Microsoft Open XML Failed ISO Bid Makes Big News

Microsoft’s failed bid to make its “Open XML” format an ISO standard was certainly newsworthy, though it was slightly surprising to see it covered in detail in the Wall Street Journal, and to hear about it this evening on MarketPlace.

Among the most amusing responses to Microsoft’s failed efforts (which include some questionable attempts at a fast-track and alleged vote packing) came from Eric Raymond:

I find I’m almost ready to recommend that OSI tell Microsoft to ram its licenses up one of its own orifices, even if they are technically OSD compliant.

To me it seems that Microsoft has misunderstood the criticism leveled at its opaque (and ubiquitous) .DOC format. It seems that they believed that the contention was merely that the format was closed, and therefore making it XML (and hence “open”) would assuage those concerns. But the biggest complaints about Open XML have been around as long as RTF — that Microsoft deliberately makes choices in their “standards” that sacrifice general flexibility for Office-specific implementation details.

Of course, I don’t really blame them — they haven’t gotten where they are by being a benevolent standards body. Perhaps this will finally motivate them to stop trying to act like one.

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