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More Failures of ISO and Failures of US Regulators

Posted in America, Antitrust, Asia, Europe, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 7:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ISO standard

Our cumulative criticisms of ISO are justified [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], but it is also important to remember that heads were rolling at ISO before Microsoft 'took over', so to speak, just as it treats companies which is wants acquired and controlled (the Short Windows Digital Leash). Accusations are rarely made against individuals at ISO, albeit there are a few exceptions. As it stands, ISO is a mess and it’s important to resolve this. The next post will speak about more proprietary formats which Microsoft wants approved as ISO standards.

Groklaw has meanwhile taken a look at ISO’s rules and concluded that even more rules were broken in the past week. This looks even grimmer to those running ISO.

Not to burst any bubbles, but I think the ISO folks have failed to follow the rules.


Personally, I seem to be losing count already of rules breached, but some of you are anal types and probably have charts and graphs and spreadsheets, because you haven’t yet fully grasped the insouciant breeziness of the standards process in our modern world.

This type of disgrace was acknowledges by almost no-one in the United States. It’s truly astounding because much of the drama and the centre of attention was also the home of Microsoft Corporation, Google, Sun, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle and whatnot.

The following new article from the Financial Times [via Marc Fleury] sheds some light on the core of these issues. It’s centered around the inability (or rather the lack of desire) to properly regulate the market.

The proposal from Hank Paulson, US Treasury secretary, for reorganising government regulation of financial institutions misses the point. We need new thinking, not a reshuffling of regulatory agencies.


Regulators ought to have known better because it was their intervention that prevented the financial system from unravelling on several occasions. Their success has reinforced the misconception that markets are self-correcting.

The article’s message can be generalised or — quite contrariwise — even specified to account for mishandling of the technology industry in the United States.

“…American companies need to turn to Europe for legal help and action against another American company.”Unlike the US regulators (see details about the DoJ, FCC, FTC and Microsoft's upper hand), the European regulators are responsive and proactive. It remains a tad absurd that American companies need to turn to Europe for legal help and action against another American company. It all just comes to show how broken the American regulatory system really is.

As stressed quite frequently over the past fortnight, the European Commission lets none of this abuse just slide by [1, 2, 3, 4]. Even The Register now reports on this issue. It publishes quotes from the Commission itself and adds details about interoperability issues in OOXML, not just the sheer abuse of the process.

A spokesman for the European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, told The Register that regulators were continuing to scrutinise interoperability issues related to Microsoft’s products following complaints from the Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) group.

As part of that process, the EC formally contacted a number of national standards bodies, including the Norwegian Standards Institute (NSI), requesting more details about possible irregularities in the OOXML standardisation process.


“It must be stressed that it is not the Commission’s intention to influence the outcome of this process, but the Commission considers it essential to ensure that European competition law is not violated in the course of the standard setting process,” he said in an email to El Reg.

In January the EC began formal anti-trust probes against Microsoft in two cases where it was alleged that the multinational firm had abused its strong market position. As part of the investigation into the first case, the Commission said that it would scrutinise OOXML on the grounds that the specification doesn’t work with those of competitors.

Expect China to start enforcing anti-monopoly laws just like Europe. From yesterday’s news:

Big brother China eyes Microsoft

A new Chinese anti-monopoly law due to take effect in August could become the thorn in Microsoft’s side should it be successful in its takeover bid for Yahoo!. The law will allow Chinese regulators the power to examine foreign mergers when they involve acquisitions of Chinese companies or foreign investment in Chinese companies.

There are bits in this article about OOXML as well, but they are unbelievably inaccurate. Unbelievable. That also comes to prove that Microsoft killed the term "open source" by having OOXML described as such. And yes, the article above confuses “open xml” with “open source”.

“[…] when Noorda raised the possibility that the Justice Department might try to block a merger between the first and third biggest software companies on the planet, Gates responded, “Don’t worry, we know how to handle the federal government.” […] Gates denied every saying such a thing”

BILL GATES and the Race to Control Cyberspace

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