now, I agree, we don’t want bureaucrats drawing up the standard. We don’t want the ITU designing that document format, we want competing interests to send their engineers to an IETF-like forum. That’s what you have in ODF and OASIS.

  40. Mikael Karlsson says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    I got inspired and sent a well-formulated mail to the Swedish standards group SIS. I highlighted the patent issues and the redundancy of having yet another standard for the same thing as ODF. Thanks Mark, for this an for everything you do to promote a free and open world.

  41. Glen Newton says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    [Correction, sorry] There is no question that the argument of competition in open standards – which is often heard by the bullies of various industries trying to push their own “standard” – is not valid. You’re point about various web standards as generated by the W3C and other reasonably Open standards organizations is a valid one. Thanks for the excellent article.

  42. Iron Wil » Blog Archive » Microsoft lobbying for OpenXML!?! says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    [...] have to give kudos to Mark Shuttleworth for his post regarding the situation. He has provided additional insight and some information on what to do to [...]

  43. Wynand Meyering says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Well I welcome it. Microsoft is looking after its own. When you develop software, you create value and you sell it to others, it is effort, time, work and the application of your intellect. That is the goal of software development. Microsoft and its developers have something to protect. They add value to software and sell it to customers. It is a process of mutual benefit, financial benefit. That is why it constantly has something to protect, because it values people and business. It values money.

  44. Andrew Fenn says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    I really wished Microsoft just supported the current ISO standard instead of trying to force OOXML as a standard. Yesterday a friend sent me a docx file to my work offices windows xp machine. I couldn’t open it. Even if OOXML became an ISO standard I still wouldn’t be able to open it.

    My girlfriend is Thai and so uses the Thai language. I believe it is my understanding she couldn’t put Thai characters in web links using the OOXML format. This is apparently normal behaviour for non ansi characters and is part of the spec.

    There is already an ISO standard called ODF, please use it by default so we don’t have these communication problems.

  45. Joe says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Welcome to a new brave world of:

    1 Standard (ODF) & Various Implementations (OpenOffice, StarOffice, MS Office, WordPerfect Office..etc).

    Again, the monopoly of Microsoft is:

    1- Proporietary Office Extensions .Doc, .Xls & .Ppt

    2- Windows APIs.

    Now, adopting ODF fos MS Office and moving the the apps from the desktop to the Web and Microsoft will be IRRELEVANT.

    With OPEN-SOURCE & OPEN-STANDARDS, it seems that the monopoly days of Microsoft are just numbered!

    Congrats to JAPAN & MALAYSIA for adopting ODF. Pretty sure that many countries form Europe & Latin America will follow in a very near future.

  46. Kris says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    I will certainly do everything I can to make sure this happens. I only wish there was such enthusiasm to standardise the Linux package management situation which is my biggest problem right now.

  47. Marc Driftmeyer says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    High standards that are unified and elastic in their ability to adapt as technologies adapt won’t ever be a hindrance to innovation.

    The innovation is in the interfaces. Best of breed should be driven by the developers ability to garner market share through delivering what is the most compelling solution to a common set of standards necessary in making a customer more productive.

  48. Michael Everson says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Your analysis of ISO voting procedures is simplistic. Voting is not binary. A National Body may vote Yes Without Comments, or Yes With Comments, or No With Comments, or they may Abstain. And one way of voting tactically is to vote No With Comments, and have the comments specify a list of changes which, if accepted and applied to the draft, will turn a vote from No to Yes. This process helps to improve standards. There are lists and lists of errors in the OOXML spec, and if Microsoft wants to be a good citizen they might consider correcting those errors rather than rushing. There seems to be a rush. I don’t understand why. A specification should be technically excellent before being blessed as a formal standard.

    That is my opinion, based on many years’ work in ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2, responsible for the Universal Character Set ISO/IEC 10646, which many of you may recognize as Unicode.

  49. Sotto l’ombra degli olmi » Blog Archive » Chiamata alle armi says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    [...] Mark Shuttleworth nel suo ultimo post lancia una vera e propria chiamata alle armi. [...]

  50. Somewhere out there! » Blog Archive » Unified document format standard - call to action says: (permalink)
    August 15th, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    [...] Shuttleworth call to action Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? The way the ISO works is interesting. There are about 150 member countries who can vote on any [...]

  51. VoiceOfReason says: (permalink)
    August 16th, 2007 at 1:21 am

    Once again microsoft is up to its racketeering tactics again, claiming more standards support “choice” regardless of the fact that OOXML is widely considered a much less advanced format. Real “choice” is brought about via different text programs: having the choice of OpenOffice.org, GoogleDocs and MS Office is what really promotes technological progression, not pushing a format that is inferior. It is up to us to refuse Microsoft’s in-your-face facist technique to avoid another useless, redundant, pointless and overall CLOSED format. Read the overview of the license for that thing! Hardly “open” at all. Then again, i suppose it is a step forward for M$, albeit an obviously desperate one.

