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08.30.07

OOXML Watch: Sweden’s OOXML Fiasco Representative of the Norm?

Posted in America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Formats, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 9:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Votejacking escapes nobody’s eye in this digital age and the 21st century

There are several more countries whose voting process ought to be documented. Here is a relatively complete summary of information that is shared over the Internet at these moments.

Microsoft Said to Have Hijacked Vote Also in Norway, Denmark, Hungary

According to DesktopLinux, Denmark ‘pulled a Sweden’ and Norway may have ‘pulled a Sweden’ also.

Similar Microsoft vote-stuffing activities have also been reported in Denmark and Norway.

Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, Sweden (Sam has more current information), and apparently nations in South America (Colombia, for example) were all sufferers of ballot-stuffing activity, courtesy of Microsoft partners. Perhaps (just perhaps) the same tricks are being pulled virtually everywhere, but this does not necessarily get reported and then scooped to be brought to people’s attention.

Also from DesktopLinux:

Some countries, such as Brazil, China, India and Canada, have already announced that they have voted against Open XML. The final result on whether Open XML will make the grade as an ISO standard will be announced on Sept. 2.

It is worth re-emphasizing again that Microsoft significantly elevated its charity in India just 2-3 days ago. It happened days after India said “No”. One must wonder if this is related to their vote on OOXML — a vote which isn’t written in stone until September. Don’t forget Vietnam.

Reports from Hungary have just been brought to people’s attention via Digg (original article in Hungarian, in case someone is interested). The same old story appears to be coming to Hungary now (politicians got involved).

Hungarian Standards Institution to reconsider its vote on OOXML

Mr János Kóka, Minister of Economy and Transport, has sent a mail to György Pónyai, General Director of Hungarian Standards Institution (HSI), about its the Hungarian vote on OOXML issue. In this mail the minister informed the director, that the IBM Magyarországi Kft (the Hungarian subsidiary of IBM) signed concerns about the way how the Hungarian

[...]

“Since then, new members have been inaugurated to the committee of the HSI, where the only requirement of membership is a fee of 100-200 euros. Many of the new members seem to have tight relationships with Microsoft.”

So, there’s going to be a new vote, but it’s going to be like Sweden all again…

It’s all politics again. Write this down, or make a mental note.

New Zealand Strikes Back at Microsoft (and Wins)

Over in the Australian continent, we have already heard about manipulation [1, 2, 3]. Australia was defeated (by the lobbying), so to speak, but New Zealand was fortunate enough to have vocal opposition.

Microsoft got caught using another type of deception in press with a spin on the word “choice”. We saw this pro-choice pitch quite recently when Microsoft was referring to ODF while at the same time refusing to implement support for this international standard. “Cross-platform”, “contradiction”, “release candidate”, and “open” are other words/terms whose meaning Microsoft constantly bends (even dilutes or corrupts). Georg Greve had something to say about Microsoft’s offer of “choice”:

Georg Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe said that Microsoft is pursuing a “classic vendor lock-in strategy”.

“The absolute nightmare scenario is that Microsoft says, ‘Update your licences, or we’ll turn off your access.’ Access to governmental data will completely depend on the existence of Microsoft,” he told Reuters.

Other arguments against accepting OOXML were aired earlier this month when the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) rejected Microsoft’s submission — a crucial step for OOXML’s acceptance in the US, in particular by government departments.

“OOXML is Windows-only, so where is the choice?”

It’s rather amazing how Microsoft managed to describe OOXML as pro-choice. OOXML is Microsoft Office 2007 (which is the only one to implement a version/derivative of OOXML that is close enough to OOXML, per its documentation). As Rob Weir showed, even different versions of Office are already intra-incompatible. Despite the move to OOXML, Office 2007-formatted/produced documents cannot be properly read by Office 2003 (MathML was used as an example and journals therefore rejected the use Office 2007′s output).

Additionally, OOXML is Windows-only, so where is the choice? OOXML is not complete specification (w.r.t. to existing implementation), but Microsoft keeps hiding that fact.

So, gain, where is the choice? The choice is maybe the choice to elevate the price of Office, because Microsoft can. Because it controls the ‘standard’. It sets the rules.

Eventually, and fortunately enough, New Zealand rejected OOXML, which would not suitable as a standard.

“After considerable discussion and input from key New Zealand stakeholders, a large number of whom opposed publication of the document as an international Standard in its current form, the Standards Council have concluded that the best vote for New Zealand is ‘no’,” says Grant Thomas, chief operating officer at Standards New Zealand.

OOXML Humour

More Analysis and Thoughts

Rob Weir has his share of random thoughts. He also posts various links to stories about OOXML and standards.

Wait… this just in. In a survey of most dumb-ass Microsoft-sponsored surveys, first place goes to CompTIA’s “Microsoft, Creator of Civilization, Inventor of Fire & Universal Benefactor of Mankind” and second place goes to IDC’s “4% Looks More Important in a Bar Chart if the Maximum is set to 5%.”

This is a reference to all those ‘studies’ (hired analysts) and lobbying arms that Microsoft has been using in its fight against open source and open standards.

Some folks who were never involved with or concerned about OOF/OOXML are finally catching up. It is important that not only “document format enthusiasts” get emotionally involved with something that will affect them in the future. They help spread the word.

It appears that Microsoft is just buying the OOXML ISO certification!

Linux Journal has kept silent on this topic, until now.

None of this will surprise long-term observers of Microsoft: it’s simply the way it plays.

Watch the comment about Novell’s role (interoperability lab). Very interesting.

To repeat the observation that I made about an hour ago, there’s not much to add (which hasn’t been said somewhere before), but I’ve watched this like a hawk for over a year and here are my observations in short.

  • Microsoft has used deals and partnerships (Apple and Corel included) to essentially buy support for a proprietary format.
  • Microsoft formalised a proprietary format and resorted to what is arguably fraud, corruption and extortion (yes, they do favours to politicians and contrariwise — retaliate) to get ISO’s blessing.

If you ever needed evidence that Microsoft executives are — to put bluntly — “crooks”, there you have it. If you have not seen it, then surely you have not explored the OOXML fiasco deeply enough.

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