12.12.07

ODF and OOXML in Denmark

Posted in America, Europe, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Funny business’ may be back already

Remember Novell's layoffs in Denmark? Well, layoffs in Denmark surely ring a bell because is something that Microsoft was caught using as a weapon in the recent past.

Microsoft boss Bill Gates threatened to kill 800 Danish jobs if Denmark opposed the European Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, reports today’s Danish financial daily Børsen, quoted by NoSoftwarePatents.com.

[…]

According to Børsen, last November Gates told Danish pm Anders Fogh and two ministers that he’d kill all 800 jobs in Navision, a Danish company acquired by Microsoft in 2002, unless the EU quickly decided to legalize software patents through the directive.

Microsoft later denied this, but the evidence we have left is too hard to ignore. How can such behavior be tolerated? Must people honour Microsoft’s ambitions and desires simply out of fear? Is that the infamous fear of “Microsoft’s wrath”? Is it indeed so strong that even Intel’s CEO had the issue articulated out loud? This appeared in a recent article from the New York Times where Intel’s Windows strategy (and GNU/Linux discrimination) was explained.

”We’ve already seen some people losing their jobs for merely ‘daring’ to support ODF.“Speaking of pressures, Dutch decision makers, who recently chose ODF and Free software, will need to be strong and maintain their insistence. We’ve already seen some people losing their jobs for merely ‘daring’ to support ODF. Microsoft’s well-documented pressures had people quit or laid off in the past. Consider Massachusetts and possibly Finland as well, to give just a couple of examples. More examples of such tricks are included in the comments here.

To say more about Denmark, fraudulent and scandalous MSOOXML activities were seen before (more here and here). Denmark was a victim like merely any other country.

It was a long time ago that Denmark discussed ODF and seriously considered it too (here is Bob Sutor's talk in Denmark). The Parliament was by no means happy when it found out about the country’s leader getting cozy with Bill Gates (visit to his house) and there was some serious loss of trust. Some of this mistrust remains.

According to Groklaw, Microsoft's assimilation tactics have paid off in Denmark where someone has been naive enough to actually consider OOXML as though it was a standard.

Denmark has announced that open standards are going to be a requirement going forward there, starting in January, which is being hailed as a great step forward for openness. However, if you look closely, you will see that it is pretending that MSOOXML has already been approved as an open standard, equivalent to ODF. ODF is already an ISO approved standard. MSOOXML is not. It was specifically disapproved, and the next meeting will be in February, which is after the January starting date in Denmark. In short, Denmark simply doesn’t care about ISO approval.

Denmark ranks the two as the same, and mandates a trial of both. I wonder what the outcome of that trial will be? Why even bother to pretend?

[...]

Ah! New procurements need to be able to handle at least one. Get it? MSOOXML is thus anointed as an “open standard” before ISO approval, and everyone can use only that. How does Microsoft do what it does? And why even bother to vote in February if ISO approval is not required before a government mandates use of an as-yet-unapproved “standard”?

The comments in this article paint a different picture, but it’s a new development that is worth exploring nonetheless.

Related articles:

In Denmark, a source reportedly said that Microsoft pressured him to send an expression of support to Dansk Standard, the Danish standards board. By Groklaw’s translation, Version2 reported: “‘If I had not sent in a positive comment, it would have had consequences for our relations with Microsoft’, he says. Our source points to e.g. leads, support and seminars as areas that might be jeopardised if ‘he did not behave’.”

The Danish MP reportedly wants assurance that only technical factors were considered by Dansk Standard and that political or economic influences were not brought to bear.

Also, a member of the Danish parliament has reportedly lodged a pointed question with a government minister as to whether the government has had any contact with Dansk Standard with regard to the ISO vote on OOXML.

In Norway, Microsoft apparently mounted an astroturfing campaign against the Norwegian standards body Standard Norge. Out of 59 comments received by Standard Norge, 37 were a Vole form letter that many of its Norwegian business partners didn’t even bother to sign before sending them in.

It appears that pressure was put on partners there as well, although Microsoft denies that was the intent.

A committee from Danish Standardisation is going to decide whether to recommend a Microsoft standard as an open standard internationally. A majority in the committee have close connections to Microsoft, however….17 out of the 31 members in the committee are so called Microsoft partners…. The European interest organisation Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure accuses Microsoft of influencing the decision process by asking partners to join the national decision committee.

It’s official. Denmark will vote no with comments on OOXML.

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