back to article ISO rejects Office Open XML appeal (redux)

The International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) has rejected appeals by four countries to reject Microsoft's Office Open XML formats as an international standard. No further appeals can be made against the decision by two technical boards, so ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology - Office Open XML formats can wend its …


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  1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    "Critics of OOXML have two main objections against the standard."

    Yes, you say that, and then go on to sput the biggest pile of bullshit I've ever read at The Register. And considering Otto Z Stern was a regular here at one point, that's quite an achievement.

    The SINGLE objection to ooxml is that it contains large amounts of proprietary, patented garbage. It is impossible to implement the format with the provided spec because the spec is incomplete, littered with "make it behave like office 5 here" and similar. The objection is that Microsoft made this "open" "standard" purely to try and preserve its monopoly on office file formats and prevent people from easily migrating to competing products. This is a gross abuse of the standards system which was ostensibly set up to prevent that sort of vendor lock-in.

    That's the ONLY objection. The rest? Icing, or just the fevered imaginations of someone who can't be arsed to take the time to actually understand the arguments. That'd be you, Drew.

  2. Stuart Van Onselen

    And thirdly...'s a crappy standard. It's hugely over-complicated, still full of opaque binary data, hard to edit manually (despite being XML), little or no commonality between applications (Excel formatting completely different to Word formatting, for example), parts of it still patented, and probably a few more issues I can't remember. I'm just quoting what I remembered from an article that The Register itself linked to some time back.

    So why was this not mentioned? Why the subtle sneer about people hating MS?

    I know El Reg has a long tradition of sniping at Microsoft. Are you now overcompensating? Or is this one of the other Reg traditions: Never let the facts get in the way of stoking a good flame-war?

    Well, consider this my contribution to the conflagration.

  3. yeah, right.

    MS tactics

    Yep. Yet again unethical and potentially illegal behaviour wins the day. I guess dealing with MS is like dealing with a lethal virus. You know it has no morals, it's expensive to deal with, it's sometimes useful for thinning down the competition, and you hope like hell it doesn't turn on you.

    I guess you really CAN buy off the ISO. So much for the relevance of that organization in setting standards anymore. Now anyone with a brain is going to just look at the ISO stamp of approval on a standard and wonder who paid how much to get it approved. I know I will.

  4. Frank Haney
    Gates Horns

    OOXML - a standard looking for an application

    It's not clear if the following is the author's opinion or the Microsoft spokeman's opinion:

    "Critics of OOXML have two main objections against the standard. First, Microsoft does not support Open Document Files (ODF), a rival ISO file format standard used in OpenOffice, among others. MS-Office 2007, for instance, uses OOXML formats lacks native ODF support. (In the toing and froing over the OOXML standard, Microsoft said in May that it will build ODF support into SP2 of Office 2007, due out sometime next year.) Second, many in the anti-camp are against OOXML - because they are against Microsoft."

    It reads as if it's the author's opinion but it does hold the Microsoft line perfectly.

    I am a critic of OOXML so let me take those two assertions in turn.

    1 Microsoft doesn't support ODF. So what? Microsoft is free to support whatever file formats it wants to. It would be nice if Microsoft supported ODF but if it did it wouldn't need another standard so the argument is somewhat circular.

    2 We're against OOXML because we don't like Microsoft. I am against OOXML because of the way Microsoft has ridden roughshod over the standards process. We didn't need anothert document standard and remember, this is a "standard" that doesn't have a working application and is unlikely to have a working application since Microsoft won't be implementing it.

    And finally, you say "because they are against Microsoft" as if that's a bad thing. Look at the company's record of illegal behaviour, what's not to dislike?

  5. Bad Beaver

    May I ask

    Fishenden, I want to know where you get it and what you're paying for it.

    Bay the way, gave we already concluded on what ISO now stands for? We still have plenty options on the table:

    1. International Organization for Standardization

    2. In Search for Orifice

    3. Incredible Shame Organization

    4. I Standardized Office

    5. I Sell Office

    6. Insert Slush Option

    7. I Shrug Opinions off

    8. Interspersed with Shifty Opportunists

    Voters from developing countries need not apply.

  6. Glen Turner

    Only two major objections?

    There are two further major objections. Both more substantial than your second point.

    3. The design and specification OOXML is not of sufficient quality to become an international standard.

    The initial specification from ECMA wasn't even valid XML for some content. The design is basically a dump of the internal state of Office and is a long way from XML best practices.

