Perhaps the International Organisation of Standardization (the ISO) should rename itself to something more appropriate like the IMSO: The International Organisation of Multiple Standards. After all, why bother issuing standards at all if, after ratifying one standard, it ratifies another for the same thing. This is what's going to happen now that the ISO has ratified the OpenDocument as one fileformat for office productivity while it looks as though ratifying another for the same thing -- Microsoft's Open XML -- is a fairly sure bet. A recent quote coming out of the European Commission gives you a good idea how such a policy neutralizes the entire idea of standards in the first place. According to ZDNet UK's Ingrid Marson,
The European Commission is reluctant to recommend the OpenDocument file format, even though the format has been endorsed by international standards groups.....According to sources familiar with the issue, Microsoft's drive to get its own file formats standardized may deter the EC from backing OpenDocument....On Thursday, a source close to IDABC told ZDNet UK that although the organization is likely to update its policy soon, it is unlikely to specifically recommend OpenDocument, as it is concerned that a second ISO document standard will emerge later.
"It is highly probable that we will strongly recommend the use of open document formats to public administrations. On the other hand, it is unlikely that we will make a specific recommendation, in case we will have two ISO standards at a later point in time," said the source. "It is likely that we will urge industry players to provide compatibility between formats, and in the long run to aim for one single format."
What a joke.