03.01.08

The Second Disaster for Microsoft at Europe This Week

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML at 1:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unleash the doves

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Moments ago we brought to you Tim Bray's views on the BRM (keyphrase “complete, utter, unadulterated bullsh*t”). Tim’s blunt perspective aside, watching the news is a case of concurrence.

Reuters: Bureaucracy swamps ISO meeting on Microsoft format

Instead, the ballot resolution meeting became bogged down in bureaucracy as the delegates struggled with more than a thousand points of order, as well as the 6,000 pages of code that define Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format.

ComputerWorld: Weak ISO support for changes to Open XML throws shadow over final approval

A committee of ISO members in Geneva may have approved the proposed changes to Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) on Friday, but the document format’s final approval remains far from certain.

StandardsMeister Andy: Showdown in Geneva: OOXML Fails to Achieve Majority Approval at BRM

Many, many, people around the world have tried very hard to make the OOXML adoption process work. It is very unfortunate that they were put to this predictably unsuccessful result through the self-interest of a single vendor taking advantage of a permissive process that was never intended to be abused in this fashion. It would be highly inappropriate to compound this error by approving a clearly unfinished specification in the voting period ahead. To paraphrase a former First Lady, it’s time to “Just say No” to OOXML.

Groklaw has a summary also: OOXML Fails to Get Majority Approval at BRM

Andy Updegrove has the results in detail here, including a breakdown of the votes. Basically, there were too many proposed changes to be able to cover them in the BRM, so they tried a workaround, but the upshot is … it’s a mess. Oddly, despite the rules, Alex Brown, Updegrove reports, allowed non P countries to vote, but OOXML still couldn’t get a majority of the delegations to back it at the BRM. Nor is it clear that allowing non P countries to vote is even legitimate. Now it’s the 30-day voting period, but Updegrove asks, if they never could discuss all the issues, which is the purpose of a BRM, what’s the basis for a vote? And with the vast majority either voting to abstain or even refusing to vote as a protest, I think one may conclude this proposal didn’t belong on the fast track, and it isn’t getting the kind of support you would have thought it might, given all the muscle that has gone into the push to get OOXML approved.

With a week of OOXML corruptions behind us, it is worth concluding using the following good recent quote, which ought to make Microsoft nervous ahead of more antitrust investigations (relating to OOXML abuses):

“If you flee the rules, you will be caught. And it will cost you dearly.”

Neelie Kroes (about Microsoft), February 27th, 2008

Neelie Kroes

Enjoy the weekend.

Microsoft’s “Letters from the Dead” Tactic Isn’t Quite Dead Yet

Posted in Asia, Deception, ECMA, Europe, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 1:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For those who are unaware, Microsoft was caught faking support letters (by proxy) several years ago. It used the names of deceased people. Later on, as we last mentioned just 5 days ago, Microsoft seemed to have used similar tactics to overwhelm ISO and put OOXML on the Fast Track.

Microsoft never changed its ways. Perhaps it tried harder to hide its fingerprints, but the same dirty tactics live on to this date. Similar incidents were spotted in England about a year ago (we documented some of them). Then, we even saw briberies in Sweden and similar suspicions were raised in other nations, such as Malaysia.

Another incident has just been identified in India. This Web site has the details.

The extent to which Microsoft can go in its efforts to get OOXML is interesting. Microsoft has “persuaded” several non-profit organizations to bombard the Indian IT Secretary and the Additional Director General of the Bureau of Indian Standards with letters supporting its OOXML proposal. A copy of the form letter they have been circulating to NGOs is given below. Somebody should interview these NGOs to see how much they really know about OOXML and open standards.

The sequence of events leading up to the spamming of GoI is:

Letter from an NGO thanking Microsoft (name changed to protect their identity)

[...]

Do have a look at what appears like a pattern. India is by no means the exception here. This was systematic.

“You know what Microsoft’s problem really is? They’ve lost the ability to feel ashamed.”

PJ, Groklaw

Tim Bray: “[OOXML's BRM] Process Irretrievably Broken; Complete, Utter, Unadulterated Bullsh*t”

Posted in ECMA, Microsoft, Open XML at 12:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yes, we saw that coming [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. If it smells bad to begin with, it will end up stinking the whole place. And that’s just the ECMA/Microsoft congregation actually was.

Tim Bray, a senior who attended the secretive meeting (you could get sued for blogging about it), finally speaks out. It’s loud and clear:

Now that the BRM is over, I feel I can write about it a bit more; there are some restrictions, but I’ll lay them out. Summary: A lot of good work was done, but the process is irretrievably broken.

[...]

What Was Bad · The process was complete, utter, unadulterated bullshit. I’m not an ISO expert, but whatever their “Fast Track” process was designed for, it sure wasn’t this. You just can’t revise six thousand pages of deeply complex specification-ware in the time that was provided for the process. That’s true whether you’re talking about the months between the vote and when the Responses were available, the weeks between the Responses’ arrival and the BRM, or the hours in the BRM room.

Remind yourself of the way Microsoft bullied Tim and his wife. If this is not what they call gangster culture, what is? More details about the BRM will be posted shortly.

ISO standard

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