Arnaud's Blog

Opinions on open source, standards, and other things

Microsoft wants National Bodies to wear blinders

It is unknown at this point how exactly the convenor of the upcoming OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) will run the meeting and how he will make the call as to whether there is agreement or not on each issue being discussed.

My understanding is that he can simply make a judgment call based on the apparent consensus or lack of it, or he can call for a vote. Either way this means that countries present at the BRM need to be prepared to express their position on all the proposed dispositions of comments.

Of course, with thousands of proposed dispositions of comments and only a few weeks before the BRM, this is an impossible task. Microsoft knows that just as well as anybody else but they are not going to let this kind of hard reality stop them from pursuing the sacred grail – the ISO Standard label -.

So Microsoft is instructing countries to only worry about their own comments, not all comments. If followed, this has several advantages for Microsoft: it makes the task of reviewing the response countries received less daunting and it increases the chance that a country will be satisfied by the response, and consequently decide to vote in favor of OOXML.

The only glitch in Microsoft’s take on this is that it really doesn’t make any sense for a country not to worry about all the issues that were raised.

I’ve participated in many standards meetings. Never have I seen issues being segregated by their origin. Once issues are raised they all end up in the same pool for everybody to consider, regardless of their origin. And then when a resolution is proposed everybody gets to express his or her opinion on it, not just the people who raised the issue. This is simply because everybody’s interest is in the standard as a whole, not just particular sections of it.

The fact that it’s an impossible task for countries to merely read about all the issues that were raised and their associated proposed dispositions only proves, once more, that the fast track process is totally inappropriate for OOXML. But it’s not like we didn’t already know that and even if common sense would dictate to stop this non sense right now I don’t expect it to. The OOXML train already got seriously dinged in September but it will keep running its crazy course until it crashes.


January 23, 2008 Posted by | standards | , , , | 29 Comments