Weak ISO support for changes to Open XML throws shadow over final approval
Critics say little discussion on the technical tweaks took place
Computerworld - A committee of ISO members in Geneva may have approved the proposed changes to Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) on Friday, but the document format's final approval remains far from certain.
Critics charge that the discussion around the 1,100 mostly esoteric technical tweaks — delivered in mid-January via a 2,300-page document by standards body Ecma International — was so perfunctory that no consensus can be drawn from it.
"Eighty percent of the changes were not discussed," said Frank Farance, head of the U.S. delegation to this week's ballot resolution meeting (BRM) in ISO, which voted against the changes. "It's like if you had a massive software project and 80% of it was not run through QA.
"It's a big problem," Farance continued. "I've never seen anything like this, and I've been doing this for 25 years."
Besides the 200 or so changes that were discussed and approved by committee members, another 900 were grouped together for a single vote without any discussion, because of lack of time.
Of the 32 participating countries, only six, including the Czech Republic and Poland, voted to approve those 900 changes. Eighteen countries, or more than half, abstained, while another four countries refused to register a vote, according to a blog of Andy Updegrove, a lawyer and open standards activist.
Four countries, including the U.S. and Malaysia, according to Farance, voted not to approve those 900 changes.
That, according to critics, indicates a lack of actual support for Open XML.
"People here are disgusted," Updegrove said by phone from Geneva, where he observed the week's proceedings. "The absurdity of trying to do this by a 'fast track' process became quite apparent this week."
Microsoft Corp., however, said that Open XML has faced far greater scrutiny than other ISO formats, including the rival OpenDocument Format, which quickly passed in a fast-track process in 2006. Expecting that every change needed individual approval at this week's meeting would only add to an already bureaucratic process, the company argued.
"I think the process has worked," said Tom Robertson, general manager for interoperability and standards at Microsoft, in a phone interview from Geneva. "There has been a lot of discussion since this process was started on Sept. 2. Not every issue that was raised needed to be discussed face to face this week.
"The national bodies this week simply identified the issues that mattered most to them, and focused their discussion on them," Robertson continued. "I think it's fair to say there was a pretty rigorous review of those issues."
Robertson declined to comment on Open XML's prospects for final adoption by ISO.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Live Webcast Best Practices for the Hyperconverged Enterprise Network To the Age of Constant Connectivity and Information overload
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Government Agency Webifies Outdated COBOL Applications Let this CTO tell you how his agency converted 1980s-era green screens into an e-filing portal for the 100,000 cases handled each year...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the... All Applications White Papers | Webcasts