Operation OOXML, Part 7 x 10<sup>512</sup>: The Appeals Arrive
Just when we thought the OOXML standard war was over — or overdue, if the ISO was paying any attention to the rules — it's back, and it's going to get ugly. South Africa has sounded the call to arms, and fired the first shot at the shoddy process with a formal appeal alleging the irregular irregularities have brought shame on the ISO, and cast "the processes enshrined in the Directives into disrepute."
The appeal, which was filed last Thursday by South African Bureau of Standards chief Martin Kuscus, alleges the already well known charge that the committee responsible for OOXML failed to organize required meetings or follow its own rules, as well as failing to publish the final standard within the required 30 day period following the final vote. It goes on to charge that in addition to the directive's disrepute, the preternatural process and the resulting negative press has damaged the ISO's reputation and the reputations of the national standards bodies — a charge which is in itself grounds to appeal the approval.
All this just days after Microsoft admitted even it can't support OOXML, and won't be able to until at least Office 14, which could arrive anytime between the next few years and Armageddon. Microsoft doesn't seem to be too worried, as they've already set out their thoughts on South Africa: They have no clue what they're doing. According to Jason Matusow, the Microsoftie in charge of contorting standards — no, wait, that's corporate standards — the government is "not looking at the real benefits that OSS can bring them," benefits they would gain if they would give up on Open Source operating systems and instead use open source only for the tools layer and developing applications. As for South Africans themselves, they're "still grappling with coding skills." Did someone forget to introduce them to Ubuntu and OpenBSD, both of which were conceived by South Africans?
As ever, the white knights at Groklaw have a breakdown of the appeal, and will be keeping up to date with any other appeals that materialize. The deadline for countries to file — listen up standards bodies — is Thursday the 29th.