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08.20.07

Has OOXML Been Defeated in Poland?

Posted in Europe, Formats, ISO, Open XML at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Borys Musielak was quick to translate and republish some of the Polish news in English. It looks rather encouraging.

Polish Technical Committee no 171 has just voted 80% against the adoption OOXML as an ISO standard [PL]. It’s not the end of the game though, since committee 171 which was first planned to make the decision does not make the final decision anymore. Another committee 182 — will be voting on the same issue soon!

For context, see some of our recent coverage of manipulation stories. This debate is far from over whilst lobbyists and bullies are abound.

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10 Comments

  1. Finland calling said,

    August 20, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Gravatar

    August 20th update from Finland – The vote results and begin of aftermath.

    In brief: Finland doesnt say anything on OOXML. (Abstains)

    From “computer.fi”, http://www.tietokone.fi/uutta/uutinen.asp?news_id=31076
    - “Microsoft wished that Finland would say ‘approval with comments’”
    Haven’t we seen all this before, many times? Hello, here’s my so-called standard, please approve it or you will cry and approve.

    Other lies, I mean highlights from the same newsstory:
    - Microsoft’s managing director Ari Rahkonen said “the company decided already over 10 years ago to move from closed binary format into an open one. Also EU has wished for this.”
    Rahkonen told about ending with xml-based solution and progress of the process via ECMA towards ISO.
    - Microsoft was praised for finally standardizing the file format of Office. (?!!)
    - Patents in the standard were discussed. Microsoft manager Kimmo Bergius defended that their company won’t sue anyone over them and no royalties or licences would be collected.
    - Chairman Nirhamo from SFS concluded: “If the state branches would have been unanimous, we would have come to decision. Now it wasn’t so. I don’t see a chance to vote for either approve or disapprove.”

    EFFI.org liveblogged results from the meeting, here’s a quick translation:

    First comment from Microsoft: Approval. (Surprise?)
    Pekka Pere (Tietoalojen liitto/Proha): Approve. We must trust ECMA
    Pirkka Palomäki (F-Secure): No opinion. Open standards are important – no comment on quality
    Ville Salmela (Ministry of education): Not fully open as it is now. No with technical comments
    Manu Setälä (COSS): Plenty of problems. No with technical comments
    Tuomas jotain. (Sun Microsystems): Openness is splendid. ISO-standard must be independent from any manufacturer, which it ain’t now. OASIS/ODF is better. No with technical comments
    Finnish tax administration: No opinion
    Karjalainen (ministry of justice): Overlaps with ODF, No with technical comments
    Heikki Sinervuo (EK, Confederation of Finnish Industries): Open APIs are good, two standards would be too expensive, one is enough. No with technical comments
    Juha Hakala (National libraries): Openness is extremely important, preservation of digital files is obligatory. Must be compatible with other standards. No with technical comments
    National archives of Finland: Timespan is hundreds of years, a few months or an year doesn’t matter – when doing something, do it properly. No with technical comments
    Ville Oksanen (EFFI ;-) : No with technical comments
    Jyrki Kasvi (The greens): Openness is important, Microsoft has historical ballast. No for fast-tracking
    Jyrki Koskinen (IBM): Plenty of problems. No with technical comments
    Timo Skytta (Nokia): There are standard organizations of various quality in the world. ISO is on the top and no reason to change this. No for fast-tracking
    Riitta jotain – City of Helsinki: Standard helps with compatibility, must trust ECMA. Approve.
    Anne Honkaranta (University of Jyväskylä): OOXML is an ok standard – a little bit worried that ISO must regain its credibility.
    Want to favor the some group of companies? If we say no, it will get out of hand. No opinion from university. Instead, from SysOpenDigia, approval
    Juha Varronen (Nordea bank): De-facto standard – pondered between no opinion and yes – approve
    TietoEnator: It will come anyway – better if its more open. Approve
    Finnish customs: We must trust the experts, 6000 pages tells something about quality. Mining of information is important. Approve
    Satama Interactive: As a representative for Microsoft ecosystem – de facto-standard. Approve
    Some researchproject from university of Kuopio: We’ve gotten familiar of this, too many problems. No with technical comments
    Ministry of trade and industry: Important matter for us as users. ISO-standardization adds to openness, fixes/changes should be possible also in fast-tracked process (?!). Approve
    Juha Turunen (Cap Gemini): Backwards compatibility is important. Approve
    Sami Köykkä (WM-Data): Important for our clients – hopefully problems can be fixed, anyway approval
    Systems Garder: A loud yes
    Ministry of finance: A question for Nirhamo – what’s the contradiction about standard, how will the process continue?
    (intermediatory comments * Microsoft says there were no perceived problems at the beginning * Nirhamos’s reply – Microsoft might _not_ want to go into that discussion or that how this got into fast-track in the first place)
    Nirhamo’s reply: No exact definition for contradiction, but if there is, they _shall_ be intervened. (He said shall, not should) Ballot will be taking place in any case and only No will matter.
    Microsoft: ECMA has promised that comments with Yes-votes will be taken notice of.
    Nirhamo: ECMA has no significance in this.
    Ministry of finance: We’re along to demand open standardization – thus approval is justificated. There are things that need to be thought about – no showstoppers. (Nirhamo took this as a No with technical comments – wow!) General MS-noise ensued ;-)
    Simo Tanner, Association of Finnish local and regional authorities: There are technical problems that should be fixed. No with technical comments
    Tieke (Finnish Information Society Development Centre): Plenty of discussion going around, no own opinion.
    Novell: Ei opinion
    FiCom (Finnish Federation for Communication and Teleinformatics): Yes (Whoops, usually they go along with EK, Confederation of Finnish Industries)
    TietoTapiola: As I haven’t read this myself at all, approve
    Jarkko Lehtinen (Miriabilis): The question isn’t about rejection but revising. There is a lot more at stake than just technical quality. It’s probable that ODF / OOXML-compatibility won’t be realized.
    Ministry of finance: Revised our opinion – Approve.

