Bonum Certa Men Certa

Bob Sutor Questions Interests and Affiliations in Standards Bodies (Updated)

International standards (such as OpenDocument format) are a central point in Microsoft's deals with Linux distributors. It seems as though the gloves are gradually coming off. 'Political' aspects of standards selection receive more attention, all at the expense of technical discussions. While big executives usually prefer to turn a blind eye or deny this, there is a lot of 'monkey business' going on. Political manipulation and string-pulling are becoming too difficult to ignore, even if the consequences get a little nasty or inconvenient to people with 6-figure salaries.

Have a look at what Bob has to say on things we should not only ask ourselves, but also ask our national standards bodies:

I’ll ask one big question here and then point to some other technical questions.

Who are the members of your national standards body, when exactly did they join, and what are their primary commercial partnership relationships?


Bob receives many E-mails on this topic. He knows more than all of us combined, so he probably has some evidence to back this suspicion. We already know about Microsoft employees who were voting for their own company in the ISO. We also know about a Microsoft lobbyist in MA replacing two CIOs that showed ODF affinity (can you blame them for pursuing their state's best interests?).

It's only the tip of the iceberg because we covered many similar stories. That's the 'political' front alone. What about the technical front? What about the press which, just like standards body, usually has some commercial partnerships? All one has to do is see the breathtaking FUD articles that take over the media (example from yesterday).

If OOXML ever becomes an ISO standard and if it ever gets adopted by nations, be aware how it got there. Those who want justice will at least have the evidence at hand, for support, as well as for historical value and significance.

O-O-X-M-L: It has "corruption" written all over it.

Update: FFII has apparently elevated the value of its bounty, which we mentioned last week. It has an interesting statement that is worth sharing.

FFII campaigner Benjamin Henrion, founder of the noOOXML.org site, explained: "Microsoft is spending millions on rent-a-crowd support for international certification for its proprietary Office format, OOXML. But we already have an ISO standard for word processing, called ODF (Open Document Format). OOXML is Microsoft's attempt to subvert this existing standard, to keep its strangle-hold on the world of documents. It's time for activists across the world to stand up, to reach out to their national ISO bodies, and to explain why Microsoft's format is not open, not a standard, and not XML."

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