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06 October 2008, 11:31

OOXML standardisation: Norwegian experts resign

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Thirteen of the twenty three members of the Standard Norge expert committee, which dealt with the standardisation of Microsoft's OOXML document format, have announced their resignations. They are protesting against the way Norway's decision in favour of ISO standardisation was made. In an open letter, they state that Standard Norge has clearly placed commercial interests ahead of what is best for society and what is technically and professionally desirable. In their opinion, the way it dealt with the process has resulted in Standard Norge forfeiting all credibility within the IT sector.

Norway originally opposed making OpenXML an ISO standard, after just two of the 23 members of the committee voted for standardisation. Despite this, the final vote actually submitted a 'Yes' to Microsoft's format. The chairman of the committee responsible, Steve Pepper, submitted a formal protest against the decision and called for an investigation by the Norwegian Trade Ministry.

The signatories to the letter, which include Pepper, justify their resignations from Standard Norge by saying that the organisation's management placed greater store by 37 identical letters from Microsoft partners than by its own expert committee. They state that the processes at Standard Norge were unpredictable and the management changed the rules in the course of reaching their decision. They also accuse both Standard Norge and ISO of breaking their own rules during the OOXML standardisation process and further irregularities. The experts describe the ISO standard, adopted against their wishes, as "unready, useless and unworthy."


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