“There won’t be anything we won’t say to people to try and convince them that our way is the way to go.”
–Bill Gates (Microsoft’s CEO at the time)
This investigation is well overdue. The EC seems slow to respond. The same goes for its investigation of Silverlight because complaints from the industry were first filed over a year ago. Why is action being taken when it’s already hard to reverse the deeds? Regardless, several of the sites which have OOXML-related activities documented seem to be preparing for regulators to dig in. Groklaw, for example, has already set up an index page and Pamela adds:
I hope they think to investigate the smear campaigns that seem to always happen to anyone on the other side from Microsoft. What happened to Peter Quinn was by no means unique.
Peter Quinn’s story, as well as others from Massachusetts, may seem shocking. We attempted to summarise the events in Massachusetts here. It is one example among many and the smears which Pamela talks about are far from new. In fact, Bob Sutor had to change his blog comments moderation policy because of abuse. That was just a few weeks ago.
Boycott Novell has about 500 posts covering improper handling of OOXML and sabotage of ODF. The other day, Dana Blakenhorn even cited us as one among two sources (the other being noooxml.org) for studying this subject. Hopefully the writings and many pointers will prove handy.
Andy Updegrove has written about this as well. Of particular interest:
But with Steve Ballmer taking over as CEO, there was supposed to be a kinder, gentler Microsoft – one that would play nicely with its competitors. When antitrust regulators in turn challenged this new Microsoft, it issued not challenges to fight to the end to prove that it had done nothing illegal, but statements promising to “cooperate fully.”
But at the same time, Microsoft is still a tough competitor. As Microsoft’s Director of Corporate Standards Jason Matusow famously warned at his blog last year:
Make no mistake; all parties are looking at the full picture to find strategies that will result in the outcome they desire. Provided – of course – that they do so within the context of the rules that apply to the process, this is exactly what one should expect to happen. It is going to be a very interesting next few months.
Indeed, the months that followed proved to be interesting indeed. Microsoft said that some of its employees became over zealous, most flagrantly in Sweden, where marketing assists were promised to several business partners as incentives to join the national standards committee and vote for OOXM.
Since Andy mentions Steve Ballmer, it is worth adding that Ballmer, much like Gates, made phonecalls to politicians in order to reverse votes. Single-handedly, such political manipulation made a big difference. We truly hope that the regulators will find what they are after, including the heaps of material evidence.
When regulators are done probing this, perhaps they should also take a look at hostile takeovers and intimidation tactics (patent FUD), which are seen as illegal in Germany. There are so many other things to look into, but as far as Microsoft goes, this is the legal analog of a DDOS attack. The company abuses quicker than the EC can handle and keep track of. █