    And finally, why is Microsoft allowed to vote in a matter that benefits them – mostly only them alone?
    Would any court of law allow the accused to join the jury and vote in their own judgement?

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 20, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Gravatar

    >> August 20th update from Finland – The vote results and begin of aftermath.

    Thanks for the report. I passed your previous two reports to people who can get involved and possibly help.

    >> here’s my so-called standard, please approve it or you will cry and approve.

    In China, for example, one might suspect or wonder if there is a form of extortion involved, e.g. “give OOXML your approval and we will give you $3 Windows”. See our previous coverage and the recent blog item from Andy Updegrove.

    >> – Microsoft’s managing director Ari Rahkonen said “the company
    >> decided already over 10 years ago to move from closed
    >> binary format into an open one. Also EU has wished for
    >> this.”

    It took them ‘only’ 10 years? For something buggy, incomplete, and rather poor?

    >> – Microsoft was praised for finally standardizing the
    >> file format of Office. (?!!)

    It depends what is meant by “standardizing”.

    >> – Patents in the standard were discussed. Microsoft manager
    >> Kimmo Bergius defended that their company won’t sue anyone
    >> over them and no royalties or licences would be collected.

    See our previous coverage on the Novell deal and Novell’s OOXML implementation. Microsoft wants patent deals for ‘peace’. Also see the recent report on patent risk in OOXML. It came from New Zealand last week.

    > – Chairman Nirhamo from SFS concluded: “If the state branches would have
    > been unanimous, we would have come to decision. Now it wasn’t so.
    > I don’t see a chance to vote for either approve or disapprove.”

    Of interest: http://www.sutor.com/newsite/blog-open/?p=1762

    >> Pekka Pere (Tietoalojen liitto/Proha): Approve. We must trust ECMA

    We must not.

    http://boycottnovell.com/2006/12/12/a-coin-in-the-slot-standards-organization/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/07/09/ecma-production-line/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/08/08/ooxml-funny-dealings-and-more/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/07/20/standard-ecma-iso/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/07/24/buying-iso-approval/

    >> Pirkka Palomäki (F-Secure): No opinion. Open standards are important -
    >> no comment on quality

    “OpenXML” contains the substring “open”, but it is not open.

    >> Riitta jotain – City of Helsinki: Standard helps with compatibility, must trust ECMA. Approve.

    See response to Pekka Pere.

    >> Anne Honkaranta (University of Jyväskylä): OOXML is an ok standard
    >> – a little bit worried that ISO must regain its credibility.

    The ISO is clearly losing its credibility. See for example:

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/06/19/iso-spam-ooxml/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/08/17/legal-action-ooxml/

    There are many more.

    >> Juha Varronen (Nordea bank): De-facto standard – pondered between
    >> no opinion and yes – approve

    De facto as a reason?

    >> Finnish customs: We must trust the experts, 6000 pages tells
    >> something about quality. Mining of information is important. Approve

    Since when can quantity qualify as an indication of quality?

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/06/09/tax-standards-madness/

    >> Juha Turunen (Cap Gemini): Backwards compatibility is important. Approve

    It is not backward compatible and it is not consistent. See:

    http://www.robweir.com/blog/2007/04/math-markup-marked-down.html

    >> TietoTapiola: As I haven’t read this myself at all, approve

    What?!?! How can one vote blindly? This is similar to GPLv3 protests from Linux kernel developers who neither read nor learned the licence. It’s a true story. Most of them just echoed the opinions of Linus instead of thinking for themselves.

    >> And finally, why is Microsoft allowed to vote in a matter that
    >> benefits them – mostly only them alone?
    >> Would any court of law allow the accused to join the jury and
    >> vote in their own judgement?

