Bonum Certa Men Certa

The OOXML Translator is a Hoax (and so is the ISO)

As you already know, 4 Linux companies chose a bizarre route where so-called 'interoperability' is achieved not through unified standards. In the following new article, their whole hypothesis is being shattered to pieces.

Microsoft maintains that while it would have been easy to support the Open Document Format (ODF) natively, it had to move to MS-OOXML because this was the only way for them to offer the full features of its office suite. But if Microsoft itself is not able to represent its internal data structures in the Open Document Format (ODF) in its Microsoft Office suite, how could an external conversion program from MS-OOXML accomplish this task? The answer to both questions is that it is not possible because two things cannot be the same and different at the same time.


Some time ago we criticised the ISO in a series of posts. The closer you look at it, the more justified our suspicions seem. A Groklaw member points to some items in Portuguese, then providing translations and explanation. On the face of it, some iffy thing -- or shall we call it "corruption" -- can easily be spotted.

To quote from News Picks: Portugal's ISO says no room for IBM & Sun in the room ! ?

[PJ: OpenXML.info is reporting (in Portuguese, but a Groklaw member translates for us) that the person who is head of the ISO technical committee about to vote on Microsoft's Ecma-376 wouldn't let IBM and Sun representatives in, claiming there was no room! This, if true, is ridiculous. And here is a second source reporting the same thing, also in Portuguese. So in the US, we hear reports of packing the TC. Now, it's weeding out those who are not likely to vote a certain way desired? Is this how standards get "approved"? I don't recall ODF having to play such games. Here is the rough translation:]

Portugal, and more concretely, its national organization of certification IPQ is a member "O" (observator) of ISO/IEC for the voting of OOXML (ISO DIS 29500).

WARNING: the first meeting of the Technical Commission "Language for document definition" was on Monday 16 of July. The vote was delayed. Representatives of IBM and Sun were not allowed to attend because there "was no available space in the room"

Dear G [Sun Microsystems] due of restricted number of members of the CT (Commissao Tecnica) that can attend the scheduled meeting room to host the meeting, we cannot, in this stage, accept your proposal of integration of the CT.

With my best regards, D [Microsoft as president of the Technical Commission]


Then came this update.

More on Portugal and MS's role in approving its own "standard"

More details are emerging from Portugal regarding the kerfuffle there over Ecma-376. If you read Portuguese, here you go -- just click on the link. I asked a Groklaw member to do a rough translation, and if you see ways to improve it, sing out, but it gives a bit of the history of how this committee that has no room for Sun or IBM (see previous News Picks item) was formed and how it happened to choose a Microsoft representative to be president of the committee that decides whether to "approve" Microsoft's submission as a "standard". Unless I'm missing something, it appears to have been set up so Microsoft can "approve" itself. Now that's handy. Here's the translation of the part about how Microsoft is represented on this committeee with no room for IBM or Sun:]

I was present on the meeting of the Technical Commission (CT) created to award the ISO standards in the area of structured documents (in Portugal)

A Technical Commission (CT) did not exist when ISO 26300 (Open Document) was submitted neither when there was a submission of OOXML (ECMA 376, potential ISO 29500) for the the fast track, and that was the reason why Portugal did not submit any opinion nor had any right to vote. We expect that now, with the pressure made and the CT created there would be right to vote.

The CT was created by the Computing Institute, in which is delegated the responsability for the norms of the IT sector; a delegation granted by the Portuguese Institute of Quality (IPQ), the point of contact of ISO in Portugal. Its creation is motivated mainly by the pressures and availability of some people when the proposal for fast tracking of OOXML and a neccessity to avail now the OOXML as standard ISO and as a Portuguese National Standard

In the meeting they were present:

  • 2 persons from II (Instituto de Informatica [Computing Institute])
  • 1 person from the local government (Alentejo region)
  • 1 person from Jurinfor [Jurinfor is a Microsoft partner]
  • 2 persons from Microsoft
  • 1 person from Primavera [Primavera is a Microsoft partner]
  • 1 person from ISCTE
  • 2 persons from Assoft [reportedly, most members of ASSOFT are Microsoft partners]
  • 1 person from the Inst. Informatica da Seg Social [Computing Institute of the Social Welfare Department]
  • 1 person from the Inst. Tecn. Informacao da Justiça (eu) [Technical Institute Information of Justice (eu)]


The meeting dealt basically with the bureaucracy details of the creation of the CT. It didn't go into details of OOXML; that discussion will be held in the next meeting, on July 16th about 14:30 in the II [Instituto de Informatica, I assume]

The CT, thus, was composed of 8 vocal elements, one representative for each of the organizations present. The II [Instituto de Informatica] is arranging and hosting the initiative and is a not-named representative.

The 8 vocals will readily follow to the election of the president of the CT. There was 1 candidate in the place (Miguel Sales Dias, from Microsoft). I did not present my candidature but made myself available in case the rest of representatives deemed it neccesary -- informed not adequate since to begin with, as a member of the OpenDocument Alliance, I had a conflict of interest.

The vote results were 7 votes in favor of Miguel Sales Dias, of Microsoft, who was designated to preside over the CT, and a (1) blank vote.

It was decided to adopt consensus as the form of adoption of any proposed norm, following to majority vote in case there is no consensus in the CT and if there is a strong opposition to submit any norm.


We must not let such information go unnoticed (yes, I quoted this verbatim and in full, but PJ would not mind because we've been working on News Picks for a very long time). Only yesterday we witnessed another case where Microsoft and its partners overwhelm and stuff ballots. This is no justice.

As significantly, Rob reports that a very dramatic increase in the membership of V1 was observed in the months leading up to the vote – most of whom were coincidentally were representatives of Microsoft business partners, and the great majority of whom voted as a block in favor of advancing the specification in a manner that would permit, and against any vote that would prevent, final approval as an ISO/IEC standard.

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