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04.09.08

European Nations Give the Thumbs Down to Microsoft OOXML, Misconduct Noted

Posted in Antitrust, Boycott Novell, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 12:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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

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

It is reassuring to find that Microsoft’s over-the-line and above-the-law actions may have all been in vain. High-profile countries across Europe are seemingly apathetic at the sight of Microsoft buying a rubber stamp by collapsing entire committees, lying, bullying and involving personal favours with heads of nations.

Among the countries which are already listed as opposed to OOXML we now have Belgium and the Netherlands [headsup from Victor Soliz]. They could start the domino effect which leads to broader adoption of ODF in Europe where governments need to communicate and collaborate.

Asked to comment on last week’s ISO approval for OOXML, Fedict’s chief IT architect, Peter Strickx, said: “There will have to be multiple implementations, in order for us not to become dependent on a single vendor. It will also have to be compatible with open standards that we already use, in this case Open Document Format ODF.”

Belgium and Holland are not alone here. The German Foreign Ministry already says that it will not use OOXML either, but equally interesting in the announcement are the bits about bad behaviour from Microsoft.

In the weeks prior to the second round of votes last September, irregularities were reported in the standard committees in many participating countries. These claims continued until after the final discussion, in February and March this year.

The European Commission has started an investigation into the allegations. The Commission sent a letter to all EU national standards committees in Europe, requesting information about the process. Sources at the Commission declined to comment, as the investigation is on-going and no official position has yet been adopted.

This comes to show that these allegations may already be playing a significant role in the making of high-level decisions. This aligns with the contention that bad behaviour may have cost Microsoft the "document formats war", which it can lose despite a despicable 'win' of the "ISO battle" — something which it knows is meaningless and earned it no practical equal foothold.

BSI Contradicts Itself

The BSI seems to be on some shaky grounds after its secret and mysterious decision on OOXML. There is a lot of evidence that suggests misconduct (latest related addendum here) and the BSI seems to be already doing some damage control. It’s indicative of lack of confidence, isn’t it? The BSI is defending itself… and fails. Groklaw has already found contradictory messages, so the story is not so consistent. Oops.

[PJ: I'd say #5 negates 9 and 10.] – BSI FAQ on OOXML Vote

Whatever the situation, it’s not over yet. The BSI has a lot of explaining to do given all the credible evidence that has been gathered.

OOXML is not a standard yet, not even officially, regardless of what everyone already knows about the sheer abuse which turned ISO into a stamp shop for the affluent. Based on the stories above, Microsoft’s OOXML has challenges to face on various different levels, including the legal and the pragmatic.

Protests against ISO (and Microsoft/ECMA OOXML) will begin in Norway within hours (at midday). Since when are international standards supposed to be such a riot? As soon as Microsoft gets involved and acts like a bully, that’s when.

OOXML is bad

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