Bonum Certa Men Certa

Return of the 'Peter O'Kelly Mouthpiece' and Why Microsoft Lost the Standards War

Claiming wins using paid-for proxies

The following new article from John Fontana quotes a Microsoft lobbyist (essentially he is), who was paid handsomely by Microsoft for 'consulting' work (recall this recent post about soft bribery). Look back at this page about Peter O'Kelly and realise that the man is just a proxy, in fact one among many more.

It's rather astounding how those 'analysts' ("shillnalysts" morelike) are able to warp publications in the mainstream press and tell a bogus story from seemingly independent points of view. Reporters should know better. They must not approach those 'talking heads' of Microsoft.

Looking at more objective literature, consider this new formal statement from Canada [via Groklaw], which voted "No" to OOXML.

Canada voted to "Disapprove with Comments". Canada was among 10 countries that expressed concern with the Fast Track of ISO/IEC DIS 29500.


In this report, the decision is actually explained. Yes, it's all said out in public, so the BSI, which will go under investigation for likely abuse and mishandling of the process, ought to learn something from Canada. The secrecy of the decision in Britain drew in a lot more bad smell.

Moving on to a slightly separate topic, it was stressed before that ISO's role represents part of a much broader picture. According to this good column, what Microsoft has done might actually earn it nothing but a loss, not a win. Regardless of the outcome at ISO (which is not final yet), Microsoft has destroyed its image even further, adding to existing troubles of a sinking status and financial fears.

There is a two-month period for appeals before the ISO pronounces OOXML a standard, and it's already obvious that there will be some. Members of the Norwegian national standards committee, for instance, have already petitioned the government to investigate how the country came to register a "yes" vote on the draft standard when a majority of committee members were against it.

I wrote a while ago about the disruption of the national process in Great Britain, and an appeal is promised there, as well. And I'm sure the list will grow: The New York Times this week also numbered Malaysia and Germany among countries where protests are rising.

I'm sitting here wondering, what has Microsoft won? Not much, as far as I can tell.

Its OOXML victory – if it turns out to be one after the appeals are heard – will certainly be won at the cost of huge damage to its credibility. Evidently, even while Microsoft was promising interoperability and openness it was actively subverting the primary interoperability vehicle of the international computing community: the standards-setting process.

[...]

Even if Microsoft has managed to buy enough votes to get OOXML approved, and bullies enough of the protestors into silence to make it stick, it still hasn't created a standard. At most it's created the very real possibility that it will be back in front of Neelie Kroes, the EU's commissioner for competition, shelling out another billion euros in fines.


It is all very well said. Microsoft might also end up breaking a promise to its shareholders -- the promise that it would go out of its way to escape further fines. This was stated publicly just over a month ago when Steve Ballmer even mentioned retirement. Microsoft's celebration here is more of a wild drunken night as a fresher back in college. The following morning it might wake down in a hallway with a very bad hangover.

"I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week."

--Brad Silverberg, Microsoft

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