By webmink on Dec 21, 2005
Bravo Bob! According to ZDNet, IBM will not be participating in the new Ecma International technical committee that's being formed just to rubber-stamp Microsoft's Office 12 file format. I support that decision, Bob - Sun will not be re-joining Ecma either right now. Bob said:
"We think there are just too many open switches on this right now for us to go in and do something there. Given the charter, it's not clear what anyone other than Microsoft is going to be doing on this committee"
Indeed. The TC has a charter that only allows it to make a "standard" that's compatible with Office 12. Ecma itself has no membership category for individual members (such as open source developers). Ecma has at best a RAND IPR policy. It seems that only one member actually has a vote that can change anything on TC45, so why waste energy over it?
Despite being one of the earliest trail-blazers of standardisation, the organisation seems to have allowed itself to become a sham, allowing vendors to claim openness where none exists. As Stephen O'Grady points out, they even market themselves as offering "a safe path which will minimise risk of change to input specs" and "A safe haven for IPR". They are the "Swiss bank account" of standards organisations - expensive to use but necessary when you have something to hide.
While single-vendor "standards" may have worked in the old days of atoms, and are arguably still important in industries like the mobile telephony industry, they have no place in the world of software where multi-lateral, transparent, inclusive, open standards are becoming mandatory because of the participation age.
Update Dec 22: Pamela has a great suggestion.