    OOXML is a long way from standards best practices. For example, images are written out in the Microsoft BMP format rather than using a standards format such as PNG.

    The current specification is still inadequate for someone to implement OOXML: so much interoperability testing is needed against Microsoft Office that the process becomes reverse engineering. This is a long way from the ideal -- where a another party can implement the specification correctly with no use of sources outside of the standard and its references. Yet other standards organisations manage to do this, some even for protocols under development. For example, see "An Independent H-TCP Implementation under FreeBSD 7.0 -- Description and Observed Behaviour" which is a test of the quality of a specification which is intended to be submitted to the standards track of the IETF.

    4. Bad behaviour should not be rewarded.

    The misuse of the ECMA Fast Path undermines the whole notion of the Fast Path and Publicly-Available Specification -- where specifications which already had gained consensus, had honed their design and had enough review to purge the specification of inaccuracy, vagueness, ambiguity and impracticality would not have this work re-done by ISO. The OOXML specification was put forward by ECMA into the Fast Path with no consensus, poor design, much vagueness, much ambiguity and poor expression, and some impracticalities.

    The ISO JTC1 processes assumes good faith by participants, resulting in a lack of safeguards against playing the system. When it was obvious the system was being played ISO's CEO should have developed some backbone and sent the specification to the usual ISO standards-development process.

  7. Ted Powell

    The author doesn't get it.

    "First, Microsoft does not support Open Document Files (ODF), a rival ISO file format standard used in OpenOffice, among others."

    ODF stands for Open Document *Format*. It is not a "rival" standard; it is the *incumbent* standard.

    "Second, many in the anti-camp are against OOXML - because they are against Microsoft."

    Not the main reason. The author should have consulted somebody knowledgeable, somebody qualified to comment on the subject.

    "But considering the efforts made by both sides, it must be very a important game, mustn't it?"

    The name of the game is open standards (with multiple deployed implementations) versus vendor lockin (with *no* conforming implementations).

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Not really a win for MS

    There is no implementation of ISO/IEC 29500. It is unlikely that there ever will be. Leaving aside for now the poorly defined and self contradictory parts of the standard, MS have shown no inclination to modify MS Office to match changes made during the standard's discussion period.

    A large proportion of computer users have howled and cursed because MS word messed up reading a document produced by a different version of MS word. As a result, people put lots of effort into making this a thing of the past by ensuring ODF met their requirements. Several different office suites already interoperate by using ODF.

    MS may have bashed their format through ISO, but it has cost ISO their reputation for producing quality standards. MS has gained nothing of value, but the hardworking and dedicated members of ISO get blamed, and everyone looses confidence that future ISO standards match their previous quality.

    It is hardly suprising that MS are not crowing about this 'achievement'. MS realise OOXML will not lock people into using MS Office. Instead lack of proper ODF support will lock MS out of some big contracts.

  9. Mel Collins
    Thumb Down


    Note that Office 2007 does not implement ISO 29500 (single-o OXML), only a version of OOXML from before it was (first?) submitted to ISO.

    There are currently no implementations of ISO 29500.

  10. Christopher Smith
    Thumb Down

    Another objection

    I thought there was a third objection. That its a poorly written standard that provides insufficient information to be able to render/handle the document accurately.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Very sly game

    Since it seems not even Microsoft intends to implement OOXML it seems pretty clear the whole effort was made just in order to discredit the ISO standards organisation.

    As that objective has so exceedingly well succeeded, how much is the argument that ODF is an ISO standard now worth? Pretty much worthless. ODF, please return to square one.

    Microsoft must be happy with themselves.

  13. Michael Schmidt
    Thumb Down

    ISO may lose, but Microsoft doesn't win

    ISO may have lost credibility, caving to the big M$ financial machine, but I don't see this as a clear win for M$. The main financial benefits of having an open document format are 1) access to the increasing number of contracts that require use of open standards and 2) adoption by a wider user base. If M$ doesn't implement the standard, then their office software won't qualify for contracts requiring an open standard. If M$ does implement the standard, then wouldn't they be required to make it truly "open". If so, then they have lost the battle of maintaining proprietary standards, as other vendors (and OOo) would have access to the standard. After all, proprietary standards are a major business strategy for M$, since without them I don't think their software would be competitive.

    Also, if the Open XML standard doesn't pass muster (e.g., can't be implemented, has proprietary components) or if M$ doesn't play nice (e.g., "enhances" the standard without letting other folks know, as they have so often in the past), couldn't Open XML be de-certified?

