back to article UK Unix group vows to appeal OOXML ruling

A group of UK open source supporters today slammed a High Court judge’s decision to reject its call for a review of the British Standards Institution’s approval of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) document format as an international standard. The UK Unix and Open Systems User Group (UKUUG) said it planned to appeal the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Donations by PayPal only?


  2. James Penketh

    Cue the anti-FOSSie comments

    in 3...



  3. Duncan Hothersall

    If the BSI breached no rules

    then the rules are wrong. It's as simple as that.

    "I was perfectly within my rights, so I ran him over."

  4. Darren Mansell

    @ Paypal only

    Its the only one I can pay with quickly and from work. So I did.

  5. Steve


    If it's "impossible to implement" then who care if it's a standard or not - MS Office can't state that it uses the standard and neither can Oo.... so what's the point?

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    Re PayPal only ?

    Also accept cheques by post, or contact us for other ways:

  7. Neil Lewis

    Lawyers are mostly technically incompetent

    A judge couldn't be expected to understand the technical issues involved. Having dealt with many over the years in my own professional capacity I've often found that Lawyers are a pretty ignorant bunch in areas outside of their own expertise.

    He apparently only said that the UK standards body had not obviously broken any of their own rules or procedures. Still, you'd have to wonder whether he bothered to look at the history of dodgy dealings around OOXML and it's known technical shortcomings. It's certainly very odd that a specification that hasn't been implemented by anyone, is clearly not intended to be implement by others and shows no sign of being adoopted anyway could ever be reasonably put forward as a standard.

    It makes one wonder just how many palms were greased to make it happen.

    Perhaps we'll find out what really happened in court. More power to the UKUUG, I say!

  8. Sam

    donations by many ways

    Or you can post a cheque (or call the office next week and we'll take your details over the phone and you can pay by whatever you want).



    UKUUG treasurer

  9. Leo Maxwell
    Gates Horns

    groklaw effect

    Maybe the "murder of crows" hovering around OOXML can make a difference, maybe not.

  10. Don Mitchell


    So you are saying that only open source organizations can propose a standard? The fact that ODF and Open Office are derived from Microsoft's Office software, features and formats suggests that MS should at least have the right to propose its own open standard.

    It's one thing to support open source. It's another thing to demand that anything not open source be banned and boycotted.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Don Mitchell

    No, of course not. What we are saying is that a standard should be clearly and unambiguously documented. It should be complete and implementable. It should NOT require the sponsor (Microsoft in this case) to game the system in every territory around the globe to get it adopted.

  12. James

    That problem is not that it's not open source, the problem is that for a start it's invisible!

    Don, if you are suggesting that OOXML is an "Open Standard", we can continue the discussion if you can point to a complete copy of the current draft of the standard. You know, the one the BSI supposedly voted on. The BSI seem to have voted on a nonexistent draft.

    Not only does it appear the BSI voted without having seen the thing they were supposedly voting on, but also it appears that that draft is _still_ not available.

  13. Joe Tamai

    Copies of Office?

    Rubbish. ODF was developed by a consortium of bodies and went through the normal procedure over several years. It can be and IS used, unlike OOXML. It was not rushed through by bribery and backroom tactics.

    And open Office is based on Star Office not MS Office. Where DO you get your information?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why are you people still flogging this horse? If you don't like the standard then don't use it, and don't deal with people who do. It won't make you look like an eight year old stamping his foot ina tantrum, honest. You've got another standard, so you're welcome to use that. Stop trying to ram yours down other peoples' throats while you're doing exactly the same thing.

    @Duncan Hothersall : No, you just don't like the rules. And your quote does bring to mind the old insurance/police ones with similar ones. It doesn't really support your argument if you think about it.

    @Sam, alain : No need to even post here - your supporters were looking very hard for *any* way to pay the minute they read the article.

    @Neil : So do you want a judge deciding or not? And I'm not sure your (and others') arguments about who has/can/will implement a standard really have any relevance to the creation of that standard. Same with 'technical shortcomings.' Standard does not necessarily mean good. Finally, allegations of bribery are just plain childish. Although I suppose 'makes you wonder' isn't really an allegation. Can't risk being sued for libel, eh?

    @ Leo Maxwell : What the hell are you actually trying to say?

    @James Penketh : Sorry to be so late getting around to all this. FOSSer.

  15. Paul

    it's not that simple

    The legal question is not whether OOXML is a bad standard as such (it is), or whether the decision was a poor one (it was).

    It's about whether the ISO acted according to its procedures and within its legal rights or, alternatively, whether the decision was "so outrageous in its defiance of logic or accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it."

    Basically, to be overturned, a decision needs to be not slightly but extreeeeeemly unreasonable (and this one may not have been quite egregious enough). Or else the rules and procedures must have been clearly breached (and the Judge was not convinced of this).

    If the Judge was very clearly wrong in this assessment (and it's not just a toss-up that could have gone either way) then there may be grounds for appeal. But it won't be cheap, and it is far from easy.

  16. David
    Gates Horns

    Open Source isn't the issue

    >>It's one thing to support open source. It's another thing to demand that anything not open source be banned and boycotted.

    It's not that open source is the only option, but that Microsoft a convicted monopolist is playing everyone again as usual. They prey on the IT illiterate and that is why Open Sources are complaining, because they are the literate ones.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Who cares what they agree to, it only matters what gets used.

