Jason Matusow talks about the US vote

Jason is on the standards team in Microsoft, and he has a blog post discussing some of the moves to block Open XML at ISO coming from the anti-OpenXML movement (they even set up a 2,500 euro bounty on it):


I wasn’t involved in any of the discussions, but to me it’s not surprising that you’re seeing more people take an interest in Open XML going through ISO. There are already over 1,700 companies who’ve shown their support for Open XML at the http://www.openxmlcommunity.org site. It’s clear there are some people opposed to Open XML, but that shouldn’t be surprising, as you can never please everyone (it’s like the analogy I used earlier this week about trying to order pizza for a million people). Something you can’t argue with though is that Open XML documents are going to exist, most likely in large numbers as we move forward. Because of this, you see that there are a large number of businesses and individuals out there who have an interest in seeing the ISO take over the stewardship of Open XML.


Comments (8)

  1. Andrew Sayers says:

    Many of the complaints about newcomers to national bodies have to do with it being a conspiracy by Microsoft.  This article is clearly heading for another such debate, so I’d like to ask some questions before those claims start being made:

    1) Why is that a more likely conclusion than organisations joining committees on their own?  What evidence do you have that Microsoft encouraged otherwise-unwilling organisations to sign up?

    2) How does the conspiracy argument have any bearing on the debate?  Of the organisations that joined late in the day and voted for OOXML, how would it change the argument if they did it for their own reasons?

    I’d also like to address the conflation of "interest" in OOXML with "voting rights" on OOXML.  I hope we can all agree that growing interest in OOXML is in everyone’s interests – many eyes makes all bugs shallow, after all.  However, just because it’s good that somebody is interested doesn’t imply that they should be granted a vote that’s binding on the rest of us – democracy is no way to decide truth, after all.

    Surely somebody that’s allowed to vote on whether to accept a standard should have had enough time not just to review it, but to fully argue their case?  I know there’s a big argument about whether people have had enough time to fully review OOXML, but even if they have, can a body of people that may have never met before really be expected to fully debate such a contentious standard in two months?

    If two months isn’t long enough for a proper debate, it seems to me that there are people on all sides who have shown disrespect for the standardisation process.  They should therefore be asked to abstain from further votes until they’ve had sufficient time to make their case, and to hear the cases of those that disagree with them.

    – Andrew

  2. Wu MingShi says:

    Dear Andrew

    I am actually pro-ODF. However there are two factors that you also have to consider:

    (1) [Not that I condone vote stacking techniques] The other side could have also add their allies on the committee, if they want to

    (2) When there is more chances that something you need is not going to be approved, you take action. Part of the action is to join committees like this.

    If you take V1 and Italy into account, you can say that Standard Bodies have voting procedures  that weight against "vote stacking". The results in the two countries is reflecting that of the original members.

    Jason Matusow is presenting Microsoft’s point of view. There are things that I do not agree with. Lets discuss it at his blog.

  3. Hey guys, Jason’s blog is definitely a great place for this discussion. I obviously have opinions which I share from time to time 🙂

    I’m rather new to the ISO processes though and Jason would be much better for answering questions around it.


  4. Andrew Sayers says:

    Wu, (or is it MingShi?  I’m not proficient in non-European naming conventions I’m afriad)

    I’ve now posted on Jason’s blog, so I won’t comment further on my previous post here, other than to say that my point isn’t that one side or other did a bad thing, but that there’s an honourable way to behave in these situations, and that we should talk about how things ought to be in principle independently of justifying how your friends behave in practice.


    I hadn’t seen Jason’s blog before, so I found it useful for you to provide the link.  Earlier discussions here this week have shown me that your blog is the only place that some people trust to post their views (because they know that you don’t moderate comments), so I recognise you have to keep a delicate balance between passing on useful OOXML-related information and making this blog an unwelcome place for people that want to learn about technicalities.

    – Andrew

  5. jasonmatusow says:

    Hi Brian – Jason here.

    Just reading through this, and I am commenting on it over at my blog. Andrew – thanks for bringing the conversation over there.


  6. It’s a fine line Andrew… 🙂

    I’m involved pretty deeply in all the goings on around Open XML, but the amount of time I can spend on my blog answering comments is pretty limited, so I’d like to stay focused.

    There are a few Microsoft people blogging about Open XML (I work pretty closely with all of them), and since I’m the only one who’s actually on the product development team, I’d like to stay as focused on the technologies as I can and let my colleagues lead the more political discussions. 🙂 I was also very active in the Ecma TC though (and continue to be) which is why I often get into some of the standardization talks.

    Jason, Thanks!

  7. Wu MingShi says:


    Wu or Mingshi? I don’t care. To me, a name is just an id 😉 FYI it is Mandarin for "anonymous".

    Gathering supporters to attend meetings are quite common practice. I must say I practice it sometimes myself. I do feel a bit uneasy when I do it, but sometimes it is necessary to get noticed.

    However, I see nothing wrong if the other side is expecting it. Just take voting for example, everyone may have one vote, but do the politicians really reflects the view of the general public or the view of the people who care to vote?

    [Start cross post from Matusow’s blog]

    [A bit off topic] Democracy only guarantee you the right to be involved (and limit your involvement to one vote only.

    I think ISO’s procedure goes rather well. It stand up to politicking. There are procedures to reject committee results if necessary although it is rarely exercised. Recently a similar body, IEEE, exercise its right on a Wireless Standard committee.

    So far, it stand up to politicking well. Even in the worst case scenario that this is vote stuffing, I do not necessary see this as a problem. Given that one have to attend the meeting twice before being granted the vote (from Rob Weir’s mouth). If the intention is vote stuffing, it is done with a transparent ballot box for everyone to see. anti-OOXML camp would see it coming. Obviously they did not think it is a problem.

    There is a need to prevent "vote stuffing" but only up to a point. It is not necessary a bad thing to make it possible to overwhelm the results via vote stuffing

    For example, a dictator could easily use the 2/3 majority system (a measure that has the some effect on preventing vote stuffing) measure to stop a lot of  things. But if the opposition grow big enough, it can still gather the 2/3 majority needed to overwhelm him.