07.27.07

Microsoft is Outmuscling OOXML Opposition in Spain (Updatedx3)

Posted in Europe, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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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2 Comments

  1. Alberto Barrionuevo said,

    July 29, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Gravatar

    I’m the author of that internal letter of our OOXML campaign team.

    The letters are public since the moment that Neutralidad people made them public. They got them from different ways as they confirmed to me, and they (lawyers) confirmed its legitimacy.

    You can get all them here, including the MS missleading at AENOR:
    http://www.openxml.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10&Itemid=33

    Also you can read the comments about the issue of the Director of Information Society of the Region of Extremadura (brother of Andalusia):
    http://notasdecarlos.blogspot.com/2007/07/andaluca-denuncia-manipulacin-de.html

    Best regards,
    Alberto Barrionuevo.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 29, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Gravatar

    Thank you, Alberto. I am appending the translations of these letters (not necessarily in the order cited). They were sent to me by an anonymous reader, so there mistakes in the text (if any) might not be mine.

    Letter #1:

    Andalusia Regional Government

    Counsel for Innovation, Science and Enterprise
    General Directorate of Innovation and Public Government

    To: President of the Standarization Technical Commitee 71
    Mr. Victor Izquierdo Loyola

    Date: 07-19-2007
    Your reference:
    Our reference:

    Dear Sir:

    I am writing to you because it has come to my knowledge the fact that is has been communicated to the members of the CTN71 AENOR Commitee that the Government of Andalusia had expressed it support to the approval of the standard ISO DIS 29500. In this sense I want to express to you our deep distress for the misrepresentation of the letter that I sent to Mr.Gonzalo Sotorrio González, Director of the AENOR Standarization Division, on the 29th of january 2007. In this sense I want to make you know that the Government of Andalusia never has made any declaration in favor of the approval os the standard ISO DIS 29500, which did not exist at the moment of the signature of the aforementioned letter, and more exactly, and I quote verbatim, our letter was in line with “The bet of the Government of Andalucia for the adoption of open standard in the matter of IT connects directly with the European Union recomendations stated in the “European Interoperability Framework” and, is currently firmly based in the ISO/IEC 26300 standard with respect to document formats”

    In the communication submited to the members of the CTN71 mention was made to a paragraph taken out f context, from a letter, signed by me as General Director of Innovation and Government Administrations of the Government of Andalusia, with the subject of the study of the convenience of submitting the standard ISO CP 29500 by an urgent procedure (fast track) and in which the Government of Andalusia expressed its offering of help to the CTN71 Commitee and its interest in a study with the greates depth possible due to its importance on the ground of open standards. In this sense, my letter expressed support for the open standard ISO/IEC 26300 as relating to document formats an in no case to the ISO DIS 29500 standard.

    As you know, the Government of Andalusia has been for many years supporting interoperability and open standards with absolute certainty, and in this sense, we have always tried to express our offering to colaborate – from a very relevant position in the use of IT in Spain- with the CTN71 Commitee in order to procure a greater clearness and promotion in the use of open standards and of IT in general.

    Consequently we ask you to deliver promptly this rectification to the members of CTN71 before they can make a decission on a wrong basis, or at least, with an uncertain information about the position of the Government of Andalusia with respect to open standards.

    At the same time, I would ask from you that you inform us how has it been possible for such confussion to take place in a process of such magnitude and trascendence takin into account that it questions the certainty of the Government of Andalusia in relation with interoperability and open standards.

    Sincerely:

    The General Director

    Signed: José María Rodriguez Sánchez

    Letter #2:

    (From) Government of Andalusia

    Counsel for Innovation, Science and Enterprise.

    Date: Jan-29-2007

    To: Mr. Gonzalo Sotorrio González
    Director of the Standarization Division
    AENOR
    6 Genova Street
    28004 Madrid

    Our reference (200702*5)

    Subject:

    Dear Sir:

    Recently, the International Standards Group of Ecma has submited a standard to the ISO to be approved by an urgent procedure (fast-track); it is the standard “Ecma 376 Offcie Open XML”.