  52. jaxad0127 says: (permalink)
    August 16th, 2007 at 1:50 am

    In the US, INCITS is the body deciding it. They took a ballot earlier this month on it. Here are the results: http://ballot.itic.org/itic/tallyvote.taf?function=vote&committee=INCITS&ballot_id=2212.

  53. hillux.de » Blog Archive » Shuttleworth: Helft bei der Wahl zu einem Dokumentstandard says: (permalink)
    August 16th, 2007 at 7:59 am

    [...] Shuttleworth hat in seinem Blog beschrieben, was jeder Einzelne von uns tun kann, damit Microsofts Office OpenXML kein zweiter [...]

  54. Wade Hampton says: (permalink)
    August 17th, 2007 at 12:14 am

    I am very glad that the open standards movement is finally gaining traction — I tried to help get it started in ’99 (would anyone like openstandards.org?)!

    Should Microsoft’s openXML be adopted as an international standard, it would provide more incentive for governments to adopt it, which would further the lock-in to Microsoft’s closed platforms and tools. For those not in the US, it will mean more of your revenue paid to a US company….

    Fully open, non-proprietary, accessible, and free standards MUST be utilized by governments. The data they create, archive, and release belongs to the people (at least in theory here in the US). The data must be accessible far into the future. I have spent much of my career behind the scenes defining and implementing non-proprietary standards so public data will be available now and in the future.

    We should not have to pay to access Government data. It’s our data, data created and archived using our tax revenue. We have a free, open, APPROVED standard in ODF — it is supported by most platforms and many vendors.

    Thanks for getting the message out!

  55. Jose says: (permalink)
    August 17th, 2007 at 12:27 am

    I would like to add to some points to what MS (Mark S) covered.

    Some commentors discussed the importance of having flexibility in standards. I don’t disagree at all. The examples mentioned however were not ISO standards. ISO standards do not change as quickly as do standards from other standards bodies. Many of the standards mentioned were de facto standards. The issue is whether we should have one base ISO document standard upon which companies can build and which standards bodies like OASIS can advance more quickly (than ISO) or whether we should have two. It makes little sense for me to have two. Microsoft is a member of OASIS. Remember that ISO blessing is something that is taken seriously by groups that don’t need or want cutting edge but want openness and stability. ODF meets that today, and [ignoring the issue of two vs one] OOXML is not close to meeting openness and stability criteria today.

    People that want flexibility will have it because all vendors will be ahead of and introducing features beyond ODF, but the point is to have an ISO ODF compatibility layer useful for interchanging formats at some level.

    Please people, don’t obscure the issue. OOXML is a Microsoft driven effort not an industry driven effort. OOXML is new and duplicates tons of elements that ODF reused from, eg, W3C standards. OOXML [assuming we wanted competing standards] is full of flaws as submitted today. ODF took a long time and had open reference implementations way before it got the ISO blessing. Microsoft can use ODF and contribute open elements to OASIS if they want to. To let a monopolist, principally on the strength of its monopoly, determine what should be blessed “open” or not is a joke. Microsoft has the de facto .DOC, etc, standards already which they can advance however they want, but that has nothing to do with ISO openness and stability.

    For customers that want these two qualities above all else (eg, openness for document archival preservation purposes and to enable a stable widely implemented base level of compatibility useful to a diverse audience), Microsoft can export its documents into ODF. What is the problem?

  56. evanc says: (permalink)
    August 17th, 2007 at 3:12 am

    Just to be clear – by arguing for flexibility I was not arguing for Microsoft’s OOXML. Nevertheless, I want to point out that I have great respect for Microsoft because you do not become the widely used company that Microsoft is by not listening to what people want, but in fact by doing what people want even before people have released that themselves. And that is great part of the reason to why they are the monopolist. But now that they are, they can and have abused this power to people’s and FLEXIBILITY’s disadvantage, giving people less choice and that is why the ODF seems the better option.

  57. Mark Shuttleworth habla de ODF y de OO-XML » El Blog de Enrique Dans says: (permalink)
    August 17th, 2007 at 9:02 am

    [...] entrada de hace unos días de Mark Shuttleworth en su blog personal, “Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard?“, acerca de la situación del consenso sobre un formato unificado para documentos es [...]

  58. OO-XML ¡Ya estoy harto! « Lógica mente says: (permalink)
    August 17th, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    [...] su OO-XML. Acabo de leerlo en el blog de Enrique Dans que a su vez comenta el artículo de Mark Shuttleworth.Creo que como comunidad de usuarios tenemos que mostrarnos firmes ante estos abusos. Sin duda, no [...]

