Sadly, right after the Open Document Day, it started to look like OOXML will be approved as an ISO/IEC standard. Although I have not personally read the suggested text, I have my fair share of reasons why I think it is not good enough to be an international standard.

I have a bit of insight into the process both as a part of the LUGOS team that participated in the SIST front as from reading blog posts from others like Andy Updegrove, Alex Brown, Groklaw, FSFE to just name the most vocal ones.

From how the votes changed since the BRM sessions, it seems that OOXML – or more exactly ISO/IEC DIS 29500 – will be approved. I think this post by Andy Updegrove on ConsortiumInfo.org sums these changes pretty good, so I will not write about it here.

Some obvious mistakes that I am pretty sure most agree with are that 6 000 pages are just not suited for the fast-track process and although the process and BRM have resulted in a lot of fixes of OOXML to what is now DIS 29500 …it is still not sufficient enough for a standard. From what I know there are still problems like referring to proprietary closed-source solutions due to "compliance with older documents" and similar sins (which are still more then a few!).

Also it should be noted that there is not yet any applications that use this (soon to be) standard. Yes, even Microsoft Office 2007, which although it uses OOXML, it uses the version that was amended yet in the standardisation process.

Something interesting I noticed on the first SIST meeting I attended concerning this matter was that most of the new members of SIST – and I can only suppose it could have been similar with other NB's around the world – had the idea that by accepting the proposal as standard it would magically make all its faults disappear and not the other way around. I would not go as far as to suggest they were under the influence of Microsoft, but I suspect that it was just them looking from the marketing point of view as it sells better (especially to governments) if it is based on an international open standard.

But such is not the nature of standards. The idea is that it does not become standard before it is as flawless as possible. There is no need for a standard that cannot be broadly applied.

P.S. I sure hope this is just another April Fool's joke (as the ones by KDE and Gentoo, although I fear it is not. P.P.S. In any case, I hope it will turn out for the best for the end users – it is really high time to have open standardised platform independent formats to ensure freedom of speech in this global village we live in.

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