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A Look Back at OOXML BRM, Stacking, ISO’s Admission of Failure

Posted in America, Antitrust, Europe, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 12:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bye bye S O?

There are many news reports at the moment, but here are a few of interest.

The first one is a seemingly ‘balanced’ article that lets Microsoft characterise opposition to OOXML as “anti-Microsoft”. This dishonest strategy was noted before. In any event, the article contains old information which we repeated a couple of times in the past week:

Others have expressed their disillusionment with the standards process as a whole, even those who work for the ISO.

The former convener, Martin Bryan, of the joint ISO/IEC committee working on document standards said that corporations are exerting more and more influence over the technical people at national standards bodies.

“The days of open standards development are fast disappearing,” he wrote last November. “Instead we are getting ‘standardization by corporation,’ something I have been fighting for 20 years.”

Have a look over a Groklaw, which posted this cumulative report.

We count 20 direct Microsoft participants [in the BRM]:

2 BRAZIL Mr. Fernando GEBARA Microsoft Brazil
3 CANADA Mr. Paul COTTON Microsoft Canada
4 COTE D’IVOIRE * Mr. Wemba OPOTA MICROSOFT West and central Africa
5 CZECH REPUBLIC Mr. Štepán BECHYNSKÝ Microsoft Czech Republic, Ltd
6 DENMARK Mr. Jasper Hedegaard BOJSEN Microsoft Denmark
7 FINLAND Mr. Kimmo BERGIUS Microsoft Ltd
8 GERMANY Mr. Mario WENDT Microsoft Deutschland GmbH
9 ISRAEL Mr. Shmuel YAIR Microsoft
10 ITALY Ing. Andrea VALBONI Microsoft Italy
11 JAPAN Mr. Naoki ISHIZAKA Microsoft
12 KENYA Mr. Emmanuel BIRECH Microsoft East Africa
13 NEW ZEALAND Mr. Brett ROBERTS Microsoft New Zealand
14 NORWAY Mr. Shahzad Rana Microsoft Norge AS
15 PORTUGAL * Prof. Miguel Sales DIAS MICROSOFT Portugal
16 SWITZERLAND Mr. Marc HOLITSCHER Microsoft Schweiz GmbH
17 UNITED STATES Mr. Doug MAHUGH Microsoft Corporation
18 Ecma International Mr. Brian JONES Microsoft
19 Ecma International * Mr. Jean PAOLI Microsoft Corporation
20 Assistant to Project Editor Mr. Tristan DAVIS Microsoft

Is that normal? I doubt it, but if it is, could someone do something about it? How can employees of a company go against the folks that pay them, even if they privately think the format is junk? Some might, but they’d surely not be employees after that. Now might you get why the Czech Republic waxed poetic about how wonderful the BRM was?


But isn’t it good to see how many are refusing to do so? Consider the pressure, the threats, the stacking the deck, evidently some promises too, not to mention the confusing and ever changing rules, and it’s remarkable. And yet all around the world, people have the courage and the integrity to say No.

It is worth adding that some countries were represented directly by Microsoft employees, in order to essentially vote on a Microsoft cash cow. It cannot get more insane than this, can it?

Regardless of the outcome, as we have already said yesterday and Andy Updegrove now assures readers, ODF is likely to maintain its growth rates.

Many journalists and others have asked me whether I have a prediction on what the outcome will be, and also what I think it will mean if OOXML is approved. I don’t have an answer to the first question, as there are too many countries involved, and too much may change until the last minute. But I do have an answer to the second question, and that answer is the same one that I have given every time that a new decision point has loomed in the ongoing quest for a useful format standard that can bring competition and innovation back to the desktop, as well as ensure that the history and creativity of today will remain accessible far into the future.

That answer is this: if anyone had asked me to predict in August of 2005 (the date of the initial Massachusetts decision that set the ODF ball rolling) how far ODF might go and what impact it might have, I would never have guessed that it would have gone so far, and had such impact, in so short a period of time. I think it’s safe to say that whatever happens with the OOXML vote is likely to have little true impact at all on the future success of ODF compliant products.

At the end of the day, Microsoft might come to regret what it did to ISO. Here is a decent new comment:

I’m thinking Microsoft’s minions truly hate that their bad behavior is being watched and documented so closely by so many people. It’s not big news on Fox News, so they likely thought it wouldn’t be noticed by the general public. I know the US won’t do anything to stop the big, spoiled Microsoft brat from bullying the world, but there is hope that the EU might be paying attention too…so maybe there will be some justice along the way…some far off day.

Microsoft’s punishments for this are yet to be seen.

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

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

Neelie Kroes

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