Five Months Is Too Short

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-03-20 Print this article Print

For his part, Rob Weir, a performance architect at IBM, notes that if the five-month review represented a complete review of the proposed specification's text, by those with relevant subject matter expertise, then IBM would have some confidence that all, or at least most, defects were detected, reported and repaired.

"But I don't know anyone who really thinks the five-month review was sufficient for a technical review of 6,045 pages. Further, we know that Microsoft worked actively to suppress the reporting of defects by the national bodies," he said in a blog post.

Andy Updegrove, a partner with Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove and editor of the ConsortiumInfo standards blog, summarized how many people feel about the whole process. The daily events "have become part of the same fractal pattern that has replicated itself over and over since September of 2005, when Massachusetts adopted ODF, putting document standards on many powerful companies' strategic maps," he said.

"Since then, that pattern has spread dramatically, engulfing more companies, affecting more National Bodies in more countries, and invoking more campaigning on both sides. It's all very depressing, as well as predictable," he said in a recent blog post. "And it won't be over until it's over on March 29. Except, of course, it won't be over then, either.  The battle then at hand will simply be the next battle, as the forces withdraw briefly from the field of this last one while the votes are counted."

That is clearly evident in the public comments being made by the different parties about the recent Ballot Resolution Process in Geneva.  Jason Matusow, Microsoft's director of corporate standards, said the meeting was "an unqualified success," while Tim Bray, the director of Web technologies at Sun Microsystems, said on his personal blog that "this was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen."

IBM's Brill called the whole matter "the six-month tragedy that is the ISO process for Office Open XML," and said it should be redone.

"I can only hope, based on everything that has been documented, that it doesn't end with an endorsement of this work.  A lot of clearly smart people have invested a lot of time, money and effort, but that doesn't make it best, good or even right if the decision is driven by calendar and politics. This whole thing should be a do-over," he said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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