  59. William Blew says: (permalink)
    August 17th, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    In my view, the discussion is *not* about Microsoft.

    The discussion comes down to two points, both technical in nature:

    1) Is OOXML, irregardless of who proposed it, of sufficient technical merit to deserve the ISO stamp of approval?

    - Where is at least one reference implementation?
    - Has there been commitment by multiple vendors?
    - Is the proposed text clear? concise? complete? consistent?

    2) Given that ODF is an ISO standard, is there value in having another ISO standard to address precisely the *same* problem domain?

    The fact that OOXML was proposed by Microsoft is why we are even talking about it. Were it any other vendor, they would of been laughed at, and then subsequently ignored.

  60. Petri Kukkola says: (permalink)
    August 17th, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Im so tired Microsoft paypower… If this for whos paying for most, Im so disapointed…

  61. Ashley says: (permalink)
    August 18th, 2007 at 10:40 am

    I just finished drafting a letter to my local standards body. I’d actually written one before that, but scrapped it toward the end because it completely contradicted itself.

    I don’t mean to pick holes in the post, but HTML really isn’t a great example of an unified standard. For starters, there’s two vastly different versions in use today. There’s HTML4; XHTML 1, 1.1, and a few incarnations of each; then there’s the threat of XHTML 2, and HTML 5 on the horizon.

    It’s no stretch at all to say that developing a web browser for today’s World Wide Web would be an incredibly complex endeavour.

    So to anyone who’s writing letters and emails, maybe HTML isn’t the best example of an unified standard you could use. :-)

  62. Ron says: (permalink)
    August 18th, 2007 at 11:48 am

    One standard.

    The USA often does things its own way because of its strength. Clinging to the inches, gallons, miles, etc. while the rest of the world (most of it anyway) has gone metric. Letter, legal, foolscap paper sizes instead of A4, A5, etc.

    Microsoft is trying to do the same thing. Because of their size and market position they again are tainting the world’s thinking into somehow believing a single (for profit) company can create and maintain an open standard. The problem for them is that to be truly open is to give away their one true advantage which is monopoly status.

    I for one do not trust any single (for profit) company to always do what is best for the greater good. They are responsible to their shareholders to make a profit. Backing a standard that would allow ANYONE to create and maintain documents which could be shared with ANY word processor would not be in their best interest.

    Microsoft has already shown how they embrace, then proprietarily extend standards (note the number of websites that could only be viewed by MS Internet Explorer just a year or so after it displaced Netscape as the nt browser).

    Would you rather have public documents from your own governmental agencies that could for the time being only be accessible with a piece of software from ONE entity? Anyone try to open a MS Word version 2 document with a recent version of MS Word? Where did you have to go for the filter, one company only, Microsoft. When may it stop supporting these filters for upcoming versions of their software? Who could write these filters with no open descriptions?

    It is bad enough that documents on old media are inaccessible, 5 1/4 floppy anyone, 8 inch floppy, or even the more recent 3.5 floppy and the once almost ubiquitous Iomega Zip drive? But once you get these older documents physically accessible, what could you use to access them? With one open standard that question would be moot.

  63. OpenDocument o OpenXML? « Il blog di Sleeping says: (permalink)
    August 18th, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    [...] visitando anche i seguenti siti: http://www.geniisoft.com/showcase.nsf/archive/20070813-1201 e http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/132 , oltre a leggere i commenti su slashdot e sul blog geniisoft che aggiungono qualche considerazione [...]

  64. Rennie gresham says: (permalink)
    August 18th, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Being the amateur IT partner in a small veterinary business in the UK running windows 98 2000 xp, debian and ubuntu a major bugbear for us is lack of standards in communication with others. This occurs with web sites (IE 6 Exclusive) and even within versions of the same package (word). Commonly the government is the worst offender.
    The production of ever increasing complex operating systems and the enforced redundancy of the previous one when many of the applications would benefit from a simpler system leads to unnecessary hardware redundancy, overpowered polluting computers and cost. Conflicting standards are a block to the freedom to chose the appropriate software and systems for the required task of an individual PC. Multiple standards leads to incompatibility within a business as well as with the outside world unless a single vendor for all software products is adopted. Small company’s do not receive the massive discounts given to large companies and government bodies for software from microsoft and we should have the freedom to deploy it only where we want to.
    As most proprietary software is OEM, unless at the end of a software product’s life it became freely available and legal to use, then a single standard is essential to allow access to archives in the future.
    The IT educated and standards authorities need to protect the “ignorant” IT majority by maintaining a fully open and single document standard. Not only is a single standard required but its adoption by default by all public institutions is paramount.

  65. ODF: Consenso emergente em favor de um formato padrão de documentos unificado? « Linux… e mais coisas says: (permalink)
    August 19th, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    [...] Link original: http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/132 [...]

