Bonum Certa Men Certa

ISO Frozen. Too Much Corruption?

ISO standard

Dysfunctional ISO, courtesy of Microsoft and abuse

Two days ago we mentioned Bill Beebe's list of Microsoft abuses, which go as far back as 15 years ago. Here are some portions from a good long post which takes a careful look at some of Microsoft's most recent abuses.

Attacking Non-Profits Seeking to Help Children in Poor Countries



Professor Negroponte wants to make the world a better place. His vision? An affordable laptop in the hands of every child. He founded a non-profit group and created the XO, an amazing machine targeted specifically at children living in poor countries, with features such as mesh networking to easily connect and share info, a screen viewable outdoors, tiny power consumption and a battery rechargeable through a solar panel.

Microsoft earlier labeled this a toy and attempted to mock it, but in 2007 as the XO began to become a reality the real attack began.

[...]

Microsoft Threatens Linux with Patent Claims



Microsoft loves to sling mud on others and then refuse to say where the mud came from. In 2007, Microsoft claimed Linux violates 235 of its patents. They, of course, refused to provide any specificity to the claim, for if it is true Microsoft is not interested in allowing Linux to work around the patents.

[...]

ISO AND MSOOXML



Perhaps the worst story about Microsoft in 2007 is its unrelenting assault on ISO, the International Standards Organization.

[...]

Here is a quick list of some of the “Irregularities” uncovered so far:

Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Switzerland, USA: Committee Stuffing

Finland: chairman fired

Hungary: rule bending (deadlines and majority rules bent to favor MS)

India: astroturfing

Malaysia: voted no, but overridden by government anyways and changed to yes

Netherlands: voted no, but was overridden by Microsoft

Pakistan, Sweden: members bought

Poland: voted no, taken and given to another committee who rubber stamped it

Germany, Russia: irregularity

Spain: Microsoft spreads misinformation

Ukraine, Venezuela: discrimination



That's just the tip of the iceberg really, but seeing it all in one place certainly lends credibility to arguments about sheer abuse.

Regarding OOXML, the WTO and EC might be on their way, so any announcements about an OOXML 'win' can be taken with a grain of salt and require some patience. Regardless of the outcome and sadly enough, ISO possibly won't recover and that in itself is a win for Microsoft. The company never cared about industry standards anyway, by its very own admission.

The latest report from Groklaw speaks about a delay, which is most likely tied to protests and ongoing investigations of 'irregularities' (too gentle a word).

ISO now says they will tell us the results Wednesday, not today after all. I suspect there may be a connection. And Microsoft says it won't say anything until Wednesday either, "out of respect for the standards process." Hahahahaha. Priceless.


There are other articles in the press which speak about the abuses. Take this one from ZDNet for example.

Details emerge of 'shocking' OOXML meeting



[...]

In the run-up to the dealine, some national standards bodies have changed their stance. Denmark has made a last-minute switch to approve Office Open XML (OOXML), while the British Standards Institution (BSI) has been advised by a technical committee to change its vote to "yes". The BSI today refused to say whether it will follow that advice, promising a statement on Monday; the vast majority of standards bodies will keep silent until after the deadline passes.

The silence around last month's controversial ballot resolution meeting has been broken, however, with details supplied by a Brazilian delegate providing a "shocking tale", according to IT law site Groklaw's detailed post. The site links to the original meeting notes, and also suggests that South Korea's vote has changed from "no" to "yes".


Yesterday we wrote about the Singapore story and there is some more information about it here, along with higher-resolution scans of documents and letters. It's handy to have all of this for future reference and for probes.

Some people are not very good at distinguishing Carbon Copy and Blind Carbon Copy. Hopefully, Carbon Copy helps when Microsoft Singapore asks to send letters of support of OOXML to the national Standards Body.


In LinuxJournal, Glyn Moody explains why this whole pursuit may actually cost Microsoft more than it will earn. It remains to be seen how Microsoft uses its media to rewrite history and approach 'the masses'. In circles close to decision-making, the real (yet incomplete) story will be told though, based on the leaks.

Writing to MEPs (if you’re European) or to Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition, (if you’re not) is one obvious action we can all take to press for an independent, transparent inquiry into possible irregularities during the OOXML voting process in Europe. But I think there’s something just as important that we need to start doing immediately.

It is striking that some parts of Microsoft have been making soothing noises to the open source world, speaking of their desire to work alongside free software projects and to ensure “interoperability” - a favourite concept at the moment - between the open and closed worlds. Those voices have become increasingly seductive to some, especially in the open source business world, who would rather work with than against the Seattle behemoth, and who seem to believe that Microsoft is genuine in its offers. But if the whole sorry OOXML saga shows anything, it is Microsoft’s deep and utter contempt for the whole idea of an open, collaborative process based on mutual respect and consensus. Henceforth, members of the open source community must view with deep cynicism all - not just some - offers by Microsoft to work more closely with the free software world. If they don’t, they could find themselves used and abused just like the once famous, and now former, International Standards Organisation.


More coverage about the vote and an exposition of Microsoft deception/abuse/manipulation you will find in this cumulative report from Groklaw

People have eyes. OOXML is a mess, and the whole world knows it. And there is no way to wipe that stain away. Ironically, had Microsoft put it on the regular track, it would probably have at least been made usable, if not necessary. No one can make it necessary. And there can be no doubt that Microsoft's reputation has taken another hit, due to its behavior. We know now that there is no "new" Microsoft.


There are quite a few barriers that Microsoft faces after so many well-documented abuses. For each part of the world, horror stories are publicly available for citing in years to come. Microsoft will come to regret its 'wins'.

"This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.

The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be."

--Martin Bryan, ISO 'Escapee'
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1

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