    I would be more interesting to see the affiliations of people above (other than the principal affiliation). See for example:

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/08/03/colombia-ooxml/

    One example among several (Italy and Portugal, for example, had similar stories to tell). In Portugal, IBM was virtually blocked out of the meeting.

  3. Finland calling said,

    August 20, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Gravatar

    Some more precise considerations from the meeting in a newscomment:

    Evening began calmly, but as discussions progressed emotions got surprisingly agitated when Microsoft representatives were trying to get recognized.
    Meeting seemed genuinely (!) important for Microsoft, since they brought in managing director Ari Rahkonen, information society relations manager (read: main lobbyist) Mikko Alkio and also Kimmo Bergius, who acts as information security leader among other things. (Mikko Alkio was Special Adviser to Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen before taking the job at Microsoft)
    Major surprise came near the end of the meeting, when chairman Nirhamo, information technology standardization expert from SFS announced taking off his “chairman’s hat” and being a private person for a while.
    After this he expressed frankly his views why OOXML should NOT be approved for fast-tracking and what kind of problems he has noticed in it.
    Nirhamo’s outburst clearly annoyed Microsoft’s representatives and they questionned the validity of chairman. His colleagues ratified his position and that he still enjoys the confidence of SFS.
    Microsoft assured the preparation won’t end with ISO standard and that ECMA will surely continue its development and fix shortcomings.
    They also claimed to be sure there’s things to fix in ODF also. (….)
    Question about 6000 pages of OOXML standard they replied explicitly: “Other members of ECMA have swollen the specifications.”

    > Thanks for the report. I passed your previous two reports to
    > people who can get involved and possibly help.

    Fine. We really need more people to get active over here in the nordic region too.
    Sweden hasn’t decided just yet and I could not find any exact information about their dates / places. Replied about Finnish farce on noooxml.org, hopefully they will review these comments and act upon responsibly.

    > De facto as a reason?

    It sure looks like that. Avoiding a fight by surrendering before it even begins.

    > What?!?! How can one vote blindly?

    I bet he wasn’t even the only one.
    Others weren’t as stupid to say it out bluntly.
    List of participants looks like some were there by invitation just to add up the numbers. Same old tricks, but it works because the news haven’t spread well enough.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 20, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    Gravatar

    Major surprise came near the end of the meeting, when chairman Nirhamo, information technology standardization expert from SFS announced taking off his “chairman’s hat” and being a private person for a while.
    After this he expressed frankly his views why OOXML should NOT be approved for fast-tracking and what kind of problems he has noticed in it.
    Nirhamo’s outburst clearly annoyed Microsoft’s representatives and they questionned the validity of chairman.

    Sounds ad hominem.

  5. Stefan Gustavson said,

    August 21, 2007 at 2:41 am

    Gravatar

    Sweden has not voted yet, but the vote is imminent. I have no inside information on the exact date, but the ISO deadline is approaching, so the vote will probably happen this week. As I noted on noooxml.org, the hope for anything but an “abstain” result is low. 4 out of 9 committee members are either directly affiliated with Microsoft or very Microsoft-friendly. Some of the other members might also be misled by MS lobbyism to vote “yes”. I doubt we will see a qualified majority for a “yes” vote, though, and if only one or two of the MS puppets have the courage to think for themselves and realize that a conditional approval is in order, and that a conditional approval means “no with comments”, we might still have a “no” vote from Sweden.

  6. GNU/Linux said,

    August 31, 2007 at 5:45 am

    Gravatar

    Polish Technical Committee no 171 refused MSOOXML, Polish Technical Committee no 182 approved MSOOXML with comments :(

  7. GNU/Linux said,

    August 31, 2007 at 6:19 am

    Gravatar

    Here is source in Polish http://prawo.vagla.pl/node/7437

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 31, 2007 at 7:50 am

    Gravatar

    Are there are reports of inappropriate events or suspicious presence by paid Microsoft affiliates? Therein lies the key because Microsoft has not taken a wait-and-watch attitude anywhere. It tends to use its business ties to inflate panels in its favour.

  9. GNU/Linux said,

    August 31, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Gravatar

    Well no visible presence of MS like in Sweden so far but it was probably first time in history when after rejection in one Technical Committee it was moved to another Technical Committee. There was no practical reason to do that and as you remember first comitee rejected MSOOXML http://polishlinux.org/poland/poland-against-ooxml with 82% votes against it, but now second comittee approved MSOOXML without single vote against it!. Here is official announcement http://www.pkn.pl/index.php?pid=dis29500&cid=1 . And AFAIK decision made by TC no 182 is final :( My English is too weak to translate all this stuff but hopefuly someone will do it better for you, http://polishlinux.org site may be the first who announce it in English ;)

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 31, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Gravatar

    Oh dear! So it sounds like Poland has just ‘pulled a Hungary’. This is terrible. If michuk doesn’t post something we can cite, I’ll make use of your comment. This needs to be brought to people’s attention.

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