  66. Shadowfire says: (permalink)
    August 20th, 2007 at 1:07 am

    One standard of UDF (Unified Document Format) is fine. But I am strongly against it being proprietary or someone having Intellectual Property rights to it or any major claims through EULA’s or what not. I think the UDF needs to be PUBLIC DOMAIN or Common Usable. No one should own it, no one should be able to charge for it in itself, it should just be a standard for all to use in their software that need it (much like the HTML standard). Anyone and everyone should be able to use it, without any draw backs, fee’s, ip issues, royalties or eulas.

    This type of adoption of a standard for UDF should not just stop at ODF, but should also be looked at on video codecs, music codecs, and the like. This would dissolve proprietary standards that breakup, hold back and kill progress for interoperability and the common users choice of computer usage, OS usage, and program usage.

    There is no need for Intellectual Property or royalties driven standards (such as mp3, dvd and so on – these formates raises the cost unnecessarily on the standard being used) is hurting true competitiveness for all companies. The users is not interested in paying extra for a company to keep a hold on a file format. They want ease of use, and a standard that is cross-platform compatible with out hidden strings attached.

    The UDF is not being made for a company, third party, or government – it is being made for it most general resolve – openness and stability for the USER. (Lets keep it this way)

  67. El Francotirador » OOXML: ¿Por qué debería odiar a Microsoft? says: (permalink)
    August 20th, 2007 at 8:23 am

    [...] Mark Shuttleworth – Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? [...]

  68. mon says: (permalink)
    August 20th, 2007 at 11:32 am

    i noticed an ms update pushed through last week contained a patch for the ie vml implementation – interested, i read up on wikipedia about it and found that (qoute:) “Even though rejected as a standard by the W3C, and largely ignored by developers, Microsoft still implemented VML into Internet Explorer 5.0 and higher and in Microsoft Office 2000 and higher.”

    of course the accepted standard format is svg, yet ms (m soft) went ahead and used vml anyway. the question is – if ooxml is rejected by the iso board, is there any chance that the ms folks will actually abandon ooxml or at least support odf? my guess is they’ll probably do the old ‘ours or the highway’ routine, but we can still hope i guess..

    btw: i’ve emailed the iso board in the uk – does anyone know which way the uk is leaning on this issue?

  69. More OOXML Standarization Noise « FredSpace says: (permalink)
    August 20th, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    [...] More OOXML Standarization Noise I found this post by Mark Shuttleworth interesting and well written (I found it after reading a ZDNet article referencing it – I will not link to it, since the ZDNet blogs do not seem to handle trackbacks) Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? [...]

  70. James Parker says: (permalink)
    August 20th, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    There are some very good arguments in the paper at:

    http://holloway.co.nz/can-other-vendors-implement-ooxml.html

    as well. In particular it points out several examples of where the OOXML document gives incomplete specifications.

  71. Darkness at Noon » A couple of nice developments says: (permalink)
    August 21st, 2007 at 3:50 am

    [...] founder Mark Shuttleworth has some interesting comments on the International Standards Organsiation’s considering [...]

  72. Michael Everson says: (permalink)
    August 21st, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I can inform that Ireland will make its decision about how to vote on Monday next.

  73. Brivio Stefano personal Blog » Blog Archive » OpenXML: Esigenza Reale? says: (permalink)
    August 22nd, 2007 at 12:56 am

    [...] parole qui citate arrivano direttamente da questo post del blog di Mark Shuttleworth, fondatore del famosissimo progetto Ubuntu, distribuzione Debian [...]

  74. karl-tux-stadt.de » Nu isses schon mal DIN-Standard says: (permalink)
    August 22nd, 2007 at 11:38 am

    [...] trotzdem ist es schon mal wieder hirnrissig zwei Standards zu haben. Selbst unser Weltraumpionier Mark Shuttleworth hat sich vor einigen Tagen dazu geäussert und sagte dazu, dass es weniger darum gehe Microsoft eins auszuwischen, als dass er nur einen [...]

  75. Jeffrey Henderson says: (permalink)
    August 23rd, 2007 at 6:06 am

    I just had an amazing idea that would really help this situation. We need an open document reader, similar to the pdf reader you can download from Adobe. This small bit of software would make it easy for people to view any ODF document, without downloading and installing the full OpenOffice.org package.

    This way we can start using these formats when sending attachments to people, and they would be able to easily view the document. Then, if they wish to edit the document, they can download the full suite.

    The way things are now, you can’t really just send someone a document in ODF format unless you know they’re already using OO, because they wouldn’t know what to do with it, and probably wouldn’t want to wait for OO to download and install. If there was a fast option that would let them view the document, then that would help us get our foot in the door.

    Once they realize they can use this format for free, then they’re more likely to download OO and start using that.

    Thoughts?

