Surprising stories are coming out of the effort of making OOXML as a standard. The one creating the hype is the one from Sweden. However, the vote has been retracked. Apparently some Microsoft employee tried to bribe some partners for the vote. Now even the Hungarian Standards body is reconsidering its vote.
Unlike many, I do not feel that this speaks low of Microsoft. In fact I feel that Microsoft has come out better out of this. It takes courage to admit that one of its employees did something invalid, knowing that this will affect vote on OOXML. I want to ask a different question. Why is someone so hell bent upon making OOXML a standard? Does becoming a standard make it golden? I think this is a very superficial way of looking at standards.
The benefit of a standards is mainly for the end user. A standard does not get modified on whims and fancies of any business entity. A standard is something that vendors can adhere to, which stabilizes the domain. A standard gives other vendors an opportunity to comply to it and provide interoperability across various tools. A standard is made for the end user, not for the vendor. A standard which cannot provide these benefits, is just a superficial standard or standard for a namesake. Should it be called a standard at all? I hope the ones voting on this are asking these questions.
Creating a standard is not a mere technicality or a formality of getting stamped. It is commitment to the end user to provide the benefits. I think the phrase competing standards already causes a lot of self contradiction and confusion. If there are competing standards, at least let them prove to be truly beneficial to the users rather than just having to get voted or stamped.