Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft is Outmuscling OOXML Opposition in Spain (Updatedx3)

I have been receiving some information which truly troubles one's mind. Expect premature publication. I will possibly modify this post as I go along and properly digest what I am reading and hearing.

On the face of it, Microsoft's manipulation in Spain knows no bounds. The reader who sent a load of information wishes to remain anonymous. I will quote fragments of his explanations and comment where it is needed.

I am forwarding this information from the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (ffii.org) in order to make you know of the current intents of Microsoft in Spain of forcing a favourable vote for MSOOXML to become an ISO standard. All these maneuvers are coordinated and are starting to seem way disgusting to me.


The following is a letter from FFII, which the VC encourages the sharing of.

From FFII:

The Andalusian Government has reported recently the manipulation of Microsoft in the National Technical Committee 71 of AENOR. On July 10th, just the day before the one and only meeting of AENOR to study DIS 29500 and vote on it, Microsoft announced officially (via the secretary of the Committee) that that Andalusian Government and several other Spanish public entities were asking for the approval of ISO DIS 29500 (what finally resulted all a fake!).

Once aware of "its" fake backing to DIS 29500, the official (reply) letter of the Andalusian Government to the Ministry of Industry, the holder of AENOR national standardisation body, is quite strong in terms of diplomacy and ask for notification and an explanation of how is it possible that that situation happens on an "as important and wide standardization process".

Indeed, both, the initial letter and the denounce letter, remark that Andalusia already have decided that their electronic document standard format is already stablished on ISO 26300.

I've just been awared that all this has been made public in an anonymous denounce to a lawyers association in Spain that collects the denounces against the abuse of software monopolies in Spanish public administrations. They have certified the originality of all the reported original documents attached to the disclosing report:

http://www.neutralidad.es/2007/07/23/denuncia-sobre-manipulacion-en-aenor-por-multinacional-microsoft/ [original documents are linked in this link pointing to the denounce]

All this happened one and two weeks ago or so, but unfortunately was under confidentiality terms... until now that has been disclosed by Neutralidad.es.

Andalusia is the biggest region of Spain with 8 mio. inhabitants and its Government manages the biggest public budget of the country. Andalusia is well known also because has opted clearly for free software as a way to develop its growing IT industry. Andalusian region is currently one of the biggest users of free software in world with more than 200.000 clients running only Guadalinex (a well known local Ubuntu linux flavour) in education and more than 235.000 registered citizens in their public centers of IT rural alphabetization (access to Internet + daily training to population), apart of some other initiatives.

FFII Spain will try to translate all the referred documents to English as soon as possible.

Please, spread this all around and don't hesitate to ask for more information or clarifications.

Sunny greetings from Andalusia, -- Alberto Barrionuevo. FFII Vice President


[IANAL disclaimer] I do not believe that I can publicly post the misleading letters Microsoft sent to the spanish ISO (AENOR) and the protest of the Government of Andalusia. However, here is the quick interpretation that is based on these letter.

The first one is a letter dated in January 2007 from the Andalucia Government CTO (The equivalent to Peter Quinn in Mass.) expressing interest for the standarization process and offering its support, advice and help to the technical committee, which states very clearly that ODF/ISO26300 is the standard of choice for the Government of Andalusia.

The second one dated in February is just a note that reminds to AENOR that the Ministry for Government Administration recommended that Microsoft submitted their format specifications to a international standards body or either that Microsoft compromised itself to publicly document and make available these specifications under non-discriminatory terms (these terms seems to be much different from Microsoft point of view and from the European Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, and other Government institutions for example)

The third one is a letter from a manager of the department for geographical information of the Ministry of Public Infrastructures (Ministry of "Fomento") that I think was misled to sign a letter that seems to be dictated by some Microsoft salesperson, since you can read the typical marketing nonsense on it.

This letter was portrayed by Microsoft as proof of official backing of the Ministry of Fomento to its MSOOXML format.

The fourth letter is the formal protest of the CTO of the Government of Andalusia asking the technical committee for rectification and for a explanation of the misrepresentation.

It seems disturbing to me how Microsoft tries to spin in its own benefit even letters that express strongly support for ISO 26300 It has also happened in the case of South Africa, which voted "NO": In that case Jason Matusow said that, well, the committee was actually not supposed to vote and was not the adequate place to make a decision. The pattern seems clear in what Microsoft does with every response to their intents: If you get approval: air it well loud, otherwise spin (manipulate) it if you can get away with it so everyone thinks that Microsoft is getting approval. If otherwise there is disapproval of the standard, just dismiss it as if it was not the right or authoritative place. Expect a campaign of discredit against the ISO if they cannot get their desperately needed ISO 29500 standard. It just reminds me too much of the shady process to try to get software patents legislation approved EU-wide.


I have the four letter before me and while I cannot quote them verbatim, I can confirm that they align with the views expressed above. This post will be updated as we deem suitable.

Update: this partly (if not fully) overlaps a Groklaw article that we mentioned a couple of days ago. The discussions contained in Groklaw say a lot more, just in case anyone is willing to explore.

Update #2: catch up with the latest. According to Bob, IBM is being locked out of the panel discussions in Portugal.

In spite of various communications, we [IBM] are still locked out and will not be allowed to participate. Microsoft will be there, as well as a special Microsoft guest, as will various Microsoft business partners, and others.


What on earth is going on there? Join the discussions.

Update #3: I am told that we might be permitted to share these E-mails in the future, but only if they become public.

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