  14. Jean-Luc Peurière

    Those who lose are users

    A standard must meet some requirements :

    - be a full description of the subject. OOXML fails that

    - be the most orthogonal possible. OOXML fails that

    - be implementable by everybody, and if patents are involved only RAND royalties. Only M$ can implement OOXML because only them know what formatlikeWindows98 means. Patents involved are not even described

    - reuse existing standard. MS created 2 new competitors for SVG in OOXML.

    So sorry, but the problems are real and not the inventions of people hating MS.

    ISO procedures were gamed to get to this result.

  15. Kevin Rudd
    Gates Horns

    Evil and it's manifest forms.

    So the objection gets "thrown out of court" because less than two thirds of ISO hangers on couldn't be arsed voting on it, rather than because there may have been a breach "of the law". Nice way to see justice, fair play and a transparent process carried out, ISO.

    May the devil (MS, sorry, that's M$) deliver the ISO members rewards in brown paper bags filled with Zimbabwean dollars.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Vote with your wallets

    I use ODF & recommend my clients use it, so they benefit from a long term vendor independent future.

    The more of us that take this stance now will ensure ODF success.

    If clients have Office 2K7 then get SP2 on ASAP & change default format to ODF.

  17. Lager And Crisps
    Jobs Halo

    ...tell me you didn't see this one coming?

    Cue the Microsoft aplogists in 3-2-1...

    ...gentlemen, start your engines!!!

  18. Stan

    all valid points

    I'd like to add one other thing. OOXML is, I'm assured, impossible to implement to the letter. If MS use OOXML and claim to be using an ISO standard format then they have to stick rigidly to that standard, if they don't (and to all intents and purposes they can't) then they are breaking the law.

    Their only legal option is to use a format with a different name that is more or less compatible with OOXML and make no claim of ISO compatibility. Very unlikely this will happen unless a competing office app does a better job of implementing OOXML and MS office shits its self trying to open a doc from it.

    Frankly I don't care if something is ISO certified any more, they have shown their colors over OOXML and their standards don't mean shit when they are for sale to the highest bidder. It may take a bit of shine off ODF's image but ODF does exactly what it says on the tin which counts for a whole lot more that the right to add 3 little letters to the format details.


  19. Mark Rendle
    Gates Halo

    Like ODF is any better

    ODF is basically proprietary and controlled by $un Micro$y$tem$, and about as capable of supporting all the features of Microsoft Office as RTF.

    Microsoft have submitted OOXML to ISO because various important public sector customers have responded to hyperactive lobbying from the ODF crowd and decreed that they will only use software which works with file formats defined by ISO. So obviously MS are going to do everything in their power to rush through the process; otherwise (big letters now for the hard-of-thinking) THEY'D LOSE MONEY. And they're a business, with shareholders, and shareholders don't like it when you lose money.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What credibility?

    I would have thought that by now anyone who has had even the briefest dealings with the ISo and various national standards bodies would have realised they have been for sale to the highest bidder for along time.

  21. Adam Foxton

    Surely no problem?

    MS doesn't actually use ISO 29500 either- just some bastardised version of it.

    So what's the problem? Create an ISO 29500 reader/writer based on the standard and then sue MS off the planet after they claim Office 2007/2008 is "ISO 29500 compliant" or OOXML compliant.

    Alternatively, if you can't support a standard without breaching various patents or using copyrighted code surely either (a) the code becomes freely available (i.e. the setting of a standard by the author removes their right to keep it secret or even make money off it- it's a standard; people are SUPPOSED to use standards.) or (b) no-one but MS uses the standard and everyone else uses ODF. If everyone (especially people like Adobe) used ODF over ISO 29500 or OOXML then MS would have no choice but to bow to popular demand.

    Adobe in particular would be useful allies thanks to the widespread use of the PDF doc format.

    Option (c), of course, is to implement ISO 29500 wherever possible. Everywhere. And still keep MS somewhat out of the loop as their own office app isn't standards-compliant. And businesses like Standards.

    I wonder if you could get a company to lose their ISO 9000 certification etc if they didn't know (and hence couldn't quantify, qualify or audit) exactly _how_ they were storing their data, or what other metadata was being stored along with their data?

  22. Jeffrey Nonken
    Gates Halo

    Ummmmmm no.

    Only two reasons are:

    1) Microsoft doesn't support ODF.

    No, that's not why we don't like OOXML. It's another reason to dislike Microsoft. Hold them in contempt, perhaps. I think you're a little confused about this alleged reason. I think you're conflating that with reason 2.

