Microsoft accused of stacking ISO committee

Summary:"The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting 'standardization by corporation', something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees," wrote Martin Bryan.

Martin Bryan, ISO Governor, JTC 1/SC 34 WG1
Microsoft's strong-arming of the ISO process regarding Open XML, the proprietary format of Microsoft Office, may be destroying its legitimacy. (Picture from the IS-Thought Group.)

In a memo sent following his last meeting as head of the working group on WG1, which is handling Microsoft's application to make the Word format an ISO standard as ECMA 376, outgoing Governor Martin Bryan (above), an expert on SGML and XML, accused the company of stacking his group.

At issue is a sudden influx of so-called P members to the body, "whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376," Bryan wrote. The P members are not voting on anything else, preventing it from moving on any other work.

Bryan suggested that unless the ISO tightens its membership rules to eliminate the abuse its work should be passed on to OASIS, and he closed with this:

The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible.

Is making Microsoft's Open XML format a standard so important that Microsoft is willing to destroy the ISO process to win it?

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software

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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