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Interesting New Moves in Kenya After Alleged Microsoft Blackmail

Steve Ballmer on ODFCoincidence or bad incident?

Recently we presented what seemed like a blackmail incident in Kenya. Microsoft managed to turn a "No" vote into abstention after it had allegedly threatened to cut some funding. It's extortion and it's totally unacceptable as a technique for bypassing the judgment of technical committees. It's reverse-bribery, if there is such a thing at all (taking away rather than giving).



Interestingly enough, just a few weeks after Microsoft denied the allegations and shortly after locals complained about the procurement process (watch the third link and be aware that it happens not just in Kenya), watch what it happening over there.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), taking the first step toward developing national IT standards, is inviting experts to join technical committees.

[...]

The call for nominations comes after what had generally been considered a successful multistakeholder discussion and subsequent abstention from the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) vote on the Microsoft-backed OOXML.


Mind the use of the word "multistakeholder" and look back at the allegations, which indicate there was ballot-stuffing by Microsoft. Why the sudden nominations (reappointments)? Might this be a coincidence? Timing is what's a key factor here. We saw this in other nations too. Recall the very recent departure of 'puppet nations'. It's too shallow and obvious.

For several months there has not been much of news flow to those who keep track of OpenDocument format, but the recent scandals and backlash have brought forward stories such as this one and also this one, whose headline is "Countries Line Up Against OOXML as Global Standard." How quickly the tune changed. From hero to zero in 60 days.

"I am not surprised by the number of appeals given the reported irregularities," Marino Marcich, managing director for the ODF Alliance, told LinuxInsider. The ODF Alliance seeks to promote and advance the use of OpenDocument Format (ODF).

"Countries felt their concerns were not allowed to be voiced, or simply went unaddressed," Marcich explained. "The number of formal appeals is unprecedented and underscores the deep-seated concern over how well OOXML plays with the software of vendors besides Microsoft."


Earlier today we shared some more stories about this backlash and also presented Sam Varghese's criticism of the Eee PC. You might wish to know that, based on Erwin's understanding of German, Eee PCs apparently come with ODF no matter what operating system one chooses.

As can be read in this German review, the Windows version of the Asus Eee PC 900 will have StarOffice pre-installed. This definitely will lead to more adoption of ODF!


That's just the type of losing battle Microsoft is fighting. It wants to prevent document formats from becoming a commodity, as they should have been all along. Where would the World Wide Web be without universal standards? And why does Microsoft strive to change the Web by making it proprietary and Microsoft-dependent? This latter challenge remains just ahead though.

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