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 Responses to “Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard?”

  1. VoiceOfReason Says:

    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.

  2. jaxad0127 Says:

    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.

  3. hillux.de » Blog Archive » Shuttleworth: Helft bei der Wahl zu einem Dokumentstandard Says:

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

  4. Wade Hampton Says:

    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!

  5. Jose Says:

    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?

  6. evanc Says:

    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.

  7. Mark Shuttleworth habla de ODF y de OO-XML » El Blog de Enrique Dans Says:

    […] 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 […]

  8. OO-XML ¡Ya estoy harto! « Lógica mente Says:

    […] 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 […]

  9. William Blew Says:

    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.

  10. Petri Kukkola Says:

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

  11. Ashley Says:

    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. 🙂

  12. Ron Says:

    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.

  13. OpenDocument o OpenXML? « Il blog di Sleeping Says:

    […] 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 […]

  14. Rennie gresham Says:

    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.

  15. ODF: Consenso emergente em favor de um formato padrão de documentos unificado? « Linux… e mais coisas Says:

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

  16. Shadowfire Says:

    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)

  17. El Francotirador » OOXML: ¿Por qué debería odiar a Microsoft? Says:

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

  18. mon Says:

    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?

  19. More OOXML Standarization Noise « FredSpace Says:

    […] 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? […]

  20. James Parker Says:

    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.

  21. Darkness at Noon » A couple of nice developments Says:

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

  22. Michael Everson Says:

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

  23. Brivio Stefano personal Blog » Blog Archive » OpenXML: Esigenza Reale? Says:

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

  24. karl-tux-stadt.de » Nu isses schon mal DIN-Standard Says:

    […] 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 […]

  25. Jeffrey Henderson Says:

    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?

  26. Paul Eipper Says:

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

    🙂

  27. Camilo Telles Says:

    Mark,

    Brazil will vote no.
    Take Care

    Camilo

  28. مخالفت ایران با Micro$oft OOXML « مداد آی تی Says:

    […] ساختار پرونده‌ی Microsoft Office به عنوان یک استاندارد ISO • Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? (نوشته مارک شاتلو

  29. IT Holics|What's Hot in Persian IT Blogs >> مخالفت ایران با Micro$oft OOXML >> By سعید Says:

    […] ساختار پرونده‌ی Microsoft Office به عنوان یک استاندارد ISO • Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard? (نوشته مارک شاتلو

  30. disappointed Says:

    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.

  31. Mike Says:

    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.

  32. Don Christie Says:

    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.

  33. Eriks Says:

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

  34. Guy Kellogg Says:

    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.

  35. Jim Pye Says:

    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

  36. Björn Bergqvist Says:

    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

  37. Init Says:

    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

  38. Escribiendo sobre el proceso de estandarización del OOXML en Libertad Digital » El Blog de Enrique Dans Says:

    […] 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. […]

  39. mon Says:

    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.

  40. Pupeno’s web site » Blog Archive » Say no to OOXML Says:

    […] 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? […]

  41. What Can Microsoft Do To Survive | Wombat Diet Says:

    […] 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 […]

  42. My Thoughts on the Rejection of OpenXML as an International Standard « A New Phase Says:

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

  43. Dennis Mitchel Says:

    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.

  44. evanc Says:

    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.

  45. Hendy Irawan Says:

    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. 🙂

  46. Helloooooo Says:

    Maaaaaark!

    U on vacation?

    Been visited by the black helicopters?

    Hijacked by aliens?

    Installing Vista?

    Why taking you so long to post?

    Cheers

  47. Ubuntips » Shuttleworth arenga a defender el formato ODF Says:

    […] 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. […]

  48. Mariah Says:

    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.

  49. Calvin Says:

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

  50. Claudio Torbinio Says:

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