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Deception Everywhere as OOXML Deadline Approaches

Posted in America, Asia, Deception, ECMA, Europe, Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 11:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


A couple of days ago we covered the situation in Poland, mainly by pointing to a variety of old and new reports from local observers. According to noooxml.org, they may be trying to pull a trick by pretending to be impartial while in fact endorsing Microsoft’s broken specifications, despite objections that led to somewhat of a fiasco back in September. Watch this troublesome assessment:

Evil! “Abstain from voting” means no new vote will get submitted, so the September vote will be carried! In the case of Poland it was an approval vote for the OOOXML standard with comments attached. Yes, Poland felt it could support the approval of a standard candidate that got more than 2300 pages of dispositions of comments. And now the logic I fail to get is: if we fail to approve we do nothing and carry the previous approval vote. ISO procudures sometimes feel like a witch test.

“Abstain from voting” != submission of an “Abstain” vote.

Czech Republic

Earlier today we also mentioned what had happened in the Czech Republic. Watch what Groklaw had to say about this unpredictable outcome. It came as an update to the news from Brazil.

Here is one comment that must have slipped off the table and got overlooked, a comment the Czech Republic attached to its vote in September:

Coexistence of two very similar international standards such as ODF and OOXML is undesirable in a long term perspective. Therefore we ask JTC1 to start work on a progressive harmonization of both formats in cooperation with OASIS and ECMA organizations which are originators of these document formats.

Durusau Again

There’s too much ‘funny business’ to keep track of at a national level. But never mind that. What seems even more troublesome is the tactical timing of all these Durusau letters. We looked at this issue before [1, 2, 3, 4]. LXer rebuts that latest letter of his, which contains absurdities.

The only one who loses if DIS 29500 fails is Microsoft, who’s Office 2007 cashcow will run into trouble. Everyone else, including the OpenDocument Format, do not need an ISO stamp of approval on DIS 29500. The current Ecma 376 standard, flawed as it is, is more than enough to work with. Putting an ISO stamp of approval on that document does not suddenly make it “more interoperable” or a better spec. Unless Microsoft stops working with Ecma, but that is not ISO’s problem. It’s Microsoft’s and Ecma’s problem. Besides all that, Ecma can still resubmit Ecma 376 through the regular ISO process and gain approval in a few years when the standard has been properly reviewed and fixed. That’s too late for the Microsoft Office cashcow of course, but that is not ISO’s concern.

Here are PJ’s remarks on this:

[Re:] “1) National bodies loses an open and international forum for further work on DIS 29500.”

[PJ: This is not true. If it is disapproved, it goes off the Fast Track and can the be considered on the regular track, which obviously gives national bodies the time they need to actually discuss and resolve the issues. Like Durusau doesn't know that.

Not that they can fix it. The intellectual property issues can't be resolved without changing the Microsoft OSP. But the fact is, even that could be resolved if everyone wasn't being rushed like some old folks getting phone calls from smarmy salesmen telling them to agree to buy fast, fast, fast, without a chance to read a contract first. If OOXML is capable of being fixed, it will not be harmed by taking the time to fix it.]

The deceptions galore has a Microsoft lobbyist cited as well. He is described in the press as a “standards expert”, but his new affiliation gives too much away.

Over at Malaysia, some articles begin to show up, such as this one.

I am no supporter of Microsoft but I believe that any decision on this issue should be devoid of personal grudges, vested interests or software politics.

This case is actually quite simple but it has been complicated, wittingly or unwittingly, by the intrigues and conduct of several parties involved.

Lots of technical jargon is bandied about to confuse and scare people away from the key principles involved. The market for e-document or productivity software is gigantic and growing. It is used by consumers, businesses and governments, which explains the huge interest in this case.

They conveniently try to warp the question of standardisation to one of market share and business needs alone, never mind quality.

Needless to say, these article neglect to mention and take into accounts the full story. They seem to shy away from the controversy and play safe by wrongly assuming that Microsoft plays by the rules. All along, Microsoft’s strategy has been to dismiss critics by calling them Microsoft haters. The company even tried to put that label on Andy Updegrove, who has been exceptionally forthcoming and polite all along.

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