  76. Paul Eipper says: (permalink)
    August 24th, 2007 at 1:41 am

    Brazilian standards body (ABNT) voted “NO WITH COMMENTS” (63 of them) on OOXML today (23/08)

    :)

  77. Camilo Telles says: (permalink)
    August 24th, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Mark,

    Brazil will vote no.
    Take Care

    Camilo

  78. مخالفت ایران با Micro$oft OOXML « مداد آی تی says: (permalink)
    August 25th, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    [...] ساختار پرونده‌ی Microsoft Office به عنوان یک استاندارد ISO • Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? (نوشته مارک شاتلو… • Help your national board say “NO” to OOXML • Office Open [...]

  79. IT Holics|What's Hot in Persian IT Blogs >> مخالفت ایران با Micro$oft OOXML >> By سعید says: (permalink)
    August 25th, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    [...] ساختار پرونده‌ی Microsoft Office به عنوان یک استاندارد ISO • Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? (نوشته مارک شاتلو… • Help your national board say “NO” to OOXML • Office Open XML * لطفا شما هم [...]

  80. disappointed says: (permalink)
    August 26th, 2007 at 9:01 am

    I believe Mark spoke too soon when he said the U.S. will vote against OOXML. The latest news I see about it has NIST and DOD changing their vote in the executive committee from no to yes (and one other changed, I believe). That puts the yes vote over the top. Looks like Microsoft’s fix is in. Germany and Switzerland also had a disgraceful show of bowing to Microsoft money. And did you see that a lot of former non-participating countries are signing up to be included in the voting? I don’t have any definite word on what’s motivating them, but I fear that they are joining to stuff the ballot box for Microsoft.

    I hope enough countries still make the proper choice to block OOXML, but I’m losing hope.

  81. Mike says: (permalink)
    August 26th, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    From the BSI website at http://www.bsi-global.com/en/Standards-and-Publications/Current-work/DPCs/

    “To comment on a Draft for Public Comment you need to use the appropriate table accessed through the links listed below ”

    The relevant (“ISO”) link is to a Word document.

    I am not optimistic about the UK’s vote.

  82. Don Christie says: (permalink)
    August 26th, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    The New Zealand Open Source Society has just participated in a two day work shop with StandardsNZ evaluating the OOXML. MS had some big guns there, but so did our Government agencies and other parties. Some helpful highlights follow this post. However, if anyone wants some specific advice (time is running very short) please contact us directly as we have litigated the arguments in some depth.

    1. Microsoft kicked off by admitting there were flaws in their specification (79 pages of them according to an Ecma document they produced). They promised to fix them. I was stunned by this admission, as the only way to guarantee the flaws are fixed is with a “No” vote.

    2. During the proceedings on the second day the Microsoft presenter admitted that the reason the XML in the specification was not human readable, in contravention to the ISO XML specification, was because it would make MS applications run faster. This was an admission that the
    specification was written with Microsoft’s applications in mind rather than to be a useful generic standard.

    3. One of the main “sell” points here in NZ for OOXML to become a standard was that it will guarantee the availability our “billions” of legacy documents. It became clear though, to do that properly and accurately the specifications for old binary formats are required. These
    are not part of the OOXML specification, it would take another round of full technical evaluation if they were added and so this whole angle is nothing more than a ruse. What OOXML will let you do (if they fix their “mistakes” is representing binary format quirks in OOXML through the use of XML nodes like autoSpaceLikeWord95 (not “Word 98″ as you said at Standards NZ). OOXML does not currently provide enough detail for this but Gray (and indeed wider Microsoft and Ecma) have said this will be addressed in a later revision. This stuff should actually be deprecated in the spec.

    4. Government agencies participated as one group. Four people represented our Ministries, Departments, Crown Research Industries, Education and State Owned Enterprises and, quite importantly, Archives. Prior to this meeting they went through a consultation process to arrive
    at their positions on various issues regarding the proposed standard. Their agreed position was that that SNZ should vote “no” to the adoption of the standard. They did not waiver from this position

    5. MS claims millions of people havce adopted the new standard. Actually the are confusing their clients with adopters. MS has adopted the standard, Peter L, who was at the meeting writes looks at who else has, at least reverse engineered the docx file format. The conclusion is “2 or 3 companies”, I would say:

    “Who has implemented OOXML already. I have seen this “list” posted a number of times on MS related sites. Firstly anything listed under the “windows” platform can be instantly dismissed as it will be using the Office API and not directly interfacing into the file format I think I can safely assume. On Linux they are all using odf-converter from sourceforge which IMHO is rubbish (to convert the ODF 1.1 spec (738 pages of pure text) into DOCX took 7 1/2 mins on my P4 Mobile with my CPU pegged at 100%, whereas to open it in OpenOffice or MS Office (with the Sun ODF Plugin) took 3 seconds). Which leaves the mac’s which I haven’t checked out how they are doing it but would suspect they are also using odf-converter as well (would love to be proved wrong on this). A very short list indeed…. And how functional are the non MS Office API documents? Can they open documents with embedded data from other applications (spreadsheet / WMF in a word doc for example).. I think not.”

