If the birthmark fits, Microsoft will wear it

Summary:This was not the end of something, it was the beginning of something. Something far more dangerous to international trade and industry than a software standard. The standards system has itself been overthrown, replaced by international governanace of the strong man. Fine if he's our strong man, but what happens when he isn't?

Ballichev close-up
When Jason Perlow reported on last week's Microsoft Technology Summit, he sought to compliment the company by giving CEO Steve Ballmer a Gorbachev-like birthmark (right).

But Gorbachev was a Communist. He wasn't elected. He was the product of a dictatorial society which was rotting from the inside, and his final achievement was to preside over its dissolution.

But if the birthmark fits...

As we approach Wednesday's announcement on the ISO decision concerning Office Open XML, the format for Microsoft Word, it's becoming increasingly apparent that the process has been, well, Gorbachevian.

Peter Judge writes that at the recent meeting in Geneva, 17 of the 120 delegates met to judge Microsoft's standards application were Microsoft employees, while others were employed by Microsoft affiliates.

Rather than actually dealing with 81 final questions about the standard, they were given a "batch approval," which Brazilian delegate Jomar Silva called "the least ridiculous" way to proceed.

This would be funny if the implications were not so serious. Once this proprietary format is approved as an international standard, the bell can't be unwrung. And once this Sovietized process succeeds in creating such a standard, a precedent is set.

It has to be said. This may not be the end of an era, but the beginning of one.

When Lenin's faction was consolidating its power within the early Communist party, he gave it the name Bolshevik, from the Russian meaning greater.

His was, at the time, a minority view, but eventually his opponents accepted the name Menshevik, meaning less, and they were eventually crushed by the revolution.

What Microsoft seems to have achieved before the ISO is nothing less than a Bolshevik revolution, overthrowing what was supposed to be a judicial process, replacing it with a dictatorship of the Ballmertariat.

In the end, the picture with Perlow's piece was wrong. The baldness is right. But instead of a birthmark, perhaps a beard and a mustache would have been more appropriate.

Lenin
This was not the end of something, it was the beginning of something. Something far more dangerous to international trade and industry than a software standard.

The standards system has itself been overthrown, replaced by international governanace of the strong man. Fine if he's our strong man, but what happens when he isn't?

How I wish this were an April Fool's joke.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Microsoft

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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