Microsoft Lobbyist from ECMA Goes Batting for OOXML

Posted in Deception, ECMA, IBM, Microsoft at 2:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pseudo-ECMA-CompTIA for closed Microsoft ‘standards’

This is getting somewhat ridiculous and the timing is no coincidence. The press is now quoting a man who works for a Microsoft lobbying arm. It asks him about OOXML and makes a complete article about it. Mind you, this man was also recently hired by Microsoft (at ECMA), but the press describes him only as a “a European standards expert”. That man is Jan van den Beld, who now works for CompTIA

If someone cites this article, but sure to let him or her know who Jan van den Beld is. The article does not tell the whole story. It’s akin to giving Bob Sutor a ‘placement’ at ZDNet, describing him only as “an American standards expert”.

Quote of the Day: On Google Sponsorship of Microsoft’s .NET

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 1:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


From Miguel de Icaza’a blog:

Mono: 2008 Google Summer of Code

The Mono project will be participating once again in the Google Summer of Code.

Although some ideas from various teams are available in our student projects page this year, I want to encourage students to feel free to submit ideas that they think should be done with Mono.

Didn’t Google protest against Microsoft “breaking the Internet” (with .NET) just a couple of weeks ago? Is Chris DiBona watching this? Brin?

Links 25/03/2008: New ‘NSA Linux’, Android Coming Soon

Posted in News Roundup at 1:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Roundup: Why OOXML is Inherently Very Defective

Posted in ECMA, Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 1:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The vote on OOXML should be based not on business relationships but based only on the merits of the candidate at hand. So, we have accumulated some previous posts of interest:

Posts on OOXML technical deficiencies:

There is another new one from Rob Weir.

In summary, we are concerned that the ST_Xstring type in OOXML opens us up to problems such as:

1. Introducing accessibility problems
2. Breaking unaware C/C++ XML parsers
3. Breaking XML databases
4. Breaking interoperability with other XML languages
5. Breaking application logic related to string searching, sorting, comparisons, etc.
6. Introducing errors that will be hard to detect and resolve

GNOME trashOOXML cannot be rushed. It’s in an utterly poor state with far too many unaddressed problems. That is a fact. It would be irresponsible to have accepted such an immature specification.

No matter how many people and proxies (e.g. ECMA) Microsoft assigns to this, it cannot be done and it certainly cannot be fast-tracked. You can’t get 9 women to deliver a baby in 1 month.

ISO: Fail?

Posted in America, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 12:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fool me once, shame on you…

Hardly a day goes by without ISO managing to mishandle the process. Further to yesterday's roundup, consider this (emphasis ours):

More OOXML news. The Cuban National Bureau of Standards has reportedly sent an email to the three names NBs are supposed to notify at ISO, Toshiko Kimura, Keith Brannon, and Martine Gaillen, reporting that Cuba votes to disapprove OOXML.

But the startling news is that the email claims that Cuba voted no in September but that its vote was miscounted.


If you recall, the public announcement by ISO in September said that Cuba had voted to approve, which led to puzzlement. Not so, says the email, which was sent on Friday evening and broadly cc’d, including to all the NBs, perhaps to ensure there was no confusion this time. Cuba was deeply injured by the false report, the email says. Cuba voted no with comments in September. It never approved OOXML.

There are some equally-appalling stories from Cuba. Apart from political smears, watch Jeremy Allison thinking that Cuba voted “Yes” at the last minute [1, 2] and recall the story about Cuba being dishonoured for not using Microsoft Word. The deeply dysfunctional ISO actually requires the use of non-standards (or anti-standards) for voting. To make matters worse, it requires the use of pricey Microsoft products, with a proven history of deliberately breaking standards.

Would you believe that even Red Hat Magazine is now taking a hit at ISO?

ISO approval: A good process gone bad


Allegations have been made that Microsoft encouraged new countries to join the JTC-1, or to upgrade their status (from O-status to P-status) to influence the vote. Contrary to what has been demonstrated, the JTC-1 directives say that the “objective in the development of International Standards should be the achievement of consensus between those concerned rather than a decision based on counting votes.”

Before an individual country votes in the ISO process, it holds a vote within its own national body. An employee of Microsoft Sweden admitted to offering incentives to business partners to encourage them to vote for OOXML, leading the Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) to declare its vote in favor of OOXML invalid. Critics have speculated that similar practices occurred in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and other countries. Such allegations have prompted the EU to launch an investigation into Microsoft’s practices during the ISO vote.

Have ISO and Microsoft got any credibility left?

“This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.

The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”

Martin Bryan, ISO Escapee
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1

OOXML is Just the Beginning, Part of a Broader Assimilation Strategy

Posted in Africa, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OSI, Standard at 12:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Making Microsoft the international open standard

About a month ago when PJ, of Groklaw, said that Microsoft wants its platform approved as a standard, she was not kidding. OOXML is the start of something broader. We mentioned this before on numerous occasions, e.g. here. Tim Bray insinuated that OOXML-esque manipulation was bound to happen again and again until ISO rids itself from ECMA’s pressure.

Rob Weir reminds his readers of invalid reasons for approval of OOXML and he happens to have added the sign of things to come.

Forget the fact that Microsoft has other formats lined up for ISO approval in the near future, like XPS or HD Photo.

This happens to be a case where Windows-isation of GNU/Linux comes into consideration as well. This mustn’t become a reality. And as the following posts suggests, there is no apparent benefit, unless you are Microsoft.

Why should we adopt OOXML as a ISO standard? Reasons unknown as of now. We should demand for them loudly enough so that if they ignore it, many proOOXML voters would be turned down.

You may be heartened to read about FOSSFA pushing governments in Africa to adopt open standards [via Andy Updegrove].

FOSSFA encourages African governments to facilitate the debate on Open Standards, and involve national experts in decisions regarding technology standards. The organization also urged African governments to seek a collective African voice prior to taking positions on Open Standards issues. Recalling that the last Ballot Re-count Meeting had very little representation from Africa, and that African countries voted in the affirmative without thorough and more inclusive discussions on the issues, FOSSFA strongly calls for more active public engagement of the issues in the future.

Further, FOSSFA believes that governments should pay particular attention to procurement practices, especially software agreements between it and software companies. In this regard, FOSSFA noted that the practice of binding a sovereign country to agreements based on non-disclosable memorandums of understanding is not open, contravenes the principles and values of transparency in public procurement, and must be stopped.

Remind yourself again why Microsoft wants the ISO rubber stamp. It’s a case of confusion through assimilation, obfuscation of differentiation. The goals and strategy are similar to that of the invasion into the “Open Source” world. Later today, Microsoft will open -- so to speak -- the Open Source Business Conference. OSBC and the OSI are being rather foolish. They choose this path at their own peril.

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