    2) Because we hate Microsoft.

    Uh huh. Uh huh. Right. So if Microsoft does something wrong, and Microsoft haters hate it, it must only because they hate Microsoft, and not because Microsoft did something wrong?

    Actually you're confusing cause and effect in this one. We dislike Microsoft BECAUSE of this sort of behavior.

    Microsoft refused to support the ODF format for years. They could have added it any time, and in fact it looks like they're finally going to. So why OOXML? Because they're trying to lock everybody into THEIR format, that's why. I don't know what their long-term strategy is going to be, and frankly I think they're going to make a mess of it. But that's what Microsoft has always done. No reason to think they're going to change tack mid-stream.

    Which is funny, because most people would be happy as ever buying Word instead of installing Open Office if the former would support a true open format standard.

    But no, Bill Gates can't STAND losing. And yeah, he's not running the company now, but corporate attitudes roll downhill.

    So they gave up on trying to make ODF look bad. I don't know what they think they're doing with OOXML, but as numerous others have pointed out already, 1) OOXML is a piss-poor excuse for a standard; 2) Microsoft abused the fast-track process to get it shoved in there.

    Of course this is speculation, but it's obvious to me that they went fast-track because they could see ODF eating their lunch and decided to play catch-up. A LOT of us would be FAR less critical of this mess had Microsoft gone through the regular process. The fast-track process is for ratifying defacto standards. How can a relatively new format that's not even supported by any existing applications be defacto? Now if they'd tried fast-tracking Word 95 format, most of us would have cheered them on. Or Word 97. Or, what the hell, Word 2000. Even the latter has been around and in use for 7+ years. Make that an open standard and watch the reaction.

    I mean that. Seriously.

    No, sir, you have the wrong end of the stick here. This isn't about hating Microsoft. This is about Microsoft being abusive and controlling, and ISO showing that their process is meaningless.

    P.S. I don't really hate Microsoft, as much as I dislike many of their tactics. Not to mention their arrogant presumption, and well, there are a lot of things I dislike about them. But I'm not really a hater.

    I just play one on Television. :)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Marketing spin

    Here is what this gains

    MS can now say "our standard is ISO aproved, so you can use our product if you have a requirement to use ISO standards. Besides, we have the best product to go from our old standard to the new one, as no one can understand our old format except us"

    Since the politicians and high level buisness men, who have 0 technical knowledge and cannot/will not dig any deeper, are the ones Microsoft will selling to, not the technologically knowledgable people who can then turn around and say "yea, but even you do not implement it", it will work.

    Welcome ot the microsoft marketing machine. If your product is crap and people won't buy it, you just need to market it better.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Michae Schmidt

    "if M$ doesn't play nice (e.g., "enhances" the standard without letting other folks know, as they have so often in the past), couldn't Open XML be de-certified?"

    The "standard" itself wouldn't cease to exist, but if a software claims to be compliant, it would need to be able to read and write documents that conform to the standard, which means if there are any extensions not present in the standard specification, there would need to be an option to import and export files without those extensions. Failing that capability the software could not claim to be conforming.

    However, if ISO can be bribed to pass a standard specification that did not meet the requirements for becoming a standard, then it is likely that accredited organisations which verify and certify compliance can also be bribed to issue false certificates. It can be expected that this development will simply dilute the credibility of standards, at least in certain areas such as office software.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Live with it

    Time for the anti-Microsoft obsessives to join the real world. The attempt to derail this as a standard was a nasty attempt to spec the worlds best selling office application out of contracts because they could not compete with it in the market.

    The world has a choice of many standards in many areas from light bulbs to food hygiene so why should office file formats be any different. If ODA is better than OOXML prove it by getting better products to market. Open Office is not a bad product for a free one so you have a start, now make it crash less, integrate as well as MS Office and actually have a decent SpreadSheet and you have a chance.

  26. WT

    There is a very simple work around

    Ultimately standard compliance is only a means to an end. The end most organisations are looking for when they ask for standard compliance is the avoidance of vendor lock-in. Thus far those organisations simply *assumed* and trusted that standard compliance was adequate to avoid vendor lock-in.

    At this point, it would seem that with OOXML becoming an ISO standard, the underlying assumption that standard compliance alone is adequate to avoid vendor lock-in will no longer hold true. If so, then organisations whose goal it is to avoid vendor lock-in will very likely adjust their procurement rules and update the requirements accordingly.

