09.02.07

Today is the Day — The Day the World Will Learn That Crime Pays

Posted in Africa, America, Apple, ECMA, Europe, Formats, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Standard at 1:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s September 2nd today. That’s quite a big day. It holds some great promise and it’s also very important to a monopoly, not only its opposers.

“The damage done by OOXML may never be erased”The stories about how the monopoly got here is more interesting than the decision we are bound to see. Never before have I witnessed such an endless and tiresome flow of reports, pretty much all of which talk about corruption (to an extent). Over the past few years, I have been learning more about Microsoft’s controversial past and on a daily basis I’ve seen new cases and examples where customers get abused or products are made poor (not necessarily by design).

OOXML is different. In many people’s minds, OOXML is now associated with many negative thoughts about a monstrous thing with a monstrous operation behind it. The technical complexity of OOXML no longer seems to be the point of focus in the press. The ethical grounds on which it’s built has completely taken people’s attention away from its many deficiencies. A technical debate, which is where it all started, turned into a techno-political debate. Microsoft tried to characterise OOXML as an embodiment of IBM’s business ambitions. Then, more recently, this political debate turned into one that revolves around themes like bribery, corruption, nepotism, extortion, bullying, lobbying, and intentional deception.

The damage done by OOXML may never be erased. Its path of destruction will have the credibility of some governments, some companies, some national institutes, and the ISO seriously hurt. All of this was orchestrated by one single company. Never before, in a 20-year career in this area, has Andy Updegrove witnessed anything like this, let alone done single-handedly by a group of people too vain to honour — let alone recognise — ethics and fair play. Watch these quotes and be shocked.

With that in mind, here are some of the latest stories and developments in the twisted ‘OOXML world’.

Entering the Bizarro Kingdom…

Matt Aslett rightly argues that “when the standards are this low [as low as OOXML], no one wins”. Many people are yet to pay the price of having faith in whoever is putting weight behind OOXML. Bad technology costs man hours. It costs money. It leads to pain, to loss of data, and sometimes to loss of life.

C|Net, despite its pro-Microsoft bias (they even have a new partnership with Microsoft), does not turn a blind to the issue. The Register has a report on the fiasco that was seen in Sweden. Fortunately, there was a remedy, but damage was done either way. The vote turned into an “Abtain” as I understand it, so maybe the true outcome of a legitimate vote was eventually suppressed. Sweden never received its chance to speak out. It was muted thanks to Microsoft’s gross manipulation.

Wired Magazine hits the high note and chooses a courageous (yet true) headline: Microsoft Allegedly Bullies and Bribes to Make Office an International Standard

We have covered many stories extensively enough (primarily pointers) to support this headline and even add intensity to it. But, but, but… no so fast! There are two sides to every story. Wired Magazine tried to approach Microsoft for a comment. The outcome says it all:

Microsoft did not respond to several calls requesting comment.

How loud can a deafening silence be? Microsoft hasn’t anything to say to defend itself. That sums it all up nicely.

If Microsoft could make a decent specification using its great manpower and then have it accepted, that’s one thing. That’s probably acceptable. However, Microsoft produced a highly-flawed, bug-ridden, overly-complex, Windows-only, already-semi-implemented, effort-duplicating pile of a paper. That pile of paper is as tall as a young child (the Linux Foundation talked about it too). What was Microsoft expecting? What on earth was it thinking? Here is a possibility worth presenting.

Sam Hiser picks a Microsoft ‘smoking gun’ court exhibit, but also links to some very curious analysis of strategies Microsoft has used to escape scrutiny.

Try “25 Ways to Suppress the Truth: the Rules of Disinformation” also for some nice bed-side reading that will remind you of a moment here or there in the OOXML v ODF conflict.

That’s a truly classic and good find. Here is one these techniques being used in Africa (sadly enough, in yesterday’s African press):

Microsoft salutes debate on Office Open XML

[...]

Microsoft also said that over 2 000 partners representing 67 countries on six continents have given their green light for the ratification of the OOXML by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

Microsoft has partners. Who would have guessed? The partners all hail Microsoft. Therefore, OOXML must be great. Some call it ‘cattle effect’ while dissemination of such viral infection relies on the ‘network effect’.

Entering Europe…

Hungary has apparently canceled its vote on OOXML. Here are some comments in English, including another: “Hungary will not cast a vote on the ISO ooxml vote. Something similar to the Swedish position, with the difference that no voting took place.I guess they saw the stuffing and refused to get stuffed in the first place.”

We covered Hungary a few days ago. Politicians seemed to have suddenly interfered with the process that was already done. OOXML was apparently already rejected, so there are reasons to suspect Microsoft began pulling strings at government level. It’s no far fetched. We have already cited reports about Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates making phonecalls to politicians in order to change the rules and swing votes.

As we mentioned above, Sweden’s voice was apparently lost in the midst of corruption. It seems like the same thing happened in Hungary, which apparently voted “No”, but due to attempted manipulation down the line, that “No” vote will become “Abstain”. I am not certain about this, but it’s worth exploring just to be sure.

This move in Hungary seems to have nullified the vote and at an earlier stage it seemed like Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden were no exception (because of similar manipulation attempts by Microsoft). However, last night, Groklaw came up with the latest from Denmark:

It’s official. Denmark will vote no with comments on OOXML.

Free Software Magazine has another short story about OOXML in Sweden.

This entire OOXML campaign stinks!

This is being forced on everyone simply because one corporation has manufactured a back-door strategy, to maintain a software monopoly.

It’s always worth reminding ourselves that with monopolies like this, there is no innovation. And it shows, based on this new article.

In the survey, only 46 percent said they were satisfied with the return. One cause can be traced to this: There’s a lot of fuzzy thinking about innovation.

