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.
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- CIOs Deliver Productivity Breakthroughs with Intelligent Digital Signage Retailers have long recognized the influence that digital signage provides over a shopper's point-of-purchase decision making process.
- ERP in the Cloud and the Modern Business View IDC's White Paper, to review IDC CloudTrack Survey findings, gain expert insight into the challenges and opportunities the cloud presents, and determine...
- Oracle ERP Cloud Service - Back-Office Solutions that Keep You in Front Learn how you can harness the power of the cloud to run your business more effectively and lower upfront costs.
- Integration with Oracle Fusion Financials Cloud Service While moving your financial system to the cloud may seem straightforward, truly realizing the advantages of the cloud requires a complete understanding how...
Transforming Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain Effectiveness with Cross-Functional Analytics
Date: May 6th, 2014
Time: 1 PM EDT
Attend this Webcast to find out how Oracle's packaged analytic applications enable line-of-business managers to examine all...
- Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior This scientific white paper, using statistical data from Amakai's streaming network, analyzes how changes in video quality cause changes in viewer behavior. All Applications White Papers | Webcasts