    A very simple workaround would be something like this:

    "Any software to be procured must conform to the applicable ISO standard. In the event that there are multiple applicable ISO standards, any software to be procured must conform to at least one applicable ISO standard for which conforming applications from multiple competing vendors are available."

    After all, that has been the true objective all along, not buzzword compliance. If the buzzword doesn't meet the objective any longer, simply write the objective plain and clear into your requirements, very simple.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Live with it

    You are missing the point entirely. This is NOT about whether or not Microsoft can submit a format to become an international standard. The issue is that Microsoft should have to follow the rules like anybody else who submits a proposal, the rules shouldn't be bent in favour of their proposal, which is precisely what has happened and which is what has been challeneged, nothing else. If you don't see that, you are not informed enough to comment. Read up or shut up.

  28. Mark

    What a load of shite

    AC, Microsoft were invited on the OASIS board when started up, with the same rights as IBM. Microsoft refused. When it looked like there was going to be a government need to have only open standard documents, MS didn't join then either but made up their own.

    And still there is no requirement that Microsoft NOT use ODF as its standard, it has complete and utter freedom to implement it, just like all other competitors to OpenOffice (since all you NMBers keep harping on about it being an OOo format).

    Problem for your last jibberings is that MS won't LET the market decide. If they were going to do that, they'd implement ODF cleanly in there too on the same status as MSOOXML.

  29. Grant
    Dead Vulture

    a new low in tech related articles

    I know the reg post shit to get comments, but this really is a new low in stupid tech related articles. Please keep your insanely inane article to topics like global warming or speeding. If your tech articles are also stupid their really is no more reason to come here

  30. Mark
    Gates Horns

    Mark Rendle, NBMer

    Nope, the standard is owned by OASIS.

    Members include over 30 companies.

    NOT JUST SOFTWARE ONES. It includes archivists and others who USE rather than make documents. This is so that the abilities meet what the market wants, rather than what the programmers thing would be worthwhile.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Live with it

    Nice bit of flamebait, grin, but I'll answer it anyway.

    > Time for the anti-Microsoft obsessives to join the real world.

    Umm, given what follows I think you may want to lay off the strong cheese yourself for a while. To put things in perspective, I have been using MS products from MS DOS 3.1 onwards, but also AIX, HPUX, Xenix, Linux, VMS and I have programmed in languages from on-the-chip direct opcode to app languages like ObjectPAL.

    And I've worked from systems engineer to company director - I don't think I lack perspective. There is a reason why so many are anti-MS, it's not even because they're successful. It's because they lie, cheat, steal and bully to BS end users like you and me into buying products that are inferior to what the market CAN offer if they didn't put a break on it. Why do you think most MS OS-es are still complete walk-ins from a security perspective? Answer: well, would you buy a new product if what you had was acceptable? They made that mistake with XP, plus got arrogant with Vista - the results are evident.

    > The attempt to derail this as a standard was a nasty attempt to spec the worlds best selling office application out of contracts because they could not compete with it in the market.

    [Laughs] I don't know what you're smoking, but it must be interesting stuff. Tell me why an app wants to compete when it doesn't cost anything. Also tell me why MS had to ram and buy a standard through the process if it already had a chance of participating in what was a formal, accepted ISO standard? Pray, tell me why the hurry instead of doing a botch job that was so bad even MS itself can't implement it? Have you ever tried to read it?

    > The world has a choice of many standards in many areas from light bulbs to food hygiene so why should office file formats be any different. If ODA is better than OOXML prove it by getting better products to market.

    It's ODF, but I think your reading ability got a bit overstretched so we'll let that lie. Have you ever TRIED OpenOffice? Or any of the other office suites that can generate ODF compliant docs? I worked for years for a major consultancy, and one of the things I did often was fix the unholy mess Word makes of large docs. The easiest way was to take them into OpenOffice, clean them up and then get it back in Word to get it back to the victims. Word sucks big time in front of a deadline. About the only deficiency I find in OpenOffice (2.4) is the way it works with external data - that is IMHO over engineered and too hard to use (try printing a couple of labels off a spreadsheet) - just about everything else works IMHO better. And word prediction is a lifesaver if you have to write a major doc with a lot of complex terms - after a few times using the word OO will suggest it.

    > Open Office is not a bad product for a free one so you have a start, now make it crash less, integrate as well as MS Office and actually have a decent SpreadSheet and you have a chance.

