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Microsoft Loses Its Battle for Lock-in (OOXML) in South Africa (Updated)

Posted in Africa, Formats, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 9:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Support by as many as 4 Linux companies (Microsoft ‘partners’) was apparently not enough to convince South Africa that OOXML is acceptable. Tectonic has the news.

Open standards beat Microsoft 13 to 4


“South Africa will vote no,” she said, referring to the international voting to take place.

This truly is relieving given some recent uncertainties. South Africa and Japan are just 2 among several countries that have recently come to realise, approve, and acknowledge the importance of open, vendor-independent formats.

In related news, I came across an article that discusses Microsoft and standards. Some people want you to believe that only negligence led to poor support of Web standards in Internet Explorer, but as the following new article shows, this total disregard for standard is seemingly deliberate. Right from the horse’s mouth:

In a video interview with ZDNet Australia last month, Microsoft blogger and group manager of technical community, Frank Arrigo, explained how important it is for the Redmond giant to follow Web standards.

“Standards are important,” said Arrigo, who admitted that Microsoft had been guilty of ignoring them in the past. “If you look at IE6, we didn’t quite follow all the standards but standards are important … IE7 as an example is trying to address that.”

That is exactly why Microsoft can never be trusted when it comes to document formats. It is just one reason among many. We have shown many similar examples before, including an admission that Microsoft wants to avoid standard bodies and exploit its userbase (size) to go de facto. Remind yourself of this old antitrust exhibit [PDF]:

From: Bill Gates Sent: Saturday, December 05, 1998 9:44 AM
To: Bob Muglia (Exchange); Jon DeVaan; Steven Sinofsky
Cc: Paul Mariz
Subject: Office rendering

One thing we have got to change is our strategy — allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by OTHER PEOPLES BROWSERS is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company.

We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.

Anything else is suicide for our platform. This is a case where Office has to to destroy Windows.

I’ll be posting quickly today (mainly due to lack of free time), so apologies for the scarce level of commentary, lack of polish, and poor writing style. Most of the posts are composed in haste and the pointers ought to complement the key messages.

Update: there are some interesting reactions to the news from South Africa and one item cannot escape without a quick mention.

The apparent decisiveness of this particular National Body vote [in South Africa] is less of a surprise than might otherwise be the case, given that South Africa is one of the nations that has experienced a stormy experience with document formats in the past. As I reported back in February, the SABS warned that if harrassed by proprietary proponents of standards, it would no longer abstain in voting, but would vote against the standard in question.

Hey, Adam Farquhar, are you watching this? Will the misuse of invaluable public data in the United Kingdom continue?

Another item worth mentioning is an excellent OOXML-chef analogy from Rob Weir.

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