Ite, non missa est

As the deadline of the 2 nd of May is drawing near, I thought it useful to clarify some of the actual concerns surrounding the standardization of OOXML. Perhaps this piece will help dispelling some myths.

So what is going on , and what is left to be done before OOXML gets its now more than ever dubious ISO stamp? First, it is important to understand that we still have to see and to read the final draft of OOXML.

The deadline for the Ecma to publish this final version is on the 2 nd of May. There should be no doubt about wether this document will be produced in time. Of course, wondering about its quality will be another matter and a legitimate one at that. Where it becomes interesting is that as far as I was able to gather, the process does not stop at that stage. Once we will have that document (once again, it is dubbed « final draft) we will have a period of time to review it and if necessary, to appeal to it if the quality of the document is not satisfactory.

Before anybody from Microsoft starts to call me disingenuous, let me just get this straight: Despite what I may think of the whole OOXML standardization process, despite how critical I am of the existing ISO processes, I have no problem with the simple reality of what we went through because of OOXML. To be very factual, OOXML has received the appropriate number of votes in order to become an ISO standard. What remains to be done might sound incredible: OOXML has to be published first, then definitely approved. I am pretty sure that it will very likely become an ISO standard, but that’s ultimately up to the ISO, after the document’s publication and the necessary review period that will stamp it as an ISO standard (or not).

I wanted to point that out because I increasingly get the feeling that some want us to forget this process and to switch to some other topic (XPS for instance?). I know that there are more interesting topics to work on; after all, ODF 1.2 is not that far out in distance, and I expect all the love and kisses to be sent by our friends in Redmond. But I am still sticking to it not clinging, but sticking, not because of a perverse and pathetic hope I would appear to have against OOXML, but because I believe that the bells and whistles have been taken out a bit too fast.

We want the spec. We want it as bad as we wanted the answers from the Ecma in December, as bad as we want the whole OOXML and as bad as we want to have the specification of the format called OOXML and actually used inside MS Office 2007. Groklaw has an interesting article about it, but allow me to disagree with Groklaw for this time: This is hardly a scoop, just read my blog, Rob Weir’s, GullFOSS or Stephane Rodriguez. It was a known fact for several months now. Okay, I hear you say, it never hurts to trumpet out the truth. What this implies is that Microsoft will not only have to harmonize its several specifications, it may want to do something with the format used by MS Office 2007, 2008, and soon 2009.

Unless of course, Microsoft remains idle and does anything with MS Office 2007. After all, there is no legal nor moral requirement to use an ISO standard; but you can still claim you use one in front of your customers. I’m sure it already happened in Bercy….

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