    Has it dawned on you that it may be your Windows that causes the crashes? Could be accidental, but if we see what happened with Novell's DRDOS it could also have something to do with those incessant updates you get on a daily basis. You'll never know. Oh, and you can put your suggestions re. Calc to the dev team. Ever tried to find someone to talk to in development at MS?

    One of the things I *hate* about Excel is that the function names change in a different language. I haven't used a non-English version of OO yet, but I hope they didn't take over that idiocy, or at least made it optional..

    Oh, before I forget, a little question for you: if that standard is so wonderful, maybe you'd care to explain why Microsoft ITSELF will not be using it? Hmm? Just curious..

  32. Gerard Allwein

    why there was the need for the standard

    The need for a standard was so that documents written now can be read far into the future. The author of the article simple hasn't yet has his governmental records of his life written in some arcane format that doesn't need accessing until he retires. And when the government goes to get them, he won't exist. That's the problem. That's why having a standard is important. Well, to lose the author's records would probably be a blessing since he doesn't appear to need them anymore.


  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You've been tooled

    INDIA & VENEZUELA - nice! Didn't we forget the EU complaints here as well? VENEZUELA of course is a great backer of US corps ... India and the EU have lot's of protectionist reasons to block an MS standard. All they have to do is get a few anti-MS nutballs to think they are "fighting the man" and a launch a freedom march.

    You've been tooled by the real man.

  34. Mark

    Why MSOOXML is useless

    Lets say that you have government documents storing some information that you have to extract. You don't need ALL the information and, in fact, some of that functionality is definitely counterproductive for your little application to implement.

    So you make an application to extract from MSOOXML just those elements you need to extract.

    But you are not covered by the patent protection licensing for MSOOXML. Because you MUST include the required elements of the standard, whether you want them or not.

    ODF doesn't (in fact, any open standard *should* not) have the requirement to implement all of it. E.g. a braille reader for ODF is fine: you don't need the images because they can't be presented. But that's fine.

    MSOOXML braille reader? Must implement the image options else come under patent fire, except by the unbound generosity of a single company: Microsoft.

    PS I wonder what assistive technology is available for MSOOXML now? After all, that was the grassroots complaint about using ODF in Massachusetts: no blind reader or other assistive tech...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    ISO is now completely without merit and should be ignored

    Now that Microsoft has bought the ISO, that organization is pointless. It's past time to follow Open Source development. People need to take some time, find an open source they like and start learning. The Peeps might find they even enjoy the experience.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    re: You've been tooled

    You're then one who has been fooled, by MSFT.

  37. Tom
    Thumb Down

    They were just waiting...

    "The ISO's decision comes as no surprise. A month ago, a leaked document, recommending that the appeals from national standard bodies from South Africa, Brazil, India and Venezuela "should not be processed further", tipped up on Groklaw"

    For the cheque to clear.

  38. Andrew Taylor

    @AC re Open Office crashing

    Funny, I switched to Open Office because of Microsoft Office products continually crashing, result my office applications no longer crash. At work I am continually asked why Word doc's and Excel spreadsheets continually crash or lose information, must be user error then and not the exagerated claims about capability. Look at the big picture before commenting, pillock.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Why the angst?

    ISO are no longer the force they were and no one seriously takes ISO standards very seriously, and haven't done for many years.

    As for Microsoft, they are rapidly becoming a spent force.

    Let's wish them both well. They deserve each other.

    ISO. Pahhhhh. Who in the real world actually cares?

  40. This post has been deleted by its author

  41. Edward

    Bah, sellouts...

    Wouldn't wanna piss off your advertisers eh El Reg. Next time write a proper article.

    Read, it explains HOW the format works, I would be very surprised if ISO had actually read the spec, or made any effort to understand it.

  42. Graham
    Paris Hilton

    @Anonymous Coward

    The more I read your comments the more I am convinced of your links to Microsoft.

    You claim to have used many OSs, but in reality you really only argue points which are made against Microsoft.

    Oh and Microsoft themselves use more than just Windows OSs so that doesn't exclude this.

    The reality check you need is you always fail to see how Microsoft's objective is to CRUSH anything that is not Microsoft.

    This, I'm sure you will agree, is a healthy business attitude but it is not one with which I would want to be associated.

    The porn and drugs business will have the same attitude, I'm sure.

    I would rather be a long haired sandle wearing hippy than be associated with the behemoth glutton and yes darn right evil mentality of the Microsoft mop-up machine.

    G'won then, AC, answer that one!

