Bonum Certa Men Certa

Who's Afraid of MicrISOsoft? The European Commission


"[A]mazing that corruption is excepted by the entire developed world. Stunning that it has met with resistance only with some developing nations and maybe the European Union. What should have been an overwhelming anger by all nations. The notion that developed nation are immune to corruption is bogus. Microsoft did it in full view, without any hesitation. Microsoft should be nailed for this."

--Ashok Pai

NOW THAT speculations about further abuse in Europe continue to seem more reasonable, the European Commission (EC) is said to be investigating. As the financial turmoil shows, there is always need for good policing and regulation, so the EC has a responsibility to show that those who do the crime will also do the time.

The latest news from Norway got covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4], but IDG has just circulated this article and threw it to the mix. Here is its summary:

Over half of Norway's ISO body, Standard Norway, have resigned over the country's approval for OOXML, citing Microsoft influence.

[sarcasm] But hey! If most of those standards 'experts' from Norway quit in protest, it must be just bias. They must be Rabidâ„¢ 'Haters€®' (bad labels [1, 2]) of Microsoft, right?[/sarcasm]

Never mind the truth and never mind the fact that ISO has officially been grabbed by Microsoft. As Rob Weir put it the other day, "Microsoft's representation has swelled so it now comprises 20-50% of any given meeting. And that does not count those additional "independent" companies and contractors that are employed by Microsoft to create OOXML convertors or to consult with on OOXML matters. [...] I think you'll find no other case in SC34 attendance records of a single company sending more than a single representative. Everyone else in the world sends one person. IBM once sent two people. Microsoft sends ten or a dozen."

Where on Earth of 'the press' and why is it still shying away from such a distasteful disaster? Other curious minds want to know.

the company has existed since the early 90s using pure anti-competitive tactics and nothing more and with their IBM handed monopoly position, they have thrived. MS-OOXML was 100% a reaction to ODF, their tactics to use ECMA and the fasttrack mechanism 100% a reaction to ODF, and the stuffing of the ISO committees to get MS-OOXML passed through the fasttrack process still 100% a reaction to ODF. And now, they are stuffing more committees so they can take over ISO's ODF control.

And the tech press is more concerned with iPhone SDK licensing issues while all this has been going on. We know who still owns the press these days.

In addition to the sheer abuse of this process, there are also those infamous legal traps in OOXML, as recently reaffirmed by attorney Brendan Scott. Another fairly comprehensive analysis has just been posted by Andre, who writes:

The main sponsor behind OOXML, the Microsoft Corporation, assured the European Commission that they would chose a RF model for their future Office format.1 However, their public affairs representatives repeatedly casted doubt whether their chosen patent license model would enable implementations under the GNU GPL and forcefully lobbied domestic and oversees legislators against open standards. The intense struggle has two levels. On one layer the question is RAND or RF as appropriate licensing conditions, on a second layer the attempt was to redefine the terminology of "open standards" to become RAND compatible. A "success" of the lobbying effort was the ITU-T definition of "open standards" drafted by a patent attorney working group which made the limbo for RAND licensing conditions. As an effect all international standards would become "open standards". It comes at no surprise that vendors are sceptical about the honesty of the Microsoft patent schemes and are suspicious about hidden agendas.

There is an unconfirmed rumour now that the Commission might not investigate the ISO scandals because they are too afraid to intervene in an international organisation. IBM is said to be pushing to ensure the case is concluded.

“IBM is said to be pushing to ensure the case is concluded.”Dangerous here is the fact that the court system is very expensive for anyone else to pursue, as the UKUUG has already found out [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].

In the United States, someone has said that there is case law concerning committee stuffing or vote rigging (Comcast was caught stuffing it up and it's far from the first time for Microsoft), but if the commission wants to carry out a complete or at least comprehensive probe, a lot of traveling will be involved, e.g. to 'puppet nations'.


Two months ago we showed how ISO members were prepared to nominate Microsoft itself for the maintainable of so-called interoperability. As it turns out now, the already-Microsoft-stacked SC34 is now set to elect some more people. This one is a recipe for further abuse and more committee stuffing. From the page:

In accordance Resolution 8 of the SC 34 Jeju plenary meeting, Working Group 5 has been established. SC 34 members are invited to nominate their experts to participate in this Working Group. Please send a list of participants showing names, affiliations and e-mail addresses to the SC 34 Secretariat by 2008-11-15. The information received will be forwarded to the WG 5 Convener for creation of a mailing list.

Further down it shows that Microsoft (and its cronies) are bound to decide on the creation of a committee that handles ODF.

Resolution 8: Establishment of Working Group 5

SC 34 establishes Working Group 5 as follows:

Title: Document Interoperability

Terms of Reference: Develop principles of, and guidelines for, interoperability among documents represented using heterogeneous ISO/IEC document file formats. The initial work includes preparation of the Technical Report on ISO/IEC 26300 – ISO/IEC 29500 translation.

SC 34 instructs its Secretariat to issue a call for participation to the SC 34 members and to request ISO and IEC to publicise the existence of WG 5 to encourage participation from all who are eligible.

The room for abuse there is amazing. No wonder ISO is dead.

"I have lost my sleep and peace of mind for last two months over these distasteful activities by Microsoft."

--Professor Deepak Phatak


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