07 September 2007

More on standards committees

This item in the NY Times caught my eye today (it was a followup to this earlier one). It reminded me of the early days of digital communications, when AT&T came into the ITU with the T1 transmission system to have it standardized. It too failed ... and it led to a world of two standards -- the North American digital hierarchy and the ITU digital hierarchy.

It points to the reality that standards committees are made up of people, usually who work in organizations that compete in the marketplace. So, standards committee deliberations are extensions of marketplace competition. These discussions and decisions are also deeply influenced by all of our human traits and foibles that aren't always logical or rational.

So, much as Microsoft clearly wanted its Office Open XML standardized, do you think that they have the market clout to have its proprietary "standard" prevail? Are we going to have a world of two "standards"? If we do, is anyone going to care about the non-Microsoft one? Can Microsoft go another rout, such as the formation of an Open Office XML consortium to guide this standard, effectively bypassing ISO?

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