Wouter has been participating in the Dutch ISO standardization meetings where they are looking of Open XML. He has some interesting observations:
One thing that really struck me at the meeting was the open statement of the IBM representative of having been given a ‘secret agena’ for the meeting, I suspect some others to have received the same. The bad thing about this is that the debate no longer covers the merrits of Office Open XML, but instead is targetted by IBM to enlarge the market share of their own office productivity suite and accompanying language ODF. There have been some occurences that can be identified as at least worrying.
Personally I am taking part in the Dutch chapter of this process, enjoying great discussions about the merits of Office Open XML versus ODF. I am amazed at the level of critique being raised by IBM against Office Open XML, ranging from low-blow, to plainly incorrect.
There have already been numerous occasion during the meeting where someone raised a remark such as ‘even documents saved from Word do not validate against the schemas’ and I ask to explain a bit further because I haven’t experienced the same, only to have a reply ‘I’ll get back to you’. Well that’s just dandy!
I’ve seen similar things from other meetings and in the blogsphere. There are definitely some good technical points raised in some of the discussions, but a lot of the comments are just plain wrong. We’ve still got a ways to go before the ballots are initially cast (end of September I believe). Once the ballots are in, then we have a few months were we work through the comments that came in and see if we can fix the issues people raise. I’m not sure how many people are familiar with this process, but basically you’ll see a number of countries who vote “no”, but include some changes they’d like to see. If those changes are made, then they change their vote to “yes.” So, this means we still have a ways to go (probably early next year), but we should end up with an even better spec once we’re done.