    Matthew Cruikshank, who was on the NZOSS team was a star. His in depth knowledge of XML, document formats, accessibility standards were unrivalled in this and I suspect many other international forum. Again, if you want comments from Matthew, contact the NZOSS.

    Finally, I have no idea what the SNZ decision will be next week but I thank them for the opportunity to participate in this workshop, for their excellent organisation and for the fairness with which this part of the process was handled. I also thought the focus on New Zealand related issues was important.

  83. Eriks says: (permalink)
    August 27th, 2007 at 7:48 am

    I saw this article analyzing why OOXML is not as open as stated:
    http://www.arstdesign.com/articles/OOXML-is-defective-by-design.html

  84. Guy Kellogg says: (permalink)
    August 27th, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Mark’s background information and links are quite useful.

    I followed up and received confirmation from the “InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards.” INCITS has archived such communications here:
    http://www.incits.org/DIS29500/DIS29500.htm

    Thank you, Mark.

  85. Jim Pye says: (permalink)
    August 27th, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Mark

    Your reply to David’s comment 15 Aug, you mentioned that RSS/Atom are trivial standards and they form a basis of some diverse implementations. I totally agree. I myself have an Open Source project on Sourceforge.net ( http://syndstore.sourceforge.net ) that is an RSS aggregator. It uses a lot of standards; HTML, CSS, XML, EMCAscript (Javascript) to name a few, which all have their own issues – The different XMLHTTPRequest implementations within Microsoft browsers for example. However one thing I have discovered doing this project is – Yes the RSS specification is small ( approx. 2 web pages long ) but it is how people can mess things up even with this simple 2 page spec. Incorrectly formatted text. Not using all the required data fields etc. So how is the IT industry supposed to implement a 6000 page specification, of which parts will be hidden behind a NDA (or something), with any form of sense? If this ooxml spec is accepted by ISO I can see many many resources tied up in just sorting around all the bugs and mistakes eg. dates before 1900, instead of moving ahead with devising new technologies implementing the standard. Maybe this is Microsoft’s not so hidden agenda. Tie down the industry in the mire trying to implement to a faulty “open” specification while they alone move ahead.

    Jim

  86. Björn Bergqvist says: (permalink)
    August 28th, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Microsoft managed to buy the vote of Sweden in ISO?
    OOXML was accepted in Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) meeting. 20+ Microsoft Gold Partners showed up and turned the expected NO to a YES. Many of them registerd the same day as the voting occured.

    http://stupid.domain.name/node/382
    http://www.digg.com/tech_news/Microsoft_buys_the_Swedish_vote_on_OOXML

  87. Init says: (permalink)
    August 29th, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Sweden, Norway and Denmark have now all been pushed by Microsoft and its partner companies to favor OOXML.

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070829070630660
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070827111019189

  88. Escribiendo sobre el proceso de estandarización del OOXML en Libertad Digital » El Blog de Enrique Dans says: (permalink)
    August 30th, 2007 at 12:29 am

    [...] Con el fin de lograr una estandarización destinada a apagar los miedos de determinados clientes poco exigentes, Microsoft está demostrando estar dispuesta absolutamente a todo, por turbio y corrupto que sea. La maquinaria de lobby de la compañía se dedica a toda velocidad a la compra descarada y directa de votos y voluntades, o a dejar fuera de las votaciones a quienes iban a votar en sentido negativo con excusas absurdas, sin ningún tipo de empacho en que semejantes irregularidades se documenten y denuncien. En países como Suecia, más de veinte compañías que jamás acudían a las votaciones aparecieron de repente el día de la votación, hicieron efectivos los $2.500 para integrarse en la comisión, y votaron… todas ellas a favor de Microsoft (cosa nada extraña, cuando se trataba de socios de Microsoft a los que la compañía había incentivado económicamente para hacerlo). Un comportamiento que se ha repetido en otros países, y que proseguirá hasta que Microsoft consiga un número suficiente de países que habitualmente no votan formulando votos positivos hasta cubrir el necesario nivel del 75% de voto afirmativo, como acertadamente predice Mark Shuttleworth en su página. [...]

  89. mon says: (permalink)
    August 30th, 2007 at 10:16 am

    reply from uk standards group:

    Thank you for your enquiry regarding the recent fast-track submission, ECMA 376 (ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML). The formal commenting process for this ballot ended on 30th June.

    The ISO/IEC JTC 1 N8455 (JTC 1) 30 day review of ECMA 376 (ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML) resulted in comments from 20 National Standards Bodies.
    JTC 1 and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) authorised the ballot to progress to a five month ballot.

