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New Paths in Standardization

The world should be pleased to note, that with the approval of ISO/IEC 29500, Microsoft’s Vector Markup Language (VML), after failing to be approved by the W3C in 1998 and after being neglected for the better part of a decade, is now also ISO-approved. Thus VML becomes the first and only standard that Microsoft Internet Explorer fully supports.

Congratulations are due to the Internet Explorer team for reaching this milestone!

Now that it has been demonstrated that pushing proprietary interfaces, protocols and formats through ISO is cheaper and faster than writing code to implement existing open standards, one assumes that the future is bright for more such boutique standards from Redmond. Open HTML, anyone?

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Yoon Kit 2008/04/02, 8:30 am

    Wasn’t “Microsoft Office OpenHTML” released back in 2003?


  • Anonymous 2008/04/02, 8:51 am

    The next in the queue is XPS. Will this be handled by JTC1 or TC171 (which just cleared PDF standard). TC171 currently has 15 P members and 22 O members. We need to keep watch here.

  • Anonymous 2008/04/02, 10:22 am

    “Thus VML becomes the first and only standard that Microsoft Internet Explorer fully supports.”

    That’s a bit harsh. I’m pretty sure IE fully supports HTML 3.2[0]

    According to Wikipedia[1] the only HTML elements that IE still does not support correctly are “q” and “object”, which were not in a standard until HTML 4 was released in Dec 1997.[2]

    [0] http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html32
    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_layout_engines_(HTML)
    [2] http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40-971218/

  • Nate 2008/04/02, 1:36 pm

    So Rob, how long was the completed text available to NBs between the BRM and the final tallying of votes? Was there a complete version of DIS 29500 ever made available? And is it available to the public yet?

  • Răzvan Sandu 2008/04/02, 3:21 pm

    Oh, Rob, but OpenHTML *does* exist !

    Only it’s called SilerLight: :-(



  • Luc 2008/04/02, 5:43 pm

    “Yesterday 01-Apr-08, ISO announced that they accepted Betamax as a video tape archiving standard, in addition to the de-facto VHS tape standard. So now, you have the choice to archive your DVDs on either ISO Betamax or VHS tape format.”

    Does this sound stupid ? Yes, it does.

    And what about this other news : “Yesterday 01-Apr-08, ISO announced that they accepted OOXML as a file format archiving standard, in addition to the de-facto MS-binary standard. So now, you have the choice to archive your ODF files on either ISO OOXML or MS-binary file format.”

    Does this sound stupid also ? Yes, it does. Never mind…

  • Rob 2008/04/02, 6:20 pm

    @Nate, the final text of OOXML has not yet been presented to NB’s yet. We had to vote on it based on a 6,045 page specification with over 1,000 change descriptions, many of which were contradictory.

    JTC1 Directives, 13.2, which deals with post-BRM activities for Fast Track, states: “In not more than one month after the ballot resolution group meeting the SC Secretariat shall distribute the final report of the meeting and final DIS text in case of acceptance.”

    That 30 day period expired last Saturday,and we still have not seen the final text. I don’t know if this is being held up because of the appeals being lodged, or what.

  • Anonymous 2008/04/02, 7:52 pm

    Speaking of press releases, I have not seen one on the IS32000 PDF standard despite it passing the ballot.

  • zaine_ridling 2008/04/03, 7:20 am

    Mama told me there’d be days like this. I’m eager to see if anyone else will implement this wet string code in the market.

    In my little 46 years, I’ve learned that you can trust nothing — especially institutions and governments, for they are so easily bought off.

  • Anonymous 2008/04/03, 10:14 am

    Rob, there is a typo in your comment. The JTC 1 directive on post BRM activities is 13.12, not 13.2.

  • Anonymous 2008/04/03, 11:15 am

    Rob, isn’t the disregard for the post-BRM directive you mentioned a good reason for an appeal, since obviously the proper procedure hasn’t been followed. Only have to find a NB that would appeal…

  • Anonymous 2008/04/04, 1:30 am

    Actually IE supports gestandaardiseerde versies van HTML, ASCII, JPEG (ISO 15444), PNG, XML, TIFF, en nog een paar honderd RFC’s.

  • Anonymous 2008/04/04, 6:56 am

    >That 30 day period expired last Saturday,and we still have not seen the final text. I don’t know if this is being held up because of the appeals being lodged, or what.

    Are there any support at all in directives or instructions of the organization handling the text for allowing the appeals to matter to the 30 day deadline?

    From my understanding the 30 day deadline is a hard limit counted from the BRM. All NBs with dignity should be sending appeals requiring that IS29500 must be withdrawn as standard since it has failed to be handled within the fast track.

    It seems to me like ISO forgot the situation that OOXML could be too flawed so that the BRM instructions could not be applied within a month.

    What the secretary thinks about how useful it would be with OOXML as IS29500 does not matter. They might manipulate things by cherry picking options from the directives during the BRM vote, but there is no way they can do the same trick when 13.12 explictly demand the final text to be available within 30 days.

  • David Farning 2008/04/06, 3:31 pm

    I think that it is fair to say that we will soon see silverlight being pushed through as open internet XML.

  • Dark Phoenix (Nixa) 2008/04/07, 2:29 am

    Well, Microsoft is already pushing Silverlight through Windows Update (using the same technique as with Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player), so it wouldn’t surprise me. But indeed, XPS is next in the queue.

  • Peets 2008/04/07, 2:39 am

    This clearly shows what happens when you let a fraudster into a deal that is more based on trust than well written contracts. The ISO process was mainly technical, with rules aiming at standardising the process and guiding it rather than containing the sort of blatant abuse Microsoft has developed a well earned reputation for.

    The resulting damage is immense, but I for one expect this to have a rather strong tail end. The EU monopoly commission has been suspiciously quiet which suggests they’re busy. If they convict a company for not disclosing interoperability standards, what will they make of a company destroying the standards process to gain full control?

    Worse for MS is that they already HAVE a conviction, and this event will suggest that a different approach is required to bring the company back to acceptable behaviour (IMHO impossible, a collaborative stance does not agree with Ballmers’ MO). This could get very, very ugly for Microsoft.

    And deservedly so.

  • Matthew Holloway 2008/04/07, 6:03 am

    @nate, here’s a blog post I wrote about not having a final text for review…


  • Jesper Lund Stocholm 2008/04/09, 8:45 am


    XPS is being dealt with by ECMA TC46 and a good guess will be that it will be submitted to SC34 in FT-mode.

    However -TC46 has established liaison-agreements with quite a large number of committees.

    From: http://www.ecma-international.org/memento/TC46-M.htm

    TC46 has formal liaisons with the following standards bodies:

    ISO/IEC JTC1/SC 28: Office equipment
    ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29: Coding of audio, picture, multimedia and hypermedia information
    ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34: Document Description and Processing Languages
    ISO TC 130 WG2: Graphic technology – Prepress data exchange
    ISO TC 171 : Document management applications
    Ecma TC45: Office Open XML Formats
    International Color Consortium

    It doesn’t seem that they have actually produced anything yet – at least I cannot locate any available drafts of the future spec.

  • zbog 2008/04/13, 5:25 am

    Whoa, Rob, not so fast!
    Who said OOXML is a standard just yet?
    See Norway’s protest:

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