Buying Brazil’s Government Instead of Brazil’s Vote

Remember Brazil’s decision to reject OOXML? Policy is one thing, but practice is another. Some sources suggest that Microsoft has just ‘bought’ Brazil.

According to one source, “The Ministry of Labor in Brazil signed a pact with Microsoft very similar to one of the provisions of the pact in Chile

In case you do not know what has happened in Chile:

Just today, a secret agreement between MS and the Chilean Government came to light. In it, every citizen was sold as a potential user of a Windows Live Spaces model where every SSN is linked to, overbypassing any privacy term and cashing Bill some bucks. It wouldn’t be so awful to all if that agreement wasn’t aprooved yet (Spanish follows).

There is a lot more information about it here.

Receita Federal (SRF), with whom we’ve had our encounters as part of our campaign against the software it imposes upon Brazilian citizens, has long been a bastion of proprietary software in the Brazilian government. Last Monday, Aug 27, we learned it planned on purchasing, on Aug 30, 40K+ licenses of Microsoft Office 2007. Yeah, that’s right, the one that introduces the very file format that the Brazilian society had rejected just the week before, and a brand new user interface that pretty much obsoletes all training for earlier releases.

The alleged reasons? Users are already trained (in the older versions). TCO studies funded by Microsoft. Limitations of ancient versions of OpenOffice.org, caused by the very fact that Microsoft Office’s formats are proprietary. The statement that any file converter to a competing file format will be obsolete by the time it reaches the market, because Microsoft keeps changing its file formats. Yes, unbelievable!, this is listed as a reason to use Microsoft’s software, not to run away from it! Fallacious reasoning that the slow adoption of GNU/Linux and OpenOffice.org, caused in great part by this very tactics of introducing incompatibilities, indicate they’re going to remain niche operating system and application.

“If It’s Broken, Don’t Fix It”

A new batch of stories returns to the roots of this debate, which should have always been purely technical. Behold the hidden ugliness of OOXML.

“Keynote will open and export to Office’s Powerpoint file formats, as with every non-Microsoft consumer of Office’s formats that eWEEK Labs has tested certain formatting inconsistencies seem impossible to avoid.”

Stephe Walli joins in. As Bob Sutor states:

Stephe Walli further demonstrates why the partial Apple implementation of OOXML is even more partial than we thought.

We covered this several times before. The only product that supports OOXML is Microsoft Office for Microsoft Windows, but it doesn’t stop Microsoft from lying about it. Further, there is this from Brian who refers to Stephe Walli’s findings.

It has been demonstrated time and again with OOXML, that it does not pass even this most simple test. If you read my friend Stephen Walli’s blog entry that was posted on Linux Today earlier, you know that the OOXML technology is so screwed up, even Microsoft applications can’t run it correctly.

Stephen Walli, mind you, has roots in Microsoft. Even Brian Jones, the head of this OOXML assault against the world, has already admitted that OOXML is still flawed. Even the man who was paid by Microsoft to edit Wikipedia’s article on OOXML said he would have voted “No, with comments.”

It’s Not Over

People’s choice of ODF if what will determine its success. You can continue helping by spreading knowledge and — better yet — spreading ODF-formatted files which will not work with Microsoft Office (per Microsoft’s own desire) and therefore require others to use or install a non-proprietary (code/standard) office suite.

Although today is the “Big Day”, final results are 6 months away.

But if Microsoft doesn’t get the required number of votes this weekend, its challenge would be bigger, because it would need to get some national bodies to change their minds before the final vote.

Results of that final vote are expected in March.

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6 Comments

  1. Gopal said,

    September 2, 2007 at 2:16 am

    Gravatar

    It is ironical that while ISO lays down standards for Quality Systems to be followed by industry neither ISO nor their member NBs follow any system when it comes to evaluating standards. ISO is working on a new standard for Social Responsibility but when it comes to its own working it smacks of irresponsibility and turns a blind eye.
    Isn’t it therefore the right time to formally petition ISO to put OOXML on hold and look into the irregularities reported in the functioning of various NBs while evaluating OOXML.

  2. akf said,

    September 2, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Gravatar

    You are writing so much about OOXML. That’s good. But it doesn’t fit to the domain name.
    How about a domain name named http://boycottooxml.com/ then?

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 2, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Gravatar

    Gopal, Rob Weir has suggested revision/reform as well. Ecma is a lost case (it’s in it for the money), but if the ISO goes down, then all hope for standards is lost. Standards have always been a fierce rival to Microsoft and antitrust exhibits show Microsoft’s sheer contempt for them.

    akf, Shane is the one managing all these domains (at least 5 of them now with Red Hat’s placeholder, which just in case, is parked). Maybe it can be set up to consistently redirect to http://boycottnovell.com/category/open-xml/ .

    Our domain name has given us a lot of headache. Earlier today I was once again told that some pro-ODF bloggers wish to link here, but the domain name prevents this from being sensible. It also hurts credibility.

  4. John Drinkwater said,

    September 2, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Gravatar

    I was getting annoyed by the lack of useful references of Microsoft being underhand (or at least, their behind-closed-doors position). So I typed up Effective Evangelism from the Iowa PDFs as an ODT, and uploaded it to GoogleDocs: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dfz5s2nv_3hpf74h
    I’ll host the odt on my site soon, along with the odp for the 38 page presentation.

  5. Felipe Alvarez said,

    September 3, 2007 at 2:08 am

    Gravatar

    Stick with Novell-related news. How does ooxml relate to Novell? And GNU/Linux users?

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 3, 2007 at 2:12 am

    Gravatar

    Novell is one of the reasons OOXML had been receiving some support and is seeing some acceptance. As for GNU/Linux users, OOXML is a case against them. OOXML is Windows-only.

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