The FT on OOXML: Dr Johnson Applies


Here's the FT on OOXML and the ISO, which I missed when it was published last week:

Allegations of committee-stuffing, the outcome of votes overridden by political appointees, a final decision that many involved consider tainted: this may sound like a discredited election in some third world country. But it is actually a description of an ugly fight over international technical standards that wrapped up this week. Microsoft came out on top, but at the cost of tarnishing its reputation and the credibility of an important back-room process that oils the wheels of many global industries.

A good start, but later it concludes, misguidedly:

The outcome, though messy, was probably the right one. Under ISO control, future development of the formats will now be subject to independent direction, and the full technical specification will be open for all to see.

As readers of this blog and related sites will know, the fact that OOXML is nominally an ISO standard (subject to EU investigations and formal objections, which should not be long in coming) does not mean that the full technical specification is open or independent: Microsoft still has a stranglehold on it through its patents, and will, in any case, diverge Office formats from that standard when it suits, while continuing to give the impression that it adheres – rendering the whole ISO “future development” moot.

But as Dr Johnson once said:

"Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

The Pink 'Un has noticed the ISO fiasco, and commented: that in itself is noteworthy.

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