    If people think that the best format to store their documents is in the MS OOXML then that is their lookout.

    ISO have proven they don't really care about workable standards, so we just ignore them.

    If you hear someone use the term ISO standard in an argument, then just chortle a little, people will soon get the message.

    If OOXML is open, then the translation tools will be available, if it is not open then there will be the problem, at which point ISO will look very foolish.

  18. Mark
    Gates Halo

    Re: Sigh.

    What are you on about AC? Your release of vocal drool indicates a lack of thought commensurate with someone who wants to troll but doesn't want to make the effort of thinking about what they write.

    It isn't that we don't like the rules and even if it was, would that be wrong? South Africa had rules about segregation of blacks. Should we like those rules?

    Where IS the ISO MS OOXML?

    In a fast track, there should be implementations (note plural). Where's ONE?

    If FOSS is the point, then why is there an issue? BSD is FOSS. The specification can be implemented in BSD. MS likes BSD and uses it already. No problem. Unless the state of the code or the openness isn't the issue. Ensuring MSOffice is continued to use is the issue. And can MSOOXML be imlpemented in BSD? No.

    Head in ring...

  19. Nigel Kneale
    Thumb Down

    Most people don't know this is normal

    I'd take the anti-OOXML/anti-ISO commenters more seriously if they'd actually followed and taken part in previous ISO standards debates and approvals - and I'm not talking document formats here.

    The fact is that the ISO has acted totally consistently compared to previous approvals. Their critics are trying to force rules on the ISO and their voting members which simply are not there.

    All these "experts" wanting to take all these standards agencies to court aren't experts in the right field - they need a lot more previous experience with the ISO processes, and they don't appear to have it.

    The bottom line is that it doesn't matter if there's more than one ISO standard when it comes to document formats - take a look at the other ISO standards out there and you'll find there's countless examples of overlapping and competing standards.

    It's *normal*.

    Just pick the standard you want to use according to your own requirements.

  20. Dave

    what does "standard" mean?

    It seems to me that "standards" are for the most part codifications of accepted "best practice". Back in the day, Whitworth & British Association screw threads were "standards" - in the British Empire! Now nuts & bolts made to those specifications would be pieces in a (tedious) museum.

    Standards do NOT say "you MUST adopt", standards DO say "you can achieve interoperability if you adhere"

    The choice of with whom you desire interoperability seems to be yours to make, or at least debate with people over. Clearly, that two standards compete on a given topic of technology is merely a recognition of (open!) competition.

    I have examined my options on document formats and I ask people with whom I wish to be interoperable to do so without locking ourselves into a closed and opaque implementation.

  21. Christian de Larrinaga

    let's not standardise what's normal!

    Well let's face it getting the UKUUG to take one to court is not exactly normal! I can't think of a less litiguous group of people who have ever supped beer.

    Whatever the internal normal workings of the BSI it is selling its product as Standards with International authority. This gives these documents and conforming products enormous marketing power.

    When looking at comparisons of data formats in the market the metrics are not complicated. A data format can either be closed and proprietary or open. Being open means that its specification has to be complete and openly available so that any application or service developer can apply or interoperate with it. It should also be proven as interoperable which is why many technical standards activities require at least two implementations. Other alternatives are fair game provided they hit the road with these qualities.

    If you standardise a data format which is closed (or not complete in the sense there is not enough information to use it as is the case with OOXML) you are promising something which cannot be delivered. You are promising an open interoperable format and OOXML does not meet that benchmark as it stands. This is an abuse of standardisation.

    This is despite whether you adopt a nethead view that the term "Standard" is an incitement to irrelevance and should be dropped and it is despite the way that BSI levvies £40 for members and £80 or more for the rest of us just to get sight of our British Standards specification documents.

    The BSI by promoting the OOXML specification as it stands is in danger of confusing the market. If the only way to get the BSI to reflect more deeply is to take them to court then so be it. I think the UKUUG are correct on this and deserve support.

    But as the ISO itself has placed this under review it would make sense for the BSI to do the same. Then everybody can get back to grep'ng in the pub rather than the high court.


  22. Belxjander Serechai

    from "openly marketed" into the "standard and cout" processes?

    This is getting beyond a big yawning joke now...

    When is a standard going to be *complete* AND *available* in addition

    to *complete* implimentations...

    Afai am aware... MS Office (latest edition) does not fully comply with the OOXML

    standard which it is suppossed to be the primary (only?) reference implimentation

    Where is an alternate reference implimentation that has the same format as primary?

    gah, I'll stick to Japanese as a second language and programming,

    legal jargon reads like obfuscated code too quickly for my tastes...

    I'll only write code to this standard when It is *complete* as a standard

    Mines the white rain coat made from reprap kit... later...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Importance of the ISO standard to Microsoft...

    is that M$ can go to government and big business and provide them with proof that they adhere to fair and best practices that allow other software providers to inter-operate and compete.

    That OOXML is non-functional and that M$ software doesn't comply either has nothing to do with anything.


    Bill with horns, obvious

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Who cares?

    RTF is a universally published and open standard — we don't need another one.

    Like it isn't as if Microsoft is ever going to mislay the code that reads binary Word/Excel files (which is the extent of most people's involvement with computers) and those of us who ARE competent store our data in either plain or marked-up ASCII text files which are always going to be readable forever.

    OOXML is a joke. Why bother wringing hands about it?

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