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The World Sighs as ISO Becomes Irrelevant

Posted in Asia, Deception, ECMA, Formats, Fraud, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 10:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen.”

Tim Bray

From this point onwards, it is worth starting to argue in favour of ODF because of its merits rather than its ISO rubber stamp. Microsoft has single-handedly redefined the meaning and significance of ISO. It rendered ISO moot. The aggressive lobbying (and at times even well-documented bribery) has not gone unnoticed. It has gone well over the fine line and even involved bullying, smear campaigns, and libel.

“The problem is that reports from there transcend borders and can then ‘poison’ the minds of readers in other countries.”We continue to find disturbing stories which tend to escape the media’s attention and rarely by coincidence. That in its own right is equally appalling and we shall soon cover Glyn’s Moody piece which is titled “In Praise of Journalistic Scum”.

You may recall, especially if you are a long-time reader, that the Philippines was on many occasions criticised for biased reporting on OOXML. The problem is that reports from there transcend borders and can then ‘poison’ the minds of readers in other countries. As a refresher to one’s memory, one might wish to read:

Another new article from the Philippines seems more like an imbalanced informercial (more on informercials in general here). Among various bits it contains, the following statement is worth highlighting.

Though obviously elated by the development, the local subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. chose to highlight in its official statement the “transparent” process which the BPS adopted in resolving the issue.

This is far from the first time that a country wrongly defends the transparency of the “process” rather than the so-called “standard”. This is a bald-faced lie, as we have shown many times before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Are we seeing manufactured lies here [1, 2, 3], which rely on the public being misinformed and too trusting? What what is being said in Malaysia, which has been more honest then most.

What is the point is that we have collectively, globally, bore witness to an awesome display of power by a single corporation. Awesome. Ruthless, even. That Microsoft would fight in every nook and cranny, every possible avenue, every committee, sub-committee, sub-sub-committee, upwards, downwards and sideways to the committees, is simply astounding.

That Microsoft can and did encourage the final decision makers to ignore the wishes of their own standards bodies, majorities be damned, is further affirmation of this awesome display.


However, it was awesome. One company, Microsoft, against all comers, all over the world.

Simply, awfully, awesome.

Pieter has posted a bogus press release on April Fools Day, but the sad fact is that it’s exactly the type of press release we ought to see later today.

Geneva, 1 April 2008. The International Organization for Standardization announced at a press conference that its processes are “broken” and “need radical reform”. ISO president Håkan Murby told journalists that “the Microsoft OOXML process was a near-disaster and we want to make sure such a thing never happens again.”

Instead, prepare ISO to continue to pretend that it's all business as usual, sweeping under the carpet all the abuses of the process, boosted by Microsoft and ECMA press releases.

Muhammed Saeed al Sahaf
“We are winning!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Of course, those of us who have watched this closely will always know that this so-called ‘standard’ is not really a standard. It was brought to ISO using abuse, even crime.

When is a Standard Not a Standard?


So, now we come to the present day, and an ongoing battle about which relatively few people, compared to the world population, know or understand. The battle lines were drawn, the positions chosen, and the war began. Microsoft can’t stop ODF from being a standard – ODF has already achieved the status.

To quote the father of MXL (on the OOXML BRM specifically): “process irretrievably broken … complete, utter, unadulterated bullsh*t.” To quote ISO itself:

“This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.

The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”

Martin Bryan, ISO ‘Escapee’
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1

I sold out

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  1. paul said,

    April 2, 2008 at 10:52 am


    I $old Out. That is beautiful! I love it. Let me add one more to the list.

    ISO. Now offering the best standards that money can buy.

  2. price of persia said,

    April 2, 2008 at 11:04 am


    Microsoft is coming to a point where they are noticing they are loosing grips in lots of areas. They will use up all their cash resources to bribe people and make them choose microsoft craps. But they won’t go far. Their dominance will die out with the 90′s generation. The new kids will be using products designed by Google, Apple and Linux.

  3. someone said,

    April 2, 2008 at 11:06 am


    1 $old Out — Brilliant …

    Also, I am proud to be an Indian today since despite “EXTREME” lobbying from M$, in a rather poor country, common sense prevailed and we voted against it. Although I have to say, Infosys, TCS, WIPRO — some of the main outsource clients of Microsoft voted for it…. there were many companies that voted against it. Alas … this will not go down well ..

  4. Max Stirner said,

    April 2, 2008 at 1:38 pm


    Considering the dire quality of the standard, the pattern of national body votes could actually be considered a “corruptibility to US corporate influence” index and should probably be published as such!

    APPROVAL – our Lords are in Redmond, consider us the 51st US state!

    ABSTAIN – we’re honest enough to -almost- say its a pile of shit, but we’ve read about Hiroshima in the school textbooks

    DISAPPROVE – not part of the neoliberal economic order, some degree of sovereignty. At least as far as technical standards go..

  5. Dennis said,

    April 2, 2008 at 7:17 pm


    This vote should be thrown away, all P members who did not vote on anything except OOXML should lose all membership in ISO and barred from rejoining for 5 years. Procedures need to be put in place to prevent the abuses that happened in the national bodies. A second vote should not be allowed after a failed vote until the document and all objections, etc., have been properly reviewed, even if the vote is delayed.

    Finally, duplicate standards should be prohibited.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 2, 2008 at 7:35 pm


    Finally, duplicate standards should be prohibited.

    See this. There are antitrust concerns and probably an appeal on its way.

  7. justin said,

    April 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm


    Sorry to be OT, but while I share your sentiments regarding OOXML, is there any way you could de-animate your favicon? It’s distracting and absurd!

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 3, 2008 at 9:47 pm


    This problem was raised here and elsewhere before. I agree it can be distracting, which is why we set a timer on repetition of this animation. This was done roughly a year ago.

    I really apologise for this. It’s possible to instruct some Web browsers never to animate icons.

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