I just can't seem to get enough of this mystery novel they call the quest for Microsoft Open XML to attempt becoming an industry standard.  It's almost like playing a game of corporate whack-a-mole.  Every time the truth seems to get out, another spin pops up.  That just happened in the ongoing attempt to describe what is happening in Portugal, where the Microsoft chair of the committee seems to have had significant influence in the makeup of a technical committee which just so happens to include several Microsoft partners and excludes IBM, Sun, and other interested vendors.  I discussed this last week, and then watched the fireworks as Microsoft's Stephen McGibbon attempted initially to defend himself and his colleagues, then disappeared as ANSOL's Rui Seabra came through with the direct facts from the meeting.  Apparently the direct evidence here, on other blogs, and on Groklaw wasn't enough to put the issue to rest, as Microsoft's Jason Matusow tried to re-spin the story through generalizations yesterday (and after more than three hours, my comment still hasn't posted there).   This doesn't even begin to tackle other recent reports from Spain, Denmark, etc.

So I was pleased to see IBM VP Bob Sutor's latest blog entry this morning,   Bob answers, at least indirectly, my "what happens now?" question from last week.  With all the comments, concerns, issues that have been able to be flagged on Open XML during its "fast track" process, I wondered, what will Microsoft do?   Bob writes (emphasis mine):

This process will go on for several months and so OOXML, if it were to become an ISO/IEC standard, would only do so in mid-2008. If that were the case, it is likely to be a very different animal than it is now. That is, given all the very significant technical problems with it, the final spec would most likely NOT be what is implemented in Microsoft Office today. Microsoft implements ECMA OOXML and not the possible future ISO OOXML, if that ever comes to pass.

Think version problems. Think compatibility problems. Think an Office Fixpack for this that must be installed everywhere. Think converters from ECMA OOXML to ISO OOXML. Think converters from everything else to the various flavors. Think you better brush up on your math to understand the possible combinations. Think a great big mess.

Or, rather, think about why the existing ISO standard ODF is a great idea now and will continue to be so. Think about all those arguments about why a single open document standard is preferable. Think about why those "we need multiple document standards" statements are sounding even more stupid than they did before.
I am sure there's a point to the salmon continuing to swim upstream, but I'm not sure what the spawn will look like.

Link: Bob Sutor: Why OOXML will not be an ISO/IEC standard in 2007 >

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