    Paris, because it reflects the Anonymous Coward mentality.

  43. Graham


    Let's just get it right:

    ODF is an OPEN format.

    Like open source type open.

    Microsoft can download openoffice and use the APIs to implement the standard in Microsoft Office any time they choose.

    They can get upgrades to the APIs for free and if they open source the MS Office plugin they can even get it developed for free too.

    You gotta ask yourself why they don't.

    The REAL reason they don't is very obvious: they want to CONTROL the document formats WE use.

    The only way they can do this is to make the "standard" so esoteric that they are the only ones that can be see to implement it as intended.

    Either by completely closing the standard and making it in house.

    Or in this case.

    Fooling some tin pot standards organisation into thinking that the format can be implemented by anyone, knowing the reality.

  44. Big Dave

    I've been an MS Word developer for nearly 8 years

    And, I have to say, the Open Office XML file format had enormous potential and delivered 5% of it.

    As far as I can tell, the main objection to it is that it is rubbish and the more I use it the more I agree. It's not even 'proper' XML in some places - a very brief web search would tell you that.

    I'm surprised at Reggie presenting the story in this way.

  45. Mark


    Even better (for closed source aficionados), it's BSD-like open. MS like BSD. MS not like ODF, though.


  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @RE:RE:RE:@RE:RE Live with it

    ISO in a bit of a bind here really.

    It is very likely that OOXML (or whatever bastardised format MS finally settle on in Office.Whatever) will become the effective standard. Standard as in everyone uses it and if you want to submit a proposal, job application, complaint, quote, piece of coursework or whatever it will only be accepted in OOXML format. Kind of like now and Word 2003 format .DOC documents.

    Sure some people will accept other formats, and maybe even insist on something other than OOXML but they will be a minority and probably disadvantaging themselves if they do. Almost everyone else will insist on the currenty accepted MS format.

    So, what do ISO do? If they accept a format that does not meet their own requirements for a format then they tacitly admit they are mostly toothless. If they reject a format that then becomes the de-facto format they basically admit they are mostly toothless and wholly irrelevant. There is no point in them trying to get MS to change the format / spec as MS will just refuse and ISO are back to accept or reject.

    At least if they accept OOXML ISO can claim to have some control, even when in reality they don't.

  47. The Other Steve

    Festival of misconceptions - monday morning troll ?

    @Stuart Van Onselen

    "So why was this not mentioned? Why the subtle sneer about people hating MS?"

    Perhaps because there are so many idiots who are simply ms haters, who will happily spend their time authoring screeds against the beast without bothering to engage their brains at all. Frankly, this is becoming quite tedious, as do all forms of frothing self righteous zealotry.

    @Andrew Crystall

    "The ISO just signalled their compliance with large corperations over the interests of users"

    Duh! Have you been living under a rock or what ? Whose interests did you think ISO were supposed to represent ? Yours ? The UK is represented at ISO level by the BSI, who say : "Since its foundation in 1901 as the Engineering Standards Committee, BSI Group has grown into a leading global independent business services organization"

    Have you seen the prices they charge just to get electronic copies of their standards ?

    Would they really do that if they had the best interests of the average Joe at heart ?

    @Jeffrey Nonken

    "Which is funny, because most people would be happy as ever buying Word instead of installing Open Office if the former would support a true open format standard."

    What's really funny is the way you have it ass backwards w/r/t reality, since in fact most people in a position to make the choice are happy to buy word now, and will be happy to buy word again later. I imagine that this will continue at least until OOo stops being a pile of utter shite. Right now, rightly or wrongly, most individuals and organisations couldn't give a fuck whether their WP software supports a standard that bears the dubious honour of having been blessed by the linux jihad, despite being wholly owned and controlled by large corporate interests, subject to ISO licensing and also, in fact, patent encumbered, despite said corporate interests promising on their besties not to enforce their IP rights, which everyone believes because they aren't Microsoft and therefore not evil. Riiight.


    Seriously Drew, was that a troll or what ? People _also_ object to the OOXML standard because it's a crawling horror. (Not that such objections have ever stopped ISO from ratifying a standard before.)

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just curious

    There seems to be a lot of learned people here getting very very upset about this new standard; I have to ask a question: what happens to a 'standard' if its not used?

    I guess what I am saying is: stop bleating, if you dont like it, dont use it.

  49. Mark

    Re: Just curious

    Well, it depends.

    If you spend enough money your unused standard will become used because you can afford to bribe or dump a product USING that standard.

