07.18.07

Voters on OOXML Up for ‘Hire’ in Italy (Updated)

Posted in ECMA, Europe, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 12:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s not just Britain and it isn’t just Portugal, either. Watch the following observation which comes from Italy. Voting on OOXML seems like a rather iffy business, not just in the United States. The story, however, ends nicely.

Actually it is quite impressing seeing how the voting panel [for OOXML] was formed. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that among those favouring the adoption of the standard without reservation a large majority is made of business partners of the proposing entity [Microsoft], a law firm retained by the latter, the official certified business partners association of the proposing entity. “Money can’t buy me love” Beatles used to sing: perhaps neither a standard.

Fortunately, this attempt was not successful. I wish to quote a comment that I spotted in Digg when a BoycottNovell story reached the front page:

OOXML is not an open standard. It is an XML representation of Microsoft’s proprietary data structures used in their line of office software. It is only designed to match the feature set of MS Office and nothing else. It ignores the pre-existing ISO standards for dates/times, mathematical formula as well as using poor XML design practices.

If Microsoft truly intended to use an open format for their office software they would have joined the committee for the ODF standard and proposed the features they needed to be added to the specification. Instead, they are trying to trick people looking for open standards that their OOXML is an open format. Even if the specification is open for use, and that it would be under the control of an independent organization (required for ISO standardization), you can bet that Microsoft will deviate from the standard as soon as possible once they hold the majority of market share, convincing users that the other software is ‘broken’.

ODF isn’t perfect, but it is much closer to what is needed. It uses common standards that are already supported and provides a vendor neutral specification for generating generic, compatible, documents.

Actually, I’ll quote another comment because it is short and precise:

Per the usual, Microsoft is engaging in shady dealing and collusion in order to forward its own agenda. Not that this sort of corruption is unique to Microsoft by any means, but it is typical of large corporations who have reached the point where they lack the agility to compete on a technical level and therefore must do so on the playing-field of bought influence and barriers to entry.

Update: you might find the following item from the Inquirer amusing: Microsoft twists and turns over ODF – Microsoft claims ODF is a monopoly. Pot calls kettle black.

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8 Comments

  1. Stephen said,

    July 18, 2007 at 4:38 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft failed to get the 2/3′d majority to fast track the spec! Check this out…

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070717-office-xml-hits-a-snag-on-the-way-to-iso-standardization.html

  2. Stephen said,

    July 18, 2007 at 4:39 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft fail to get 2/3′s majority, check this out…

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070717-office-xml-hits-a-snag-on-the-way-to-iso-standardization.html

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 18, 2007 at 6:21 am

    Gravatar

    Stephen, it’s cites at the top ( http://boycottnovell.com/2007/07/16/interoperability-vs-standards/ ) along with some evidence that Microsoft employees and partners are again being pushed to overwhelm and defeat the voting process.

  4. SubSónica said,

    July 18, 2007 at 7:30 am

    Gravatar

    Dear Roy: By the way I am the person who did the translation for PJ, of the portuguese composition of the meeting at the IPQ, so don´t worry about verbatim quoting.
    I have some more specifics reported by a person who attended the meeting. Fortunately, the votation has been delayed until July 31, and I hope IBM and SUN make sure they will be allowed to attend that day:

    The whole story is like this:

    IIMF (IT Institute of the Ministry of Finance) is the organization that has the delegation for Information Technology activities from IPQ (Portuguese Quality Institute) , the Portuguese member of ISO.
    IIMF invited 8 entities for the creation of a Technical Comitee to advice on the activities of SC 34 of JTC1 (Document Description and Processing Language). This first meeting took place last 26th June. Many – but not all – of those entities were traditional Microsoft associates. The president was elected, and is the Microsoft representative.
    Many other entities have since written to IPQ and IIMF asking to be admitted to TC, including Sun,
    IPQ has decided that any entity wishing to join could do it, but IIMF decided arbitrarily to restricted admission to the first 20, the reason being the size of the meeting room.
    So Sun, IBM, IST (the most prestigious Engineering College in Portugal) and 3 others were rejected.

    The second meeting of the CT – the first with any real work – took place on 16th July. The agenda included the vote on OOXML, but most of the present decided against a vote on the very first technical meeting of the comitee. That was the incredible suggestion of the President of the TC – vote after 2 hours of discussion.
    DIS 29500 (OOXML) started then to be discussed.
    Next meeting is going to take place by the end of July.

    The Portuguese rules for Technical Comittes says that they should be representative of
    a) Business Associations ; b) Trade Associations ; c) User Assoctiations ; d) Professional Associations
    e) Public Administration organizations relted to the activity being normalized ; f) Companies, when judged convenient

    Instead, in this case, the criteria used was first “anyone that contacted IPQ about DIS 29500″ (meaning Microsoft and associates, and the Ministry of Justice), and then “anyone until the room is full”….. Really.

    The person that answered “no room left” is from IIMF, not from Microsoft.

    From the outcome of the US and Italian votations, it seems to me this whole MSOOXML maneouver can prove another MSFiaSCO, since it is only devised to undermine the adoption of a true standard (ODF) and to perpetuate and institutionalise (via standarization) M$ lock-in over Office productivity software and formats. Is this what Micrososft understand by “competing”? just as SCO, the Software Patents terror saga at the EU, Microvell and the rest of fudding pacts, the anti-GPLv3 FUD and everything else M$ is doing lately. How much are all these games actually costing to Microsoft and its shareholders?
    Wouldn´t that money be better invested in creating actually better products (and not the crap they are hastily managing to put through the “pipe”) that customers really want (and not the DRM and spyware and all the bloat that comes with Windows “Hasta-La-Vista”), instead of trying to force-feed the customers with these defective products through the captive big OEM manufacturers, and rendering their customers’ investments in technology prematurely obsolete ? (Dell has become well aware of it and has started an important defection on the Desktop arena and has accepted to preinstall XP and Ubuntu (now that is listening to your customers, Steve B., take note, hell, compared with Vista I even would say Office2007 is a decent product! Why not providing it with the ability to save as ODF by default and actually compete in a level playfield wit the FOSS offerings? -well you are Microsoft, its too late for you: fair competition is just not part of your corporate mindset (actually, it has never been), so just kidding- ) , just wait for HP, Lenovo, etc, follow Dell’s example…).

  5. Stephen said,

    July 18, 2007 at 8:03 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks Roy – missed that one {apologies for the double post}

    More counterpoints here…
    Why the Open Source Community Should Support an ISO Office Open XML
    Standard
    Rick Jelliffe, O’Reilly Opinion

    http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2007/07/remembering_george_the_animal.html

    Of course, since everyone hates Microsoft – “Doom on you OOXML, doom on you” :-)

  6. egberto said,

    July 18, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Gravatar

    Subsonica said:
    “Fortunately, the votation has been delayed until July 31″

    How could they vote July 31 ? they didn’t review DIS 29500 ( OOXML ) yet. The other NBs are working since March of April. This Portugal process is a shameful joke.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 18, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Gravatar

    @ egberto: thanks for the very descriptive record of event.

    @ Stephen: I’m sure you know this, but just to be 100% certain, Rick Jelliffe is consulting for Microsoft, he was paid by Microsoft to edit Wikipedia, and articles with/about him are anti-open formats. OOXML is not open. It just happens to contain the word “Open”, which leads to confusion.

  8. Frank said,

    January 24, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Gravatar

    Rick Jelliffe is a joker, boycott all O’Reilly publications.

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