08.23.07

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ODF/OOXML Watch: Brazil and India Say “No” to OOXML, Microsoft Lobbying Intensified (Updated)

Posted in America, Australia, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 10:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Good news, everybody. According to Groklaw, the fight for ‘monopoly enablement’ was lost in India (see previous coverage from India [1,2, 3]). This is confirmed to be the case in Brazil as well.

After a very difficult and inconclusive meeting in ABNT (Brazilian Technical Standards Organization) office last Tuesday, the standards process director had to analyze the audio recording of all the meeting, review some facts, review again all 63+2 comments produced by the technical group about the ECMA specification, and conclude that a NO for OOXML is the correct position for Brazil in ISO Fast Track process.

Microsoft’s relentless fight, however, shows no signs of abatement. The company is not being passive. It does not let the technical committees follow a natural route. It intervenes behind the scenes using money, government relationships, and business partners. Here is a brand-new example of the use of partners in New Zealand.

Thomas says Standards New Zealand has received a number of letters on the issue and “had a lot of contact from some parties” including Microsoft and a consulting firm working for the software giant. Microsoft New Zealand director of innovation Brett Roberts identified that firm as Wellington-based Guinness Gallagher.

Given what we know, OOXML stands a chance of being approved. This would be an insult and a sore to the ISO, whose reputation, purpose, and goals are said to be heading for the gutter. Rob Weir ends his latest blog item with a rant.

The tragedy of this is that for so many NB’s, with talented technical committees, the discussion of OOXML has failed to be a technical evaluation, but has quickly become a political game, where committees are stuffed, governments are pressured, billionaires call in favors, competitors blocked from participation, voting rules ignored or modified at whim, etc. All we can do is stand by and watch as Microsoft takes over JTC1. The cost to Microsoft will be great, but so much greater is the cost to JTC1. What will it mean for JTC1′s future to be known as a body that does not follow its own rules, does not evaluate proposals on technical merits, but has procedures so weak and poorly written that it allows itself to be taken over by a single company? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

It is indeed amazing what a single company can do with its money and power. Influence can be bought when non-compelling standards are too poor to earn approval.

Update: the word from India can finally be confirmed (“War of formats: India shows thumbs-down to Microsoft”).

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