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Microsoft Lobbies Come Under Fire by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and Linux Journal

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Summary: FOSS people fed up with OOXML corruption and Microsoft fronts like Association for Competitive Technology

MOST READERS are probably familiar with the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), which attacked ODF, lobbies for software patents in Europe, fights against Free software adoption in general, and fights regulators so as to dismiss antitrust actions that affect Microsoft. It is not surprising that ACT is simply a Microsoft front group which is disguised as a group representing small businesses. Even the OSI seems to have had enough of ACT and it has just published this post on the subject.



According to Techworld, Jonathan Zuck of the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) has recently accused the European Commission of having a bias in favor of open source. This is an interesting claim for a number of reasons, not least of which is the question "who is the ACT?" and "what are they doing in the halls of the European Commission?". But the question of reported bias is also an interesting one, and characterizes on of the great philosophical and political challenges of our age.

The great American experiment of democratically electing its government quickly evolved beyond the political sphere. By 1835, when Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy In America, the effect of democratic choice could be seen affecting wages, religion, attitudes towards war and peace, and even the English language itself.

[...]

And so we have an actor, Jonathan Zuck, using lines from a story that confound and abuse any notion of objective truth. By leading with an accusation of bias, it is philosophically impossible to discern what is the proper choice and what is not, because no truth, in that frame, is better than any other. The result: a stagnation of dialogue and the preservation of the status quo.


A couple of weeks ago, Glyn Moody asked for assistance with his push against Microsoft's OOXML. Pamela Jones (Groklaw) replied as follows: "First, it's a fact that the EU Commission announced it is investigating that very question of how Microsoft conducted itself. It is not investigating any other company in connection with the OOXML saga. And I suggest Glyn take a look at Groklaw's ODF/OOXML page, where I believe he can find everything he needs in the way of resources to get up to speed."

Moody has apparently done just that and he makes a good attempt to provide samples of Microsoft's OOXML misconduct (we have our detailed list too). From Moody's summary:

Taken individually, these dubious actions might be dismissed by Microsoft as “minor lapses”, “misunderstandings” or actions of an atypical “rogue” manager – as was done in Sweden, where an offer was made to support partners financially if they attended the key meeting of the national body and voted in favour of OOXML. But taken together they suggest a consistent philosophy of being prepared to use whatever means necessary in order to gain the required number of votes.

Since there are very few laws relevant to this field, I doubt whether Microsoft has broken any with its actions during the ISO standardisation process, either through those already disclosed, or others that may come come to light (although the European Commission may have its own views on this). But as well as the letter of the law, the spirit matters too, and I would be interested to hear to what extent, against a background of skewed committees, misrepresentations and overt pressure, Microsoft thinks it adhered to the spirit of the collegial, consensus-based standards-making process in finally obtaining that much-coveted “win” for OOXML.


According to this, Moody's "long feature [is] now sent to Microsoft for their reply."

Moody missed some good OOXML incidents like alleged blackmail in Kenya, apparent bribery of charities, et cetera. There are literally hundreds.

"Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process."

--Richard Stallman, June 2008

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