IBM Showing Signs Of Frustration Over ISO

IBM Showing Signs Of Frustration Over ISO

IBM Corp on Tuesday announced a new policy that may lead to ending its participation in the International Organization for Standardization. The business technology company is frustrated by what it considers poor decision making in the ISO.

IBM Corp formalized its behavior in a new company policy that could lead to ending its membership with the ISO. The company said its new policy would advance the rules that make for fair technology decisions.

The business technology company could end its participate in standards bodies based on the “quality and openness of their processes, membership rules, and intellectual property policies.”

IBM has become frustrated by what it considers opaque processes and poor decision making of bodies that set the technical standards. One example would be the recent battle over the selection as an international standard of the file format used in Microsoft Corp.’s Office software suite.

Microsoft won the ISO blessing in April when its Open XML format was approved. However, IBM said Microsoft had stacked the ISO with employees and favorable company voters. They also said Open XML is so complicated that only Microsoft could fully exploit it.

IBM backed a rival format called Open Document that was already certified as an ISO standard. The Open Document format covers other operating systems than just Microsoft Windows XP or Vista.
“There are lots of issues” with standards groups beyond the office-documents arena, said Bob Sutor, an IBM vice president who is the company’s top standards official.

Getting a company-based product approved as a standard is very difficult. In Microsoft’s case, Open XML’s certification eased hesitations by some government purchasing agents. Some agents were reluctant to buy nonstandard software. When Open XML was approved, Microsoft sales for Office soared.

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