Arnaud's Blog

Opinions on open source, standards, and other things

Good PR, poor arithmetic

Jason Matusow of Microsoft is echoing in his latest post some so called “facts” brought up by Jan van den Beld, the former Secretary General of Ecma, who claims in his blog posting that the volume of comments on OOXML compared to that of other specifications is “completely normal – one comment for every 4-6 pages”.

I’m sorry to burst their bubble (not!) but it is well known that the comments that were registered by National Bodies during the vote of September 2nd are based on partial reviews of the specification. This is simply because it was impossible for anybody to do a complete review of the 6000+ page document in the 5 months allocated by the fast track process (which was totally inappropriate in this case). Several NBs have said so and I don’t know of anyone who has had a chance and the courage to do a complete read through.

It doesn’t take much effort to then figure out that, given the general complaint for lack of time to review the specification thoroughly, not all possible comments have been raised and have been registered. It then naturally follows that if the number of comments registered against OOXML is the same as what is typically received for specifications that are much smaller and therefore much more thoroughly reviewed, it actually means the OOXML specification is the object of many more comments/problems than what is normal!!

So while these so called “facts” might constitute good PR for those that have for agenda to downplay the mediocrity of the OOXML specification it makes for very poor scientific work for sure.

It is really appalling to see what is being done here. First, Ecma and Microsoft limit the amount of comments that could be registered by NBs by abusing the fast track process. Then they use that fact as an alleged proof that their specification is of the same quality as other specifications.


December 13, 2007 Posted by | standards | , | 3 Comments