Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Gold-certified Partners in Charge of the United Kingdom? (Updated)

"Where's that damn fox and what's it doing inside the hen house?"

Yesterday was Document Freedom Day but not in the UK. As Glyn puts it, BSI celebrated this day totally chained to Microsoft.

The British Standards Institute (BSI), the body responsible for voting on the OOXML fast-track in the UK, is rumoured to be taking the Beijing Olympics' official flag of five interlocked handcuffs to heart by changing from its initial “No” vote to “Yes”, thus condemning millions of innocent documents to their patent-implemented chains. If confirmed, this would be a black day for both the BSI – henceforth known as the British Anti-Standards Institute – and for British computing.


There's a lot of missing information there. Let's go back in time for a bit. BECTA is said to be responsible for Britain's last vote, but as often one finds, it's a decision which is bound to turn upside-down the second time around (playing hard to get, Rick Jelliffe style!). At the time, BECTA was under tremendous pressure (it still is) for its intimate affairs with Microsoft. Complaints were even made to the European Commission. Like the BBC, BECTA needed to fake impartiality, at least temporarily.

Later on we came to find that BSI had been stuffed. From what we wrote at the time:

Britain will be essentially represented by a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, having rejected OOXML several months ago. This apparently comes after a reappointment.


It has always seemed like an inside job. So here is the latest: UK to fly the flag for OOXML

The British Standards Institute (BSI) looks set to reverse its position on Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) file format by approving it as an international standard.

[...]

...it’s not known why the group has had an apparent change of heart after disapproving the Office 2007 format last autumn.


No reason? That alone ought to raise suspicion. Perhaps the only reason is increased attendance of Gold-certified Microsoft partners. Even ISO has admitted such a failure.

For those wishing to know more about Document Freedom Day, here is the place to look.

Today is Document Freedom Day: Roughly 200 teams from more than 60 countries worldwide are organising local activities to raise awareness for Document Freedom and Open Standards. To support the initiatives surrounding the first day to celebrate document liberation, DFD starter packs containing a DFD flag, t-shirts and leaflets have been sent to the first 100 registered teams over the past weeks.


What is truly needed now is Corruption-Free Day.

Update: You can find some more information about this in the discussion area of LinuxToday. Additionally, here are bits of interest from a skeptical summary.

My impression so far was that the BSI applied the highest standards in the review process. Even secrecy made sense in the BSI culture. Also the convenor of the BRM, Alex Brown, is from BSI who mastered the mission impossible to get the BRM through. The United Kingdom is a p-member, so one of the nations to become pivotal to the adoption of Open XML as an ISO/IEC standard in its current state.

We will only find out what the situation in the Uk is really like after the vote as the confidentiality holds. Politically an approval would probably lead to institutional damage to the standard system.

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