    Of course, this requires a large bag of cash to tide you over while you're spending money.

    Also, if you don't like standards, getting a standards body to render itself irrelevant is great. Notice how ISO is being slammed BIG TIME (deservedly so, IMO), but ECMA (which ISO trusted to be a good boy and put a standard for fast track that was *eligible* for fast track) is getting away with it.

    ECMA are *by their own admission and intent* a "standards body" for accepting corporate standards by their members, whether they are a worthwhile standard or not.

  50. Chris Cheale


    tell your friends...

    The OOXML standard may be shite, MS Office may be the predominant piece of office software... but there's no reason you can't subvert it; get enough people using the ODF plug-in for Office (add in those of us using OOo) and MS can do whatever they like with OOXML - it'll never be used.

  51. William Old

    Consent obtained by fraud...

    ... isn't true consent in law.

    I take my hat off to ISO, the exchange of grubby brown paper bags full of cash has been pretty well carried off successfully here, and as other commentators have said, all this has done is to irretrievably damage ISO as a standards body.

    An ISO standard that has no implementations and probably never will have... how the mighty have fallen.

    In their latest business venture, Microsoft has announced a computer-aided tool for forcing Imperial pipes into metric fittings, and vice versa, in line with their new ISO standard for engineering infrastructure. Concerns over mechanical strength and safety issues from leakage of pipe contents were dismissed as being the ravings of "those who just don't like Microsoft"...


  52. Bill Gould

    Never been an issue

    Hrm, oddly all of my documents work quite well in Office '07. Of course they've all been written in previous versions of Office and not in that OOooOoOOoOoOo thing.

    Meh. A pointless win for the big guys, but it does serve to put the little guys back in their place.

  53. Mark

    Re:Never been an issue

    Now write a document (that renders incorrectly in OOo) in O2007 and give it to someone running, say, Office XP.

    Oh boy, are they in the shit.

    So you now have "customers" tied off to the upgrade mill because you paid for O2007.

    Now if you'd used OOo, the output they give is far more compliant with older versions of Office than O2007 is. Hence, they do not have to upgrade. Which means, rather than having to pay MS money, they get to keep it and spend it on you.

  54. The Other Steve

    RE: Re:Never been an issue

    Oh Mark, calm down. As any fule kno, if you work with MS Office and you have to do document exchange with anyone with a different version, you just save it in Office 97 or Word95 format.

    Literally millions of people rub along just fine every single day without experiencing any kind of horror at all at the tribulations of differing MS Office versions.

    The number of people who have lost important formatting in this way is absurdly low, if it weren't, actual users and IT managers would be baying for the blood of MS instead of just bloody minded geeks with chips on their shoulders.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    An opportunity arises?

    Since ISO has shown itself to be easily manipulated if you only grease the right wheels, this is an ideal opportunity to get the Register's weights and measures scheme forced upon everyone^W^W^Wgiven the worldwide recognition it deserves, just like OOXML.

    So what if metric and imperial measures are both well-established and widely implemented? Imperial is outdated and incomprehensible, while metric is an un-American evil devised by smelly French people who think we should have standards that everyone can use freely! Boo to that! El Reg standards it should be, and you'll fucking pay royalties to use them too, ya hippie bastards (someone has to pay for the Reg tab over at the "Filesystem and Firkin" come Friday afternoon after all).

  56. Mark

    @The Other Steve

    Nope, MS is pretty poor. There are many cases where MSOffice has been unable to read a file. Opened in OOo and saved again. MSOffice can now read it.

    MSOffice uses a memory dump and sometimes something gets saved that shouldn't be.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    People who use formatting do lose formatting all the time

    "The number of people who have lost important formatting in this way is absurdly low"

    And how did you establish that? You will find that you are simply confused because you and the many people you know who don't lose formatting don't actually use formatting facilities much.

    Those people who do use Word's formatting facilities, they lose formatting when going through a legacy format conversion all the time.

    It is a very weak defense of a product when you have to resort to pointing out that people who don't really use the product much don't have any problems with it. It's like claiming that a car that is well known for being notoriously unreliable is actually a fine car on the grounds that those who only drive it once around the block every other sunday and in fair weather only never have any trouble with it.

  58. tempemeaty

    Make it yours. Start a new standard.

    Nothing is open as long as MS has a hand in it.

    Think about it. A open MS format is still a "MS" format.

    Can someone recall what the point of a "Open" Format is?

    Programmers, World community, to you I say this, "Start a new format and make it yours."

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