    To handle the large volume of comments expected in the UK, IST/41, the UK technical committee, established IST/41/-/1, a special technical panel consisting of 30 experts. The panel carried out a detailed technical review of the specification, and considered the comments submitted on the Draft for Public Comment. Their findings were fed into
    IST/41 to propose a UK response and the matter was referred to the parent committee ICT/-/1 to agree the final UK vote.

    The UK position will be made public after the closure of the ISO ballot on 2nd September.

  90. Pupeno’s web site » Blog Archive » Say no to OOXML says: (permalink)
    September 1st, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    [...] Please, say no to OOXML. There’s a list of all the countries that can vote and who to contact in them. Please, write, call, fax, let them know your opinion. And blog about it, let the matter be known. For more information you can check Mark Shuttleworth’s post Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? [...]

  91. What Can Microsoft Do To Survive | Wombat Diet says: (permalink)
    September 5th, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    [...] hasn’t been slow to try to set global standards in other areas. A global standard document format e.g. While the desirability of Microsoft setting such a standard may be debatable, we can see the [...]

  92. My Thoughts on the Rejection of OpenXML as an International Standard « A New Phase says: (permalink)
    September 9th, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    [...] This is a kind of late entry. Was planning to write this article a long time ago after reading this article. [...]

  93. Dennis Mitchel says: (permalink)
    September 13th, 2007 at 6:54 am

    It is good that standardization is being looked at, especially if this can be come a multi-platform standard.

    Speaking of standardization, is it not time to have the entire Linux community start looking at a unified installed that works on all Linux distros. That would be a serious step in the right direction for Linux to to be taken seriously by software developers. It is one of many steps but it would be a good start.

  94. evanc says: (permalink)
    September 17th, 2007 at 1:34 am

    Hi Mark,

    As I have checked on your site for any ODF updates on how the vote went, I can not help but remember a project proposal I sent to you few years ago called The Peoples Medium. It had few different aspects, as reality shows Democracy to the Point etc, but its major novelty was to provide a computer based secure system with website where people from all over the world could register using personal IDs, passports or social security numbers and vote on a specific issue. I.e. getting the poll of the whole Planet (or as whole as possible). Putting democracy down to its most efficient level.

    We now have various polls, and blogs where people express their opinion but at the end they have to sit and wait to see how the people who are meant to represent them will represent them. Sometimes representation is fair, often its not. And no wonder the word ‘politician’ in itself has come to have negative connotations.

    It is easy for people on public salaries (or any average human) to close one eye when generous wire transfers are made, and often the whole world has to pay because one man/woman decided to also consider whats better for their own future or family….

    This efficient computer polling can be used as an evidence on black and white paper of what people really want, since massive gatherings as the Live 8 which didn’t convince the US to reduce environmental pollution, and the protests against the war didn’t stop the war, or wars…. and so on and so on…. so we need the numbers, counted and registered.

    As the polling technique, accuracy and legitimacy improves this can later be used as a real way of voting.

    It is another discussion whether the majority knows what is best, but this site can, in a similar way as wiki system functions, be used to inform the majority. One thing I am sure of is that it is a lot more difficult to corrupt many people than it is to corrupt one or few, and this is really the core of the argument, more heads think better than fewer, and if we say that we live (and even fight for!) democracy than we REALLY should have it. The less middle men the better.

    So for example, everyone in favor of this can vote yes, anyone against can vote no. Simple and straight forward. It might actually make the world a better place.

    PS: I have never had in mind to gain from this idea, so if you think you or anyone can put the basis, making it as open as possible please go ahead. I just want to see it working.

  95. Hendy Irawan says: (permalink)
    September 18th, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Yes I agree with you Mark especially with point #3.

    I think Microsoft doesn’t want to make it easy for people to be able to open Word 2007+ documents easily… otherwise, the whole point of using MS Word is moot.

    Seriously, do 90% of this world actually use all of Word’s massive functionality? Writing papers, notes?

    Word is excellent software. OpenOffice is (currently) good enough software for most purposes.

    Microsoft don’t need to be “afraid” of being competed with free/open source software. They can simply free-ize their apps like Accounting Express, for home users. They can keep the enterprise/corporate market if they so desire. :)

  96. Helloooooo says: (permalink)
    September 22nd, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Maaaaaark!

    U on vacation?

    Been visited by the black helicopters?

    Hijacked by aliens?

    Installing Vista?

    Why taking you so long to post?

    Cheers

  97. Ubuntips » Shuttleworth arenga a defender el formato ODF says: (permalink)
    October 7th, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    [...] Ya se ha escrito mucho en este blog sobre la estrategia de Microsoft para imponer un estándar alternativo con OpenXML. Hoy veo en PICANDO CODIGO, un gran blog uruguayo sobre programación al que sigo por rss, un artículo escrito por Fernando Briano donde Mark Shuttleworth desde su blog arenga a defender el formato ODF. [...]

