April 15, 2008 9:10 AM PDT

ISO calls for end to Open XML 'personal attacks'

The International Organization for Standardization has called for "personal attacks" to cease in the debate surrounding Microsoft's Office Open XML standard.

The move came as an ISO committee meeting in Norway attracted protesters, who gathered to call for the retraction of Open Office XML (OOXML) from the ISO standardization process.

At the start of April, the document format won enough votes to become a fully fledged ISO standard. Many observers had been against that standardization, pointing out that the OpenDocument Format (ODF) already existed as an ISO standard, and arguing that OOXML's documentation contained too many unanswered technical problems to be passed.

Last week the ISO committee in charge of document standards, SC 34, met in Oslo to discuss the way forward for OOXML and ODF. The plenary session was marked by protests outside, largely carried out by delegates from a nearby open-source conference. The protesters were calling for OOXML to be withdrawn from ISO standardization--something that could theoretically happen if a national standards body were to protest against its own vote within the next month or two.

One result of the SC 34 meeting was an open letter, signed by 30 members, which read: "We the undersigned participants at this SC 34 meeting wish to make it clear that we deplore the personal attacks that have been made during the (OOXML) standardization project in recent months. We believe standards debate should always be carried out with respect for all parties, even when they strongly disagree. We call on all organizations and individuals involved in SC 34 standardization to support this view, and to refrain from initiating or engaging in any such personal attacks."

The committee passed several resolutions relating to OOXML. The most significant was the establishment of an ad hoc working group to "maintain" the standard. This is a temporary measure, as the committee foresees the need for three document standard-related working groups: one to maintain OOXML, one to maintain ODF, and one to "work on interoperability/harmonization" between the two.

Another ad hoc group will also become operational in three months' time, collecting reports of "possible editorial or technical defects" in OOXML from national standards bodies, "liaison organizations," and the general public.

All members of the SC 34 committee will have to be given access to the final text of the OOXML standard by May 1 at the latest, the meeting also resolved.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
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20 comments

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Ghee Whiz, If The Thing (OOXML) Is Like A Pig In A Barrel....
... then let us say so. Why try to "hush/stifle" other people's expressions/impressions/views. :-(

One result of the SC 34 meeting was an open letter, signed by 30 members, which read: "We the undersigned participants at this SC 34 meeting wish to make it clear that we deplore the personal attacks that have been made during the (OOXML) standardization project in recent months. We believe standards debate should always be carried out with respect for all parties, even when they strongly disagree. We call on all organizations and individuals involved in SC 34 standardization to support this view, and to refrain from initiating or engaging in any such personal attacks."

Read the subject line. And, remember that: "It Is Not Going To Be Over Until The Fat Lady Sings"! ;-)
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Additionally...
... (or If The Thing (OOXML) Is Like A Pig with Lip Sticks On and Trying To Dance An "ISO" Jig..... ;-) )
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
Agreed with ISO
It's time to get on with the roll out, and end the divisiveness.
Posted by cmwendy (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There's probably not going to be a "roll out"
The last time I checked even MS Office doesn't comply with the Open XML "standard".

And it appears many companies/governments won't even consider
using it until it is supported by a major non-Microsoft office suite.

That isn't like to be any time soon, if ever.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
At least start an investigation
I think that the ISO at least needs to open an investigation considering the irregularities with the vote in so many places and ways.
Posted by jeromatron (103 comments )
Reply Link Flag
All of this could just be Microsoft's own fault!
They had a very good chance to sit down with the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) Group way back then when the two groups involved would have gotten the opportunity to iron out all the interoperability issues and they did not; (now, look where this is now being addressed - at the ISO) and the story is as simple as that.
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
interoperability/harmonization working group.
I wish them the best of lucks, as OOXML is designed from the ground up to prevent interoperability and force the use of Microsoft owned patents.

This working group must be a joke !
Posted by My-Self (242 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A Joke Indeed
My thoughts exactly. What a joke.
Posted by SatQ (5 comments )
Link Flag
"OOXML's Integrity Tests" or "'personal attacks'"?
Which one is it? :-$ ;-)
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ISO has nothing to do with this article.
This open letter is nothing to do with ISO.

So what 30 people who have voted for a standard in an ISO process do not represent ISO.

This Open XML process was the worst thing to happen to ISO. It has brought disrepute on the whole organisation, that you can fast track a process, override 2000+ problems that were raised by participanting standards bodies, openly bribe members and use backhanded tricks to discredit specific countries local standards bodies.

ISO now have a lot of work to do it in reevaluating their procedures.
Posted by rsnic (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: "ISO has nothing to do with this article."
If there is anything their (ISO's) integrity is (perhaps, for the first time in it's history) now on the line.!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
amusing
Now isn't this amusing. The ISO has basically prostituted
themselves to the evil empire and now this ISO committee wants
respect?

People don't generally respect prostitutes.

Do they consider that a "personal attack"? Maybe they could try
answering the questions they left blank, like why on earth they
would approve an "open standard" that's 6,000 pages and refers
to patented and proprietary closed standards throughout. Or
maybe why a 6,000 page document needed to be fast tracked to
begin with.
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ISO is useless
..for obseleting the "last current" standard, and having another one.

Why do they bother calling it a standard or even have a so called "standards" organization?

We're all going to be chasing another standard a few years from now.

Corporate facisism wins again.
Posted by flemingho (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: "ISO is useless"!
Maybe, they have taken the rest of the people in the world to be what they are not in this day and age. The thing is - People all over the world maybe a lot "smarter" than the folks proffering to represent the good intentions of the ISO believe they are. ;-) !
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
ISO is not useless.
They don't just do standards in file formats. They do standards in anything you can think of, operating procedures, policy, health care, software ... Nearly every organisation uses them to some degree.

If your interested in what ISO does visit the website. You can also read the Open XML ISO/IEC DIS 29500 and its FAQ.

The last line of the FAQ on the Open XML Standards reads:
"Because continual improvement is an underlying aim of standardization, ISO and IEC will certainly be continuing to review and improve its standards development procedures."
Posted by rsnic (6 comments )
Link Flag
ISO or I$0
Did Microsoft money sway the vote?

I wouldn't put it past Microsoft to have done this.

I just can't trust them and to make them a standard bearer is just ludicrous.

ISO lost any authority they had with this stupid move.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Rabid anti-microsoft response on schedule
Always nice to see the usual crew of ignorant (whether willfully or through sheer unwillingness to do any research) anti-microsoft crowd chime in with their tinfoil-hat-lined foaming mouth attacks.

If there is any party in this debate which lacks credibility, it is the "anything Microsoft is for, I'm against" folks. Check the mirror, y'all.

Meanwhile, go learn something about ISO rules, national member rules, and the history of vendor submissions of technology to ISO and other standards bodies. Try opening your eyes a bit to see which of your favorite, most-beloved companies have used those rules to achieve their aims. There's nothing to investigate here.

Look. Standards is a blood sport. If you don't understand that, you're not paying attention.
Posted by jdzions (85 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Whose side are you on?
Given that the world's "market share forces" may very well be the "ultimate" judge; and, not you, the Microsoft Corporation or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)!

Read the subject line.
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
Re:"Standards is a blood sport"
So, what you're saying is that we should get used to a standards body with no standards. Is that zen or something?
Posted by gizzward (1 comment )
Link Flag
 

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