08.31.07

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The Latest News on the Microsoft OOXML Fiasco (Updated)

Posted in Asia, Deception, ECMA, Europe, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 10:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stories about fraudulent activities just keep flooding in like water. Microsoft has never supplied its opposes with quite so many reasons (or ‘ammunition’) for disdain, for revolt, and for possible legal action. Here are some of the most recent stories and reports. They are getting difficult to keep up with primarily because many new nations are suddenly getting off their seats to sing in support of Microsoft. The praise of those that jump for dollars or a true expression of opinion, whose impact is suddenly too great to resist or abstain from?

Europe in Flames (No Flamebait Intended)

MSN, being a Microsoft site, chooses a very conservative article on the issue of Microsoft’s “briberies”, but some of the details therein speak volumes.

Pieter Hintjens, president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, a non-profit organisation that is campaigning against the Microsoft proposal, said: “We’ve recorded fairly systematic manipulation of the voting process. We’ve seen what amounts to vote-buying in Italy, Portugal, Colombia, Spain. In Sweden and Denmark, much the same happened – Microsoft paying their business partners to join the vote.”

It is encouraging to hear that FFII has these things “recorded”, to use Pieter’s own words. Some people in other Web site (including forums) seem willing to follow through with litigation. One other report informs and suggests that Poland says ‘Yes’ to OOXML However, that’s not the full story and we have people tell a wholly different (and complete) story:

“There was no practical reason to do that and as you remember first [Polish] comitee (sic) rejected MSOOXML with 82% votes against it, but now second comittee (sic) approved MSOOXML without single vote against it!”

Recruiting The Vo[te|ice]s of Freedom (Voice2Hire)

The story does not end where committees (Read: Microsoft partners) are concerned and involved. Andy tells us more about new countries that very suddenly decided to chime in (guess in whose favour). It might just be the “puppet state” phenomenon/strategy applied to actual states. In the following fragment of text I’d replace “Curiously enough” with “Suspiciously enough” because, given what we’ve witnessed, everything is possible.

Curiously enough, that subcommittee only had 23 members at the end of last year, and additions had been few and far between (three in in all of 2005, and only 2 in 2006). Now, it has 48 – in short, membership has more than doubled in the past year. Moreover, all but 1 of these 23 new members has joined since April – and 8 have joined thus far in August alone. But wait – there’s more….

And, by the way, here’s another thing to note: SC 34 will also concern itself with both the new version of the PDF standard that Adobe is moving through the process. And it will also be the committee to consider Microsoft’s rival to PDF, which Microsoft calls the XML Paper Specification, when that specification is inevitably submitted by – guess who – Ecma.

“Prepare for yet another ‘standards’ Armageddon”Ah! XPS. Prepare for yet another ‘standards’ Armageddon and another enormous danger. Only yesterday, Microsoft escaped probation by the Department of Justice. This comes shortly after complaints in the EU about Windows Vista’s hijack attempts and amid similar concerns raised by the States. Speaking of XPS, and having seen work on Moonlight, who is willing to bet against odds that de Icaza et al won’t support, defend, and implement XPS support in GNOME, which is becoming .NET-savvy?

Returning to Andy’s blog, he calmly explains what comes next. Bob Sutor posted his own explanation about 3 days.

While I’m at it, I’ll also explain in greater detail why the surge in membership in SC 34 matters, and what will happen between now and the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) in Geneva, Switzerland in February 2008.

Deception

Watch this shocking statement from CSI (India).

CSI wishes to clarify that at no point has CSI supported the proposed standard in its present form. In a communication to the BIS to clarify the issue, Dr. J.R. Arora, CSI’s representative in BIS, states that: “I also wish to draw your attention to a news item published in the Economics Times as has been brought to my notice by the Hon. Secretary, CSI. Quoting you, it is mentioned in this news item that ‘There was no need for voting as only Infosys Technologies and CSI supported Microsoft’. This statement is not correct, as CSI, in its written comments sent to BIS with a copy marked to you, has very categorically stated that it does not support the OOXML standard in its present form. In fact these remarks were read by the BIS official, Ms. Reena Garg, in the third meeting held at BIS. We are therefore shocked to read about the news stating that the CSI has supported the standard.”

At least once in the past we caught Microsoft deliberately and knowingly lying in India. The lies sometimes take a form which is similar to pretexting. Rob Weir talked about incidents where Microsoft uses lies to deceive in order to influence votes (never mind the fact that those deceived will later discover the truth because it’ll be too later by then).

Manipulation

Norway may have already voted, but never forget what apparently happened there.

“There is now a report from Norway on how Microsoft rallied its partners to try to get a favorable vote on MSOOXML.”

Norway eventually said “No” (with comments) to OOXML as an ISO standard. Don’t let this take your attention away from the full story though. Even in places where OOXML is defeated, there’s no reason to assume that everything was kosher. Here is another report from Norway with an old and familiar photo.

Standard Norge actually gives a conditioned yes to OOXML, but that’s a big NO with comments. What does it mean? It means that Microsoft have to fix all the comments before it can be approved as a ISO standard.

A downright rejection (“No”) would perhaps be guaranteed if it were not for Microsoft’s manipulative games, which are also described in the following new article:

ODF vs. OOXML: Microsoft Has Mastered the Art of Unfair Play

The adoption of a standard is supposed to be an open, transparent process. Any companies interested in participating in the standard setting process in any significant way have to pay a fee to get a seat at the table. Many companies played by the rules and participated in the process. And it was becoming clear that Microsoft was not getting there way. In the recent vote in Sweden, it looked like Microsoft was going to lose. So what does Microsoft do? They pull the cards out of their sleeve and in a way that competing interests have no time to react. . Out of nowhere, Microsoft Business Partners are ponying up the $US2,444 to get a vote just in time for the vote. The final vote was in favor of Microsoft: 25 Yes, 6 No and 3 Abstentions.

Always remember the story about kickbacks with partners. This is no justice. This is the world being bought by a tiny minority of people who do not represent the population’s distribution and stance. Only a handful of people benefit. It’s akin to classic pyramid scheme patterns.

Update: Open Malaysia has a very impressive list of countries (with links) where fraudulent activity was identified.

If you have found manipulations of your technical committee by one vendor to push the one agenda through ISO, please do not be afraid to blog about it, or tell the press.

Many have already done so in Italy, Spain, France, Kenya, Azerbaijan, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Portugal and many many more.

Among this list, Kenya and Azerbaijan are new to us and we never covered them before in this Web site. Yoon Kit has the hyperlinks. If you are aware of any other countries, people speak out and help us draw a complete picture. Yesterday, someone from Switzerland told us that the vote in Switzerland might be nullified (following Sweden’s lead). Moments ago I found that similar steps will be taken in Denmark.

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