  98. Mariah says: (permalink)
    October 12th, 2007 at 9:28 am

    evanc on your voting system: the e-Government initiatives worldwide are working at some kind of voting system and not getting anyway because of factors like politic and infrastructure (refer UNPAN annual reports). It is a nice idea considered by many people two decades ago. Then not everybody has the luxury of electricity to their home. Is it right for the have to vote for the have-not? As for democracy, I am not sure if DEMOCRACY is the right thing for a safer world. What I can see is those democratic-so-said-countries are killing people and the democratic-people can’t do anything. I’ll vote for a simple-just world.

    On the ODF vs OODF standard topic – as reported by Jonathan Carter, me work done men.
    Personally, I don’t really care what standard is used – as long as it is the same standard. I’m already cursing each day to help people do conversion. Even the different version of the same softwares, compatibility is an issue. And I hate to think about those pre-historic records/document I have. Or should I still vote for paper & ink? It is easier for me to grow trees you know.

    :: Sorry Mr Mark for the informality.

  99. Calvin says: (permalink)
    October 20th, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Just wondered , did Mark go to space again ? It’s just that he has gotten awfully quiet on the blog ? ?

  100. Claudio Torbinio says: (permalink)
    October 20th, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Our Mission

    We strive to develop the most useful and practical integrated healthcare information system which is open for others to develop further.
    CARE2X – The Project

    CARE2X – The Project
    Integrated Healthcare Environment
    Care2x integrates data, functions and workflows in a healthcare environment. It is currently composed of four major components. Each of these components can also function individually.

    * HIS – Hospital/Healthservice Information System
    * PM – Practice (GP) management
    * CDS – Central Data Server
    * HXP – Health Xchange Protocol

    We are searching for “a wing to make fly our project”, actually active in Uganda and Tanzania
    Please help Us

    Claudio G. Torbinio

  101. Bl@ster says: (permalink)
    November 11th, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Maybe it’s too early, but I don’t want a new Microsoft’s standard. Windows is now the standard in OSes, but Linux is better and is taking users now more than yesterday.
    I have to say you some things about the Ubuntu project, i must say them via email or instant messenger, can i have your email address in private? I wrote you a letter, and this letter, after the translation from italian, in english, is more important for me. Please, give me this possibility.
    P.S.: Sorry for my english, but I’m an italian guy, an’ I’m sixteen years old.

  102. Vladimir says: (permalink)
    November 13th, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Dear Mark,
    I would like to express my senciere gratefulness to you and all Ubutu developers for the brilliant work. Could you please name the next Ubuntu’s release – Starvin’ Marvin.
    I’m ready to prove my proposal and if you have any questions please advise me.
    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  103. SEO Test says: (permalink)
    November 20th, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Dear Mr. Shuttleworth,

    It’s been 3 months since you updated your blog. Please share with us your recent thoughts.
    Regards,
    Michael.

  104. Free Penguin says: (permalink)
    December 5th, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Congratulations for “your” Ubuntu 7.10 release, it’s wonderful!

    Free Penguin

    http://www.freepenguin.it/index-en.html

  105. » The Tug of War which is ODF vs OpenXML says: (permalink)
    February 6th, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    [...] getting to an absurd point where on Mark Shuttleworth’s blog a commenter says reject OpenXML as a standard to uphold standards! The Register has it spot on that [...]

  106. O que a Microsoft e sites pornô têm em comum? « Linux… e mais coisas says: (permalink)
    March 27th, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    [...] eu não sou contra o OOXML. Ser pró-ODF não é o mesmo que ser contra-OOXML, como foi dito pelo Mark Shuttleworth do Ubuntu (e eu traduzi aqui nesse blog). O grande problema é: o OOXML tem muitas, muitas, MUITAS, MUITAS [...]

  107. Intellectual Property Rights « Helen King says: (permalink)
    April 18th, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    [...] of irregularities in national voting processes. Mark Shuttleworth commented on the process in his blog and on the results in the media, as did Andrew [...]

  108. Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » Emerging consensus in favour of … @ Imaginet says: (permalink)
    July 2nd, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    [...] here to read the rest: Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » Emerging consensus in favour of … Uncategorizeda-customer-, already-one, and-currently, cases-like, common-set, delivering-what, [...]

  109. Shuttleworth: Helft bei der Wahl zu einem Dokumentstandard « eckladen24 says: (permalink)
    September 11th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    [...] Shuttleworth hat in seinem Blog beschrieben, was jeder Einzelne von uns tun kann, damit Microsofts Office OpenXML kein zweiter [...]