    From my duty as General Director of Innovation and Government Agencies of the Government of Andalusia, and being competent in the matter of IT policy of this Autonomous Government, I must manifest our utmost interest in the process of standards elaboration on such relevant matters as the exchange of documents in electronic formats

    The formats for documents exchange are one of the foudations for the development of the Information Society, and, as part of that, of the so-called “Intelligent Government”; and that is why the Government of Andalusia will manifest always its support for the establishment of standards in this area, and the reason why I wish that AENOR, in its role of member of the ISO/IEC JTC1 transmits our support in that sense to that commitee.

    The bet of the Government of Andalucia for the adoption of open standard in the matter of IT connects directly with the European Union recomendations stated in the “European Interoperability Framework” and, is currently firmly based in the ISO/IEC 26300 standard with respect to document formats; I am confident that the ISO initiative will enrich and strenghten the perspective for the advance of open standards and interoperability.

    The recent experience acquired at elaborating a “Framework for the Interoperability of the Information Systems of the Government of Andalusia”, promoted from this General Directorate, could be useful in this matter. That is why I along with my team are at your disposal and the aforementioned commitee’s for any collaboration and help you deem adequate in relation to the matter of the present letter.

    Sincerely,

    The General Diector,

    Signed: Jose Maria Rodriguez Sanchez

    Address
    Telephone
    Email

    Letter #3:

    To the attention of the Standarization Technical Commitee AEN/CNT 71
    AENOR
    Genova, 6
    28004 Madrid

    Dear Sirs:

    We are adressing you to manifest our support for the approval of the standard ECMA 376-Office Open XML as part of the norm ISO/IEC CP 29500.

    We advocate the recognition of this standard because it is reliable, participative and compatible with the technology used by the majority of business and spanish government bodies.

    The Open XML format is an open standard and is distributed completely free of charge, it is compatible with all kinds of digital documentation currently created, and additionally allows using legacy versions, ensuring interoperability
    of the documents with the majority of applications used in the marketplace and its perdurability in time.

    Moreover, the technology used in Open XML reduces the requirements for data storage, by means of the automatic compression of the archived files and enhances damaged file recovery, including the ability to open and use the non-damaged parts of the file when there is just one damaged component, with the resulting benefit for all kind of users.

    We consider that the qualification of the Open XML format inside the standard ISO/IEC CP 29500 will contribute to guarantee the archive of documents in the future both in the government sector and in businesses in our country.

    Signed in Madrid, June 29 2007

    Marcos Fco. Pavo López.

    Section Manager.
    National Center for Geographic Information
    Ministry of Fomento (Public Works)
    Address
    Telephon
    Fax
    Email

    Letter #4:

    GENERAL SECRETARY
    FOR GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION

    Juan Miguel
    Márquez Fernández

    GENERAL DIRECTOR FOR
    GOVERNMENT MODERNIZATION

    MADRID FEBRUARY 1ST 2007

    To: Mr. Javier Sánchez
    Secretary of the AENOR National
    Technical Commitee 71
    ADDRESS

    Dear Javier:

    With respect with the contradiction period opened for the project of the future standard ISO/IEC 29500, I make you aware that from the Ministry of Government Administrations the initiatives relative to converting proprietary specifications into international standards that intend to be so, are supported.

    In particular to the standard referred, in the contradiction period, this Ministry in its positioning echoes the IDA Recommendations of May 24 2004 in which Microsoft, among others is called to consider the following two actions:

    - To report the XML formats to an international standarization body of its choice.

    - To publicly make a compromise to publish and provide non discriminatory access to future versions of its specfications of “WordML” (currently MS-OOXML).

    Best regards

    Signature
    (Juan Miguel Marquez)
    email address

    Kind greetings and plenty of gratitude to the translator.

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