20080401: ISO announces radical reforms

PRESS RELEASE — [ Economy / Innovation ]

Geneva, 1 April 2008. The International Organization for Standardization announced at a press conference that its processes are "broken" and "need radical reform". ISO president Håkan Murby told journalists that "the Microsoft OOXML process was a near-disaster and we want to make sure such a thing never happens again."

Murby outlined three major reforms that he promised would prevent the "near failure of the process" as he described it. First, all national technical committees are to be fully outsourced to Microsoft. Second, new ISO standards would be kept secret until published. Third, all countries that voted "NO" on OOXML would be banned from future participation.

"Technical discussions are wasteful", Murby explained, "since new standards are a matter of political influence, not functionality. ISO takes its duty to its larger customers very seriously and we think this pandering to populism and technocratic mumbo-jumbo is counter to all our interests. We're determined to offer the best value for money. This means making the process faster, cheaper, and less painful."

Gabriel Barta, Technical Officer with the ISO/IEC, said: "with these changes we think a new standard can be processed in only a few weeks. After all, almost none of the bugs found in OOXML will ever be fixed. So really those endless meetings were a waste of everyone's time."

Some commentators have suggested that ISO wants to compete head on with ECMA's Consulting and Public Relations division, which announced record profits in 2007, mainly due to OOXML. ISO insiders have also suggested the organization will move its headquarters to Aruba, for tax reasons and because the music is a lot better.

Background Information

From June 2007 to March 2008, technical committees around the world studied and analysed one of the largest IT standards proposal ever, Microsoft's OOXML. In order to get its format safely through ISO, Microsoft had to stuff committees, lobby ministers, mobilize business partners, and rewrite the ISO rules.


  • Irregularities in OOXML process


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Contact information

Benjamin Henrion, Digistan Brussels Office, French/English
Phone: +322 414 8403 Mobile: +32 484 566109

Pieter Hintjens, Digistan Brussels Office, French/English/Dutch
Phone: +322 414 8403 Mobile: +32 475 235 984

About the Digital Standards Organization

The Digital Standards Organization (Digistan) was founded by a group of open standards professionals in 2007 with the goal of promoting customer choice, vendor competition, and overall growth in the global digital economy through the understanding, development, and adoption of open digital standards.