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What OOXML Manipulations Will Microsoft Have in Store for Poland This Time Around? (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Formats, Fraud, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 1:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It is difficult to find stories where a vote on OOXML is confirmed to have been made calmly and peacefully. There is almost always some form of intervention by Microsoft (and/or its partners), to whom this decision is very crucial.

Memories returned at the sight of this new report from Poland.

Last Thursday PKN (Polish Normalization Committee) had a meeting on which it was supposed to come up with the decision concerning Polish recommendation for ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (OOXML) proposed standard. The common stance has not been acheived.


Yes, we do know a few more details concerning the process and the type of dirty politics that took place just before and during the meeting, but we are not going to releal it just yet, hoping that the chairman of KT 182 and the PKN itself makes a proper decision in the end (which is to abstain from voting as there has been no consensus about OOXML in KT).

The author, who appears to be the lead figure of this Polish Web site, must be disappointed. Half a year ago, trust in the government was lost after a fiasco. This author, who has been watching it closely enough to comment on these matters, might find the following flashbacks partly useful. Let us go through some past events.

Here you find Poland recognising OpenDocument format.

The OpenDocument Format Alliance (ODF Alliance), a broad cross-section of organizations, academia and industry dedicated to improving access to electronic government documents, today applauded Brazil’s decision to recommend ODF as the government’s preferred format; India’s decision to use ODF at a major state government agency; and Italy’s decision to recognize ODF as national standard.

The Alliance also recognized Poland, too, for demonstrating serious interest in adopting ODF in the wake of a national meeting held for its government with broad participants from industry and non-profit agencies.

At the time, Poland was also against OOXML. Watch these numbers.

Polish Technical Committee no 171 has just voted 80% against the adoption OOXML as an ISO standard [PL].

Read that again if you must. 80% against OOXML. Here is some more information:

Polish National Interoperability Framework promotes Open Standards


This basically means that Microsoft’s Office Open XML will not be treated as open standard, thus not preferred in Polish e-Government services, making OpenDocument Format the office standard of choice.

But watch what happened eventually. Have a look

Poland votes yes on OOXML

Several protests were sent already to PKN and TC 182 on behalf of: Free and Open Source Foundation, TC 171 members, Google Poland, IBM Poland, but I really doubt they will make the difference in Polish vote among ISO. The whole process was planned to the last minute so that there is not enough time to protest or make any changes. Although it is not as clear situation of vote-buying as in Sweden, it strikes me as something from typical Microsoft lobbying portfolio.

Someone from Poland had us informed about the situation, translating some bits of text and adding:

There was no practical reason to do that and as you remember first [Polish] comitee rejected MSOOXML with 82% votes against it, but now second comittee approved MSOOXML without single vote against it!

“Polish citizens who followed this were very furious at the time.”At risk of memory betraying me, a minister in the country was potentially approached to cancel the first vote and rerun a vote (stuffed with Microsoft puppets of course) to vote ‘properly’. Suspicions at the time resolved around the possibility of Microsoft pulling diplomatic strings as it had done in the United States, 2705 for a fact.

Polish citizens who followed this were very furious at the time. You can explore this further if you wish. There is plenty of damning evidence.

The European Commission is watching such abuses, so this time around, rather than addressing complaints at “[the] Free and Open Source Foundation, TC 171 members, Google Poland, [and] IBM Poland”, local watchers should report to Neelie Kroes et al. They would love to receive some further evidence.

“We’ve got to put a lot of money into changing behavior.”

Bill Gates

Update: Groklaw chimes in with plenty more details.

This is different. There is a report by Borys Musielak of PolishLinux.org that Poland met to vote on OOXML on Thursday. Of 45 members of the committee eligible to vote, 24 showed up to vote, and it split almost down the middle, with 12 for, 10 against and 2 abstaining. This is extraordinary, since Poland voted yes in September, despite the technical committee being opposed. I call that progress.

But here is the worrying part: when it became clear that there was no consensus, and it was not going to be a Yes vote, the chairman “decided to allow the missing members to vote by e-mail during the next 10 days”.

What to make of a process that keeps reinventing itself as it goes along?

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